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Freelance Language Professionals Report Stability Despite Economic Downturn

The global economic downturn dominates the headlines of nearly every major news story in both business and consumer media. Recent financial results show that some companies in the language services industry have been reporting impressive growth, while others claim steep losses. Market research firm, Common Sense Advisory surveyed 277 freelance translators and interpreters from around the world to examine if, at all, this segment of the language industry has been affected.


“One of the best ways to measure market activity is to go to where the work is actually done,” comments senior analyst, Nataly Kelly. “Since language services throughout the world are provided primarily by freelancers, we decided to take the pulse of the people who actually perform the translation, localization, and interpreting work that forms the base of the industry.” The results of the survey are published in the firm’s new Quick Take, “Freelancers Voice Their Views on the Economy.” The nine-page report reveals several interesting trends, including:


  • Overall, things look good. In spite of the fact that Q4 of 2008 was one of the most tumultuous in recent global financial history, nearly half of freelance language professionals said that business during that quarter was “satisfactory” (49.8%), while the second largest group of respondents characterized things as “good” (27.8%) Just under a quarter (22.4%) described things as “bad.”
  • Most language professionals report stable pay rates. The majority of freelancers (67.5%) said that their rates had stayed the same in the past three months. Less than a fifth (18.8%) said that their rates went down, while more than a tenth (13.7%) had raised their rates.
  • The pricing pressure is constant. Large numbers of interpreters and translators reported requests from agencies to decrease their rates, but the overwhelming majority (76.9%) said that they did not intend to charge any less in the next three months.
  • Diversification and specialization are key. Many freelancers explained that when they saw decreases in demand in a given industry or setting, they witnessed spikes in other areas. As one respondent points out, “The translation market is pretty resilient. When things are good, you translate loan agreements. During downturns, you translate foreclosures.”


Additional findings are reported in the full Quick Take, “Freelancers Voice Their Views on the Economy,” which is available for free with registration at www.commonsenseadvisory.com.
Submitted On: 1/11/2011

Common Sense Advisory research and analysts are frequently cited in the New York Times, International Herald Tribune, Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, Fortune Magazine, Inc Magazine, and BusinessWeek.
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