UK self-employment on the rise, as employment hits record heights.

Words, hubbul

The latest ONS Labour Market Statistics, which explored workforce trends from April to June of this year, have revealed the highest level of UK employment since 1971 and continued growth in self-employment.

This takes the total number of people working for themselves in the UK to a staggering 4.81m and represents a 23,000 growth in self-employment compared to the same period last year. Furthermore, this is complemented by a 20,000 drop in the number of people working on zero-hour contracts – a figure which has a habit of skewing employment figures.

The continued rise in self-employment offers further indication that freelancing, contracting and self-employment is indeed the new and future way of working, regardless of ongoing political uncertainty, recent policy changes and challenges on the horizon.


Employment as whole in the UK currently sits at a record 75.1%, with 338,000 people entering employment in the past 12 months, 247,000 of whom have started work since the turn of the year.

This now means that over 32million people work in the UK in some capacity. To reach record-breaking employment figures in times of political and business uncertainty shows economic stability in testing times, IPSE’s Senior Policy Adviser, Jonathan Lima-Matthews explained.

“The UK Labour Market continues to show its strength and has maintained its leading position in Europe. Despite fears of complete economic collapse after the EU referendum, the UK economy still seems to be going strong for now.”

The latest figures, including the welcome drop in the number of zero-hours contracts, could well see an increase in demand for freelancers and contractors, Lima-Matthews went on to say.

“And although the significant drop in the number of people employed on zero-hours contracts is clearly positive, it also means the UK economy will now rely more than ever on the flexibility provided by the self-employed.

“It’s very encouraging, therefore, that today’s figures also show that an additional 23,000 self-employed people entered the workforce between April and June compared to the same period last year.”


Going forward, and regardless of uncertainty surrounding Brexit, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the UK employment as a whole continue to break records, IPSE's Senior Policy Adviser explained.

“Now, as inflation starts to cool, we can reasonably expect to see our workforce growing in size, flexibility and prosperity in the months and years to come.” 

Have you recently made the leap into self-employment? Join the conversation…

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