Russia’s freelance market has been organically growing for the past four years by 10% to 15% per year. However, in 2020, its growth may reduce by 5%, according to a joint research by the QIWI payment service and the Freelance.ru job site, supported by the National Freelancers’ Guild.
Analysts predict that in the face of the coronavirus pandemic and economic instability, the popularity of remote work will increase. Companies will prioritize optimizing expenses and hire more contractors for freelance work. As a result, the share of freelancers who register as self-employed may grow.
A positive scenario will help to maintain the growth dynamic around 10% to 15%. Still, analysts are not ruling out a negative scenario when the freelance service market will slow down its growth by 5% this year.
Discrepancy between the supply and demand may pose the biggest issue. The number of freelancers will increase only to face an insufficient demand on behalf of customers.
The research was based on a survey conducted by Freelance.ru in late March 2020 and the freelance market analytics derived from the QIWI payment channels. The survey found that 37% of freelancers are expecting some form of support from the government in 2020 – specifically, changes in the taxation policy for the self-employed.
Freelance.ru reports that 25% of freelancers are official tax payers holding either a private entrepreneur or a self-employed status. QIWI estimates that the average invoice for the services of registered freelancers in 2019 was RUR 8,050 ($108).
Over 40% of respondents plan to legalize their income in 2020. At the same time, one-third has no intention to get an official status yet.
“They are held back by a high tax burden, lack of retirement and social insurance as well as lack of beneficial loan terms,” the research authors note.