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AI influences decline in freelance writing and service jobs, study finds

AI influences decline in freelance writing and service jobs, study finds


Writing, translation, and customer service jobs have experienced the largest decrease in the freelance work market due to the influence of AI, according to a new study.

Data from Upwork, an American freelancing platform, analyzed by Bloomberry, showed that there were 33% fewer writing jobs from November 1, 2022, to February 14, 2024. At the same time, translation jobs declined by 19%, while customer service jobs saw a 16% decrease.

On the upside, demand for video editing, graphic design, as well as web development saw a significant increase, with video production jobs up 39%.

Graphic design jobs have also seen an 8% increase, while web design positions have risen by 10%. Additionally, software development roles are on the rise, with backend development jobs increasing by 6% and web development jobs growing by 4%.

The study looked at freelance jobs because it is believed that any impact on specific jobs is likely to be seen first in the freelance market, as large companies tend to adopt AI tools at a slower pace. 

Secondly, the latest earnings report from Upwork reveals that tech layoffs have had minimal effect on freelance platforms, shown through a 14% revenue growth year-over-year in their most recent quarter. This suggests that there are few other factors responsible for any declines in job postings.

However, the research revealed that the number of jobs related to developing chatbots exploded by 2000% since the release of ChatGPT and the OpenAI API.

A decline in hourly pay

Translation jobs reportedly had the biggest decrease in hourly pay, seeing rates decline by 20%, followed by video editing and market research. However, graphic design and web design jobs appeared to be the most resilient, even witnessing a slight increase in pay.

An important takeaway from the study shows that graphic and web design jobs are still in demand, and not being replaced by AI tools just yet. The report author believes that this is because programs such as DALL-E and MidJourney still require some knowledge and creativity.

Other research has recently found that around 9% of the current US workforce may be displaced by AI. It reported that 11% of workers could lose their jobs and struggle to find new employment thanks to the new technology. Meanwhile, a 2023 report found that highly sought-after AI researchers could receive $750,000 per year at top tech companies right after completing their studies.

Featured image: Canva / DALL·E

Suswati Basu

Freelance journalist

Suswati Basu is a multilingual, award-winning editor and the founder of the intersectional literature channel, How To Be Books. She was shortlisted for the Guardian Mary Stott Prize and longlisted for the Guardian International Development Journalism Award.

With 18 years of experience in the media industry, Suswati has held significant roles such as head of audience and deputy editor for NationalWorld news, digital editor for Channel 4 News
and ITV News. She has also contributed to the Guardian and received training at the BBC As an audience, trends, and SEO specialist, she has participated in panel events alongside Google.

Her career also includes a seven-year tenure at the leading AI company Dataminr, where she led the Europe desk and launched the company’s first employee resource group for disabilities. Before this, Suswati worked as a journalist in China for four years, investigating censorship and the Great Firewall, and acquired proficiency in several languages.

In recent years, Suswati has been nominated for six awards, including the Independent Podcast Awards, International Women’s Podcast Awards, and the Anthem Awards for her literary social affairs show.

Her areas of speciality span a wide range, including technology, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), social politics, mental health, and nonfiction books.



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