Writing in The Atlantic back in 2011, Sara Horowitz, the founder of Freelancers Union, dubbed the "freelance surge" the "Industrial Revolution of our time" — as significant a shift in employment patterns as has been seen since the transition from agriculture to industry in the 1800s.
A recent report estimates that there are about 17 million full-employed freelancers, or independent workers, a number than swells to more than 40 million, roughly a third of the workforce, when you include temps, part-timers, contractors, contingent workers, and those who are under-employed or work without employer-sponsored health insurance, 401Ks or FLEX accounts, according to a post by Whitney Johnson in the Harvard Business Review.
For obvious reasons t's hard to get detailed geographic data on freelancers, but we can get very good figures on the number of Americans who are self-employed.
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Slightly more than 10 million American workers, or seven percent of the workforce, are self-employed, according to estimates compiled by Rob Sentz and his colleagues at Economic Modeling Specialists (EMSI, for short). EMSI's figures are based on data from the United States Census (American Community Survey and Non-employer Statistics). More than four million (43 percent) of those self-employed workers are members of the creative class of scientists and technologists, knowledge workers and professionals, artists, designers, entertainers, and media workers.
For the rest of the story: http://www.theatlanticcities.com/jobs-and-economy/2013/02/geography-americas-freelance-economy/4118/