Unemployed Rush to Freelancing Sites, Putting Pressure on Wages

With millions of Americans unemployed, and full-time positions scarce, there’s a massive rush to freelancer sites -- one that could result in everyone getting paid less.

Since June, more than 24,000 people -- two-thirds of them Americans -- got on the waiting list to join 

“It has ramped up very rapidly,” said Adam Jackson, who runs the Braintrust network. “We are seeing people who got 

Because of this influx of users, rates that freelancers charge may be starting to slip, at least on some sites. On Freelancer.com, used by 46 million people, pay for an average job has dropped by about 20% in the past six months -- partly the result of more people competing for the available projects, according to the company.

While some skilled freelancers can still command the hourly rates of their former full-time positions, they aren’t getting benefits such as health-care coverage. Benefits add 

Remote Work

That’s driven in part by Americans competing for jobs outside of their traditional, local labor markets.

“Everyone is open to remote work, there are so many people applying for the great positions -- because you can be anywhere in the country and still apply with this company,” said Alexandra Morgalo, who lost her job at 

The newbie American freelancers are also competing with -- and snagging jobs away from -- people in other countries. On Freelancer.com in recent weeks, a growing number of Americans have been taking jobs that might have previously gone to India or the Philippines, said Matt Barrie, chief executive officer of Australia-based 

Some of the unemployed are also using their savings -- and freelancing sites -- to try their hand at entrepreneurship. Some of those advertising for help are seeking assistance with designing e-commerce sites or video games, which have been much in demand lately.

“Freelance marketplaces thrive at the times of crisis,” Barrie said. “It gives workers a lot of freedom. It helps you transition between careers.”

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