The U.S. labor market is going through a major change as people turn to self-employment in record numbers.

Enabled by the ubiquitous connectivity of smartphones, entrepreneurs are embracing the opportunity to become self-employed. Today’s entrepreneurs don’t necessarily have storefronts, staffs or even business cards – and better yet, some don’t even have to find their own customers.   They’re eschewing the trappings of a 9-to-5 job — a steady paycheck, a sterile cubicle and a 401k plan.

The rise of on-demand marketplaces is enabling today’s entrepreneur to immediately gain access to huge customer bases by merely pulling out their smartphones. This stunning ease-of-entry would have been impossible even a half decade ago. Without spending a dime on marketing, they can now connect directly with paying customers.

According to a report Intuit prepared in partnership with Emergent Research, the self-employed workforce has grown from 17 percent of the U.S. workforce 25 years ago, to 36 percent today, and is expected to reach 43 percent by 2020.

The on-demand economy is at the tip of the spear of this change. The study also shows that there are currently 3.9 million Americans working in the on-demand economy and forecasts that this number will grow to more than 7.7 million by 2020, and surge to 9.2 million in 2021.

You can read the full report via the link – Dispatches from the New Economy: The On-Demand Economy Worker Report. Key insights from the report include:

  • On-Demand Work is Used to Supplement Existing Income: The average person working an on-demand job spends 11 hours per week, and earns 24 percent of their household income via on-demand work. Forty-one percent also have a traditional full-or part-time job.
  • On-Demand Work Fills Near-Term Financial Needs: Sixty-six percent of people working on-demand report having variable monthly income. Forty-one percent say that a financial hardship – such as a job loss, medical problem, or unexpected major expense – impacted them during the prior year. By comparison, just 18 percent of all Americans in a recent U.S. Federal Reserve survey reported encountering a financial emergency.
  • On-Demand Work Is Used To Build A Sustainable Future: Many people are leaning on-demand economy work to either develop a new business, or to supplement and expand an existing business. Thirty-seven percent already own a business, and 21 percent want to build a business.
  • There is General Satisfaction With On-Demand Work: 38 percent of people working in the on-demand economy feel they are better off, while only 14 percent believe they are worse off. Eighty-one percent plan to continue working an on-demand job over the next 12 months, and 67 percent of people are satisfied with their on-demand work.

These insights and the study data shows that the people engaged in on-demand work are looking for flexible opportunities to smooth out unpredictable income, while also testing ways to build a secure financial future. We encourage you to engage with this content and share your ideas for how we can best build a system to support this new generation of entrepreneurs.