Self-employment boom 'thanks to the over-50s'

Britain’s self-employment boom is largely the making of workers age 50 or over who have decided to cash in on their experience and ‘go it alone’ as a freelancer, new figures suggest.

In fact, workers aged 50 and above account for more than 70 per cent of the increase in self-employment seen in the UK between the first quarter of 2008 and the last quarter of 2013.

The Office of National Statistics, which revealed this calculation yesterday, sounded unsurprised that the UK’s entrepreneurial boom has not been thanks to 18 to 24-year-olds.

“Younger workers,” it said, “are by nature less experienced and often lack the capital of older workers. [So younger workers ] are much less likely to be self-employed than older workers.”

In line with this reading, the figures show that the self-employment share rises smoothly through the age groups from around 5% of total employment for those aged 18 to 24, to around 38% of those aged 65 and above.

Further revelations about the make-up of the freelance workforce could emerge shortly, as the ONS says it has developed new figures which provide a full breakdown between employees and the self-employed.

“[This breakdown includes] a number of methodological improvements,” said the office. “Revised estimates of labour productivity using these new statistics will be published shortly.”

In total, there are now a record 4.5million people in Britain operating as self-employed, of which approximately 510,000 have sprung up since 2008.

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