You know you’re part of an important trend when experts start coming out with annual surveys on it.
MBO Partners just released its second annual report on independent professionals, the State of Independent Workers in America, and the findings show that the trend toward self-employment is growing. The firm studies the independent consulting sector in the United States.
The report found that there are 17 million independent workers in the U.S., up from 16 million last year–and they generate about $1 trillion in revenue. It predicts that there may be as many as 23 million of us in five years.
Some key findings:
• 86% of independent workers are highly satisfied or satisfied with their work situation. That’s up from 58% last year.
• 57% of independents said they made a proactive choice to fly solo, as opposed to being forced into it by, say, a layoff.
• 75% of those surveyed said they planned to remain independent. Among these, 13% planned to convert their businesses into firms that employ others, too. Just 13% plan to seek a traditional job in the next two years.
• It’s a diverse group, age-wise: 21% are between 21 and 32 years old; 35% are 33 to 49; 36% are 50 to 66 and 8% are older than that. Among them, 54% are married.
• Women are well-represented. They make up 48% of the independent work force.
• They’re an educated crowd. Among them, 70% say they get projects because they offer a skill that requires certification, special training or education. 40% have a four-year college degree or more. Among the Millennials, a whoppping 30% have graduate degrees or higher.
• The challenges that worry independent workers are an uncertain income stream (55%), concerns about retirement (40%) and lack of job security (36%).
• They make an above-average living. The median income for independent is $50,000. There are about 2.2 million independent business owners who make $100,000 or more per year, with their mean revenue at $185,000. However, it takes a while to join this elite crowd. Two-thirds are 50 or older.