Survey finds majority of Americans identify as creators or freelancers


According to a survey by Oxygen, the fintech company, more than a third of Americans have started a new side hustle during the pandemic – and nearly half of Americans say it has been profitable.

The findings shed light on what’s behind the so-called “big quit” of people quitting their jobs to pursue their passions. The survey also puts into context the growth of the “creator economy,” which is driven by younger generational cohorts.

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The company’s research found that developing a new passion during the pandemic was especially true for Gen Z (53%) and Millennials (52%). And while 74% of Gen Z and 82% of Millennials say they’d like to turn their side businesses into full-time businesses, that’s not just the ambition of a young person. In fact, this sentiment was true for 74% of survey respondents of all generations.

Notably, one of the top secondary activities during the pandemic was gaming, a major hobby for 4 in 10 Americans. Other popular secondary activities include social media for 35%, music for 35%, and art for 31%.

But how much money do these stampedes really make for Americans? Twenty percent of survey respondents say they make enough money to turn their hobby projects into a full-time business. Yet 41% said that even though they are making money, it is not enough to quit their full-time job.

And while these passion projects have paid off, said Hussein Ahmed, chief executive of Oxygen, while the creator economy has grown tremendously in recent years and continues to grow, financial institutions have not followed this emerging industry, not recognizing them as viable providers due to the novelty of revenue forms.

“The creator economy – which includes independent entrepreneurs, small business owners, individual entrepreneurs and creators – demonstrates what it means to earn a living in the 21st century,” Ahmed said. “The problem, however, is that the financial institutions that are critical to any creator’s success haven’t kept up with this emerging industry and therefore haven’t delivered any real value. We still need more connectivity with these tools and, in some cases, we should bring the solution in-house to allow a better understanding of the needs of these companies and allow fintechs to deliver the right product at the right time.

Oxygen said in its report that the creator industry is valued at $100 billion and consists of more than 50 million independent creators — a number the report’s authors expect to grow. In fact, in his survey, 88% of all respondents also said they considered themselves a creator or freelancer. That’s 93% of Gen Z, 87% of Gen Y, 91% of Gen X, and 78% of Baby Boomers.

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