Last week’s April jobs report surprised economists and capped three consecutive months of the strongest job growth the country has seen in years. Unfortunately, the ranks of the unemployed are also growing – currently 13.7 million Americans are unemployed.

Many employers are taking a ‘wait and see’ approach to adding full-time staff. The uncertainty associated with the Obama administration’s health care policy and next year’s presidential election have hiring on hold.

At the same time, technological innovation is leading more customers onto mobile devices and the need for IT workers and computer engineers has been growing. Large employers have started looking to individual “contractors” or independent online workers who do not ask for healthcare benefits to fill the immediate need. One of the more successful platforms facilitating this new ‘non-hiring’ process is Elance. Not just another job posting site, this outsourcing afficianado appeals to businesses looking to staff-up teams on an hourly or project basis. For the tech savvy temps, the site charges a small monthly fee ($10 – $40) and acts as a workspace where independent contractors can send proposals, use the company’s online “work rooms” and even bills clients. Elance guarantees the payments and offers its clients free wire transfers.

While tech is their largest sector, Elance has hundreds of professional categories – from Secretaries to Sales Directors.

Employers are guaranteed that they will be paying for results and workers are guaranteed that they will get paid. And there is evidence that it is actually working.

Ellen Pack, the company’s Vice President confirmed that there are over 370,000 individual contractors either working or seeking work on Elance. She also noted that over 45,000 jobs were posted by primarily small businesses this month alone.

In the toughest job markets in the country, the hiring of online workers is bucking the downward trend of brick and mortar employers.

Thirteen cities with unemployment rates above ten percent were ranked as highest-earning, fastest hiring locals on Elance’s most recent quarterly survey. Los Angeles, which has a stubborn 12 percent unemployment rate, ranked second-highest in pay and had the fastest hire rate amongst geographic areas on Elance’s platform.

According to Pack, one surprising fact from the latest Elan survey – Smartphones are “required” equipment in Austin Texas – which is the capital city for online workers, affording techies the highest pay per job.

Elance has also launched “Startup Cloud” a platform which helps entrepreneurs start up their own small business, though Pack acknowledged the service is too new to supply any meaningful stats on success rates, the company has high hopes for the new service.

“In a way, it’s the next logical step,” said Pack. “Once you view yourself as a contractor, why not start your own business online?”

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