In January, NPR took a look at the rise of freelance work. Inspired by a Marist Poll about the American labor force, the series tackled everything from topline trends to the experiences of individual workers in industries as diverse as trucking, emergency medicine, and management consulting.
The freelance workforce is growing: according to NPR, one in five American workers depend on contract work for their primary income. Within a decade, that number is expected to rise to one in two, or 50% of the workforce.
The good news: many freelance workers chose to work that way, and even some of the people who started freelancing when they couldn’t find a permanent job say they’ve since fallen in love with the flexibility. It’s beguiling to be your own boss.
Unfortunately, many freelancers struggle with inconsistent schedules, paychecks that fluctuate from month to month, and a lack of health and retirement benefits. 40% of contract workers with a full-time job say they do something else for pay. Over 50% receive no benefits.
The freelance management consultants that Business Talent Group works with are accomplished enough—and fortunate—to command a premium in the market. This gives them a cushion that not everyone has in the freelance world. Yet they, too, are frustrated by the difficulty of finding portable benefits that support them as they move from project to project.
According to NPR, New York’s Black Car Fund offers one potential solution. Launched in 2000 and funded by a 2.5 percent consumer surcharge on each ride, it provides workers’ compensation benefits for contract drivers who are injured on the job. Now, politicians nationwide are looking to the program for inspiration as they think about how to address the issue on a national scale.
The bottom line, as NPR points out, is that employment is no longer a one-size-fits-all solution. As workers continue to look for ways to tailor it to their own needs, the social safety net will have to shift to support the new landscape.
Curious what type of projects our freelance management consultants tackle for the F1000? Read case studies of their best work in financial services, digital health, life science, and more. Or reach with a project or talent need.
Leah Hoffmann is BTG's Marketing & Content Strategist. A former journalist, Leah worked for Forbes.com and The Economist before joining BTG. She is passionate about clear thinking, sharp writing, and strong points of view.