oconomylogo.jpg Online outsourcing marketplace oDesk has launched a new feature called oConomy, where you can browse through global job statistics that are both hopelessly unscientific and endlessly fascinating.

We reported on oDesk in 2006, when the Menlo Park start-up raised a $10 million second round of funding. Basically, the site allows companies to hire technology “providers” such as programmers and web designers, and to monitor them through tools like screen shots, keystroke tracking and photos of the employee at work. Now, oDesk says it’s helped companies outsource more than 1.6 million hours of work completed by more than 47,000 providers in more than 90 countries. And through oConomy, the company is giving the public a chance to browse through data about all of those jobs.

The most interesting new feature is the “global provider map,” which shows every country with workers in the oDesk network. Click on an individual country, and the map displays some basic statistics. (See screenshot below.) I learned, for example, that there are 8,486 oDesk providers in the United States, who work for an average of $23 per hour and who have been given an average satisfaction rating of 4.3 (out of 5) from their employers. India, on the other hand, has 8,018 providers who work for an average of $14 per hour and have been given an average rating of 3.8.

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oConomy also offers lists of the highest-rated countries (among those with at least 100 providers, it’s Indonesia), provider companies (ISS Art in Russia) and individual providers (“Vikramsinh J.”, a software professional in India).

You’ve probably figured out that oConomy is probably not, shall we say, the most reliable place to find data for research about outsourcing or international job markets (for that, I’d suggest starting with the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics). I’m also assuming our readers know better than to use oConomy to make sweeping generalizations about which countries have the “best” and “worst” workers. oConomy is probably most useful as a marketing tool for oDesk (“Look how many providers we have!”) and as a way for oDesk users to get some global context. Nonetheless, oConomy offers a glimpse into outsourcing that’s fun and easy to navigate, if admittedly narrow.