The 10 countries with the fastest-growing earnings for freelancers

Technology has made it easier than ever for individuals to grow their earnings with profitable side gigs. And while American workers of all ages receive the greatest rewards, young freelancers across Asia are fast moving into action.

This emerges from a new report from the Payoneer digital payments platform that highlighted the world’s fastest growing freelance markets and their reshaping the way we work.

America’s gig economy saw the greatest growth in 2019. Freelance earnings rose 78% year over year, according to the Global Gig-Economy Index released on Tuesday. The study is based on data from more than 300,000 freelance workers on the Payoneer network.

The largest economies in the world were followed by the UK and Brazil, which saw gig worker revenues grow 59% and 48% respectively over the past year. However, it was Asia that saw the largest regional growth, with profits up 138% in four countries.

That fee was led by Pakistan, which saw freelance income grow 47% over the past year. The top 10 included the Philippines, India and Bangladesh.

Here is the top 10 list of freelance markets in 2019 based on year-over-year sales growth.

Top 10 countries for freelancers

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%

A changing workforce

Iain McNicoll, vice president and regional director for America at Payoneer, said the increase in revenue last year was partly due to better perceptions of the profitability of such freelance work.

“We’re seeing more and more professionals leaving their jobs to join the gig economy,” said McNicoll.

“Whether it’s flexible working hours, the lack of a manager to look over your shoulder, or the desire to set up their own company, employees no longer feel the need to be tied to their offices.”

Global breakdown of freelancers by age, according to Payoneer.


Interestingly, while the US gig economy attracts professionals of all ages, in other markets it tends to attract younger generations who may be more tech-oriented or used to less formal work structures. In Pakistan, for example, freelancers under the age of 35 earned 77% of sales, in large part due to improved technical training in recent years.

Overall, according to Payoneer, workers between the ages of 35 and 44 benefit the most from freelance work. This group contributed 32% of global freelance income last year, despite representing only 23% of the world’s freelancers.

Workers aged 18 to 35 made up the largest cohort at 64%, but their income was relatively low.

Entry into the gig

The gap reflects the increased level of experience and networks among more established professionals, the report said.

However, for younger workers looking 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 the skills-based recruiting platform Tilr.

  • Highlight skills, not just previous titles.
  • Include references from previous employers and contacts.
  • Use your professional network, for example LinkedIn, to market your services.

“Traditional workers tend to see their previous titles as the main lever for creating and promoting jobs. The successful gig worker needs to change that mindset to reflect on their skills as the main building blocks of being a major employer,” Miklusak said CNBC Make It.

“It can be very liberating for the gig workers,” she continued. “If you think of it as an amalgamation of all of their skills from previous roles, they are always more qualified to pursue a range of opportunities than they realized by just relying on the title.”

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April 2, 2021