GIG WORKERS IN THE REGION
In the past decade fraught with numerous problems and challenges – from COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, security and economic crises, the world has seen an unprecedented growth of digital labour markets. According to the World Bank estimates, there are some 163 million active gig workers in the world today. Disruptive changes of information and communication technologies created completely new opportunities for doing business, social progress, increase of wellbeing of individuals, producing at the same time new challenges – primarily so in the domain of dignified work of these workers (and not only them).
The objective of the project Gigmetar is to identify systemic characteristics of gig work market in the region of South-Eastern Europe. This market includes Romania and Serbia, as two countries that particularly distinguish themselves in global statistics with respect to the concentration and number of talents in the domain of gig work. North Macedonia, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina also stand out in relative terms (according to the gig workers/population ratio).
The most recent measurement shows the slowing down and a negative growth of a, previously strong, expansion of digital labour market. Namely, the number of gig workers has been declining slightly. The population of registered gig workers on three large platforms has decreased by 1.6%, with the continuing trend registered during the previous measurement (decrease amounting to 2.2%).
The total number of gig workers in the region is stagnating, but the workers from other platforms are migrating to Upwork. In the most recent measurement, Upwork became the most dominant digital platform in all the countries of South-Eastern Europe for the first time.
The biggest absolute number of gig workers are the gig workers in Serbia comprising 1/4 of the regional population. The absolute highest number of gig workers per capita work in North Macedonia – 300 workers per 100,000 inhabitants.
The downward trend of relative numbers of gig workers in the highest paid professions – software development and multimedia and creative services – persists. On the other hand, faster growth of the number of gig workers in less sophisticated domains – data entry and administrative jobs – is evident.
The share of women exceeds 40% in Albania and Montenegro, and for the first time in North Macedonia and Croatia. Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Hungary and Romania follow suit closely. In the domain of women participation, the observed region has thus become one of the leading in the world, second only to the USA and Malaysia.
According to the number gig workers in them, the most popular professions among men are creative services and multimedia, and software development. Creative services and multimedia lead among female gig workers, followed by writing and translation. Data entry and administrative services are in the third place.
The earnings in the region have slightly increased relative to the previous six months. The workers in Croatia and Hungary are the best paid, and those in North Macedonia are the least paid.
Measured by the number of gig workers, the dominant global platforms in South-Eastern Europe are Upwork, Freelancer and Guru, with 103,307 workers registered in the observed nine countries in the region in the most recent measurement. The most recent measurement also shows significant changes in certain platforms which particularly impacted their market share. Namely, the earlier measurement indicated a significant decrease of the number of active gig workers on Freelancer (17.1%), and the most recent one shows an even more pronounced decrease of the number of active gig workers on Guru – 28.8%. Numerous factors could have brought about this decline – from the change of methodology by which a platform presents active gig workers to potentially lower appeal thereof relative to others. This may be the result of some shortcomings of Guru.
Notwithstanding a significant decline on Guru, the most important change was registered on the most significant platform in this part of Europe – Upwork. Read more ...
SHARE OF GIG WORKERS BY COUNTRY AS % OF REGIONAL TOTAL
Systemic characteristics on the gig labour market related to their geographic dispersion, professions, gender, income and the ensuing distributions are observed relative to the platform that appeared dominant in all the countries in the region in the most recent measurement.
According to the results of the most recent measurement, there has been a slight decrease of their share at the level of the region in the countries where the most numerous gig population is located – Serbia and Romania – from 47.6% to 44.8%. This, despite a significant increase of the number of gig workers in these countries. It resulted in an even more intensive growth in other countries of South-Eastern Europe. In view of the results of the most recent measurement which registered a 16.4% increase, the cumulative terms the gig population on the dominant platform grew by ¼ over the past year. Furthermore, a big change in dynamics was recorded: totalling 3% in the period October 2020 – February 2021, more than 7.1% in the period February – August 2021, and up to the above mentioned 16.4% in the most recent measurement. Serbia remains the dominant destination of gig workers on Upwork with the regional share remaining at 24.3%. Read more ...
NUMBER OF GIG WORKERS PER 100,000 POPULATION, BY COUNTRY
Aiming to compare the level of development of the gig market as accurately as possible, in order to neutralize the difference in the size of the countries, the following graph shows the relative number of gig workers in regard to the size of the country i.e., the population. Interestingly, all the countries (with the exception of Bosnia and Herzegovina) saw an increase of the number of gig workers. This is the result of two forces: depopulation trends in most of the countries in the region and a high relative increase of the number of gig workers. The highest increase of the number of gig workers per capita occurred in North Macedonia (50 gig workers per 100,000 inhabitants more relative to the previous measurement), whereby it remained dominant in the region. In the most recent measurement, North Macedonia has 300 gig workers per 100,000 inhabitants or 62% more than Serbia which comes second with 185 gig workers. Thanks to the significant increase of the number of gig workers, Albania is almost equal to Serbia – with 182 gig workers per 100,000 inhabitants. The significant share of gig workers, by this criterion, is that of Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina, making it a specific feature of the Western Balkans within the observed wider region.
