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The State of Independence in America

What is it measuring?

The number of workers with independent arrangements, including consultants, freelancers, contractors, temporary, and on-call workers. It also asks about their experiences and satisfaction.

What does it tell us?

In 2021, 51.1 million adult Americans overall participated in independent arrangements - up from 38.2 million in 2020 - representing about 34.6 percent of the workforce. The survey has reported consistent increases in its measure of independent arrangements from 2011 to 2019, before a considerable decline in 2020, which authors attributed to the pandemic-related disruptions.

How is it collected?

Through an online survey administered by Emergent Research and Rockbridge Associates, with 3,687 respondents in 2020. Responses were weighted demographically to represent the population. 2021 was the eleventh year the State of Independence survey has been administered.

Who collects it?

MBO Partners, a business services company marketed toward independent professionals, contracts Emergent Research and Rockbridge Associates to conduct the annual survey.


Online surveys are unlikely to be representative of the population, with educated and higher-income workers likely to be overrepresented. Although many consider full-time to mean 40 hours per week, this survey counts anything above 15 hours per week as full-time.

How to access this data?

Privately held by MBO Partners


The State of Independence in America Report; 2021; Emergent Research; MBO Partners;