By Daniel Hunter

Elance revealed online hiring and freelancer earnings set new records in 2012. Elance’s Global Online Employment Report showed that demand for online talent surged with the need for mobile development and web programming leading the charge.

Jobs for expert talent in marketing and web content also expanded while independent professionals in locations with the highest unemployment rates experienced the strongest earnings growth.

“Our results prove that our focus on connecting businesses with the highest quality talent is paying off. The number of businesses hiring on Elance increased dramatically, driving strong growth in freelancer earnings,” said Kjetil Olsen, European VP at Elance. “We’re well on our way to reaching £640M globally in cumulative freelancer earnings in 2013.”

Elance continued to expand in 2012 with 21,972 new businesses (+42%) posting over 65,000 jobs in total (+46%). Over the year, 30,386 new freelancers (+74%) joined Elance to find work, with total annual freelancer earnings surpassing £3.7 million (+56%) for the first time.

IT and marketing skills are most popular among UK businesses: annual UK business expenditures in the IT & programming category surpassed £5 million, which is a 45% year-on-year growth, with the amount businesses spent on marketing and creative freelancers reaching £2.5million respectively (+50).

Global economic powers continue to benefit by hiring online freelancers. The top 10 GDP countries increased their online hiring by an average of 67%. Notable countries setting records include China (+204%), Japan (+109%), Italy (+70%), France (+66%), Germany (+50%) and the United Kingdom (+42%).

The Eurozone unemployment rate rose to 11.8% in November, the highest on record, which is driving professionals in some of Europe’s highest-unemployment countries to showcase talent online, specifically in programming and IT. Countries including Poland (+118%), Bulgaria (+40%) and Ukraine (+38%) all saw significant earnings growth over the past year. The majority of earnings came from web and programming jobs, leveraging the region’s strong technical talent base.

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