Rising job levels since recession driven by surge in self-employment, says TUC

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date: 22 January 2013

embargo: 00.01hrs Wednesday 23 January 2013

The rising number of people in work since the recession has been driven by a surge in self-employment, according to new TUC analysis published ahead of the latest unemployment figures due later today (Wednesday).

The analysis shows that since the start of the recession in 2008 the small rise in employment levels has been driven by a nine per cent rise in the number of self-employed workers (up 330,000). Over the same period, the number of employees has actually fallen by one per cent (down 284,000).

Since early 2010, 40 per cent of the new jobs created have been self-employed roles, even though just 14 per cent of workers are self-employed. The TUC fears that this sharp rise in self-employment could be masking the true extent of unemployment as people previously in work 'go freelance', start their own businesses or are forced into false self-employment, rather than sign on.

Self-employment is up across the economy, with significant increases in all areas of work. The largest increases have been in administrative and secretarial work (52 per cent rise), sales and customer service roles (32 per cent rise) and personal service occupations, such as hairdressing, cleaning and care work (31 per cent rise). This suggests, says the TUC, that rather than running their own businesses, many people could be undertaking false self-employment, doing the same work as contracted employees but on poorer terms and conditions.

Commenting on the analysis, TUC General Secretary Frances O'Grady said: 'We know that the harsh economic climate is having a huge effect on the amount of work that those fortunate enough to have a job are able to get, with over three million people saying they would like more hours than they currently have.

'Ministers brush away these concerning by saying that there are more people in work than ever before. What's not clear though is how many of these new jobs actually offer secure and regular paid work, let alone enough hours to make ends meet.

'More than in one in three new jobs created since 2010 have been self-employed roles. It would be naïve to think that these are all budding entrepreneurs.

'Worryingly, the figures suggest that many of those who have lost their jobs over the last few years are not simply choosing to go freelance, but are being forced into false self-employment, which is often insecure and poorly paid.

'Small falls in unemployment levels in recent months have been welcome, but our better than expected employment figures are masking high levels of under-employment and falsely self-employed workers, who may have hardly any paid work at all.

'We desperately need more decently paid full-time roles to bring unemployment down sharply, and we need a proper economic recovery to achieve this.'

NOTES TO EDITORS:

Self-employed workers by occupation, 2008-12

Occupation

Jan-Mar 2008

Jan-Mar 2012

Change

Change

Managers and senior officials

703,744

658,117

-45,627

-7%

Professional occupations

532,094

654,005

121,911

23%

Associate professional and technical

590,808

609,900

19,092

3%

Administrative and secretarial

98,524

149,338

50,814

52%

Skilled trades

1,152,216

1,139,108

-13,108

-1%

Personal service

201,222

263,314

62,092

31%

Sales and customer service

66,444

87,609

21,165

32%

Process plant and machine operatives

301,350

336,758

35,408

12%

Elementary occupations

219,503

267,962

48,459

22%

Total employment levels, 2008-12

Date

Total

(000s)

Employees

(000s)

Self-employed

(000s)

Dec-Feb 2008

29,499

25,402

3,870

Jan-Mar 2008

29,510

25,428

3,858

Jan-Mar 2009

29,172

25,164

3,821

Jan-Mar 2010

28,807

24,669

3,927

Mar-May 2010

28,930

24,776

3,933

Jan-Mar 2011

29,229

25,050

3,960

Jan-Mar 2012

29,274

24,892

4,163

Aug-Oct 2012

29,601

25,118

4,200

Increase since 2008

102

-284

330

Increase since 2010

671

342

267

Source: ONS

- There is a difference between the total number of self-employed people between the two tables because of variations in sample size between the two questions.

- Total change in employee and self-employed employment levels since 2008 is less than the total employment change as the latter also includes unpaid family workers (+1,000 since 2008) and workers on government schemes (+52,000 increase 2008).

- Since Mar-May 2010 267,000 self-employed jobs (40 per cent of the net rise) have been created compared to 342,000 employee jobs (51 per cent of the net rise). In addition there has been a rise of 18,000 (3 per cent of the net rise) in the number of unpaid family workers and a rise of 43,000 (6 per cent of the net rise) in the number on government employment programmes.

- The analysis is based on ONS figures http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/publications/re-reference-tables.html?edition=tcm%3A77-222525

Media enquiries:
Liz Chinchen T: 020 7467 1248 M: 07778 158175 E: media@tuc.org.uk
Rob Holdsworth T: 020 7467 1372 M: 07717 531150 E: rholdsworth@tuc.org.uk
Alex Rossiter T: 020 7467 1337 M: 07887 572130 E: arossiter@tuc.org.uk

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