More than two in five new jobs created since mid-2010 have been self-employed
Our latest analysis on self-employment shows that since mid-2010 the rise in self-employment has accounted for 44 percent of the net rise in employment. With pensioners, part time workers and ‘odd jobbers’ being the fastest growing groups among Britain’s new self – employed workforce.
While the number of employees has only just reached pre-recession levels, the story of self- employment has been very different. Self- employment has risen steadily since early 2008, even when unemployment was rising sharply, and has increased more in recent years. The TUC analysis shows that despite self-employment being a relatively small part of the UK jobs market – as just one in seven workers are self-employed – it has accounted for 44 per cent of all employment growth since mid – 2010.
We also find that of the self-employed jobs created since mid-2010, over 40% are part-time.
Workers over fifty also account for half the increase in self-employment, with self-employed workers aged 65 and over the fastest growing group in the labour market (increasing by 29 per cent since the end of 2010).
The TUC’s analysis also shows that the number of people starting their own businesses has fallen in recent years, in spite of rising self-employment. The biggest growth areas of self-employment since mid-2010 have been people working for themselves (up 232,000), freelancing (up 69,000) or sub-contracting (up 67,000).
The number of self-employed people who either run a business, or are a partner or sole director in one (positions usually associated with entrepreneurship) has actually fallen by 52,000. These figures suggest that rising self-employment is part of a wider shift towards insecure employment, rather than as a result of a growing number of people starting up new companies as ministers like to claim.
– The ONS self-employment data by status is available at
While some people choose to be self – employed, many people have no alternative. The concern is that the growth of self-employment is at the expense of more secure employee jobs and that this sharp rise in self-employment could be masking the true extent of unemployment.
The number of full time employees is still below pre –recession levels.
But self- employment continues to rise; in the last six months alone, self-employment has accounted for 82% of the net increase in employment.
Many of the newly self-employed workers do the same work as employees but with less job security, poorer working conditions and often less pay.
Self-employed workers also have no right to paid sick, holiday, maternity or paternity leave, redundancy pay or protection against unfair dismissal-(a particular problem for those self-employed workers who are sub-contracted to another employer). The government is also planning to exempt most self-employed workers from vital health and safety protections in the Deregulation Bill currently making its way through way through Parliament.
Analysis also shows that self-employed workers are often earning less. Recent Resolution Foundation research found that earnings from self-employment fell by a fifth between 2006 and 2010, while official figures published by Parliament found that the average annual income from self-employment is less than £10,000 for women. Recent figures from Citizens Advice also suggested that self-employed workers are as likely to have debt problems as unemployed people.
When being self-employed is the culmination of workers’ hopes, where they have always wanted to be their own boss or when they have a great new idea and they want to take on the risks associated with trying to make it a reality – then, self-employment is a wonderful thing. But the growth in self-employment of recent years doesn’t look like this at all. People have turned to self-employment because they have given up on other types of jobs, because their pensions aren’t enough to get by and because ordinary jobs have become less secure. The growth of self-employment here is a marker of failure, not success.