4.8 million self-employed individuals assist record employment levels
The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) has claimed that increased numbers of self-employed workers are helping to drive the current record-high UK employment level.
Data released this week from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) revealed that employment has risen again to another record high of 32.6 million between October and December 2018, whilst the number of self-employed people rose by 63,000 to 4.84 million in the final quarter of last year.
As such, the employment rate now sits at 75.8% – the joint highest since records began in 1971 – and the unemployment rate is 4% – the lowest since 1975. The lack of available talent is also helping to boost earnings, which are up 3.4% in the year to December: nearly double the current level of inflation.
IPSE were keen to relate the rise in self-employed workers to the overall record employment level. Their Economic Policy Adviser, Ryan Barnett, commented: “It’s excellent to see the rise in self-employment revealed in the data today. When the government celebrates the strength of the labour market, it must remember that a major part of that is down to the UK’s burgeoning self-employed sector.
“As of the end of 2018, there were 4.84 million self-employed people in the country. That’s almost 15 per cent of the workforce – nearly as much as the entire public sector.
“In a time of gloomy economic forecasts and poor GDP growth, the strength of our labour market and especially our self-employed sector is welcome good news.
“In such times, however, the Government and policymakers must give the self-employed sector the attention – and protection – it deserves.
“With Brexit uncertainty shaking the world of business, the Government should look to and protect its most productive and dynamic sectors – like the self-employed.
“Right now, freelancers and the self-employed urgently need clarity from Government on Brexit: not only taking a ‘no-deal’ off the table, but also making sure we have a financial services and immigration system that works for business.”
Pawel Adrjan, UK economist at global job site Indeed, said: “A year ago the average Briton’s spending power was stagnating… Now, as inflation slows to its lowest rate in two years, a series of strong rises in average wages has swelled both pay packets and workers’ spending power.
“Rising wages are a by-product of Britain’s relentlessly tight labour market, which is still bumping along the ceiling of full employment. There are signs the market could get even tighter in coming months. Indeed’s data shows that the proportion of online searches for UK jobs coming from other European countries fell by 5% in the three years to January. While the latest quarterly data shows a pick-up in the number of both EU and non-EU workers, the Brexodus of talent remains a real risk.”
22nd February 2019.