Report: 39% of the US workforce in 2022 was freelance, highest yet

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Upwork, the world’s work marketplace connecting businesses with independent talent, today revealed a list of the most in-demand skills that organizations will seek from independent professionals in 2023 across the technology, marketing, customer service, accounting, consulting and design sectors.

Upwork’s list underscores the essential role that highly-skilled freelancers continue to play in bridging key talent gaps for businesses. Demand for skills in full stack, mobile app and CMS development top the list, along with content writing, graphic design and customer support. 

Image source: Upwork.

At a time when organizations face economic uncertainty and a persistent talent shortage, Upwork’s new data reveals the extent to which organizations are turning to highly-skilled freelancers to fill key roles. Recent Upwork data shows that 60 million Americans performed freelance work in the past 12 months, representing 39% of the U.S. workforce — an all-time high.

“We are experiencing a once-in-a-lifetime, tectonic shift in the notion of work, where skilled professionals are rethinking what they want from their careers, and are gravitating toward the flexibility, autonomy and benefits of freelancing,” said Margaret Lilani, VP of talent solutions at Upwork.


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At the same time, she continued, “the uncertain economic environment is pushing businesses to explore new solutions to stay competitive, and they’re finding unlocked potential in the growing pool of skilled independent professionals.”

Upwork’s top 10 most in-demand tech skills for 2023:

  1. Full stack development
  2. Front-end development
  3. Back-end development
  4. Mobile app development
  5. Web design
  6. Ecommerce website development
  7. UX/UI design
  8. CMS development
  9. Manual testing
  10. Scripting and automation

Skills data was sourced from the Upwork database and is based on United States freelancer earnings from January 1, 2022, to October 31, 2022. Each skill had a minimum of 500 projects with active work during the period. Year-over-year growth was estimated by comparing freelancer earnings in 2022 to freelancer earnings in the same period in 2021.

Read the full report from Upwork.

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