Contractor rates have grown by 3.7 per cent.
One of the most painful consequences of the economic downturn for employees has been the failure of salary increases to keep pace with inflation.
The cost of living has risen but salaries have failed to keep up, meaning people's personal finances are coming under pressure from all angles.
Since the economic downturn of 2008, increasing numbers of people have been attracted to the world of contracting and there are various reasons for this.
Among them are greater flexibility and the fact that running a limited company is not as arduous as in previous years thanks to accountancy service providers, who can take care of the administrative side of things such as your personal tax return.
A key attraction for many, however, is the greater earning potential, especially if you contract through a limited company.
Provided your contracts and working practices fall outside of IR35 legislation, you can significantly increase your take home pay by taking your salary in the form of a dividend.
In previous economic downturns, contractors were among the worst hit, both in terms of job numbers and rates of pay, however, for the most part, this downturn has been different.
Rates have been cut in certain sectors, however, overall rates of pay have remained fairly robust and new research from global recruitment firm Robert Walters has shown that in terms of remuneration, contractors are doing better than their permanent counterparts.
Contractor rates vs. permanent salaries
According to the Robert Walters Salary Survey 2012, permanent salaries in the UK increased by 1.5 per cent year-on-year.
By contrast, contractors saw their daily pay rates increase by 3.7 per cent.
In addition, the research showed that risk professionals saw their contract rates soar by 13.8 per cent, while compliance specialists saw a rise of 10.8 per cent.
Accountants saw a 7.8 per cent increase, with investment banking operations professionals and IT professionals seeing increases of 4.1 per cent and 3.4 per cent respectively.
Why has contractors' pay grown more?
Chris Hickey, UK managing director at Robert Walters, gave the following explanation for the discrepancies between the two.
"The fact that contract rates have grown almost two-and-a-half times as fast as permanent salaries highlights where business' priorities lie," he stated.
Mr Hickey went on to note:
"Employers are focusing on projects that maximise efficiencies or work they consider business critical and are prepared to pay in order to secure the best contractors. It is also reflective of workloads remaining high but employers being hesitant to commit to recruiting on a permanent basis."
In short, the specialist knowledge of contractors coupled with the greater flexibility that comes with the nature of the way they work makes them an attractive proposition for businesses in the current economic climate.
This goes some way to explaining why contractor job opportunities have remained relatively stable.
There have been reductions in the number of opportunities in certain sectors, however, businesses have learnt from previous downturns that in times of economic strife, they need the best brains available to put them on the front foot for when the economy eventually picks up.
Mr Hickey concluded by saying that professionals who can help businesses cut costs and streamline are in high demand.
Given the fact that contractors are often specialists in their chosen fields, it should come as no surprise that compliance experts and risk professionals have seen their rates rise so significantly.