UK Economy
Trends in UK and US part-time and self employment since 2008
By Michael Hennigan, Finfacts founder and editor
Jul 18, 2014 - 7:35 AM

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Notes: The UK figure on this chart is not as up-to-date as those reported elsewhere in this report [pdf] in order to be consistent with international data. Source: Resolution Foundation analysis of OECD stats.

In the US total employment in June 2014 was at the same level as it was in December 2007 when the recession began while the UK added almost 1.3m jobs since late 2008 but a small percentage has been in full-time employee numbers.

UK data for August-October 2008 [pdf] shows total employment at 29.4m and 30.6m in March-May 2014 [pdf].

On Thursday we reported that real wages had fallen in the UK in the past 12 months which is in line with a trend since 2008.

Full-time employee rises are a strong indicator of a recovery, in particular signalling future rises in wages that would boost demand.

Last May we reported that the number of Irish employees in Q1 2014 remained below the level of the bailout quarter of 2010 while part time employment as a ratio of total employment had risen from 18% in Q1 2008 to 24% in Q1 2014.

In the UK in the period 2008-2014, self-employment grew by 798,000; part-time employees grew 288,000 and full-time employees rose 143,000 -- the balance of the additional 1.26m jobs relates to changes in government scheme numbers and unpaid family work.

The Resolution Foundation think-tank says that only 30% of self-employed people have any kind of pension, compared to 52% of employees - - similar levels to Ireland's level.

It says that in 1966, just 6.7% of UK workers were self-employed. This figure rose throughout the 1970s and 1980s to reach 13.8% of workers in 1996. Self-employment then fell slightly through the late 1990s and early 2000s,and it is only since the financial crash that the proportion of workers who are self - employed has risen back above the 1990s peak to 15%.

The Foundation also says in a report  – All Accounted For: The Case for an All Worker Earnings Measure – that official measures of average earnings exclude the self-employed which it says understate the size of the fall in earnings since the downturn by a thumping 20% to 30%.

The Resolution Foundation also says the proportion of self-employed people not working full-time has risen from 23 to 28% since 2005, twice as large as the shift among employees.

In the US, employment was at 146m in June 2014 as it was in December 2007 when the recession began.

However the numbers not in the workforce jumped from 79m to 92m while the total workforce rose from 154m to 156m despite a growth in population in 2007-2014.

The number in part-time work grew by 3m from 2007 to 28m.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has change its categorisation of self employment and we have to suspend judgement on this issue.

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