Self-employment rises in Wales - Office of National Statistics

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Media captionSelf employed people are most likely to be taxi drivers, male and aged over 50

The number of people working for themselves is rising in Wales, new figures show.

The proportion of self-employed in the workforce in Wales is 13%, slightly below the UK average of 14%.

The Office of National Statistics (ONS) says self-employment has risen since the financial crisis began in 2008.

The numbers in Wales rose 4,000 to 177,000 in Wales over a four year period.

The rise has been particularly steep across the UK since 2011. The most common occupations are taxi drivers, construction, carpenters and farmers.

There are now 367,000 more people working for themselves across the UK than in 2008.

The number of self-employed workers increased in all nations and regions except Northern Ireland where the number fell.

The ONS figures, which look back over a four-year period, show that five out of six of the increase in people working for themselves are men over the age of 50.

They are likely to work longer hours than employed people.

Only 5% of workers between 16 and 24 work for themselves.

What is particularly interesting is the change in the picture of self-employment in the first few years of the economic downturn compared with the 12 months to last summer.

Different picture

The typical newly self-employed person in 2008 was over 65 years old, a woman and working fewer than 30 hours a week.

That changed in 2011. Since then most of the newly self-employed workers have been men, between 50 and 65 and they typically work more than 30 hours a week.

This is especially interesting to those people who are surprised that unemployment is not higher, considering the continuing fragility of the economy.

The numbers of people working for themselves may be part of the answer to that.

The difference in the average number of hours worked by employed people and self employed may be small - just two hours a week on average.

But look at the extremes and there's a different picture:

Examining the proportion of people working more than 60 hours, you find that 13% are self employed compared with only 3% of employed people.

It would be interesting to know how many people who work for themselves would prefer to be employed by someone else instead.

What we do know is that one in 10 of the newly self-employed would like to work more hours. They may well have to wait for the economy to pick up before they have that choice.

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