The UK’s surge in self-employment appears to be garnering more and more attention at a national level ahead of today’s labour market data, which is expected to show a further drop in unemployment and rise in self-employment.

A study released today by the Resolution Foundation, a think tank supporting UK workers on low and middle incomes, and conducted by Ipsos Mori shows that 72% of those who have become self-employed in the last five years prefer their current situation to a salaried position – but the remaining 28% (some 450,000 people) would happily take a salaried post over the freelance lifestyle.

These results will add to the debate over whether the UK is experiencing David Cameron’s promised “Entrepreneurial Decade”, or whether a lack of well paid full-time positions is forcing people to start their own businesses.

Self-employment appears to be more enjoyable with experience though – amongst those who have been working for themselves for five years or more, only 11% would return to salaried employment if given the chance.

The report also highlighted the growing contingent of female entrepreneurs. Five years ago women accounted for 27% of the newly self-employed; that number now stands at 37%.

The Resolution Foundation’s Conor D’Arcy said:

“The UK has had impressive employment growth over recent months, a sizable proportion of which has been driven by an explosion in self-employment.  That’s why it’s vital we know more about these new self-employed workers. Some will see themselves as entrepreneurs and revel in setting up their own business – the clear majority still prefer to be their own boss – but a considerable minority appear to be there unwillingly or at least would prefer the security of being an employee given the choice.

“The new face of self-employment is more likely to be female and looking for an alternative compared with their more established counterparts.”

Photo by Rachel Titiriga