Empowering the Freelance Economy

New data indicates freelancers with clients in these industries could struggle to negotiate a rate rise

Which industries should freelancers think twice about serving in the current economic climate? Photo by Naveen Annam via Pexels
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The UK Industries seeing the smallest increase in wages are an indicator that clients in these sectors could be slow to negotiate a rate rise with freelancers. Is it worth staying or moving on?

  • Financial & Insurance Activities has seen the smallest increase in wages, with wages actually dropping by nearly 6% in the last year
  • The Real Estate Activities industry takes second
  • The Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation industry takes third

Are rates and salaries going up or down?

New research has revealed the UK industries that have had the smallest increase in wages, with some industries even seeing a decrease.

The study by UK financial services provider CMC Markets analysed the latest release from the Office for National Statistics, featuring results from their Wages and Salaries Survey since January 2000. Of course, one would expect wages to increase over a 23-year period, but what is more telling is wage growth trends following a market downturn and a pandemic.

Financial & Insurance

CMC Markets found that the Financial & Insurance Activities industry has seen a drop in average wages in one year. In January 2022, average weekly earnings sat at £1,746 for the industry, which went down to £1,649 in January 2023, a decrease of 5.88%. However, the industry has seen a five-year increase of 19.10% on average wages.

Real estate

The Real Estate Activities industry takes second on the list. Weekly earnings in the industry decreased from £647 to £629 between January 2022 and January 2023, which is a percentage decrease of 2.86%. The industry, however, has seen a 19.71% rise in weekly earnings in the last five years.

Arts, Entertainment and Recreation

Coming in third place is the Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation industry. Between January 2022 and January 2023, the average weekly earnings in the industry dropped from £448 to £439, a percentage decrease of 2.05%. The study found the five-year change to be an increase of 14.81% as well.

Bectu, the creatives union, has issued a statement of support for UK freelancers and warns of a crisis in the unscripted television sector, following increasing reports that large numbers of TV professionals are facing unprecedented gaps in employment.

With many freelancers having already left or considering leaving the industry, Bectu is very concerned that there may not be a sufficient workforce to meet demand when production returns to more normal levels. Freelancers are telling the union that they urgently want to see productions green-lit and budgets signed off so they can get back to work.

It is therefore urging industry stakeholders, including broadcasters, streamers and production companies, to come together to address the issue as a matter of urgency.

The union represents freelancers working in unscripted television genres such as factual entertainment, entertainment, documentary, non-scripted comedy, news and current affairs, sports, children, reality, music and live and natural history at any level – from runner to executive producer.


Taking fourth place on the list is the industry for Other Service Activities, which includes activities like tech repairs, hairdressing, dry cleaning, and more. Average weekly earnings went from £442 in January 2022 to £448 in January 2023, a percentage increase of 1.34%, making it the industry where wages have changed the least. The five-year change in wages in the industry was also an increase of 23.36%

Rounding out the top five is the Wholesale Trade industry, which has seen weekly earnings rise from £768 in January 2022 to £779 in January 2023, an increase of just 1.41%. Over the past five years, average weekly earnings have also risen 23.36%.

RankIndustryJan 2022 Average Weekly EarningsJan 2023 Average Weekly EarningsJan 2018 Average Weekly Earnings1 Year Change5 Year Change
1Financial & Insurance Activities£1,746£1,649£1,334-5.88%19.10%
2Real Estate Activities£647£629£505-2.86%19.71%
3Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation£448£439£374-2.05%14.81%
4Other Service Activities£442£448£3831.34%14.51%
5Wholesale Trade£768£779£5971.41%23.36%
6Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing£419£427£3881.87%9.13%
7Manufacturing – Textiles, Leather and Clothing£463£473£4032.11%14.80%
9Manufacturing – Food Products, Beverages, and Tobacco£574£594£4963.37%16.50%
10Retail Trade and Repairs£364£378£3243.70%14.29%

Earlier this month, The Freelance Informer reported that UK recruitment consultancies are reporting that clients are making more temporary hires over permanent ones amid lingering economic uncertainty, according to a new study.

Temp billings for recruiters were recorded as the fastest growing for seven months, according to the KPMG and REC, UK Report on Jobs survey.

If you especially enjoy working with a client in any one of the industries impacted by wage decreases then you have to weigh those work-life pros and cons up. If a client refuses a rate rise to match inflation, then you know it is time to move on and say when things pick up in future, that you would be happy to collaborate again. You are a business just as much as they are, so don’t lose sight of that. It is advisable to land a new project or client before moving on as a matter of professional courtesy, your contract obligations and to avoid burning bridges.

Articles you may find useful:

How to get your agency to negotiate higher rates on your behalf – Freelance Informer

How to budget for higher mortgage rates when you’re a freelancer – Freelance Informer

Freelancer rates in these sectors could soar – Freelance Informer

Know Your Worth as a Creative Freelancer – Freelance Informer

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