It’s Not Just for Pro Athletes: 1 in 3 U.S. Workers Are Free Agents

A rough economy may have sparked the surge in part-timers, contractors and freelancers, but most of these workers are positive about the role, survey shows.

I’m a free agent. Two years ago, I left my job as a community planner. A few months later, I started freelance writing for Money Talks News. I also do some contract work with my former employer, as well as sell some of my homemade crafts online and at craft shows.

I’m in good company. According to a new survey from recruiting and employment firm Kelly Services, nearly 1 in 3 American workers considers themselves free agents.

“Free agents serve organizations without being chained to them,” explains Kelly Services.

In my case, the change allowed me to make work revolve around my life and not the other way around.

I now have the flexibility to work from home – or on the road, as long as there’s Wi-Fi – and I’m able to volunteer at my daughter’s school, have morning play dates with my son and work with our local United Way.

Free agents work as independent contractors (66 percent), freelance business owners (28 percent), temporary workers (22 percent), moonlighters (13 percent) and diversified workers (4 percent).

The survey explains how the recession propelled many people to pursue these roles:

“In 2011, conditions in the U.S. drove free agency to 44 percent, as more workers were compelled to consider free agency based on economic necessity,” said Teresa Carroll, senior vice president and general manager of Global Talent Solutions for Kelly Services. “As expected, the percentage of free agents in the U.S. has leveled off since the recovery, though at a higher level than before the recession.”

But the results suggest that the majority of free agents are positive about this workstyle. Asked why they chose it, the reasons they gave were:

  • Freedom and flexibility – 57 percent
  • Entrepreneurship – 22 percent
  • Economic necessity – 10 percent
  • Other – 11 percent

Kelly said free agent workers (61 percent) are more likely to hold higher degrees than traditional employees (52 percent) and more likely to possess a professional/technical skill set than those in traditional employment.

Are you a free agent? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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