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Justin Fox

The Rise of the Not-Just-Freelancing Freelancer

More people are keeping traditional jobs while picking up extra project-based work -- and gaining an advantage.
Lots of freelance coders have plenty to smile about.

Lots of freelance coders have plenty to smile about.

Photographer: Chris Goodney/Bloomberg

The rhetoric about the rise of free-agent nation, the gig economy, the sharing economy or whatever you want to call it has often outpaced the economic evidence.

That's partly because some of the rhetoric has been overheated, but it's also because the evidence is incomplete. Yes, the share of workers who report being self-employed or holding multiple jobs in the household survey conducted every month for the Bureau of Labor Statistics has been declining for years, but the questions asked by the government's survey takers don't always do the greatest job of capturing often-complicated modern work arrangements. And so, over the past few years, private organizations have attempted to fill the breach with employment surveys that contact fewer people (the BLS survey hits 60,000 households every month) but ask more and different questions.