After many years of being a staff employee at several companies, I found myself spending more time jumping from job to job. I talked to the companies, and they told me that indeed the industry had made a shift away from staff employees, and hired many more freelancers.
Starting out as a freelance animator is damned tough. It’s a rocky start, but once you’re established with post and animation houses around town (whatever town that may be), it can truly be a nice ride. To get there, though, requires a hell of a lot of patience and no less than vigorous tenacity on your part (and a lot of antacids).