GIGMETAR REPORT AUGUST 2021
The latest issue of Gigmetar, which analyses data from the most popular global platform, features findings of research on a sample of 8.737 individuals. The active gig worker population has grown by 3.2 percent relative to the previous measurement (done in February). Serbia has evidently remained a country where digital work is highly popular, a trait it shares with the broader region (given that Europe, including Russia, accounts for 46 percent of the global gig workforce).
The latest measurement recorded a 3.2 percent increase on February 2021 in number of Serbian workers on the most widely used platform.
Šumadija and Western Serbia and Southern and Eastern Serbia, which have the lowest shares of gig workers in the total population, are in latest measurement a major pool of the platform workforce, and now are having a share of 30.4 percent of all gig workers in the country.
Outside the four large urban centres (Belgrade, Novi Sad, Niš and Kragujevac), Subotica led the way with a 17.4 percent increase in registered workers over the past six months. The city accounted for 2.17 percent of Serbia’s total active gig workforce.
The increase in workers on the leading digital platform was mainly due to growing numbers of women in the workforce across all regions. This upward trend was at its most evident in Šumadija and Western Serbia, where women outnumbered men 2.7 times among new gig workers.
The share of women platform workers without experience in the total female gig workforce (both with and without experience) was nearly equal to the share of men gig workers in the total male platform workforce. In both cases one in three had no previous experience with this kind of work.
Writing and translation have seen explosive growth (up 21.6 percent on the previous measurement). This development could be due to the slowdown in the Chinese market, which in all likelihood steered Serbian gig workers away from specialised language learning platforms to general ones that are tracked by Gigmetar.
There are now as many occupations in which women are in the majority as there are those dominated by men (3 vs 3), but women are in the lead in less well paid areas (professional services, clerical and data entry, and writing and translation), whilst men much more commonly perform better paid work (creative and multimedia, software dev and tech, and sales and marketing support).
The latest measurement has revealed hourly rates have been continuing to increase, albeit at a modest rate of no more than 1 percent. Whilst the average hourly rate for men has not changed since the previous survey (remaining at US$ 19.74), the women’s rate has increased by 4.1 percent.
RESULTS IN DETAILS
In spite of the uncertainties haunting the world’s economy, caused above all by the Covid-19 pandemic and the economic upheaval resulting from the associated global supply chain disruptions, the gig worker market has continued to grow. New technologies and the normalisation of working from home have made work usually done by freelancers commonplace for most white collar professionals throughout the world. The latest Global Survey on Freelancing reveals that the population of freelance workers in the USA, for whom online work is actually regular employment and sole source of income, doubled to 15 million between 2018 and 2021 alone. The reasons for these trends are the associated cost advantage, time advantage in terms of worker flexibility and availability, performance advantage resulting from the ability to access top talent, strategic and risk advantage, and other contextual factors whose significance varies between countries.
As many as 71.1 percent of those in employment six months previously were also engaged on projects at the time of the latest measurement. However, comparing their number with the total gig worker population tracked suggests that no more than 16.9 percent were continuously employed in the past six months.
% OF GIG WORKERS BY ADMINISTRATIVE DISTRICT
Two years on since Gigmetar first began systemic, large-scale tracking of the Serbian gig workforce, it seems that regional platform worker patterns have become firmly entrenched. However, although the latest measurement has generally revealed only minor changes, some significant transformations have also occurred.
The latest measurement revealed an increase in active gig workers across all regions. This trend was particularly pronounced in Šumadija and Western Serbia and in Southern and Eastern Serbia, usually home to fewer platform workers than the leading regions of Belgrade and Vojvodina. Šumadija and Western Serbia recorded major growth of close to 10 percent relative to the previous measurement, whilst Southern and Eastern Serbia registered a more modest increase of 4.3 percent. Measurements done to date suggest a continuous upward trend in less well represented regions, with the two areas expected to remain major pools from which new gig workers can be drawn in the future. Read more ...
Freelancer populations have virtually remained the same in Serbia’s top ten cities (excluding regional administrative centres), or have in some cases registered slight growth. The only exceptions were provided by Subotica, where the number of active workers rose by as much as 17.4 percent over the past six months, and Kraljevo, which also grew appreciably (by 9.6 percent). In the latest findings, cities and towns with significant gig worker populations (defined as above 1 percent) were Kruševac (1.19 percent), Kraljevo (1.04 percent) and Čačak (1.01 percent) in Šumadija and Western Serbia. Conversely, in Southern and Eastern Serbia, only Leskovac (at 0.83 percent) boasted a noticeable gig workforce apart from Niš, but its share was also on the decline. In Vojvodina, the rapid growth of Subotica now means this city accounts for 2.17 percent of Serbia’s total active gig worker population, with other major centres of freelance work including Pančevo (at 1.62 percent), although trending downwards, and Zrenjanin (1.27 percent).
GIG WORKERS BY OCCUPATION
The charts show the distribution of gig workers in Serbia by occupation, according to the OLI classification. The latest measurement has re-affirmed the finding that creative and multimedia and software dev and tech remain Serbia’s dominant freelance occupations, even though the software development field is still twice as small as creative and multimedia. The shares of these two occupations have remained almost unchanged from the previous measurement.
