Employers And Employees Turning To Freelancing

By CityTownInfo.com Staff
May 14, 2009

Many workers across the county are turning to freelance work to help make ends meet, and employers are hiring more people on a project-by-project contract basis.

United Press International reports that Kelly Services, a labor marketing consulting firm, said that about one-quarter of U.S. workers now freelance, compared to 19 percent who did freelance work in 2006.

"Not only (are) more people looking for new ways of earning money, there are also more companies looking to make their employment practices more efficient," explained Rob Palmer, chief executive officer of GoFreelance.com.

Although freelance workers can conceivably earn substantial incomes, there are disadvantages: They rarely receive healthcare, paid vacations or retirement benefits. Freelance work is usually less steady than a regular payroll check, and workers do not qualify for unemployment insurance benefits. Moreover, freelance workers must be vigilant about setting aside their own tax payments.

Nevertheless, some workers are being drawn to freelance work, particularly since demand has increased as more employers seek to avoid the costs of hiring permanent workers. The Wall Street Journal reports that between January and March, employers posted 70,500 freelance positions on Elance.com and 43,000 on Odesk.com-35 percent and 105 percent more respectively than were posted a year ago. In addition, Sologig.com, which lists freelance jobs, reported that its average monthly postings have more than doubled in the past year.

"The power of online work is that it's immediate, cost-effective and flexible," explained Fabio Rosati, chief executive officer of Elance.com, who was quoted in the Journal.

Rebecca Haden, who lost her job managing a small store in April 2008, told the Journal that she typically earns double what she used to by freelancing her Web skills using Odesk.com. Although she had intended to find a permanent job, she now finds her current work much more fulfilling as well as lucrative.

"I get to pick and choose what I do now," she said. "And I just do the fun stuff."

Freelance work is also expanding beyond computers and graphic design to fields such as accounting, law, engineering, administrative support and sales. But freelancers must always be looking for potential new assignments, even while making sure to complete the ones they have.

"There are a lot of options out there, but you have to put them in place for yourself," noted Kristen Sabol, spokeswoman for Internet freelance marketplace Guru.com, who was quoted by UPI.

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