The global average hourly freelance rate is now US$28, according to the latest Freelancer Income Report by e-payments and financial services company Payoneer. That's an increase of 33.3% from 2020, when the last report estimated the average rate to be US$21 per hour.
Actual hourly increases were reported by 40% of the freelancers Payoneer surveyed, while around 50% saw no change and only 12% saw their rates decrease - suggesting that for the fortunate 40%, the increase in rates was likely significantly higher than US$7. And most of those who saw their income rise were in finance, marketing, and programming, which Payoneer's report identifies as the top earning professions among freelancers.
It's worth noting that the high average rate seems to be driven mainly by North America and Europe, where the average hourly pay for freelancers is US$44 and US$31 respectively - in all other regions of the world, hourly rates are still below US$28.
Image from Payoneer's Freelance Income Report 2022
At the same time, 32% of freelancers - again mostly from finance, marketing, and programming - saw the demand for their services jump, while 45% found it unchanged. This was quite the opposite situation from full-time workers, who faced salary freezes, pay cuts, and layoffs through the pandemic, with wages in many countries still not entirely recovered even now.
Despite the apparently positive outlook, though, there is a clear bias in the freelancers' market that may mirror that in the broader labour market. The demand for services was enjoyed mainly by younger freelancers, while older freelancers actually saw a slight decrease in their work. And there is a noticeable gender pay gap: the US$28 per hour average applies only to men. Women make US$23 per hour on average, 82% of their male counterparts' pay, even though the number of women in the freelance workforce has actually increased to 29% (up from 24% in 2020).