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Austin clocks in as the 4th fastest-growing city for freelancers

Austin clocks in as the 4th fastest-growing city for freelancers

Zilker Park Austin skyline at sunset
A growing number of independent professionals call Austin home. RoschetzkyIstockPhoto/Getty

Visitors to Zilker Park on an early Tuesday afternoon probably have to stop and wonder where all these people are coming from. Don’t they have work to do?

Maybe they do, but on their own schedules. Fiverr, a marketplace for connecting freelancers and new clients, released its fifth annual Freelance Economic Impact Report, ranking Austin as the fourth fastest-growing city for freelancers.

According to the report, Austin's 77,262-person independent workforce earned $3.4 billion in 2021, compared to the city's pool of approximately 57,000 independent workers who made $2.3 billion in 2016. The city ranked 17th for size and 16th for revenue of its independent workforce compared to other cities nationwide.

Despite Austin’s artistic proclivities (and how often artists are driven into the gig economy, like it or not), creatives represented the smallest portion (14.2 percent) of the city’s freelance revenue last year. Skilled professional services made up the largest portion (46 percent), followed by skilled technical services (39.7 percent).

It’s not just that creatives are making less money, they are also the smallest category present in Austin’s independent workforce.

Two other Texas cities appear among the 10 fastest-growing: Dallas, No. 8, and Houston, No. 10. In 2021, about 177, 500 workers in Dallas made $7.6 billion, while about 144,000 workers in Houston made $6.6 billion. This means per-capita revenue was similar in all three top-10 Texas cities, with Houston leading (around $46,000), and Austin and Dallas trailing very close together (around $44,000 and $43,000, respectively).

Joining the Austin, Dallas, and Houston in the top 10 were:

1. Orlando, Florida
2. Nashville, Tennessee
3. Miami, Florida
5. Tampa, Florida
6. Las Vegas, Nevada
7. Charlotte, North Carolina
9. Portland, Oregon

Although on the surface the report focuses on geography, it collected data that shows eight out of 10 freelancers believe they can live anywhere and work anytime. However, fewer than half reported that it was “a primary factor” in becoming freelancers, and a third said that work was “a primary influence” in their choice of location.

Most important, 70 percent of respondents said they were “highly satisfied” with working independently.