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Baltimore is one of the top 25 cities for freelancers

Posted at 7:05 AM, Jun 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-15 08:29:54-04

BALTIMORE — Despite rising prices on gas and food, many companies still struggle to hire workers.

Baltimore is one of the top 25 cities in which many have decided during the ‘Great Resignation’ to become their own boss.

The pandemic changed the way a lot of people look at life and work. Some were able to work from home, while many others lost their jobs or quit. There's also another group of workers who've decided to go out on their own and freelance.

Thousands of workers are saying goodbye to working 9-to-5.

Freelancers Union executive director Rafael Espinal said “you have parents who love the flexibility of being able to stay home with their children and produce the same amount of work they do as in the traditional workplace. You have folks who have figured out they can use their specific skillset and turn that into a freelance business.”

The app Fiverr connects businesses with freelancers in a digital marketplace where gig workers offer up their skills for sale.

Fiverr vice-president of public policy Brent Messenger partnered with the market research firm Rockbridge to analyze U.S. Census data. Together, they found Baltimore is one of the top 25 cities in the country for freelancers.

“So, you're talking about 59,000 people that are doing this work in Baltimore. So, it's a pretty significant population of people doing this,” Messenger said.

Whether it's to make some extra cash as a side hustle or a worker's main gig, the study also found Baltimore freelancers each made an average of $38,000 dollars in 2021. It’s equal to about $2.27 billion in combined earnings.

“Fiverr is a 12-year-old company. We’ve seen this growth over time, certainly the pandemic accelerated it, no doubt, and brought about more acceptance of this as a legitimate profession,” Messenger said.

Baltimore ranks at number 24 in the nation with 11,710 people taking on creative gigs and 16,872 people doing technical freelance work.

“That's app developers, people who work with programming a lot of the software that we use every day. And then creative services, we're talking about artists, graphic designers, musicians, and those types,” Messenger said.

Baltimore ranks at number 22 with 30,789 people doing professional freelance work.

“When we're talking about professional workers, we're really talking about things like accountants, bookkeepers, and business consultants, social media experts and those kinds of things,” Messenger said.

While there are a lot of benefits which come with working as a freelancer, Espinal points out there are some drawbacks as well.

“Once you turn to freelancing, you lose access to affordable healthcare, you lose access to benefits like paid family leave, paid sick leave,” Espinal said.

There's also the concern of getting paid after completing a job.

“If you're a traditional employee, you usually have a state department of labor if your wages are being stolen, if you're not being paid on time, but as a freelancer, you only really have small business claims court,” Espinal said.

Messenger touts how Fiverr prevents freelancers from getting stiffed.

“It's a transaction more akin to something you'd see on Amazon, the kind of transaction we're used to, where we buy something and pay for it,” Messenger said.

With many turning towards the digital freelance space to make money, Espinal who also happens to be a former New York City councilman, calls on other policy makers to pay attention.

“I think the pandemic has really shined a light on the need to expand the social safety net. And that hopefully, now that we're seeing the impact that the freelance workforce has in Baltimore, that we're able to see some changes on the local level that can improve their lives,” Espinal said.

You can see the full study here.