The rise of the creative class

Published by Lori Pickert on November 28, 2011 at 03:31 AM

It's been called the Gig Economy, Freelance Nation, the Rise of the Creative Class, and the e-conomy, with the “e” standing for electronic, entrepreneurial, or perhaps eclectic. Everywhere we look, we can see the U.S. workforce undergoing a massive change. No longer do we work at the same company for 25 years, waiting for the gold watch, expecting the benefits and security that come with full-time employment. We're no longer simply lawyers, or photographers, or writers. Instead, we’re part-time lawyers-cum-amateur photographers who write on the side.

Today, careers consist of piecing together various types of work, juggling multiple clients, learning to be marketing and accounting experts, and creating offices in bedrooms/coffee shops/coworking spaces. Independent workers abound. We call them freelancers, contractors, sole proprietors, consultants, temps, and the self-employed.

We haven’t seen a shift in the workforce this significant in almost 100 years when we transitioned from an agricultural to an industrial economy. Now, employees are leaving the traditional workplace and opting to piece together a professional life on their own. As of 2005, one-third of our workforce participated in this “freelance economy.” Data show that number has only increased over the past six years. Entrepreneurial activity in 2009 was at its highest level in 14 years, online freelance job postings skyrocketed in 2010, and companies are increasingly outsourcing work. While the economy has unwillingly pushed some people into independent work, many have chosen it because of greater flexibility that lets them skip the dreary office environment and focus on more personally fulfilling projects.

— The Freelance Surge is the Industrial Revolution of our Time



Comment by Mike on November 28, 2011 at 07:03 AM

Amazing start to this series! We strive to make sure that our daughters will have as many options available to them as possible, and we expect that they will create opportunity where there isn't any. It seems as though this new economy has indeed caused a shift in how people spend their working hours, which we are experiencing firsthand for ourselves. Looking forward to the rest!

Comment by Dawn Suzette on November 28, 2011 at 02:04 PM

I like it!
All the more reason why flexibility and self-motivation are going to be important things to model/instill in our children.

Comment by amy on November 29, 2011 at 12:30 AM

Oh, funny, I read this and was thinking of myself, not of my kids. :) I hated working in an office of any sort, all the busywork (if it was a punch-in/punch-out sort of place), which completely offended my efficient self. I couldn't stand trying to stretch the work out to fill 8 hours, for instance. All that wasted time!! And then the other jobs, that would NEVER fit into 40 hours per week--oh, how I chafed working for other people. I loved telecommuting and editing in my pajamas, and that's the last full-time paid work I've had. So, so fortunate (with the help of a lot of planning and budgeting) to remain unemployed after I was laid off when my oldest was a baby. But any time I ponder what I might do for "work" once out from under the fuller-than-full-time requirements of young children, it doesn't involve looking for any sort of traditional job. I find myself thinking on what I have to offer, and how I can offer it--myself. Of course, it's easier to think this way when somebody else (my husband, in this case) has a job that provides health insurance.

Comment by Lori Pickert on November 29, 2011 at 01:43 AM

thanks, mike. i'm easing into it by sharing quotes. ;^)

thanks, dawn. :)

amy, i think that's great that you are looking at it for yourself — and what better way to demonstrate it for the kids? it is easier when you have a spouse who's employed, but so what? entrepreneurs take advantage of whatever advantage (and funding ;^) they can get!

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