19 Upwork Statistics for Talent-Seekers

Updated · May 20, 2023

As of 2022, there are roughly 330 million people in the US.

Now, it’s true that’s a lot of people, but it’s also merely 4.25% of the world's population. And in today’s globalized society, it’s a good idea to look for talent beyond a country’s borders.

How to do that?

One of the easiest ways is to use a freelance marketplace, and Upwork is one of the most popular choices for the purpose.

In this article, we’ll look at a range of Upwork statistics to better understand how the platform works—and, hopefully, to give you a better idea if it’s right for you.

Uptrend Upwork Stats (Editor’s Choice)

  • 36% of US workers take part in the gig economy.
  • The gig economy grew 8.25 times faster than the US economy in 2020.
  • 30% of Fortune 100 companies use Upwork.
  • Freelancers on Upwork earnt a combined $3.3 billion in 2021 alone.
  • The platform saw 35% year-over-year growth in revenue in 2021.
  • Upwork’s gross services volume surpassed $1 billion in Q2 2022.
  • Transaction losses equaled 4% of total revenue in Q2 2022.
  • Upwork has 807,000 active clients.

What Is Upwork?

Upwork is the world’s largest freelance marketplace, boasting millions of workers—and businesses looking to hire those workers.

Here, we’ll discuss what’s on Upwork and who uses it most.

1. A merger between two companies created Upwork in 2013.

(Source: Bloomberg)

Upwork was founded in 2013 when two major freelance websites—Elance and ODesk—merged together. The newly-created company was named Upwork and inherited the enormous user base of its predecessors.

Elance had roughly three million freelancers, whereas ODesk was home to five million. They also hosted approximately two million businesses between tхем.

2. Almost a third of Fortune 100 companies use Upwork.

(Source: Bloomberg)

The services Upwork offers have proven valuable to many, including some of the greatest in the business world.

30% of Fortune 100 companies—that is, the biggest corporations in the US—reportedly hire talent from Upwork. Moreover, about a quarter of Fortune 500 companies (who generate two-thirds of the United States GDP) do the same. Why do they do that?

Hiring a freelancer is comparatively cheaper than hiring an employee, but it also allows for greater scalability when the need arirses. Companies save about 30% by using freelancing platforms to find talent.

3. Web programming is the fastest-growing skill on Upwork.

(Source: Upwork)

As the world’s premier freelance platform, the Upwork marketplace can offer its clients virtually every skill they could possibly need. It has a total of 90 categories and 10,000 skills for you to scour through.

The most popular categories are tech (web design, WordPress, web programming), marketing (social media, lead generation, SEO), and customer service.

Web programming, in particular, experienced a 43% year-over-year growth in 2021, becoming the fastest-growing skill on Upwork.

4. 36% of the US workforce takes part in the gig economy.

(Source: Forbes)

As of 2021, the number of freelancers in the US has reached a new high, surpassing 59 million, or 36% of the entire workforce.

Interestingly, it’s generally the most highly-educated Americans who perform freelance work—51% of postgraduate workers do it compared to just 31% of those with a high-school diploma.

Furthermore, this trend is deepening quickly—merely two years ago, only 45% of Americans with postgrad degrees engaged in freelancing while 37% of high-school graduates did. That was a gap of eight percentage points. Now, however, there’s a 20% gap.

5. Upwork hired 1,500 of its own freelancers for internal projects in 2020.

(Source: Upwork)

Although it may sound weird, some of the job postings on Upwork are from Upwork itself. Every year, the company contracts hundreds of its own freelancers for internal projects. In 2020, it hired approximately 1,500 of them.

Curiously, Upwork’s official employee count is roughly 500, meaning the platform relies quite heavily on freelancers.

6. Clients and freelancers exchange over four million messages weekly.

(Source: KhrisDigital)

You’ll need good communication skills to become a successful freelancer on Upwork. Since a freelancer constantly has to work with new people and collaborate on diverse projects, they must communicate every detail clearly and concisely.

Weekly, clients and workers on Upwork exchange over four million messages. In some cases, employers may even ask you to join in on a virtual meeting for further clarifications, but since that happens off-Upwork, we can’t give you the precise figures.

