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Increase in the amount of workers becoming self employed

The Office for National Statistics released figures this week showing an increase of 367,000 workers becoming self employed between 2008 and 2012.

The figures, which were released by the Office of National Statistics, show that more and more workers are taking the decision to become self employed. A total of 367,000 have become their own boss since 2008.

The numbers show an increase starting along with the economic downturn in 2008. A reasonable assumption would be that many of those who became self employed did so due to the threat to, or loss of, their job in a worsening economy. The fact that 84% of those 367,000 are aged over 50 years old may also back up that assumption.

Though the greatest increase in the numbers becoming self employed has actually happened since 2011, rather than in the year or two after the change in the economy. Between 2011 and 2012 alone there has been a rise of 219,000 in the number of people self employed. That's 60% of the 367,000 who made the decision to become self employed in the last 5 years, did so between 2011 and 2012.

The fact that it is not predominantly young self starters that are setting up these businesses, but the over 50's branching out on their own, means there is a more experienced bread of new entrepreneur out there.

Another feature which is on the increase is the amount of self employed who are using their home for work, in 2012 the figure is around 58%.

As to the gender breakdown of these newly self employed: from 2008 to 2011, 80% of the 147,000 who becoming self employed were women. Then there was a complete reversal as between 2011 and 2012, 60% of the 219,000 who struck out on their own were men. So overall we are seeing the emergence of many male, over 50, entrepreneurs.

An analysis into the occupations of these newly self employed may help answer the gender imbalance somewhat. The top three occupations were Taxi Drivers, Other Construction (such as maintenance, etc) and Joiners and Carpenters. Perhaps much of this self employment increase can be explained by the downturn in the construction industry during the last few years, forcing many tradesmen out of more secure employment into working for themselves. If that helps explain the gender imbalance of the figures after 2011, it also throws up more questions about the figures before 2011. What were the occupations of those 80% of women who made up the majority of newly self employed from 2008 to 2011? What was the reason for such a gender imbalance at that point in time? Unfortunately the ONS did not offer any occupational breakdown from those years.

The ONS have even produced a Youtube video presenting these statistics (not as boring as one would think!).

This article was published in our News section on 07/02/2013.

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