The Web Vs. Geography: Online Workers Buck Unemployment Trends

The March U.S. jobs numbers came out last week and offered some reason for optimism with the national unemployment rate falling to 8.8 percent. But the growth in hiring was spotty — California, for instance, appears to be lagging. One area, at least, stood out as a bright spot, and it has nothing to do with geography: Independent online workers appear to be doing relatively well, according to a report from employment platform Elance, which shows earnings increasing for online workers in 40 out of 50 states. And that’s true even for those workers are located in places where job hunters seeking work in bricks and mortar offices are struggling.
The quarterly survey of job postings and online contractors revealed that more than a dozen cities that are still struggling with an unemployment rate higher than ten percent rank among the highest-earning locales on Elance. So while job seekers in Los Angeles may still be fighting 12 percent unemployment, web workers based there are among the highest paid on the platform.
What else did the Elance data reveal? Unsurprisingly, it’s still good to have tech skills, with the increased use of smartphones upping the demand for developers. Also less than shocking was an increased demand for tax preparers as April 15th looms.
Less expected was the city given the crown of America’s geekiest metropolis. Move over Mountain View and San Jose, geek is now being spoken with a southern drawl as Austin, Texas took the title of top city for tech nerds. The home of SXSW now boasts the highest contractor earnings for IT skills on Elance’s platform. Amarillo continued its (also unlikely) reign as the top spot for creative talent, with the most contractor earnings in the “Creative” category.