Hot spots appear in the North
Northern cities have seen a surge in the number of freelance workers over the past 12 months, new research shows. Nine out of 10 cities in which the growth of freelancing has been most rapid are in the North of England or Scotland, said online freelancing marketplace PeoplePerHour.
It tracked the number of people registering for freelance work on its site during 2012 in order to identify where new freelancers are most likely to be based. Bradford, in West Yorkshire, topped the rankings, with a 165 per cent increase in the number of freelancers registered on PeoplePerHour over the past 12 months.
Three other towns in Yorkshire also made the top 10, with Sheffield, Halifax and Huddersfield registering growth of 139 per cent, 123 per cent and 115 per cent respectively. Freelancer numbers were up by 135 per cent in Liverpool and by 130 per cent in Manchester.
Growth was also rapid in Scotland: Dundee saw an increase in freelancer numbers of 132 per cent, while PeoplePerHour said the equivalent figure for Aberdeen was 111 per cent.
The other two places in the top 10 were filled by Darlington, where freelancer numbers grew 112 per cent, and Leicester, the most Southern location in the rankings. The East Midlands town saw growth of 146 per cent during 2012.
PeoplePerHour said that London, with growth of 99 per cent, was the only location in the South of the country to feature in the top 20 locations for higher freelancer numbers, while not one town in the East or South-West made the cut.
The figures also suggest that freelancer growth in the North has tended to be in the creative sectors, with services such as writing, design and illustration all growing quickly. In the South, the growth areas have been in more administrative lines of work, with more freelancers offering legal support, accounting and book-keeping.
Xenios Thrasyvoulou, the founder and CEO of PeoplePerHour, said the research partly reflected the economic realities of the country.
“A growing freelance marketplace is the best hope of creating a more flexible workforce, tapping into the wasted resource of tens of thousands of skilled people whose potential is not being realised,” he said.
“The North of England has been particularly badly hit during the recession, but these figures suggest that the north has a pool of highly skilled workers who are not realizing their potential, and have decided that the flexibility of working as a freelancer will provide them with more opportunities.”
By David Prosser