Fun fact: Clients usually hire a worker within three days of posting.

Are Freelance Careers on Upwork Viable?

Long gone are the days when the phrase “freelance career” was considered an oxymoron.

Nowadays, platforms such as Upwork allow anybody unwilling to slave away at a 9-5 job to take the reins and explore more flexible options for making a living. Best of all, Upwork connects people from all over the world, bypassing a major limitation for traditional workers.

7. The gig economy grew 8.25 times faster than the US economy in 2020.

(Source: Bloomberg)

The success of freelancing is evident when we consider the rate at which the gig economy is growing compared to the US economy as a whole.

In 2020, specifically, when many lost their jobs and scrambled to restore some of their income, it grew 8.25 times faster. Even under normal circumstances, it’s expanding at nearly three times the country’s overall economic rate.

8. Freelancers in the US make $20 hourly on average.

(Source: Upwork)

Who says a freelancer’s income isn’t as good as a traditional employee's? Not only can it be as good, it’s typically better. The average freelancer in the US makes about $20 hourly, but depending on your field, that figure could easily go up to an average of $28.

For instance, those in programming, marketing, and accounting earn more as freelancers than 70% of the entire US workforce. Moreover, 60% of full-time-employees-turned-freelancers report higher incomes after making the switch.

9. Freelancers on Upwork earnt a combined $3.3 billion in 2021 alone.

(Source: Bloomberg)

Upwork stats from this year reveal that the freelancer community on the platform earnt a total of over $3.3 billion in 2021.

An increasing number of highly-skilled workers means that earnings are likely to grow further over the following years. As a matter of fact, just a year earlier, in 2020, Upwork’s “talent community” made approximately $2.3 billion.

This translates into a 43% growth year-on-year, which, although it may prove challenging to maintain, speaks volumes of the company’s success in attracting both talent and clients.

10. Upwork charges up to 20% in fees.

(Source: Upwork)

So, you’ve got a gig through Upwork, did your job, and now it’s time to get paid. Unfortunately, you’ll have to deal with the commission Upwork charges.

It’s a tiered system, starting at 20% in fees for jobs where you make less than $500, 10% when you earn under $10,000, and 5% in case your revenue surpasses $10,000.

On the bright side, your earnings will stack if you work with the same client more than once. This means that if your first gig earnt you $500 and you paid 20% in fees, the next $500 job from the same client will only cost you 10%.

11. Upwork has 807,000 active clients as of Q2 2022.

(Source: Upwork)

An active Upwork client is someone who has hired talent on the platform in the previous 12 months. As of Q2 2022, there were 807,000 such people. This is a significant increase year-over-year—of 11%, to be exact—but it’s also the lowest in a while: growth remained steady at around 25% in the last few quarters.

Regardless, it’s essential to put things into perspective: the company began 2021 with 685,000 active clients, which means it’s added over 120,000 in a year and a half.

Furthermore, according to Upwork statistics, the number of clients who spend $100,000+ on the platform has gone up by 38%.

Upwork’s Revenue

Since Upwork quite literally markets itself as a “work marketplace,” we can’t not talk about money.

In recent years, the company’s decided to focus on big enterprises as its main clientele, departing from the typical gig marketplace to position itself as a more serious platform where demanding employers can find highly-skilled workers.

Let’s see if this has proven to be a sound financial decision.

12. Upwork’s gross services volume surpassed $1 billion in Q2 2022.

(Source: Upwork)

Upwork stats from last month reveal that the company’s gross services volume (GSV) reached $1.046 billion in Q2 2022, which represents a 19% increase from the previous year’s $876 million.

Moreover, Upwork saw 41% growth year-on-year in 2021, when it recorded an annual GSV of $3.547 billion (compared to $2.524 billion in 2020).

Note: GSV refers to the total spending of clients on the platform plus the various fees that workers pay.

13. Upwork saw 35% year-over-year growth in revenue in 2021.

(Source: Upwork)

According to Upwork statistics, the company generated $503 million in 2021, which represents a 35% increase over 2020’s $374 million.

That said, things seem to be slowing down, with projected growth for 2022 set at 22%. This would put Upwork’s annual revenue at around $612-$617 million.