Looking into the cumulative changes over the last year, and save for the increase of almost 80 gig workers per 100,000 inhabitants in North Macedonia, Montenegro also recorded a notable growth with 50 new gig workers, Albania 46, Bosnia and Herzegovina 36, Serbia and Croatia 23 each, with a more modest growth recorded in Romania (12), Bulgaria (11) and Hungary (7).
REGIONAL GIG WORKERS BY PROFESSION
Certain changes with respect to the distribution of workers by profession are evident in the latest measurement. As in the previous measurement, the two dominant professions – creative services and multimedia and software development saw a continued, although less pronounced, decline of the relative share of gig workers. In addition to these two professions, the share declined in writing and translation. This differs from the previous measurement when the decline was recorded in sales and marketing. However, these trends lead to a very important conclusion: the increase of the number of gig workers in multimedia and creative services and software development lags behind the increase of the number of gig workers in other professions which, partly, points to the limited capacities for future increase of the number of gig workers in these professions in the observed region of South-Eastern Europe in the given circumstances.
The most recent measurement also gave us new options to observe the workers engaged on the projects at the time of the measurement. Namely, the average engagement of gig workers, defined as a share of gig workers engaged on concrete projects at the time of the measurement relative to the total population totalled 14.4%. This constitutes a 3.5% decline relative to the previous measurement (17.9%) at the regional level. As in the previous measurement, the highest percentage of engagement was recorded in Serbia (22.3%). Same as in previous data collection, the lowest number of workers engaged in projects was recorded in Albania – 8.8%. The percentage of engagement in other countries ranged from 11.1% to 13.9%. Read more ...
REGIONAL GIG WORKERS BY COUNTRY AND PROFESSION
As opposed to the levelled data analysis at regional level, the distribution of certain professions by country varies significantly. If we compare the relative share of a given profession at the concrete country level to the regional average, we may identify comparative advantages emerging at the level of certain countries. Higher relative shares at the level of concrete countries as compared to the regional average point to the fact that a concrete profession is more represented in that country whereby it gains comparative advantage in the regional context. The most recent measurement points to the possible dynamic changes with respect to this dimension of gig work. Read more ...
REGIONAL GIG WORKERS BY GENDER
Even though men dominate platform work in the region of South-Eastern Europe, women constitute a significant share of work force: 383 of 1,000 gig workers are women. Furthermore, the upward trend of their share persisted in the most recent measurement, albeit at a slower pace. As opposed to the August measurement which saw a 2.1% increase of the share of women, it grew by 1.8% in the total population in the most recent measurement. At the same time, the increase of the share is present in all the countries. The most pronounced increase in the absolute number of gig workers was recorded in Romania with more than 900 new gig workers. In relative terms, the highest increase was recorded in Croatia (6.2 %). Albania and Montenegro are the champions in the share of women (43.1%). North Macedonia recorded more than 40%, as did Bulgaria and Croatia. This makes the observed region one of the global leaders in the domain of female participation, following the world most gender equal countries, USA and Malaysia.
Comparing the ratios of the highest and the least represented professions by gender, the most pronounced inequalities in the distribution are recorded in Serbia. Namely, in Serbia, men are 13.4 times more represented in the most popular profession (creative services and multimedia) relative to the number of women in the least represented profession (professional services).Read more ...
HOURLY RATES, IN US$
The average hourly rate recorded a somewhat higher growth than in the previous measurement: 11 cents. However, taking into account the size of changes over the past 12 months, the earnings mostly stagnate. Croatia remains the country with the most expensive work force (24.31$/h), and North Macedonia the one with the cheapest work force (16.13$/h). Still, the increase of hourly rates was somewhat more pronounced in Croatia, leading to increased disparities. Hypothetically speaking, if the Croatian gig worker worked 160 hours in August (the number of possible service hours in regular employment) and earned an average gig workers’ hourly income, relative to the gig workers in North Macedonia having the same engagement and the average North Macedonian rate per hour, he or she earned 1,300$ more.
The countries differ with respect to the requested hourly rate significantly. As opposed to the previous measurement, the most recent one shows that the average hourly rate of above 20$ is recorded in Montenegro. Read more ...
Recommended citation: Anđelković, B., Jakobi, T., Ivanović, V., Kalinić, Z. & Radonjić, Lj. (2022). Gigmetar Region, February 2022, Public Policy Research Center, http://gigmetar.publicpolicy.rs/en/serbia-2022-1/.
HOW GIGMETAR WORKS
The Public Policy Research Centre (CENTAR) is a team of innovative researchers and digital enthusiasts investigating the future of work and development of the digital economy in Serbia and South-East Europe.