We have officially entered a new era where the traditional 9-to-5 job is no longer the norm. Instead we've entered into the "Gig Economy."

The question is, "Have the freelancers become happier than a traditional worker?"

There are a little greater than 54 million freelancers across the U.S. There are many more single business owners around the world that aren't even in this statistic. This gig economy is comprised of independent contractors, moonlighters, diversified workers, temporary workers, and freelance business owners.

While often overlooked as the new "real work," this group now makes up 34% of the American workforce. That figure is expected to jump to 43% by 2020.

There are a number of factors why there's been such a boom in the freelancing market. Most notably the vast technology that allows remote work and the opportunities to make more money. One reason solopreneurs seem happier than traditional workers is that they can make the crucial "extra money," when needed.

A 2015 independent survey sponsored by the Freelancers Union and Upwork found freedom, choice, and flexibility often equal happiness. There have since been three other surveys that validate the fact freelancers are indeed happier than traditional workers.

ReportLinker found that freelancers are more optimistic and happier than traditional workers. They found a resounding 84% of workers stating that they find a real purpose working the gig economy.

What inspired them to join the gig economy? The top response was being their own boss, followed by flexible working hours. The freelancers seem to feel they are receiving better compensation, and attaining better work/life balance.

A study was completed entitled "Independent Work: Choice, Necessity And The Gig Economy." The work was performed by McKinsey Global Institute (MGI). This global company found an astounding 97% of contractors reported they were much happier than their permanent counterparts.

Consisting of a sample pool of workers across the U.S. and Europe, the report shows that:

There are roughly 162 million contractors in the U.S. and EU. Of this number, three in ten are contractors and four in ten are freelance, "casual earners." In the EU as a whole, 68% of independent workers have chosen the freelance route. In the UK, 57% of independent workers are female. Contractors consider autonomy and flexibility as the key benefits vs employment.

When asked what they were happy about, contractors reported this:

Opportunities for development Flexibility Assignments undertaken Recognition received Ability to express creativity Level of income

These conditions factored into why independent workers reported the greatest job satisfaction. In the MGI survey, "approximately 14 percent in traditional jobs would like to become an independent primary earner.

This study also included those people who are not currently working. All people combined say they are "somewhat likely" or "very likely" to pursue this aspiration to become a freelancer.

In a recent poll carried out by Personal Group, around 70% of self-employed people reported that they were happy in their job. Only about 48% of those who work for someone said they were happy.

Furthermore, 82% of contractors and freelancers stated that they were proud of their career. They reported 63% actively looking forward to going to work every day.

Roughly 94% of self-employed workers believe that their job is making a worthwhile contribution to the world. This rating shows these freelancer feel a sense of purpose, compared to 76% of full-time workers.

Unlike the other surveys, this poll also asked what would workers feel more motivated and happier in their jobs. 35% of traditional employees said they wanted more support and encouragement.

The contractors and freelancers have access to online forums and face-to-face meet-ups they may be able to easily arrange this support their peers.

It is evident that freelancers are happier than traditional workers, but there are still problems they must overcome. MGI finds that "Lifetime employment at one company is largely a relic of the past. This puts the responsibility on individuals to map out their own career trajectories. The freelancer must look for their own business opportunities and take charge of developing their own skills."

Freelancers must also deal with variable income. They may not get paid for some of their hard work and they have no employment protection. The one-person business owner lacks benefits and security. Being a freelancer can be stressful if you aren't prepared for this, or if you don't have the right mentality.

As a self-employed individual, I am much happier handling these challenges than dealing with the 9-to-5 grind. So, my fellow freelancers -- are you really happier than your full-time counterparts? If so, let us know why. If you're interested in joining the freelance revolution, check out this handy freelancer guide. It will help get you started on the right track to being your own boss.

Published on: Jul 30, 2017