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The freelance economy may be here to stay

·Lawrence Lewitinn

Punching the clock at the same place for decades may already be a thing of the past, but the labor force is on the verge of undergoing another major change: the rise of the freelance worker.

According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median tenure at an employer for someone between the ages of 55 to 64 is 10.4 years. But for those between the ages of 25 and 34, that number is just three years, with only 12% of that age group at their jobs for more than a decade.

And now a new trend is emerging. About a third of all workers are freelancers, self-employed, or project-based employees. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, as many as half of all workers will be in that category as soon as 2020.

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To take advantage of the firm's outlook, PwC launched a project on Wednesday they are calling “Talent Exchange”, which tries to match freelancers to short-term gigs.

“It is inevitable in many ways,” said Brian Snarzyk, principal at PwC. “The workforce is changing.”

However, he is sees this as a positive development. “The economy benefits by having the ability to bring together the best talent who have experience, skills, and expertise that's relevant,” he said. “Individual talent has the ability to come and go, work on key projects, work with clients, whether it’s on a short-term or long-term basis, but not feel as though they have one career with one organization.”

Snarzyk cites technology as the underlying cause for why more workers are becoming freelancers.

“The dependence on a single job, nine-to-five type of relationship is in many ways viewed as the old economy,” he said. “People have this ability to dynamically connect with clients in a much more free flowing manner.”


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