If you didn’t know—wages are up and unemployment is down. The data show the U.S. job market is in great shape.
But you’re a freelancer, why should you care?
Because the job market is one of several indicators you should be watching to help run your business better.
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The Job Market
In February, unemployment hit the lowest level in nearly 50 years and wages rose at the fastest pace in a decade, ABC News reported.
That matters to you as a freelancer because that’s not the type of market where people are standing around hoping to get picked for whatever job comes along. The nation is considered fully employed.
That’s that type of market where job seekers know they don’t have to take whatever is offered because it’s easy to find another offer. It’s the type of market where workers decide if they don’t get what they want from one job, they’ll just go find a different one.
Companies realize the dynamics have shifted and the people supplying labor have more options and more leverage. And they’re finding all kinds of ways to sweeten the deal and invest in their employees so that they can attract the workers they need and keep the ones they have, explains Julia Pollak, an economist at ZipRecruiter.
“We’ve seen a spike in job postings that say ‘no experience necessary’ or ‘no prior experience required,” she says in the Washington Post. More companies are deleting requirements for a college degree or high school diploma from their job descriptions. And more are willing to pay for training and offer other perks.
“Employers really do seem hungry for workers and prepared to do more than they did in the past to develop talent when they can’t find talent,” she adds.
The Freelance Share
If there’s that type of hunger in the market, if companies are paying more and offering more, freelancers should be feeling those positive effects too.
And if you’re not, there’s a problem.
When the labor market improves and you don’t see the benefits there’s more food on the table but you’re getting the same ole’ portion. And what that really means is you’re underpaid and falling behind.
If a tight labor market is driving up employee wages, freelance rates should be rising too. You should be more empowered when you’re negotiating, and you should be able to find better opportunities at your skill level than you previously could.
The data is there telling you that no matter what type of front companies try to put on, it’s not as easy as it used to be for them to just hire someone to do what you do. When companies do hire, it’s going to cost them more than in the past. And if they don’t keep the work relationship competitive, they’re going to face the turbulence of a revolving door, which is bad for business.
The numbers let you know that small and medium-sized companies are going to find it harder and harder to compete with large companies. That makes them prime targets for freelancers.
And don’t cross large companies off the list. They’re also stretching their budgets to compete with deep-pocket giants.
For example, WaPo reported IBM will often hire top MBA students and recent PhDs before they have job openings for them because they’re trying to compete with tech titans like Facebook and Google. Freelancers can help offset those companies’ overall labor costs.
Time to Step Up
If you’ve been writing 500-word blog post for $100 for the last two years, ow is a good time to raise your freelance rates or search for clients who will pay more. Now is a good time to push a larger, more lucrative package of services. Even if you’re new to the game, but you know you have the skills, this is a moment where you should feel more confident approaching your target clients and making a value proposition.
The state of the labor market is indicating that freelancer at all levels should be looking for, and finding, opportunities to grow.