KARACHI: Most Pakis­tanis under the age of 35 (90per cent) are opting to go into freelance work — more than the global average of 70pc, according to a report released by the digital payment company Payoneer.

The report titled ‘Freelancer Income Report 2020’ is based on a survey of over 7,000 freelancers from 150 countries, including emerging markets such as Pakistan.

Payoneer says more people (75pc) are going freelance full-time due to income satisfaction.

Freelancing’s popularity is attributed to the potential for greater job opportunity, independence, higher income and a promising move in the direction of wage equality.

Men and women in Pakistan selected web and graphic design as the most popular freelancing field.

In terms of advertising on social media, Pakistani freelancers are most reliant on Facebook and LinkedIn. However, according to Payoneer, in 2020 advertisements on Facebook declined from previous years with LinkedIn increasing by 1pc from 2018.

The data showed that even with the growth of co-working spaces in the country, 81pc of Pakistani freelancers prefer to work from home.

Payoneer report says freelance economy offers unparalleled opportunity for growth

“Pakistan has remained in the top 5 freelancing markets in the world consistently. Now is the time our small and midsize businesses (SMBs) grow beyond borders and drive Pakistan’s digital economy,” said Payoneer’s country manager Mohsin Muzzafer while speaking to Dawn.

“More people now consider freelancing as a full-time career as opposed to a part-time gig, which is a big shift to positivity. This also means an increased landscape of opportunity for our youth and the overall impact on digital Pakistan,” he added.

Global landscape

The report said that the gig economy — powered by social media, global marketplaces and online payment platforms — equipped the global workforce with all the tools needed to chart their own career path, leveraging a freelance work lifestyle to build a full-time career, a “side-hustle” or even just extend their career post-retirement.

“The freelancing economy has grown exponentially over the past decade, and I believe we can now firmly say that the future of work has arrived. Obstacles that could slow or hinder freelancers’ ability to grow, connect and be successful have been removed,” said Scott Galit, Payoneer CEO.

“Freelancers from all walks of life and every corner of the world are empowered to acquire work, set their own wages, market their skills, and get paid how and when they want.”

The report highlighted that the freelance workforce was overall very young, with nearly 70pc of freelancers surveyed being under the age of 35, and 21pc were under the age of 25. This youth movement was even more pronounced in Asia where 82pc of respondents were under 35, compared to North America where the number was still high but closer to 47pc.

While freelancers found value in freedom and flexibility of being their own boss, happiness was most tightly correlated with income earned. The worldwide average hourly rate charged by freelancers was $21, higher than the $19 average rate reported in Payoneer’s 2018 survey and significantly higher than the average salaries in many of the countries surveyed.

Closing gender gap

One of the more optimistic findings from the report was that women’s participation in the freelance workforce had been gaining momentum and the average wage for females was leaps and bounds ahead of the greater workforce. Female freelancers earned on average 84pc of men’s earnings across all fields, and while there is room for improvement, the gap is much smaller than the 64pc average for all workers reported by the World Economic Forum.

However, there are industry-specific nuances, and fields existed where the gender gap remains pronounced, including finance and project management fields. That said women earned more than men in marketing and web and graphic design.

“Freelancing is booming around the world, driven by the growing global generational shifts,” said Eyal Moldovan, General Manager of Payoneer. “Millennials and Gen Z crave independence and broad, new opportunities with a whopping 54pc in developed countries starting or planning to start their own businesses.”

Published in Dawn, February 11th, 2020