CNBC Recognizes Moonlighting as Millions Turn to Freelancing

“Wages have not gone up in 10 to 15 years,” said CEO and founder Jeff Tennery, a former corporate executive and father of five. “I set out with moonlighting to solve a wage gap.”

Unemployment may be low, but Tony Faustino, 50, isn’t betting his future on a traditional job. Faustino, a father of two, left his six-figure corporate marketing career to start his own marketing firm in Overland Park, Kansas, in April of 2015.

Given the regulatory pressures squeezing the pharma and biotech companies he served, the long-term future didn’t look promising. An article he’d read years ago about men getting downsized from corporate jobs at age 50 kept haunting him.

“So many people are in denial about what is happening in corporate America right now,” he said. “I wanted to have more control of my professional destiny.”

Study after study shows that traditional jobs are fading around the globe. A much discussed recent report from the World Economic Forum, for instance, showed that the 15 top global economies could lose 5.1 million jobs in the next five years, thanks to trends such as robotics.

But experts say work in itself isn’t disappearing. What is declining, they say, is how it is packaged. Rather than employ people in traditional jobs, more employers are choosing to hire contractors.

Fifty-four percent of the talent in businesses today is made up of traditional workers, but by 2017 that percentage will be down to 41 percent, according to a study released in October by research and advisory firm Ardent Partners and partially underwritten by Fieldglass, an SAP-owned company that provides vendor-management solutions. That is because almost 70 percent of organizations are expected to hire more contingent workers in the next 12 months, Ardent Partners found.

Today, work once done mainly by people in traditional jobs can easily be done through other means, such as outsourcing to freelancers, said David Creelman, CEO of Creelman Research, a human resources analytics firm in Toronto that serves many U.S. clients, and co-author of the book Lead the Work: Navigating a World Beyond Employment. “Because of that, we’ll see fewer jobs,” he said.

By all accounts, the number of free agents has been ticking up since the recession. In research released in 2015, the U.S. Government Accountability Office found that 40.4 percent of U.S. workers had a contingent work arrangement in 2010 — meaning they were small-business owners, freelancers, contractors, temps, on-call workers, contract company workers and traditional part-timers.

With many companies giving employees a lot of autonomy anyway, traditional employees often already work in ways that are hard to distinguish from freelance workers, notes Nathan S. Gibson, the Woburn, Massachusetts-based vice president of independent contractor compliance for Randstad Sourceright US, a talent solutions firm. “The line gets blurrier and blurrier,” he said.

Some experts now predict that even more than 40 percent of the U.S. population will be freelancing in some capacity in the near future. Creelman says it’s hard to predict but says the percentage of free agents could rise as high as 60 percent in the next 20 to 30 years. It is a trend that became deeply rooted during the recession.

“After the 2009 and 2010 bust cycle, you didn’t really see the reversal of the trend,” said Mike Ettling, president of SAP SuccessFactors, which provides human resources solutions. “That whole rise of contingents is separating itself from the economic cycle. It’s happening across all sectors — blue collar, white collar, everything.”

Many of the new crop of freelancers didn’t out start out wanting to freelance. They are joining the free-agent economy on a part-time basis because of stagnating wages and the decline of middle-wage jobs, said Steve King, a partner at Emergent Research, a company in Lafayette, California, that studies the independent workforce. “The real growth is in the number of people doing side gigs,” he said.

That trend has prompted the growth of sites like Moonlighting, which helps users find side work. Moonlighting has raised $3.1 million in financing, with the most recent, $1.2 million round led by media firm The McClatchy Company, in February.

“Wages have not gone up in 10 to 15 years,” said CEO and founder Jeff Tennery, a former corporate executive and father of five. “I set out with moonlighting to solve a wage gap.”

Read the full story here…

By Elaine Pofeldt, special to 03/28/2016

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