The latest statistics from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) have revealed that the UK is currently home to just shy of 5 million professional contractors and self-employed workers.
The ONS reports that 15 per cent of the UK’s 32.07 million-strong working population describe themselves as self-employed, with such workers making up 4.81 million in total. This figure has grown by 23,000 from April to June.
The total number of employed workers has also increased, up 125,000 from January-March this year and 338,000 on figures recorded in 2016. Today’s employment rate of 75.1 per cent is the strongest seen since comparable records started in 1971.
Some, however, have argued that this has increased with the advent of the “gig economy”, with many employees working shorter hours or contracts being described as self-employed.
Elsewhere, the number of temporary employees in the UK dropped by 4.8 per cent to reach 1.56 million in total. Some 883,000 people still work on “zero-hours contracts” in their main job, though this figure has fallen by 20,000 since last year.
Recruitment & Employment Confederation chief executive Kevin Green urged caution despite strong job creation and employment in the UK at present, warning that Brexit would continue to have an impact.
He added: “The number of EU nationals working in the UK is increasing, but at a much slower rate than any time in the last three years. Employers are struggling to find people to fill roles in engineering, construction and health, so there is an increasing risk that new jobs will go unfilled.”