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Video Summary: Self-employed Workers in the UK, February 2013

Released: 06 February 2013

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Transcript – Self Employed workers in the UK


Welcome to this video covering self employment in the Labour Market.

Firstly, in April-June 2012, just under 1 in 16 or 14% of people in employment were self employed accounting for 4.2 million people. There were 25 million people who were employees, which are people who work for someone else, accounting for 85% of those in employment.

70% of the self employed were men and the average age of people who were self employed was 47 years. This compares to an average age of 40 years for those working as employees, so they tend to be younger and 51% of employees were male.

Focusing on hours worked, the average usual working week for someone self employed was 38 hours and 13% worked 60 hours or more per week. Just 3% of employees worked 60 or more and their working week was slightly shorter at 36 hours.

Focusing on the self employed, and looking in a little more detail, the top three occupations were taxi drivers, people in ‘other’ construction trades, for example maintenance of buildings, and carpenters and joiners. Across the UK, the North East had the lowest percentage of people in work who were self employed, at 11%, and London had the highest percentage at 18%. Focusing on the home, around 58% of people used their home in some form for their work.

The majority of the self employed were in the 39-45 age group, but focusing on employment within each age group, it was those aged 65 and over who had the highest percentage who were self employed. Of those working beyond state pension age 37% were self employed, and just 5% of workers aged between 16 and 24 were self employed.

Finally, moving back out, we will now look at the changes in self employment since the start of the economic downturn in 2008.

Over the period from 2008 to 2012, there was a 367 thousand rise in the number of people who were self employed, and this increase has happened against a backdrop of falling numbers of employees, which were down 434 thousand over the same period.

Most of the increase in self employed happened between 2011 and 2012, where there was a 219 thousand rise. Between 2008 and 2011, there was a 147 thousand rise.
There were some differences in the characteristics of the people behind these increases, for the two periods. Between 2008 and 2011, 80% of the rise was for women, but for the later period, 64% of the rise was for men.

For the earlier period, most of the rise was for people working less than 30 hours per week, but for the later period, 55% of the rise was for people working 30 hours or more per week.

Finally, if we look at the changes by age group, most of the rise was for those aged 65 and over for the initial period, but for those aged 50-64 in the later period.

That was self employment in the labour market.

The video covers the following:

  • The number of workers who are self-employed in their main job rose 367,000 between 2008, the start of the economic downturn, and 2012.

  • 60% of the increase in self-employed workers occurred between 2011 and 2012.

  • 84% of the increase in self-employed workers since 2008 was for those aged 50 and above.

In 2012:

  • Self-employed people worked longer hours than employees – on average 38 hours a week compared with 36 for employees.

  • Self-employed workers tended to be older than employees and were more likely to be male.

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

  • The proportion of workers who were self-employed was highest in London (18%), while the lowest proportion was in the North East (11%).

Source: Office for National Statistics

Background notes

  1. Details of the policy governing the release of new data are available by visiting www.statisticsauthority.gov.uk/assessment/code-of-practice/index.html or from the Media Relations Office email: media.relations@ons.gsi.gov.uk

    These National Statistics are produced to high professional standards and released according to the arrangements approved by the UK Statistics Authority.

Content from the Office for National Statistics.
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