By 2015, the world's mobile worker population will reach 1.3 billion, representing 37.2 percent of the total workforce, according to an updated forecast from IT analytics firm IDC. The report projects the most significant gains will again be in the emerging economies of the Asia-Pacific region, thanks to continued, strong economic growth. The Americas will experience a slower growth rate due to a protracted economic recovery and high rates of unemployment, IDC analysts concluded.
The Americas region, which includes the United States, Canada, and Latin America, will see the number of mobile workers grow from 182.5 million in 2010 to 212.1 million in 2015. According to IDC findings, North America has the largest number of mobile workers in this region, with 75 percent of the workforce mobile in 2010. However, the Asia-Pacific region (excluding Japan) will see the largest increase in the total number of mobile workers, with 601.7 million mobile workers in 2010 and 838.7 million in 2015. Much of this is due to the sheer size of the population in China and India, combined with strong economic expansion in both countries.
In Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), the mobile workforce will see a healthy compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.6 percent, as it expands from 186.2 million in 2010 to 244.6 million mobile workers in 2015. Japan will see a declining CAGR of 0.2 percent because of its declining population base. However, the share of mobile workers will reach a penetration rate of 64.8 percent of its workforce by 2015, for a total of 38.6 million mobile workers.
"Despite recent market turmoil, mobility continues to be a critical part of the global workforce, and we expect to see healthy growth in the number of mobile workers," said Stacy Crook, senior research analyst for IDC's mobile enterprise research program. "Our forecast shows that the worldwide mobile worker population will increase from just over 1 billion in 2010 to more than 1.3 billion by 2015."
The IDC study, "Worldwide Mobile Worker Population 2011-2015 Forecast," provides a worldwide five-year mobile worker population forecast through 2015 and analysis across three major worker categories and 13 subcategories in four regions and two countries: The Americas, United States, Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan), Japan and EMEA.
Despite a stagnant employment market in 2011, online hiring has grown at a record pace, up more than 100 percent from 2010. Elance, a platform for online workers and employers, recently released its "2011 Online Employment Review," which reveals that the future of work will be contingent, global and online. As more companies seek instant access to talent and greater flexibility to run their businesses, individuals are taking control of their future by building careers as independent professionals, the report concluded.
The report also found more people are pursuing independent careers and using online platforms to reinvent their careers. The 2011 Elance survey of online freelance professionals indicated that nearly one in three workers began freelancing to be one's own boss and to work on the type of projects they love. The top benefits of online work cited include the ability to control one's own schedule (90 percent), follow their passion (87 percent) and eliminate commuting (85 percent).