By Daniel Hunter

Elance, the leading global platform for online employment, have released their quarterly Global Online Employment Report, providing unparalleled visibility into online work trends.

The report reveals record-breaking growth in online work, with earnings and job opportunities far outpacing the traditional employment economy around the world. Significant findings include skyrocketing demand for creative talent and traditional jobs moving online.

“The ease of working online — coupled with the ability to instantly connect with a highly specialised global talent pool — is driving massive adoption of online work,” said Fabio Rosati, CEO of Elance. “For the first time, demand for technical talent is being matched by equally strong demand for creative talent.”

Q2 Highlights from the report

Elance’s Q2 results set new records, with nearly 200,000 new job posts and contractor earnings of $47M. The number of businesses hiring on Elance jumped 35% over the same quarter a year ago. More than 80,000 of the new jobs posted in Q2 were in the creative category, up 60% over a year ago.

Rise of the creative economy

While global economies remain uncertain, Elance’s leading indicators reveal business optimism, hiring growth and several hot job markets. The new ‘Creative Economy’ is particularly vibrant; demand for creative skills such as web design (+574%), voice acting (+295%) and content writing (+256%) were each up significantly over a year ago. Companies are investing heavily in creative talent, signalling a shift in how businesses engage customers and commitment to growth.

Europe sees bright spots

With the 2012 Summer Olympics just a few days away, London proved to be a city on the move as the top earning city in Europe, where hiring was up 25% over last quarter.

While economic recovery continues to elude parts of Europe, online work is contributing positively to economic growth. In Southern Europe, Italy appears to be breaking out of a stalemate to experience 43% growth in online hiring and 74% growth in online earnings over last year. Despite Greece’s record 22% unemployment rate, the country experienced a 33% increase in online hiring and 32% increase in online earnings over last quarter. In Eastern Europe, Slovak Republic saw online hiring jump 332% in one year while Hungary and the Czech Republic saw triple digit increases of 248% and 519% year over year respectively.

Latin America heating up

Online work surged in markets worldwide, with Latin America in particular showing strong business optimism with increased hiring of independent professionals across Central and South America. Brazil saw a 104% increase in hiring, Chile realised a 225% increase and Columbia a 172% increase year over year.

Professionals working in Latin America also saw tremendous growth in work opportunities, with Chile (+104%), Venezuela (+91%) and Mexico (+43%) all seeing significant increases in contractor earnings over last. Contractors in this region are increasingly being tapped for creative talent, as 51% of earnings came from this category in Q2.

U.S. Growth fastest in Hawaii, North Carolina and Tennessee

In the U.S., businesses and contractors continued to fuel online job growth as more independent professionals ditch the cubicle and look online for more opportunity. Overall, earnings grew in 41 out of 50 states. States like Hawaii (53%), North Carolina (+47%) and Tennessee (+33%) showed some of the biggest jumps in Q2, as online work continues to make its mark across the country.

Rural America comes online

Rural America is proving itself as more than fields and farmlands, with businesses in towns like Littleton, N.H. (with a whopping population of 5,800) creating jobs for hurting economies around the world. Businesses hiring online professionals are driving online job growth, and increases in demand for online talent over last quarter are triple-digit in towns like Littleton, N.H., (+702%), Southfield, Mich.(+316%) and Littleton, Colo. (+288%). The adoption of the online work model has proven significantly beneficial, compared to the traditional job market in these states, where unemployment is currently 5% in New Hampshire, 8.5% in Michigan and 8.1% in Colorado.

Traditional jobs shift online

While technology remains the top-earning category for online jobs, more professionals in traditional careers are leaving the cubicle lifestyle for the freedom of online employment. Skilled professionals like manufacturing designers (+241%), architects (+198%) and family attorneys (+179%) are joining the online work community faster than ever with triple-digit increases compared to Q2 last year. Engineering is another job category defying the conventional market with skills like Chemical Engineering (+182%), Electrical Engineering (+126%) and Civil Engineering (+100%) increasing exponentially year over year.

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