The number of American freelancers is growing. According to one estimate, 59 million Americans freelanced at some point in 2019. One survey by marketing consultant Edelman predicts that 90 million will be freelancing by 2028. (These are the 26 jobs you’re most likely to quit.)
The median hourly rate for freelancers across all categories is $28, but employers save money because the overall cost of freelance labor is usually lower, and it’s easier to regularly lay off or swap-out freelancers. Companies that use freelancers generally don’t offer benefits like workers’ compensation or employer-provided health insurance to them. (Even if you don’t freelance full-time, here are 28 smart ways to make extra money.)
Freelancing is indeed a trade-off. It allows workers to make their own schedules and to have full control of where they work in exchange (usually) for no benefits or job security. They also pay higher payroll taxes because they’re considered both a business and an employee in the eyes of the IRS.
Some types of freelance work allow more generous tax deductions (such as the full value of a commercial truck) than other types of work that require only a computer, a small work space, and internet access.
To identify the best cities for freelancers, 24/7 Tempo reviewed The Best Places to Freelance in the USA, a report compiled by the website-creation site ToolTester. The site ranked major U.S. cities across 14 metrics, including tax rates, working and meeting space costs and availability, average distance from the nearest transit station, and Wi-Fi cost and speed, among other factors. (Population figures come from the U.S. Census Bureau and are for July 2021.)
If you are in the business of contract-based self-employment, consider the 25 best cities on this list. The advantages they offer vary. The monthly cost of renting a workspace, for instance, ranges from $194 in Mesa, Arizona, to $365 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Wi-Fi costs vary from $54 in Denver to $117 in Raleigh, North Carolina. In Milwaukee, the average distance to a public transit point is just 131 feet compared to 6,141 feet in Jacksonville, Florida.
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