3 Facts About the Global Freelance Economy

Today’s gig economy – powered by social media, global marketplaces and online payment platforms – equips the global workforce with all the tools needed to chart their own career path, leveraging a freelance work lifestyle to build a full-time career, a “side-hustle” or even just extend their career post-retirement.

A new report by Payoneer called the Freelancer Income Report is based on a survey of over 7,000 freelancers from 150 countries, provides new insights into the world of freelancers.

“Freelancers from all walks of life and every corner of the world are empowered to acquire work, set their own wages, market their skills, and get paid how and when they want. It’s our mission to take the complexity and anxiety out of international business for all parties, offering financial services that make it simple for people to take advantage of flourishing global opportunities, and to be a catalyst for businesses to easily acquire the best talent wherever they are and without borders.”    

Scott Galit, CEO, Payoneer

The report details a number of opportunities freelancers have at their fingertips, including these three:

The Bright Young Future for Freelancers

The freelance workforce is overall very young, with nearly 70 percent of freelancers surveyed being under the age of 35, and 21 percent are under the age of 25. This youth movement is even more pronounced in Asia where 82 percent of respondents are under 35, compared to North America where the number is still high but closer to 47 percent.

Across the board, workers at the beginning and end of their careers are most likely to be exclusively freelancing, whereas the promise of a stable paycheck and the sense of security that comes with it seems to drive workers to seek a company job while raising a family. While more experienced workers command top pay, that gap could close in the future as freelance opportunities provide those with fewer years of experience the ability to sharpen and hone their crafts. Additionally, education does not necessarily correlate with high earnings for freelancers, as those with bachelor’s degrees do not demand higher fees than those without, indicating that the future of work values reviews, references and a rich portfolio as much as traditional educational achievements.

How Job Satisfaction is Unlocked with Income Opportunity   

While freelancers find value in freedom and flexibility of being their own boss, happiness is most tightly correlated with income earned. The worldwide average hourly rate charged by freelancers is $21, higher than the $19 average rate reported in Payoneer’s 2018 survey and significantly higher than the average salaries in many of the countries surveyed. Those individuals who work exclusively in freelancing earn a higher hourly rate and are more satisfied with their lifestyle compared to those who split their time working for a company. While freelancers are earning more, businesses are also benefitting by being able to source top-talent without concern for location or overhead costs, increasing satisfaction on both sides of the relationship.

Important Steps Toward Wage Equality

One of the more optimistic findings from the report is that women’s participation in the freelance workforce has been gaining momentum and the average wage for females is leaps and bounds ahead of the greater workforce. Female freelancers earn on average 84 percent of men’s earnings across all fields, and while there is room for improvement, the gap is much smaller than the 64 percent average for all workers reported by the World Economic Forum. However, there are industry-specific nuances, and fields exist where the gender gap remains pronounced, including finance and project management fields. That said, women earn more than men in marketing and web and graphic design.

“Freelancing is booming around the world, driven by the growing global generational shifts,” said Eyal Moldovan, General Manager, Payoneer. “Millennials and Gen Z crave independence and broad, new opportunities with a whopping 54 percent in developed countries starting or planning to start their own businesses. Moreover, 64 percent of those that currently have full time jobs welcome the chance to earn more and broaden their skillsets. Meanwhile, older generations find freelancing a way to stay relevant, and to keep their skills sharp in a world where technology trends and tools change in the blink of an eye. Overall, both freelancers and companies benefit, and what once seemed a novel pursuit has redefined the very nature of the workforce.”

Eyal Moldovan

For the full report, please downloadThe 2020 Freelancer Income Report

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