Is it possible that 2020 was the year of the freelancer?

2020: Year of the Freelancer?

What a year, amirite? Here at Artisan, we are certainly looking forward to a fresh start. Even though 2021 is going to have 2020 clinging to its ankles, the economy seems poised to stabilize next year (knock on wood). And while overall unemployment hasn’t quite recovered, the job outlook for skilled knowledge workers has largely returned to its pre-COVID rates. Here’s a rundown of some relatively positive statistics for freelancing in the year to come. 

Freelancing Is More Popular than Ever

59 million Americans—about one in three people in the US workforce, freelance. Of those that freelance, 36% do so full-time, up from 28% in 2019. 

Best of all? 75% of those who left an employer say they now make the same or greater income.

Empowering Caregivers

COVID’s disruption to public schools (read: state-sponsored daycare) and removing elderly parents out of nursing homes has forced many households to completely reconsider their working situations (needs tips to avoid distractions?). Two out of three new freelancers in 2020 are caregivers (vs 38% of existing full-time freelancers). Remote freelancing is an ideal outlet for newfound caregivers to continue to earn money in some capacity.

Gen Z marks the biggest indicator why freelance may be the future of work

The Next Generation

Every generation has freelancers, from baby boomers who are light on retirement savings to moonlighting Millennials earning supplemental income. But Gen Z is the best indicator of the future of freelance work. Over half of Gen Z freelanced in some capacity this year, and 9 out of 10 Gen Z freelancers say they’ll continue to do so even after the pandemic subsides.


The flexibility and frequently remote nature of the work make freelancers better equipped to handle COVID’s disruption to the economy. Three out of five freelancers say they have as much or more work than they can handle. They’re also less worried about instability than their traditional job counterparts— reporting significantly less negative impact on their mental health, lifestyle, and economic well-being. 

Remote Control

Many full-time workers got their first taste of remote work this year. Guess they liked it, because three out of five non-freelance newly remote workers are now considering remote freelancing in the future. 

Better Tools and Support

With so many formerly full-time workers going remote, tools for remote working have exploded to keep up with demand. Zoom, Slack, and Google Meet have all rolled out new features at a breakneck pace. Online freelance job-finding tools like Freelancer and Upwork have seen significant growth this year, too.

Coworking Spaces

Google search volume for “coworking” has rebounded from a low in April, suggesting that people are growing more comfortable with working in public again (getting out of the house is good for your mental health!). This trend will help ensure coworking space availability continues to grow in the future. Interestingly, coworking spaces have also seen a spike in demand for private office bookings, which are more expensive than open layout options, but safer.

Whether you were a full-time freelancer “before it was cool” or are just considering freelancing for the first time, Artisan connects talented workers with great clients. 

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Upwork: Freelance Forward 2020

Upwork: Independent Workforce Report

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Civilian unemployment rate

Customer Interest in Coworking Returns to January 2020 Highs

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