Expert Insights

Steve King
Founder, Emergent Research


Steve King and  Jon Younger  are the brains behind many of our industries leading stats.

What’s unique about Steve is that he’s the perfect example of freelancing becoming the natural evolution of work. Steve wasn’t a pissed off employee that wanted to ‘ditch the 9-5 to sit on a beach’. He was a VP & GM at leading companies like Lotus Development and Macromedia. In terms of the corporate ladder, he made it, yet he chose to blaze the solopreneur path instead through his firm Emergent Research.

There are 7 massive themes that Steve and I discuss.

  1. There’s now a middle class to the freelance economy

  2. 55% of individuals have been independent at some point in their life

  3. 60% of Americans don’t have the risk profile of a freelancer

  4. 26% growth from 2021 to 2022, with full time freelancers leading the growth

  5. Freelancing is overwhelmingly chosen, and freelancers have the highest levels of fulfillment

  6. Misclassification is protecting 25% of the population at the expense of the entire freelancer population


Our Favorite Quotes

How has the freelance economy grown in the past year?

  • “We’ve steadily seen the increase in the number of independent workers that report earning $100,000 more a year. And that grew quite a bit over the last year in particular. But it’s been growing steadily since we’ve been tracking this in 2008.”

Where are we heading?

  • “In the next 10 years, it’ll probably be close to two thirds of Americans that have been independent workers at some point in their careers.”

  • “About 55% of adult Americans have been independent workers at some point in their careers. And so you see this revolving door, we see a lot of freelancers who freelance and then get a job. Then leave that job to go back to freelancing. A lot of full time employees will shift into freelancing for a short period of time and go back. So it’s not so much when your kids are going to say, ‘I want to be a freelancer’, more likely, what your kids are going to say is, ‘Hey, I’m going to be a freelancer, whether I want to or not, at some point in my career, and maybe it’s going to be my full career, maybe it’s not.’”

Freelancers overwhelmingly choose freelancing:

  • “Consistently about 70-80% of freelancers say they did it by choice, as opposed to having a layoff or a lost job or inability to get a job, or some other shock.

  • Satisfaction rates are always somewhere in the mid 70s to low 80s. The vast majority of freelancers are satisfied with their work.

  • Most every survey on ‘am I going to go back to a traditional job, do I want to go back to a traditional job, or do I prefer freelancing’, you find that only about one in 10 freelancers, on average, say they would prefer a traditional job.”

What are some major challenges?

  • “About 60% of Americans simply don’t have the risk profiles to be successful as a full time independent worker. And part of that is many of those people don’t want the responsibility, they want other people to manage, and I’m not saying this in a negative sense, it’s just the way it is. They would prefer having someone else manage them. Others can’t deal with unpredictable income and can’t deal with what they view as the risks and the insecurities associated with it.”

What is the break down of freelancers?

  • “Freelancers who are their households primary income earners are only about a third of the total number of freelancers, most freelancers work part time.”

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