UK sees rise in self-employment figures during economic downturn

The number of self-employed workers in the UK has risen by a total of 367,000 since the start of the economic downturn in 2008, new figures show.

A report from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows that the rise mainly took place between 2011 and 2012, when 60% of the growth occurred.

The overall number of employees, which fell by 434,000 between 2008 and 2012, dropped mainly at the start of the period, with a decrease of 600,000 recorded between 2008 and 2009 and a partial recovery witnessed since 2010.

The increase in self-employment was seen across all areas of the UK, except Northern Ireland.

London (18%) had the highest proportion of self-employed workers, followed by the South West (16%). The lowest proportion was in the North East (11%) then Scotland and Yorkshire and the Humber (both 12%).

The four year period between 2008 and 2012 saw an increase of 431,000 in the number of self-employed people who worked either on their own or with a partner, while the amount of people who had employees working for them fell 66,000 over the same period.

Self-employed people tend to work on average 38 hours a week - two hours more those who are employed by an organisation.

Those with their own business also tend to be older than employees in general and are more likely to be male. Last year the average age of the 4.2 million self-employed workers was 47, and 70% of them were men.

Meanwhile, the average age of the 25 million employees in the UK was 40 and 51% of them were men.

The four most common occupations for self-employment were taxi or cab drivers, 'other' construction trades, carpenters and joiners, and farmers.

Some 58% of self-employed people used their home for work purposes last year, either working there (15%), using it as a base (38%), or working on the same grounds or building as their home (5%).

Copyright Press Association 2013