A New Look at the Independent Workforce

A new assessment of the US’s independent workforce–The State of Independence in America 2017 from MBO Partners–was released this week.  This is a very useful annual survey that is worth a look–however, I always recommend some caution when the actual core data is not shared with the public for further review and assessment.  With that proviso in mind, the 2017 survey does include some interesting findings.  The headline for me is that roughly 41 million Americans are now engaged in some kind of independent work.  That figure represents 31% of the US private sector workforce, and includes folks from every demographic, income, and age category.   The study offers a useful take on various types of independent workers,and finds that the number of reluctant independents (i.e. those who would prefer regular full time work) is declining thanks to an improving economy.  This group now makes up about 24% of the independent workforce.    The rising tide is also lifting the status of some full time independent workers.  While the overall numbers of full time independent workers has dropped slightly, there was an uptick in the number of full time independents making more than $100,000 per year.  This group grew by 4.9% last year, and now includes more than 3.2 million people.  This MBO survey has been ongoing for several years now, and as  the data piles up, we are getting some very useful insights on trends in the independent workforce.  If you want to understand your local economy, you’ll need to understand this part of your workforce as well.