So far, Upwork has reported $298 million in total revenue; this leaves $336 million for Q3 and Q4, or roughly $168 million per quarter. We’ll have to wait and see if predictions come true.

14. Transaction losses equaled 4% of total revenue in Q2 2022.

(Source: Upwork)

While Upwork’s business model is profitable enough, it’s not without its problems. Some of these problems became considerably worse last quarter when the company registered substantial transaction losses—equivalent to 4% of total revenue.

These losses are, of course, an inevitable part of doing business, but they usually cost Upwork no more than 1% of its revenue. According to an investors' report, an alleged rise in fraud and chargebacks has led to a nasty increase.

Fun fact: Between fees, penalties, and lost merchandise, businesses end up paying three times the actual chargeback amount. And doing chargeback fraud is (technically) not even illegal. But don’t worry—some payment gateways offer businesses protection from this type of fraud.

15. Only a fourth of all freelancer revenue on Upwork is generated within the US.

(Source: Statista)

Upwork is a global company—and that’s one of its main strengths. Clients from all over the world can hire talent from all over the world.

It’s no surprise that three-fourths of freelancer revenue on the platform originates from outside of the US. In 2021, Americans generated $74.89 million, followed by freelancers in India ($42.28 million) and those from the Philippines ($32.92 million).

Independent workers from across the world accounted for the remaining 50% of revenue, at $146.84 million.

16. Three-fourths of all client revenue on Upwork is generated within the US.

(Source: Statista)

There are various client fees on Upwork, too, though employers do get a better deal overall: the marketplace derives just a third of its total revenue from clients.

Still, what’s notable is that approximately 74% of client revenue originates in the US itself. That’s the equivalent of $153 million, which leaves just $52.82 million for the rest of the world.

In short, most employers on Upwork are based in the States, but most freelancers aren’t.

Upwork’s Competitors

Upwork isn’t the only freelancing platform, though it’s relatively unique. As we mentioned before, Upwork has shifted its focus to enterprise clients, which is an advantage for those who sign up for the platform.

17. Upwork has a 9% market share in the freelancing market.

(Source: Seeking Alpha)

The freelance market size is continually growing, exhibiting a 15.3% CAGR—and Upwork has a firm grip on it. As of 2022, the platform maintains a 9% market share.

Toptal follows close behind at 8%, whereas Fiverr controls 5% of the market. The remainder is split between various minor services.

18. Each Upwork client spent an average of $4,874 in Q2 2022.

(Source: Upwork)

Upwork jobs tend to be a bit more demanding than the average freelance job, as many clients are large corporations looking for highly skilled workers to perform complicated tasks. This is why the average they spent on the platform was $17,100 over 2020 and $17,188 over 2021.

For comparison, Fiverr clients spent about $205 each throughout 2020, which suggests that most of them are small businesses or even individuals who needed help with small projects. Of course, Fiverr has far more clients—over 3.5 million.

19. New freelance marketplaces based on crypto are offering 0% fees.

(Source: International Business Times)

There are many sites like Upwork. Most are fairly similar, albeit smaller in scale. But now, an emerging genre of freelance marketplaces is set to disturb the scene.

Ethlance, LaborX, Blocklancer, Bounties Network, Mentat, and others are all based on crypto and blockchain technology—and, as such, offer a range of completely new benefits.

Crucially, they provide a safer way of doing business for both sides due to the immutability of blockchains. Similarly, smart contracts allow for 0% service fees, making these new platforms an especially attractive alternative to Upwork for freelancers.

Wrap Up

Whether you’re a firm believer in traditional employment or a willing experimenter of new work modes, there’s no denying that remote and freelance jobs are on the rise. Some may see them as an additional source of income but, for others, they’re the main job.

If you found our Upwork statistics interesting, try making an account on the platform, doing a few jobs, and then looking at the “My Stats” page—you may learn a thing or two about yourself, too!

From client satisfaction to communication effectiveness, Upwork tracks several key metrics to help you improve your work ethic.

Jordan T. Prodanoff
Jordan T. Prodanoff

A wayfarer by heart, Jordan fancies journeying into foreign lands with a camera in hand almost as much as he enjoys roving the online world. He spends his time poking at letters and pixels, trying to transmogrify them into something cool.