Freelancer’s confidence in both business and the economy has improved after dips in the first quarter, according to a study published in IPSE’s Freelancer Confidence Index.

Nearly 1,000 UK freelancers took part in the survey, which include members of IPSE, the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed and registered freelancers on Elance-oDesk. The survey found a net positive outlook on business prospects, this may be due to an increase in the volume of work and day rates.

The survey also revealed an increasing confidence in the UK economy which is a reverse trend on the previous three quarters.

Suneeta Johal, head of research, education and training at IPSE, said:

“The survey shows a welcome return of business confidence both in freelancers’ businesses and in the economy.

“This optimism is accompanied by an increase in both net earnings and day rates. Over the last twelve months day rates have risen 5.6 percent, which along with an increase in the number of days worked, has contributed greatly to freelancer earnings outperforming that of employees and the increasing business confidence seen in the report.”

Hayley Conick, UK country manager for Elance-oDesk commented:

“Business confidence is clearly on the up. Over 60 percent of freelancers who have worked for their clients via Elance-oDesk expect their revenues to increase in the next 12 months. With a third of freelancers experiencing a growth in work volume over the last three months, the general outlook is very positive indeed.”

Here are some of the key findings from the freelancer confidence index:

  • Freelancers continue to outperform the earnings of typical employees. Freelancers’ average quarterly earnings have reached £30,000, roughly 20 percent more than employees earn in a year.
  • Day rates have experienced 1 percent growth since the last quarter, rising from £525 in quarter 4 of 2014 to £531 in Q1 of 2015. The majority of freelancers (56 percent) expect day rates to stay at current levels, while 27 percent expect them to increase and 17 percent anticipate a fall.
  • Capacity utilisation of freelancers has reached record levels, with 87 percent of freelancers under contract at the time of survey.
  • More freelancers are reporting an increase in the volume of work undertaken over the last three months (38 percent) than those reporting a fall (20 percent). This is the highest percentage of freelancers recorded reporting a rise in activity.
  • Business confidence for the coming three months has risen from 3.95 to 9.42 while the twelve month outlook index rose from 0.6 to 7.19.
  • The three month confidence index for the UK economy rose from 5.7 to 16.48 from the last quarter, its second highest level over the last year, while the twelve month outlook rose from 4.75 to 18.05.