Today, Fiverr revealed the findings of its annual Freelance Economic Impact Report, a comprehensive study that identified and profiled the 25 largest markets in the United States for skilled freelance workers.
For the second year Fiverr commissioned market research firm Rockbridge Associates to analyze a range of secondary data sources, including the U.S. Census Bureau, to determine the size and revenues of U.S. based skilled freelancers. Over 20 million tax returns were classified by geography and industry, allowing researchers to approximate that there are 5.6 million skilled freelancers working in creative, technical or professional positions across the country. Over half (54%) of these freelancers live in the 25 metropolitan areas listed below and, combined, this group generated an estimated $135 billion in the 2018 tax year.
Highly-skilled freelancers are an understudied and often overlooked segment of the workforce. By analyzing the data around these digital workers we’re able to get a clear picture of the types of jobs they’re doing, the amount of revenue they’re generating and the cities in which they’re having the most impact. While every market identified in the top 25 is unique, we can say that they’re all characterized by high levels of diversity, high educational attainment and younger adult populations relative to the rest of the country.
- New York home to over half a million freelancers earning estimated $25 billion
- Los Angeles leading with creative freelancers generating $5 billion
- Over six percent of San Francisco’s workforce employed as skilled freelancers
- Austin experiencing talent boom, skilled freelancer population up almost 26%
- Nashville increasing earnings, skilled freelancer revenue jumps almost 40%
Major Markets Rely Heavily on Skilled Freelancers
Data from New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco indicates the larger the economy the heavier the reliance on skilled freelancers.
- The New York metro area sits atop the list with over half a million skilled freelance workers earning an estimated $25 billion in the 2018 tax year. The massive metro area is also home to the largest populations of professional and technical freelancers.
- The exception to New York’s dominance is Los Angeles. The Los Angeles metro area is the overall revenue leader in creative talent. Creative freelancers in metro Los Angeles generated an estimated $5 billion in revenue in the 2018 tax year.
- San Francisco businesses are the most reliant on skilled freelance workers. Skilled freelancers in San Francisco account for 6.1% of the city’s total workforce, this figure is almost double the national average.
What the Data Tells Us
The results point to a robust and growing skilled freelance economy across the greater U.S., but the income and growth numbers only tell a portion of the story; as the kinds of the work being done highlight a broad and diverse skilled independent economy in American cities.
We understand how people get things done in the new economy, and we strongly believe this upside isn’t reserved just for cities. With digital platforms, opportunity can extend to every corner of the country, so long as there is an internet connection and an ability.
Freelancers in our very own community illustrate just how possible it is, like Joel Young, who now calls rural Colorado home and is closing in on 2 million dollars in earnings on Fiverr. If he can do it, there is opportunity is out there for everyone.