LinkedIn ProFinder senior product manager Thogori Karago said in a blog post Thursday that the number of freelancers on the professional network has grown by 50 percent over the past five years, adding that more than 70,000 freelance professionals across the U.S. are using LinkedIn ProFinder.
Karago also shared several statistics on the first year of LinkedIn ProFinder, as did product manager Yu Liu in a second blog post.
The three industries that have been behind the most freelancer growth over the past five years were healthcare (47 percent), retail (42 percent) and software (33 percent). In contrast, non-freelance growth over those same three industries was 20 percent, 5 percent and 18 percent, respectively, over the same time period.
Weekly requests for proposals via LinkedIn ProFinder have increased fivefold over the past year, with career coaching, in particular, soaring, at 16 times more weekly requests than a year ago.
Speaking of RFPs, LinkedIn found that one-half to three-quarters of them in its marketing and branding, design and software categories came from small businesses (50 or fewer employees), with 40 percent to 50 percent of those coming from company leaders (CEO, president, founder, vice president, director), 20 percent from senior marketing managers and 10 percent from salespeople.
Freelance work has often led to a variety of work, as a recent survey by LinkedIn found that one-quarter of freelance professionals are working in an entirely different profession than their former full-time jobs, and 13 percent underwent special training or education to facilitate those moves.
The professional network also examined the impact of legislation passed to protect freelancers, such as New York City’s Freelance Isn’t Free Act, and it found that 75 percent of LinkedIn ProFinder users who responded agreed that such legislation is necessary, 70 percent believe other cities should follow suit and 32 percent believe this type of legislation will spur more professionals to pursue freelance careers.
Getting paid for their work has been a big issue among freelancers on LinkedIn ProFinder, as 76 percent said they have experienced issues collection payments, with 19 percent saying it happens to them three to six times per year.
On the topic of compensation, 92 percent of freelancers said their clients typically do not provide access to benefits, while 45 percent ranked healthcare as the most important type of legislation for them, followed by contractual protections (21 percent) and payment protections (17 percent).
On a more positive note, nearly 20 percent of LinkedIn ProFinder freelancers expected to make six figures or more this year, and 80 percent expressed no concern about being replaced by technology, artificial intelligence or automation over the next 10 years to 20 years.