UK labour market becoming stronger

Tuesday 19 September 2017

As an independent worker, you might have found that there was a point where you couldn't work for a big company any more. It might have been because of inflexible hours, or maybe you simply realised you could be making more money as a freelancer. Whatever your reasoning, it seems many other Britons share it as the self-employed workforce is growing.

This is according to the latest 'UK labour market: September 2017' release from the Office of National Statistics (ONS). The organisation found that, for the period of May to July 2017, the number of self-employed people increased by 88,000 compared to the same period from 2016.

This brings the total number of freelancers in the UK up to 4.85 million, which is just over 15 per cent of the overall workforce. This represents a growth of around 1.85 per cent during this period.

The number of employees in the UK workforce, on the other hand, grew by 292,000, or 1.01 per cent. While the number of people in work overall has increased, the amount of people becoming their own boss is clearly rising at a much faster rate. As time goes on, more and more of the UK labour market is being made up of self-employed people as this becomes a more attractive option.

This has made several organisations happy, most notably the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed (IPSE). The association's economic policy advisor, Tom Purvis, said: "Today’s figures show the continuing strength and success of the UK labour market. This success can be attributed to more and more people opting to become self-employed.

"At a time when the UK economy has to navigate its way through Brexit, it is imperative that we continue to promote a flexible UK labour market. It has been responsible for almost half of the recent growth in the labour market as a whole and this development needs to be supported."

IPSE has previously found that, while being self-employed can mean a lot of hard work and long hours - particularly when you're just getting set up - it is generally rewarding for the majority of people who undertake it.

The organisation conducted research showing that once someone has taken the plunge and become their own boss, they are unlikely to go back to working for somebody else. The self-employed lifestyle, while sometimes difficult, is rewarding in a way that few corporate jobs can offer. This is perhaps one of the reasons for the increasing growth in the self-employed portion of the UK labour market.

By Victoria McDonnell

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