Freelancers and over-50s drive huge rise in employment

THE RAPID improvement to the UK labour market has been spurred by a surge in the number of freelancers as well as an increasing number of older workers.

The five-year low for unemployment announced by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) yesterday has been driven particularly by 146,000 new self-employed workers in the three months to February, bringing the total to 4.5m.

“We are now in the midst of a revolution in how we approach the concept of work in this country. If we want to keep up, we need to make structural changes to the institutions supporting our businesses.” said Simon McVicker of PCG, the freelancers’ group, calling for a more streamlined tax system to help independent workers.

The number of older people coming into the labour market has also weighed heavily on the firming employment figures. The ONS revealed that there were 262,000 more people aged 50-64 in the workforce this February than a year earlier.

Proportionally, people over 65 have been by far the largest group added to employment figures. The ONS shows that the number of over-65s in jobs rose by 122,000 in the same 12 month period, a 12.6 per cent increase.

In comparison, the number of 25 to 34-year-olds in work rose 3.6 per cent, while the number of 35 to 49-year-olds barely increased at all, with only 2,000 jobs added.