Self-Employed in the UK: By Choice or Necessity?

An interesting new study takes a look at the state of Great Britain’s 1099 Economy.  The study, with the not-catchy title of “The Post Crisis Growth in the Self-Employed:  Volunteers or Reluctant Recruits,” examines changes in the UK’s workforce structure since 2008.  It finds that the UK’s freelance economy has boomed since 2008.  Between 2008 and 2014, 750,000 Britons had moved into self-employment, accounting for 75% of national job growth over this period.  Within Europe, the UK saw the biggest jump in self-employment, but other European countries also saw big increases.

Beyond documenting the increases in self-employment, the research, from Andrew Henley of Wales’ Aberystwyth University, asks an essential question:   did these workers jump or were they pushed?  In other words, did they choose to be self-employed or did they have no other options?   Henley finds that the majority of these new freelancers chose their new employment status.   These new entrepreneurs are responding to new economic opportunities and see self-employment as the best vehicle to pursue them.   This finding likely tells us that we won’t be seeing a post-Recession drop in self-employment.  Instead, we need to recognize that the way people work is in the midst of a long-lasting change—in the UK, the US, and beyond.

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