Freelancing in the UK (January 2016)

Continuing our examination into the state of freelancing in the UK, we’ve crunched the numbers for January 2016 and the results are somewhat muddled.  The data suggests that the figures for UK freelancing have – in the main – returned to the levels seen in November of last year.  A more likely prognosis however, is the likelihood that last month’s data was inaccurate.

According to Linked In, the number of UK workers using the term ‘freelance’ in their title has almost halved from last month.  This either represents a mass panic as the pre-Christmas optimism of a New Year’s career change has rapidly thawed – or that the returned data from December 2015 was not valid.  Only time will tell (as this series continues) – but at this time, the latter option is the more likely.

Nov 15 Dec 15 Jan 16
Design 10571 21171 10405
Writing/Editing 9174 13037 8988
Media Production 6885 12490 6920
Marketing and Advertising 6449 16182 6251
Photography 6328 8041 6498
Arts and Crafts 5346 4634 3527
Management Consulting 5109 2120 976
Computer Software 4147 3405 1303
IT & Services 2839 7380 2826
PR & Communications 2477 6318 2420
Performing Arts 1784 2636 1798
Fine Arts 1127 1743 1149
Legal Services 418 825 414
Civil Engineering 298 727 294
Mechanical/Industrial Engineering 203 434 209
Aviation and Aerospace 118 258 124
Computer and Network Security 77 176 80
Other/not specified 59162 129656 67022
UK Freelancers Total 122512 231233 121204

With the exception of the drastic (and continued) declines in the numbers of freelance Management Consultants and Computer Software specialists, all freelance professions seem to be holding steady in terms of UK numbers.

In our examination of the geographical displacement of UK freelancers last month we set out to examine whether the rise of Uber drivers would tilt the balance of freelancers (observing a near trebling of London-based freelancers – in spite of the question mark over the accuracy of data); but searching for ‘Uber’ or ‘freelance driver’ returned no results on Linked In whatsoever.

Anecdotally, a large number of Uber drivers are undertaking this work to supplement an existing income stream; so either they don’t want to advertise the fact – or they are simply not users of Linked In. We’ll take another look next month, and maintain a watching brief.

Freelancing in the UK

In terms of geographical displacement, a strong growth in numbers was observed in freelance workers in all the major UK cities – with the number in the capital showing the healthiest increase (around 11,000 on November’s figures).  We have hitherto been unable to assess whether this overall growth is the rise of the freelance driver; and with overall numbers remaining steady, the major cities’ growth in the freelance population would seem to be at the detriment of the smaller towns and cities in the UK.

Freelancing in the UK

Are you surprised by the Linked In data?  Is it what you expected?  Let everyone know in the comments section below, and we’ll report back the same time next month, and discuss any changing trends as the series develops.

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