FORT WORTH, Texas – About a year ago, 60-year-old Johnny Pollard found himself in need of a job — fast.
His longtime employer, a Grapevine freight trucking company, had gone out of business. Pollard worried about interviewing for jobs because of his age, so instead he decided to try freelancing as a driver for Uber. And now, he is one of the shining stars at the ride-hailing company, grossing $1,200 to $1,800 per week giving customers rides all over the Dallas-Fort Worth region.
“Uber saved me from unemployment,” the Haltom City, Texas, resident said. “It has given me an opportunity to keep making a little money, and continue contributing to the community.”
Freelancing — as opposed to working full-time for a single employer — has become increasingly common in the U.S. job market, and if current trends continue, soon might become more of a norm than an exception.
Already, more than a third of the United States’ workforce (57.3 million people) is working for employers on a freelance basis, an increase of nearly 30 percent from a year earlier, according to a report by Upwork and Freelancers Union. It predicts that by 2027 a majority of the U.S. workforce will be engaged in contractual work of some kind.
Companies such as Uber, its growing competitor Lyft, and Amazon are among the industry leaders in hiring freelance workers in the “on-demand economy,” sometimes referred to as the “gig economy,” or “sharing economy.”
Amazon Flex, for example, employs hundreds of workers who deliver packages to customers’ homes in selected markets.
Some drivers reportedly work for two, three or even four of these on-demand companies simultaneously, juggling their schedules to ensure they earn enough money to make ends meet.