A Closer Look

UK – Becoming the self-employment capital of Europe

Whether they are a growing underclass or a sign of the UK economy’s bright future, the growing army of self-employed warrant our attention

The UK workforce has expanded rapidly over the last year, with the working-age employment rate reaching historically high levels and net job creation of over 900,000 in the year to April 2014.Capture d’écran 2014-08-13 à 09.56.49

This is likely to continue in the near term. But most would agree that there are still some reasons to be concerned about the state of working Britain, pointing towards the poor performance of real wages over the last half decade, a squeeze on living standards unprecedented in modern Britain.

But there is also an important debate around self-employment, which has proven to be a key driver of overall job creation while also perplexing policy makers and commentators as to its causes and consequences.

When compared to other European countries, the growth in self-employment in the UK is remarkable. Between the first quarters of 2013 and 2014, the number of self-employed workers rose by 8 per cent, faster than any other Western European economy (see chart).

Looked at as a share of overall employment it presents a similar picture, with the proportion of workers who are self-employed rising by almost a percentage point in a single year, again among the fastest in Europe.

The UK, a country that for many years had internationally low levels of self-employment, has caught up with the EU average and, if current growth continues, will look more like the Southern and Eastern European country which tend to have much larger shares of self-employed workers.

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at The UK is becoming the self-employment capital of Europe | Left Foot Forward.

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