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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The coronavirus pandemic has supercharged the freelance economy.

Why it matters: Millions of workers are freelancers by choice, but millions of others are wading into this riskier and less stable way of life because of the pandemic's economic turmoil.

By the numbers: The freelance economy is now worth $1.2 trillion, a 22% increase from 2019, according to a new report from Upwork.

  • There are 59 million freelancers in the U.S. — just over a third of the workforce — and 36% of them do this type of work full-time, up from 28% last year.
  • Two fast-growing freelancer cohorts are parents who are juggling child care and work during the pandemic and Gen Zers, many of whom are learning remotely or taking a year off from college, says Adam Ozimek, chief economist at Upwork.
    • 48% of freelancers are caregivers, and half of Gen Zers are freelancing, per the report.

"Freelancers are dealing with the same economy everyone else is dealing with," Ozimek says.

  • While the availability of freelancing gigs has increased in telework-friendly industries like tech and finance, it has slumped in education and entertainment.

The bottom line: In such uncertain times, "freelancing is really flexible for both the workers and the companies," Ozimek says. "They're the first ones in. But then they're also the first ones out. That’s part of the flexibility companies get from it."

Go deeper

The billionaire balloon

Data: World Inequality Report 2022; Chart: Axios Visuals

The super-rich are getting stupid rich: New data out today shows the share of global wealth held by the richest slice of humanity swelled by almost a full percentage point during the pandemic.

Driving the news: The top 0.01% of individuals now hold about 11% of the world's wealth, compared to just over 10% in 2020, according to the "World Inequality Report 2022," written by Lucas Chancel, Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman.

2 hours ago - Science

Exploding demand for laboratory space

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Office occupancy rates remain deflated across industries, but one type of workplace is in high demand: labs.

The big picture: A number of trends — in public health, American demographics and venture capital funding — are colliding to supercharge the life sciences industry.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
2 hours ago - Technology

Trump's unconventional social media SPAC

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Donald Trump's social media startup is under investigation by federal securities regulators, before it's even launched a product, and every new disclosure seems to invite new questions.

Why it matters: Trump Media & Technology Group was always bound to be controversial, but it's inviting extra scrutiny by keeping basic details secret and making wild promises.

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