Recent Data Points to a Decline in UK Self-Employment to Levels Not Seen in a Decade

Last Updated on: 8th March 2024, 01:28 pm

The latest statistics unveil that the fraction of the UK’s labour force that is self-employed is at its lowest in nearly two decades, highlighting a significant downturn. There has been a 15.5% fall in self-employed individuals in the UK since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Of these, 2.2 million are working remotely, signifying a larger move towards remote working practices.

Fresh analysis of the employment landscape in the UK reveals a significant downturn in the number of people choosing self-employment since the COVID-19 pandemic took hold.

Conducted by Business Coach Academy, the analysis reveals that the figures for self-employment are nearing a 10-year low, with the proportion of self-employed individuals in the UK workforce being the lowest in almost 20 years. Additionally, the analysis illustrates shifts in the predominant sectors for self-employment, mirroring the upheavals of recent years.

The peak of self-employment in the UK was observed at the close of 2019, with self-employed individuals numbering just over 5 million, making up 14.1% of the total workforce in the UK.

2020 marked a significant downturn in self-employment numbers, with a nearly 15% drop largely due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in the closure of around 400,000 UK companies within a year.

Self-employment figures have not only not recovered to their pre-pandemic levels but have further declined into 2024. Although there was a minor rebound in 2022, it was quickly negated by further economic and geopolitical disturbances.

Founder of Business Coach Academy, Zander Woodford-Smith, shared his insights: “A lot of this is to be expected. Of course the events over the last few years have had a terrible impact on small businesses in the UK. But the data also shows that now is a great time to become self-employed. The competition is dwindling, and you have a chance to get in early before the self-employment landscape makes a full recovery.”

There has also been a notable and steady change in the industry distribution of self-employed individuals. The construction industry, which in 2012 boasted over 1.3 million self-employed workers, has seen a decline post-2020, especially following the COVID-19 pandemic. The trend has shifted towards sectors like digital marketing, remote services, and online education, reflecting the UK businesses’ ability to adapt and persevere.

Zander added, “It’s difficult to say what the future of self-employment in the UK will look like. There’s been little sign of recovery. But while the numbers of self-employed persons may have decreased, people are adapting, shifting more towards the realms of digital and remote business. This is great to see and may be an indicator that there are brighter days ahead for UK self-employment.”

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