It’s Time We Celebrated A National Freelancer Day In The U.S.

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It’s Time We Celebrated A National Freelancer Day In The U.S.

Did you know that February 11 is world anthropologist and sociologist day? Will most readers recognize that March 26 is legal assistant’s day.  April 4 is school librarian day, and April 18 is lineman appreciation day (a reminder of the great Glenn Campbell).  May 13 is international reception day, and May 20 is international HR day. There’s even a national intern day here in the US on July 28, a professional speakers day on Aug 7, and international boss’s day in October. November 4, of course, is love your lawyer day.

But, no freelancer’s day in the U.S., and hardly anywhere in the world.

That’s right. Despite the fact that the freelance revolution is large, growing, diverse and inclusive, global, and a force for good, there is no day in the U.S. calendar that specifically shows freelancers the same love that bartenders receive on February 24, and hairstylists on April 25.

Let’s review how freelancing contributes to a better life for independent professionals, and a better world for humanity on a collective basis.  And, let’s work together to fix this glaring and obvious mistake.

There are five good reasons for a National Freelancer’s Day both in the U.S. and in many countries around the world:

The freelance revolution is large and growing. Upwork lately estimated the U.S. freelance population at just below 60 million members. McKinsey some years ago determined that over 160 million people were freelancing part- or full-time, and more recently, it asserted that freelance platforms could eventually increase the freelance revolution to more than 500 million members. By contrast, the US Bureau of Labor Standards (BLS) projects about 143K librarians in the US, and 345K legal assistants and paralegals in the US. Surely, on this basis alone there is good reason for a day a year celebrating freelancers.

The freelance revolution is diverse and inclusive. Freelancing is the ultimate big tent.  From an occupational perspective, freelancing includes just about every profession one might imagine. Freelance rocket scientists?  We have them. Videographers and photographers? Yup. Authors and writers. Over a million. Illustrators?  You can find them in over 100 countries. What about gender? One report shows women slightly ahead of men in freelancing at 48%, while another estimate puts men ahead. Looking at freelancing with race in mind, about 60% of US freelancers identify as Caucasian, followed by 16% Hispanic and 12% African American freelancers, and 5-10% Asian professionals (depending on the survey). From an age perspective, all generations are included in the freelance revolution. While young people tend to be primary in freelancing with 50% of GenZ and 44% of Millenials freelancing, 30% of GenX and 26% of Baby Boomers are freelancing.

Freelancing is globally important.  While there’s good reason to specifically pitching a day to celebrate freelancers in the U.S., a day of global recognition is more in line with the global nature of the freelance revolution. Without doubt, freelancing is in global acceleration. Beyond the U.S., a recent survey found large increases in freelance participation in the U.K., Brazil, Pakistan, Ukraine, Philippines, India, Bangladesh, Russia and Serbia.  A separate study identified Japan, Australia, Hong Kong, Mexico, Canada, Argentina and Spain as countries with significant freelancing growth rates. And, this doesn’t even touch Africa, where 10-15% of professionals in my Global Survey on Freelancing were African and regularly freelancing on a part-or full-time basis.

Freelancing is a force for good.  Matt Barrie, founder of freelancer.com and a true pioneer of freelancing reminds us that freelancing is an economic engine that connects talent and opportunity on a global scale. But its contribution to society is broader, directly and indirectly creating social good. Most directly it does so by reducing financial inequality, for example, giving freelancers at Flexing It in India the opportunity to increase their income by providing tech support remotely for large corporates in Germany, or connecting South African freelancers with opportunity in the EU that pays a significantly higher rate. Moreover, much of the work freelancers do creates social value. Freelance scientists at Kolabtree, and the Pharma quality assurance professionals at LifeSciHub played critical roles in the creation of Covid-19 vaccines. Spacely is helping the space industry grow by providing Satellite engineering and design. Omdena is applying AI and crowd-sourcing to critical social problems like homelessness and elder abuse. And, the list goes on.

Freelancing is reinventing how we work. Freelancing has had a profound impact on how professionals of all kinds choose to work. Depending on the study, the percentage of part-time freelancers is between 66 – 75% of freelancing. These individuals, approximately 45 million professionals in the U.S. alone, are increasingly demanding a different type of employment experience, one that might be appropriately called “freelance lite”. They expect more flexibility in where and when they work, more choice in assignments they are given, more developmental support, faster promotion, and the chance to regularly work from home. A recent article reported the findings of recent surveys noting that half of employees in the U.S. would seek another job if not given a hybrid option. More and more organizations are leaving traditional workforce architectures behind in favor of a flexible, blended workforce where employees, contractors and freelancers work together in common cause, enabling organizations to create a more agile and dynamic workforce. And, over 90% of organizations in survey after survey say their dependence on freelancers continues to grow.

In a recent sign of progress, the U.K. recently designated June 16 as National Freelancer’s Day. Thank you IPSE and the support of the U.K. Commissioner of Small Business for encouraging recognition of U.K. freelancers and supporting them as they deal with issues like late payment. But, while a very good start, it’s time for the U.S. to recognize the important role and contribution made by our freelancers. Please join the cause and write your Mayor, Governor and state and federal representatives. Tell them that U.S. freelancers are at least as deserving of a national appreciation day as school bus drivers (Feb 26) and Armenian prosecutors (July 1). 

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