Empowering the Freelance Economy

Recession To Spike Freelancer Numbers And Opportunities Says Recruiter

Do companies hire more freelancers during a recession? / Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko via Pexels
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After the number of workers looking for freelance and contract roles more than trebled in 2022, a study reveals that the number of freelancers coming to market in 2023 could see even more growth as has been the case in previous recessions

First, it was the tech giants making big layoff announcements. Now it’s the investment banks. Which industry is next to cut its headcount as the global recession takes a toll and what does this mean for freelancers?

“If previous recessions have taught us anything it’s that freelancers and contractors are key to supporting businesses and the economy through difficult periods,” says Terry Payne, the Global Managing Director of recruitment firm Aspire.

After the number of workers looking for freelance and contract roles more than trebled in 2022 – a development linked to challenging economic conditions, the rise of second jobbers and the abundance of freelance opportunities is expected to continue, according to Aspire’s quarterly Workplace Trends report.

The report explores the key issues impacting the world of work and has revealed that workers searching for freelance and temporary work jumped from 9.6% at the start of 2022, to 31.3% in the second half of 2022. 

Some 574 workers from a range of industries – including technology, IT and the creative industries – responded to Aspire’s survey, which also highlights the confidence that workers have in the jobs market. 

Terry Payne of Aspire said that the findings of the firm’s recent survey showed that 28% of candidates have a side hustle and a further 20% intend to create one to supplement their income.  

What is the influence of the economy on freelancer numbers?

“The majority (52.5%) of those surveyed believe there were lots of job opportunities in Q3 (nearly twice the number of candidates who think there was a lack of relevant jobs (28.6%)),” said the report. This is in line with the 56.85% and 59.8% who were positive about job availability in Q2 and Q1 respectively. 

Added to this is the rise of flexible working and work/life balance, which Aspire’s study shows are the second and third most important factors for job seekers respectively, after pay. 

Also of note are the findings which show that 28% of candidates have a side hustle and a further 20% intend to create one. This suggests there will be a rise in people taking on freelance work to supplement their income.  

“First, you have inflation and the soaring cost of living – a major challenge which means more people are taking on second jobs and starting side hustles to boost their income. Freelancing presents the perfect opportunity to achieve this,” says Payne.

“The current job vacancy boom is also driving this trend,” he says. “Firms are desperate for talent and recognise that freelancers and flexible workers can plug skills gaps and accelerate growth in a cost-efficient way. With so many freelance roles out there, it’s no surprise that more people want to work in this manner,” says Payne.

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