SOURCE: MBO Partners

MBO Partners

September 09, 2013 07:00 ET

MBO Partners State of Independence Report Reveals Independents Are Self-Employed, Successful, Satisfied and Stimulating the Economy

New Report Brings to Light That the U.S. Independent Workforce Has Grown to Nearly 18 Million; Workers Are Generating $1.2 Trillion in Total Income and Spending Another $150 Billion in Business Expenses

HERNDON, VA--(Marketwired - Sep 9, 2013) - MBO Partners, recognized as the largest and most experienced provider supporting the $250 billion-and-growing independent contracting and consulting sector in America, today issued its third annual State of Independence in America workforce study. As the U.S. economy continues to struggle to gain momentum, the study shows the independent workforce is America's hidden economic engine. The growing headcount of Americans working more than half-time as individual self-employed contributors reached 17.7 million, up 10% from the base year of 2011, generating nearly $1.2 trillion in total income -- and growing 20% annually. Independents have not only created a sustainable path of work for themselves, but have also created opportunities for other independents. Over the past year, 26% of independent workers spent a total of $96 billion hiring the equivalent of 2.3 million full time workers via contract hiring.

"Our 2013 State of Independence report offers the most exciting data yet," said Gene Zaino, CEO of MBO Partners. "This year's report shows the tremendous economic impact of independent workers, and validates that independence is more than a viable career path; it's a job creation engine. It's not long until we see the reality that I predicted some years ago -- a workforce split 50/50 between fixed and contingent workers. In such a world, workers and companies alike need advice and support, and MBO is committed to being their guide."

The 2013 State of Independence report definitively confirms that independents are growing, and growing stronger with increased buying power and economic impact. Key insights from the report include:

Out of the shadows and into the mainstream. Independence is not a blip in the jobs economy, but a structural shift. The 2013 MBO Partners Independent Workforce Index, a measure created to track the sector, shows an 8.2% growth since the base year in 2011. Further, the independent workforce is expected to grow to 24 million strong by 2018.

Independence for all. Four out of ten adult Americans are either currently working or have worked as an independent at one time during their careers. In the next decade, a 50/50 workforce, where 50% of private sector workers will have spent time as independent workers, is a reality to work toward.

Who needs a stimulus package? Independent workers make a clear and positive impact on the U.S. economy, generating close to $1.2 trillion in total income in 2013. They also spend over $150 billion, an average of about $8,500 per year per solo worker, on non-payroll/contractor expenses. Nearly 10 million households receive at least half of their income from independents.

A path for all generations. While generation and life stage influence satisfaction, independent work is being adopted by people of all ages. Of the 17.7 million independents, 1 in 5 are Millennials (21-33 years old), 36% are Gen X (34-49 years), 33% are Boomers (50-67 years), and 11% are matures (68+).

Motivated and here to stay. Independent workers' satisfaction remains strong, with 64% reporting that they are highly satisfied with their work style, a slight dip from 2012 but still higher than the 2011 baseline year. The vast majority plan to continue as independent workers, with 77% saying they will continue as solopreneurs (63%) or build a larger business (14%). This is consistent, but up slightly, from last year (76%).

The new corner office. This year's report reveals that the new virtual team-up is big business with independents assembling into collaboration teams to meet customer demands. Over the past year, independents spent $96 billion hiring the equivalent of 2.3 million full-time workers via contract hiring.

Restoring the dream. Approximately 2.5 million independent workers each generate at least $100,000 in annual revenue, with a median value of $149,000. This is up from 2.2 million in 2012. Many have also set their sights on growth, with nearly 14%, or 2.5 million, reporting that they plan to build bigger businesses, up from 12% in 2012.

Independents are not equal to freelancers. Just 3% of independent workers chose freelancer as their primary self-descriptor. Respondents were far more likely to see themselves as self-employed, business owners, contractors, consultants and entrepreneurs.

"Probably the biggest a-ha moment in this year's report is the self-identification of the majority of independents as self-employed," said Aassia Haq, Chief Marketing Officer for MBO Partners. "This and other brand-new segment insights can help spur fresh programs and policy to support and empower the solopreneur. In 2011, MBO told the world 'the independents are coming.' It's 2013 -- the independents are here -- and here to stay."

View the Full Report and Infographics

The 2013 report, methodology and a series of related infographics are available for review at

About the Study

Independent workers are defined as people who work at least 15+ hours per week in non-traditional, non-permanent full or part-time employment and includes workers who identify themselves as consultants, freelancers, contractors, self-employed, and on-call workers, among others. Two separate online surveys were conducted by Emergent Research ( and Rockbridge Associates ( in May of 2013. 2,018 residents of the U.S. responded to the first survey and the results were used to size the independent workforce and define the interest in becoming an independent worker by the general population. The data were weighted to reflect the demographics of the U.S. and the margin of error for this survey is +/- 2%. 2,024 independent workers responded to the second survey and the results were used to profile their characteristics and motivations. The margin of error for the second survey is +/- 2%.This is the third year of this ongoing study of independent workers and the survey results are generally statistically consistent with the results from prior years.

For the full report, please visit:

About MBO Partners:

MBO Partners is recognized as the largest and most experienced provider supporting the $250 billion-and-growing independent contracting and consulting sector in America. Our services make it easy for independent contractors, consultants and their clients to do business. For self-employed professionals, MBO Partners manages their entire business infrastructure. Our technology platform includes a proprietary process to handle billing and revenue cycle management, contract administration, business insurances, expense management, tax withholding, health and retirement benefits and more. We couple this with the benefits of direct vendor access into enterprises and the "white glove" attention of a dedicated business manager. For organizations that use contract talent, MBO Partners provides a complete independent contractor aggregation and engagement offering, including compliance and payment solutions for 1099s, sole proprietors and micro-businesses. To learn more, visit

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