The majority of 1099 (independent) workers in the United States in 2017 were between the ages of 21 and 27. The average annual income for all 1099 workers, regardless of age, was $65,300, and most of them (more than 4.2 million) were married. Details on these findings and how we arrived at them are below.
Because the 1099 workforce, also called the gig economy, fluctuates quickly and lacks a standard definition of what constitutes an independent contractor across government agencies, "there is little government data about people who make their living freelancing."
Therefore, our research had to be gleaned from private sources.
We found clear evidence of the breakdown of the age and average annual income of 1099 workers in the 2017 MBO Partners State of Independence report. MBO Partners is an organization dedicated to serving the business needs of independent contractors. We then triangulated data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics and Nation1099, a web publication for 1099 workers, to determine the breakdown of their marital status. (For details on this triangulation, please see the section on Marital Status below.)
According the 2017 MBO Partners State of Independence report,
38 percent of the full-time independent workforce in the US last year were Millennials, or people age 21–37 years old. This represents 15.5 million people. Baby Boomers (53–72 years old) and Matures (72+ years old) were close behind, at 35 percent. This represents 14.3 million people. The remaining 27 percent, or 11 million people, were from Generation X (38–52 years old).
The same report tells us that the average income for 1099 workers last year was $65,300. Millenials earned roughly $43,800, on average, while Baby Boomers and Matures collectively earned an average of $77,000. Approximately 1 out of 5 full-time independent workers made more than $100,000.
Marital Status Breakdown
Despite extensive research, no pre-compiled data on the marital status of 1099 workers could be found. Here are the steps we took to determine this information.
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 1099 workers made up 11% of the total population, and that the total number of married people (spouse present) in the population was 38,866,000. Using the calculation: 38,866,000 x .11 = 4,275,260, we determined the number of married 1099 workers to be 4,275,260.
The Bureau also reported the number of Americans with "Other" marital status (i.e., never married, widowed, divorced, etc.) at 11,374,000. Using the same calculation, we determined there were 1,251,140 independent workers who fell outside the married (spouse present) designation.
While the government has difficulty thoroughly and accurately reporting the number of 1099 workers in America, outside agencies such as MBO Partners and Nation1099 are working to fix the data gaps that make this research difficult. We can say with certainty, however, that in 2017, the majority of this workforce were young, married people, and collectively, they all earned approximately $65,300 last year.