Will all workers eventually become freelancers or independent contractors? If so, will this put further downward pressure on incomes?

Prescott Valley, AZ Correspondent– It is difficult to say whether all workers will eventually become freelancers or independent contractors, but according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the numbers of self-employed individuals have increased by over a million since 2014 and by 2020, almost half of the American workforce will likely be independent workers whether through freelancing, contracting or temporary assignments, so self-employment will likely continue to see ongoing increases.

Independent work is on the rise for a number of reasons. A fluctuating economy, corporate downsizing and overall employee discontent with working conditions, pay level advancement and benefits have all caused a swing away from traditional 9-5 permanent working situations.

The freelancing trend has also experienced a sharp upsurge because of the accessibility to independent and freelancing positions that employers have publicized and released to attract those who want to work in a more independent fashion.

In addition, technology has made it possible for those interested in working remotely to be in continual communication with those who provide the work. The different computerized devices for contact as well as applications for cell phones and other devices make it possible to communicate with an employer any time of the day or night.

Now there are even platforms available to freelancers that match workers with companies in need of a particular category of contractor. Freelancers find that their biggest issues arise from not being able to secure enough work on a regular basis, but online marketplaces or platforms are attempting to alleviate those kinds of issues. Marketplaces are specifically designed to match talented freelancers and contractors within their chosen fields of expertise.

Companies and businesses do profit from the rise of independent workers as it allows them to find more qualified and talented individuals to fulfill their needs, and they are able to utilize freelancers at lower costs. Rather than hiring full-time individuals that are given yearly salaries and benefits, companies can simply hire freelancers or contractors to perform certain projects at given times and be free of job security guarantees and wage and benefit packages.

With the growing use of independent contractors and freelancers, a shift in the labor market has been created and the trend away from permanent employment to increasingly flexible work through freelancing and contracting is definitely on the rise and does pose the risk of downward pressure on incomes.

If all workers of the future were to become freelancers or independent contractors, an oversupply would occur and the results would be reduced demand for those types of workers, which would create a downward spiral of incomes. It is likely that only extremely specialized freelancers and contractors would remain at more stable pay levels as demand for their services would be greater.

Though freelancing and independent contracting can provide employment for individuals that would prefer the freedom of a less structured working environment, there are chances that the marketplace could become overburdened with numbers and that would create an increase in downward pressure situations on incomes.

Owatonna, Mn Correspondent-Freelance workers were a rarity in the corporate-centric world that dominated American work culture before the Internet Age and increased globalization. Today, however, freelancing is on the rise. More workers are turning to freelancing after being laid off from well-paying corporate jobs, and occupations that were previously dominated by salaried employees are seeing huge increases in freelance opportunities.

Freelance job sites have proliferated on the internet. A quick scan through several popular websites that match freelance workers with available jobs shows the breadth and depth of this new trend. Job categories include website development and content, information technology, engineering, design/graphics, writing, legal services, translation services, administrative work, customer service and support, sales and marketing, and accounting.
Not only are freelance categories expanding, but freelancers from around the world can compete for almost any job that is posted. As the laws of supply and demand state, more freelance workers bidding for a job means the customer can often pay a lower fee, especially if a third-world freelancer bids on a job based on their lower standard of income. This forces American freelancers who may have previously held well-paying corporate jobs in their field to lower the prices they charge for their freelance work.

On the flip side, it makes business sense for employers to hire freelancers or independent contractors for certain jobs. Freelancers don’t need to be given insurance benefits or pension contributions from the employer, and the work can be done on an as-needed basis, which eliminates unproductive time.

There exists a bottom limit of course because when prices get too low in one field, those freelancers will either leave the business or withhold their services for higher paying jobs. Quality must be factored in as well. Paying a writer from India five dollars for a 1,000-word piece of web content may result in a product that lacks editing, proper punctuation, or clarity. This may cost the employer more if the work needs to be redone.

It seems the freelance/independent contractor trend will continue into new occupations as technology allows more jobs to be done remotely or as business owners fine tune their staffing to meet fluctuating personnel demands. Whether this has a permanent long term downward effect on income remains to be seen, but the trend doesn’t look good for American workers.

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