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By Rob Gross
As the jobless rate in the United States drifts higher freelancers suddenly find themselves competing with small to medium size firms for contract projects. This makes for a very difficult and unfortunate situation for the individual freelancer. How can the soloist working out of his/her kitchen or basement compete with established firms bidding on the same contract work?
On the brighter side, our current economic slump will be short-lived by most accounts. In the statement accompanying their most recent 50 basis points rate cut the Federal Reserve Board proclaimed on March 20, "Although current developments do not appear to have materially diminished the prospects for long-term growth in productivity, excess productive capacity has emerged recently." In other words, we're by no means in a freefall here and things will turn around sooner rather than later.
The European Central Bank echoed similar comments on April 11 stating there are "no indications of the risk of a global recession" when they elected not to lower interest rates despite the threat of the spread of American and Asian economic slowdowns perhaps right around the corner. And according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development(OECD) the unemployment rate within the euro-zone made up of 12 European nations is expected to fall from 9.0% in 2000 to 8.4% in 2001 and continue to 7.9% in 2002. In fact, France currently enjoys a 10 year low in its jobless rate and you have to go way back to 1984 to find a better jobless rate in the United Kingdom.
the future appears to be rosy but what's the independent freelancer to
do in the meantime? Well, while the more established freelance jobs sites
generally attract employers internationally they are primarily based in
the States and therefore more often than not attract American employers.
As these sites are being invaded by small and medium sized firms seeking
work rather than workers the European based freelance sites(a short list
is provided at the end of this article) are still a reasonable source
for work. And due to the nature of freelance jobs, primarily off-site,
employers are generally agreeable to hiring from abroad. Of course, while
the relative strength of the dollar might mean working for less than you're
used to, it might still be a better option than just waiting around for
a quarter or two for the economic situation to turn around. For Asians,
however, the exchange rates with Europe are more favorable.
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