Technology has made it easier than ever for individuals to boost their earnings with profitable side-gigs. And while U.S. workers of all ages are reaping the greatest rewards, young freelancers across Asia are quickly getting in on the act.
That's according to a new report from digital payments platform Payoneer, which has highlighted the world's fastest-growing freelance markets and how they're reshaping the nature of work.
America's gig economy saw the greatest growth in 2019, with freelancer earnings up 78% year-on-year, according to the Global Gig-Economy Index released Tuesday. The study draws on data from more than 300,000 freelance workers within Payoneer's network.
The world's largest economy was followed by the U.K. and Brazil, which each saw a jump in gig worker earnings over the past year, up 59% and 48%, respectively. However, it was Asia that recorded the greatest regional growth, with earnings up 138% across four countries.
Here's the top 10 list of freelance markets in 2019 based on year-on-year revenue growth.
1. United States - 78%
2. United Kingdom - 59%
3. Brazil - 48%
4. Pakistan - 47%
5. Ukraine - 36%
6. Philippines - 35%
7. India - 29%
8. Bangladesh - 27%
9. Russia - 20%
10. Serbia - 19%
The boost in revenues over the past year is due in part to improved perceptions over the viability of such freelance work, according to Iain McNicoll, vice president and regional head for the Americas at Payoneer.
"We're seeing more and more professionals leaving their jobs to join the gig economy," said McNicoll.
"Whether it's the flexible hours, the absence of a manager looking over your shoulder or the desire to build up your own business, workers don't feel the need to be tied to their offices anymore."
Interestingly, however, while the gig economy attracts professionals of all ages in the U.S., in other markets, it tends to skew toward younger generations, who may be more technically minded or used to less formal work structures. In Pakistan, for example, freelancers younger than 35 generated 77% of revenues, due in large part to improved tech education over recent years.
Overall, workers aged 35 to 44 stand to gain the most from freelance work, according to Payoneer. That group contributed 32% of global freelance earnings in the past year, despite representing only 23% of freelancers worldwide.
Workers aged 18 to 35, meanwhile, made up the largest cohort at 64%, yet their earnings were relatively lower.
The gap reflects the increased experience levels and networks among more established professionals, the report noted.
However, for younger workers keen to establish themselves in the freelance market, there are a number of techniques that can help them stand out, according to Carisa Miklusak, CEO of skills-based recruitment platform Tilr.
- Highlight skills, not just past titles.
- Include references from past employers and contacts.
- Leverage your professional network, for instance LinkedIn, to market your services.
"Traditional workers tend to think about their prior title(s) as their main lever to source and apply for jobs. The successful gig worker must change this mindset to think about their skills as the main building blocks of their appeal to employers," Miklusak told CNBC Make It.
"This can be very liberating for the gig workers," she continued. "When one is looked at as an amalgamation of all of their skills from prior roles, they are always more qualified to do a number of opportunities than they realized when relying on title alone."
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