The rise of self-employment in the UK has been nothing short of spectacular, with the ONS (Office of National Statistics) showing a rise of 9.7% from March to May. This foretells the fairly massive increase in the trend of self-employment that’s been on an upward march since the mid 2000’s, however 60% of this increase has happened since the middle 2011.
If this growth continues, it’s expected the total number of self-employed in the UK will surpass 5 million, just to put that into perspective – that’s 1 in every 7 people would be self-employed. The impact of this on the unemployment figures has gone relatively unnoticed, however I dare say – the employment rate would be far grimmer without it.
Estimations by the CIPD show the self-employment surge compensated for around 40% of employee job loss, no doubt this will be taken as cause to celebrate – that the UK entrepreneurial sprite is still alive and well. Freelancers are finding they have an ever greater part to play in the UK’s growing (yet flexible) labour force, a fact some point to as proof the recovery hasn’t created the jobs it should of and as a result – the job market remains fundamentally insecure.
88% of who became self-employed after the recession work less than 30 hours a week
However you choose to interpret the data, it’s beyond all doubt that this represents a huge paradigm shift in how our economy now operates/recovers. If we take a step back to the early 90’s, we can clearly see the number of self-employed people shrink as the economy turned the corner, and businesses starting take on more.
This time however, that’s not happening. The economy is starting to grow again (in a big way in fact) however the number of self-employed keeps rising, not shrinking. The problem with this being, the surge in self-employment might actually be the driving force behind the underemployment and productivity problems. 88% of all people who became self-employed after the recession work less than 30 hours a week.
Sadly this is mainly due to not being able to find work. Worse still are the concerns raised about the nature of work this new breed of self-employed are involved in, mainly that it simply isn’t productive enough.
Skilled tradesmen and women maintain the largest share of self-employment cake (sitting at around 30%) however, the numbers have actually been on the decline since the recession started. In contrast however, the numbers of those employed in personal services, administration and elementary occupations have been seeing increases of 33-37%. Oddly enough, there’s been a 26% increase in the numbers of managers and senior officials becoming self-employed, speculation puts this as a trend of Managers moving from the public sector to consultancy style working.
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