Uneven distribution: Where do most of the freelancers in the U.S. congregate?


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Laptops are useful, but bring with them privacy and security concerns. — Photo: © Tim Sandle.

Freelancers are one of the major demographics to drive the growing demand for coworking spaces. Largely made up of self-employed professionals, the proportion of freelancers has seen a 6 percent increase year-over-year in the last three years. The need to seek community workspaces provides an opportunity to collect data and to construct a metric around the freelancing movement.

Freelancing has advantages and disadvantages. One the plus side is no more mandatory 9-5, yet on the negative side is the issue of job security. Another pro is being in charge, as counterbalanced by working in isolation. Freelancers are also free to pick up work when they want but they often have more issues around taxation to contend with.

Yet interest in freelancing seems to be growing in the U.S. As an example, a recent study looking at coworking spaces and whether these are keeping pace with the growth of freelancers in the U.S. has revealed California and Texas to boast the most cities charting a growth in freelancers.

The research focused on metropolitan areas with populations of more than 300,000.

Both of these states are among the top 20 places where the number of freelancers has grown the most between 2019 and 2021. Specifically, Californian cities like Stockton, Riverside and Oakland made the top five places with the highest increases in freelancers, with total changes of 68 percent, 48 percent and 47 percent, respectively.

Similarly, Texas’ Dallas, Fort Worth and El Paso are also present in the top 20 cities with the highest growth in terms of freelancers, boosting Texas’ appeal as an ever-growing haven for businesses.

Across the U.S., the highest numbers of freelancers are found in the Southern and Western regions. The South claimed 2.3 million freelancers, while the Western region claimed 1.5 million.

Despite witnessing a significant rise in the share of self-employed workers, most cities across the U.S. are underserved in terms of coworking spaces, with an average of just three flexible workspaces per 1,000 freelancers. This shows that freelancers are more likely to be concentrated in specific areas.

At a local level, the highest growth among freelancers between 2019 and 2021 was recorded in Newark, NJ, which increased by 85 percent, Stockton, CA, with a 69 percent increase and Nashville, TN, with a growth of 57 percent. However, these cities are underserved by the coworking market, as they only check two, one and three coworking spaces per 1,000 freelancers, respectively.

Another interesting finding, and another one showing the concentration effect, is with the highest density of coworking spaces being registered in Pittsburgh, PA. This region has 12 locations per 1,000 freelancers, followed by Irvine, CA, with 11 locations.

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