July 29, 2005
In February of this year, there were 10.3 million people working as independent contractors, accounting for 7.4 percent of the employed.
The proportion of the total employed who were independent contractors increased from 6.4 percent in February 2001.
Independent contractors were more likely than workers in traditional arrangements to be age 35 and over (81 versus 64 percent), male (65 versus 52 percent), and white (89 versus 82 percent). Thirty-six percent of independent contractors had at least a bachelor's degree in February 2005, compared with 33 percent of workers with traditional arrangements.
Independent contractors were more likely than those with traditional arrangements to be in management, business, and financial operations occupations; sales and related occupations; and construction and extraction occupations. In terms of industry, independent contractors were more likely than traditional workers to be employed in construction, financial activities, and professional and business services.
Fewer than 1 in 10 independent contractors said they would prefer a traditional work arrangement.
"Independent contractors" are workers identified as independent contractors, independent consultants, or freelance workers, whether they were self-employed or wage and salary workers.
These data are from a supplement to the February 2005 Current Population Survey. Find out more in Contingent and Alternative Employment Arrangements, February 2005, news release USDL 05-1433.