The main changes registered in the latest survey involve the upward and downward trends in some of these occupations. Professional services, clerical and data entry, and writing and translation have all grown. Not all of the fields, however, have seen linear and equal increases. Read more ...
REGIONAL GIG WORKERS AS % OF TOTAL, BY OCCUPATION
One rule of economics is that, once established, a market’s structural characteristics can change only slowly and over a long period of time. This is also true of the online labour market. However, since this market is relatively new and rapidly growing, its changes can sometimes prove to be more significant. As such, the direction of any change is much more important than a data point identified at any particular moment. Regional shares of gig workers in the total by occupation have remained similar to those identified in past measurements, but some changes are also in evidence.
Belgrade, the region with the largest proportion of gig workers across all occupations, has seen its share decrease for all professions except clerical and data entry. This decline has been at its most noticeable in sales and marketing support (at 3.7pp) and professional services (2.3pp). Even the share of writing and translation has fallen (by 0.8pp), even though this occupation recorded huge growth, of 15.9 percent, at the national level. The likeliest explanation is that the increase in this occupation has been even more pronounced in other parts of the country, highlighting the generalised large-scale changes in this occupation relative to other sectors across Serbia. Read more ...
% OF REGIONAL GIG WORKERS BY OCCUPATION
The charts show the distribution of gig workers by occupation in each region. As in the previous measurement, the largest share of gig workers in all regions was active in creative and multimedia, and the smallest in professional services. Put differently, creative and multimedia freelancers outnumbered those in professional services by a factor of 9.5.
Most regions followed the same pattern for their shares of particular occupations. Creative and multimedia was the most numerous occupation in all regions, whilst workforces were the lowest for professional services everywhere. Software dev and tech are second, and sales and marketing support fifth. Read more ...
GIG WORKERS BY GENDER
A notable distinction of the Serbian gig workforce is its relatively high proportion of women, who accounted for 35.4 percent of the entire freelancer population, continuing an upward trend identified in the previous measurement. The figure, however, has remained below the 37 percent share of women worldwide as identified in the latest Global Survey on Freelancing.
The latest measurement revealed an interesting finding: one-third of all women gig workers had no previous experience (meaning they had not previously worked on any projects on the platform), whilst two-thirds did have some experience. The same percentages were found for men freelancers, where, again, one-third had no experience and two-thirds had worked on projects on the online marketplace. This result is all the more important in that it deviates from the traditional labour market pattern where women find it more difficult to get work and are much more likely to be unemployed.
% OF GIG WORKERS BY GENDER AND OCCUPATION
In the latest measurement, the female gig workforce grew by an average rate more than twice as great as that of overall population (7 percent for women vs 3.2 for overall population). The number of women gig workers remained virtually unchanged in software dev and tech and creative and multimedia but fell by 11.8 percent in sales and marketing support. Growth was registered by the other occupations, most notably by writing and translation (21.6 percent) and, to a slightly lesser extent, professional services (17 percent) and clerical and data entry (14.6 percent).
At no more than 1.2 percent, the male freelancer population grew minimally. The gig workforce declined in two occupations in which men freelancers greatly outnumbered women, namely software dev and tech (-4.1 percent) and creative and multimedia (-2.1 percent). Whilst the number of gig workers in professional services and sales and marketing support remained virtually unchanged, it increased by 21.3 percent in writing and translation and by 16.4 percent in clerical and data entry.Read more ...
TOTAL INCOME BY GENDER
Incomes of gig workers disaggregated by gender reflected the gender structure of the gig population, dominated as it was by men, and, to a lesser extent, differences in earnings, which were higher for men. Even though the share of women in the total freelance workforce rose in the latest measurement by 1.2pp to 35.4 percent, their incomes increased only slightly, from 26.1 in February to 27.2 percent in the latest survey. Although this distribution of total income between men and women is subject to relatively little change over short periods of time, the increase in the women’s share of income was caused by the simultaneous operation of three factors: their increased number (+7 percent), greater activity (at the time of the measurement women were over-represented in the active population relative to their representation in the total population, whose share reached 36.7 percent of all gig workers performing actual tasks/projects), and higher average hourly rates, which rose only for the female workforce (their average official or demanded hourly rate increased by 4.1 percent).
HOURLY RATES, IN US$, BY GENDER AND OCCUPATION
The latest measurement has revealed a continued upward trend in incomes, even though hourly rates rose by a modest 1 percent. Differences were, however, visible in this area as well: this growth was not distributed equally by either gender or occupation.
Whereas the men’s hourly rate did not change relative to the previous measurement (remaining at US$ 19.74), the rate for women increased by 4.1 percent, significantly narrowing the gender gap. In the latest survey, women earned on average 84.1 percent of the average wage for men, as compared to 80.8 percent in the previous measurement. The current figure is the historic high (since measurements first began two years ago).
An upward trend in hourly rates was recorded across all occupations. This growth, however, was not distributed equally by occupation, with only professional services seeing a significant increase, of 6.5 percent. At the monthly level, assuming full working hours (176 hours per month) and the average wage, a freelancer could earn US$ 250 more in August than in February 2021. Slightly smaller growth rates were recorded for clerical and data entry (4.1 percent), sales and marketing support (3.2 percent), and software dev and tech (3.5 percent), with earnings in the other two occupations increasing by no more than 1.5 percent. Read more ...
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.