25,000 more people became self-employed in the last quarter of 2012, new data shows.

Wednesday 20 February 2013

An extra 25,000 people became self-employed in the last quarter of 2012, according to new data from the Office for National Statistics.

In total, the latest Labour Market Report shows there are now 4.22 million Brits working for themselves - and they seem to be taking advantage of the flexibility that self-employment can offer.

Data reflecting hours usually worked across the quarter shows a much wider distribution for self-employed individuals than employees. Whereas just over half of employees were working between 31-45 hours each week - reflective of the typical 40-hour week - just under 38 per cent of self-employed people were doing the same.

By contrast, more self-employed workers were keeping hours above or below this bracket. Nearly 23 per cent were working between 16 and 30 hours compared to just under a fifth of employees. Three per cent were working less than six hours per week, while less than half of employees followed suit.

On the other side of the coin, a greater number of self-employed people are also working longer. Almost one-in-three were working more than 45 hours, compared to just under 18 per cent of employees, with self-employed men more than twice as likely to be working longer hours than women.

In general, self-employed women were more evenly spread across the full range of hours. Although 31-45 hours was the most common bracket, it only accounted for just under a quarter.

Brits worked 947.1 million hours across the quarter, topping a year of quarterly increases. 580 million of those were worked by men.

ONS calculates that 29.73 million people were in work across the quarter, up 154,000 on the previous quarter and by 584,000 on the same quarter last year. This meant that the employment rate stood at 76.6 per cent for men and 66.5 per cent for women. This reflected a drop in unemployment of 14,000 from the previous quarter.

Average income also increased, with weekly earnings (not including bonuses) of £445 before tax and deductions, up slightly from £439 in the same quarter of 2011.

By Victoria McDonnell

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