Study says the Sunshine State’s $23 billion freelance economy is booming

Freelance Worker Working From Home – Courtesy: Shutterstock – Image by DimaBerlin

A multitude of companies in Tampa Bay are still struggling to find workers. However, one group of Tampa Bay workers is doing just fine: Freelancers.

According to a new study from digital freelance marketplace Fiverr, Tampa Bay’s independent freelance workers brought in an estimated $2.8 billion in revenue in 2021, up from nearly $2.4 billion last year. The average contractor earned about $40,067 per year, an increase from $37,691 the year before.

This is all part of what Fiverr calls a “booming” marketplace across the Sunshine State, where independent workers earned approximately $23 billion last year, and Tampa, Miami, and Orlando all ranked among the nation’s fastest-growing markets for freelance workers.

Based on the study, Tampa has been the nation’s quickest growing market for those in the creative service industry over the past five years. This includes performers, artists, writers, and video and sound professionals.

“This continued movement of people to the Sunbelt, to warmer climates, is obviously really taking hold here, and it continues to happen,” said Brent Messenger, Fiverr’s vice president of public policy and community. “Everybody’s getting more comfortable with this idea of remote work, so people are able to move and do whatever they like.”

Produced together with the 500,000-member Freelancers Union, a coalition of independent workers, the Fiverr study collected data from the U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. Census Bureau, and other federal agencies, in addition to a survey of 800 workers across the country.

In all, the nation’s estimated 6.3 million independent workers generated $247 billion in revenue in 2021, up from $234 billion back in 2016. Half of the workers saw more job opportunities in 2021 than in 2016, specifically in technical service fields. Nearly a third of respondents said the reason was an increased demand due to a nationwide labor shortage–and that demand did not subside even when those workers increased their rates due to inflation.

Last year, Tampa Bay came in at 19th among major markets with an estimated 69,353 freelancers working. It was ahead of Orlando at No. 22, but very behind Miami who sat at No. 3. Miami and Tampa Bay ranked No. 1 and No. 2 for professional services workforce growth and technical services. In creative services, Tampa Bay beat them all–not just Orlando and Miami, but Phoenix, Austin, Dallas, Charlotte, and Atlanta. 

Part of Tampa’s overall growth can be attributed to the fact that a growing number of retirement-age workers nationwide are re-entering the workforce on an independent status.

“They’re doing it in a place like Tampa,” he said. “People are working longer, feeling more satisfied about it for longer, and those are good things.”

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