Over a third of America’s workforce are now freelancers, according to new research by The Freelancers Union.

A recent survey showed that 53 million Americans and now self-employed, amounting to 34% of the workforce.

Self-employment is particularly popular among millennials, with 38% of the demographic saying they were currently freelancing.

The debate is whether these figures show a genuine increase in workers preferring self-employment, or whether the rise is the result of layoffs forcing many to find work any way they can.

Sara Horowitz, founder of The Freelancers Union, says that freelancing is the “new normal”.

She told Yahoo News:

“Workers are saying ‘if I’m not going to have an employer that’s going to have loyalty to me and if I don’t have expenses that are so high, I can actually start to control my life by working freelance in these different ways.’”

The survey also found that there are five key types of freelancers: contractors, who make up 40%, moonlighters at 27%, those who combine freelancing with employment at 18%, temporary workers at 10% and freelance business owners at 5%.

Horowitz says that many of these workers are not counted in the government’s official jobs report, but that they should be.

She added:

“It’s time we move on and accept this new economy.”

Image by Brandon Koger