Jobs in the Pandemic: Turning to Freelancing for Survival


Before the Coronavirus pandemic, those who chose to freelance did so voluntarily because they preferred all of the flexible aspects freelancing has to offer. However, when the global pandemic first hit and businesses began laying off and/or furloughing their employees, those employees had nowhere else to turn and freelancing was no longer just an option – it became the only option.


A record-breaking number of Americans began offering freelancing services after being laid off or furloughed because most freelancing businesses can be done online and at home. A new study found that two million Americans have turned to freelance in the past 12 months. In 2020 alone, 36% of Americans have already reported that they now freelance full-time, a full 8 points up from 2019.


Although people initially turned to freelancing out of necessity, many of them are discovering that they prefer freelance work, or at least the advantages it offers, over their previous 9-to-5 office jobs. This newfound freedom may just actually change the future of how America works.


In the midst of COVID-19, freelancing was thought to be a short-term solution – a paycheck here and there, a sense of purpose, something to do in the meantime – but as more and more people get a taste of freelancing, the more they may decide to continue to freelance permanently even after the economy recovers. Not only that, but employers are finding that it’s cheaper to hire freelancers or offer contract-only work because they can avoid paying yearly salaries and having to offer health and wellness benefits for all employees.  


Work-from-home tools such as Zoom have also made the contract-only route seem more appealing for white-collar employers. In their eyes, as long as the employee has a phone, laptop, webcam and reliable internet connection, the job can be done from almost anywhere. Using that same logic, employers also don’t see the need to offer salaries or benefits to people they will likely never see in person, creating a further gap between CEOs and bottom tier employees.  


On job posting platforms such as ZipRecruiter, temporary job listings have jumped from 24% to 34% this year despite the fact that things are looking up for the job economy. Although experts believe unemployment rates will soon recover, many of them also believe that the new jobs to be created will likely not be full-time salaried positions and will not offer benefits.


This new job market may become a bleak reality for workers who don’t have the hard skills and tech-savviness that running a freelance business requires. This can also be bad news for veteran freelancers as there are now that many more people to compete with for work.


While the shift from the traditional 9-to-5 office job to the work from home create-your-own-adventure type gigs may be a rocky one, there are some good things that could come out of it.


·         Freelancing has generally been an even playing field as most employers looking to hire contractors are not so much worried about a person’s gender, ethnicity, or race as they are about their ability to get the job at hand done, and for less money than a salaried employee would cost them.

·         For those who voluntarily choose to freelancer full-time, this new job market means more work opportunities and stability.

·         As many people lose their jobs, they also lose their coworkers and colleagues. With so many people in this boat, there is a sense of unity. In freelancing, you have the ability to collaborate with anyone to any extent you choose.


If you have lost your job due to the COVID-19 pandemic and/or are new to freelancing, posting your services to freelancing platforms like FreelancElf is a great way to get started. Check out our blog for more advice on freelancing.


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