Afternoon Coffee: Fiverr report sizes up freelancer market; Details on U.S.-China talks; Airbus upset by Boeing 737 MAX deal

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Fiverr, the online freelancer services marketplace (which went public last week), has released its second annual “The Independent Workforce: Sizing the Market in the United States” study, conducted by Rockridge Partners. The report estimates the population size and income of U.S.-based freelancer/independent workers, in the aggregate and by the top 25 metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs), skill categories and education level. We covered the first Fiverr/Rockridge study last year, summarizing its findings and looking closely at the study methodology (which has carried over to this year).

The Fiverr study differs from other freelancer studies (such as the MBO Partners study, published earlier this week). In particular, Fiverr focuses exclusively on a sub-segment of the larger freelance/independent worker population which is labeled Skilled Independent Workers. Consequently, the Fiverr/Rockridge study’s estimates of population and income (revenue) are smaller, compared to the other studies (which can range above 40 million, but include categories like independent workers involved in transportation and logistics, construction, insurance, real estate, on-call work, et al).

According to the study, Skilled Independent Workers are “independent workers who perform knowledge-based labor which requires specialized skill sets and experience.” They “make up a huge swath of the independent workforce,” including software engineers, graphic designers, accountants, lawyers, consultants and many more.

The study breaks down this population into three main categories: creative services, technical services and professional services. The study’s independent workforce estimates were developed to include workers ranging from those who may work only intermittently or as moonlighters to those who work independently as their full-time occupation.

The study estimates that “there are 5.6 million skilled freelancers working in creative, technical or professional positions across the country. Over half (54%) of these freelancers (over 3 million) live in the 25 metropolitan identified in this report and, combined, this group generated an estimated $135 billion in the 2018 tax year.” According to the report, “the average revenue for a skilled independent worker in the top 25 markets is about $39,200.”

The top three MSAs (New York, Los Angeles and Chicago) account for about 1.2 million of these freelance/independent workers and over $50 billion of the total revenue. The last three MSAs — out of 25 — (Tampa, Nashville and Orlando) account for about 0.6 million of these freelance/independent workers and just under $6 billion of the total revenue.

The report also notes that from 2011 to 2016, the three fastest growing, in terms of population, were Austin (25.9%), Nashville (23.2%) and Miami (19.3%) and, in terms of revenue, Nashville (39.8%), Austin (30.6%) and Los Angeles (25.1%). Other MSAs with revenue growth at or above 20% were (rank-ordered) Miami, Orlando, Dallas, Denver, Riverside (CA), San Diego, Phoenix, New York and San Francisco. Over the same 5-year period, the aggregate U.S. growth rates for freelance/worker population and revenue were 10.9% and 16.6% respectively.

The Fiverr/Rockridge report offers statistical breakdowns by education level, work category (creative, technical and professional) and by MSA (including three special snapshots for Nashville, Austin and New York).

This may be the best report for getting into this level of geographical detail. It reads easily, and we recommend digesting the report in full.

China details its views on U.S. trade talks

China and the U.S. may resume trade talks after they broke down last month. China's Commerce Ministry on Thursday detailed its position on the right conditions for dialogue, Reuters reports. The hopes for revival of negotiations were rekindled following a call between President Donald Trump and China’s leader, Xi Jinping, and confirmation that the two will meet next week in Japan at the G20 summit.

Airbus eyes British Airways owner's order of Boeing 737 MAX

Airbus wants a crack at the contract that British Airways’ owner awarded to Boeing, ordering 200 of the 737 MAX, the airliner that is currently grounded worldwide after two crashes, according to Reuters.

Boeing got a letter of intent from British Airways owner, the International Airlines Group, at the Paris Airshow for 200 of the grounded 737 MAX aircraft. Boeing Senior Vice President Ihssane Mounir said getting the grounded aircraft back in the air was the top priority for Boeing. He said he the plane to fly this year and to be delivered in 2020.

“We would like a chance to compete for that business,” Airbus’ commercial head Christian Scherer told Reuters and other reporters as the air show closes Thursday and said IAG had not issued a formal tender for the narrow-body plane order.

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