The recession sparked a rising tide of freelance workers that is gradually overwhelming the traditional workforce. By the end of the decade, a 2010 Intuit report predicts 40% of the U.S. workforce will be self-employed freelance workers. American workers seem to be on point with that prediction.

Layoffs, downsizing and business closures precipitated by the Great Recession forced many workers to start new careers as freelancers. The slow economy has made freelancing a smart income choice for retirees trying to stretch Freelance Workforceshrunken nest eggs, underemployed parents struggling to make ends meet, and unemployed workers who need to bring home some bacon while continuing their job search. Freelance working has also become the de facto choice of those free spirits who decide to cast off the corporate yoke to live life on their own terms.

The corporate sector’s cost-saving push toward a telecommuting workforce has given more people a taste for the freedoms of freelancing, increasing its appeal. At the same time, the preference for hiring contract workers to keep payrolls lean has created new markets for freelancers. The rise of innovative online employment marketplaces like Zoondy has made it easy for freelancers to connect with people seeking their services. (Click here to find out how Zoondy works.)

According to an article on Wired.com, America’s freelance workforce is “growing at twice the rate of traditional employees.” As Wired points out, the U.S. workforce is well on its way to achieving Intuit’s predicted 40% freelance employment well before the end of the decade:

“Many larger companies report that 30% of their procurement spend today is on contingent workers. Similarly, an estimated 30% of those in today’s job market (or roughly 42 million workers) are either self-employed or part-time.”

The employment shift has prompted the Department of Labor to begin collecting statistics on freelance workers, a move Cassandra Levelle deems essential in an article on Policymic. With the number of freelancers continuing to grow, Levelle contends that the business community and government share a responsibility for creating new models to guarantee freelancers equal rights to fair compensation, insurance and taxation. We couldn’t agree more.