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Self-Employed workers in the UK buck five-year pay squeeze

New figures released today, comparing the progress of wages between 2010 and 2015, reveal that despite five years of slow wage growth in the UK, freelance professionals experienced a significant uplift of income during the same period, with hourly rate growth for the self-employed rising at a rate nearly six times faster than employees.

  • The average hourly rate for freelancers* increased by 26.83% between 2010-2015 compared to a 4.52% rise for employees.
  • By 2015 freelancers* averaged an hourly rate of £20.73, £5.47 or 36% more per hour than the national average for employees.

New figures released today, comparing the progress of wages between 2010 and 2015, reveal that despite five years of slow wage growth in the UK, freelance professionals experienced a significant uplift of income during the same period, with hourly rate growth for the self-employed rising at a rate nearly six times faster than employees.

The data provided by the UK’s largest freelance marketplace PeoplePerHour, were analysed by researchers at the University of Westminster Business School, led by Professor Peter Urwin. 

The analysis** found that between 2010 and 2015, the mean hourly rate for freelancers using PeoplePerHour increased by 26.83%, rising from a starting point of £16.34 in 2010 to £20.73 in 2015. While these figures are worth noting in isolation, their significance really comes to light when compared to official earnings for employees during the same period. 

According to data taken from the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE), not only did employees experience a far lower rate of growth in their salaries – just 4.52% – but their overall pay packet was significantly lower, starting at £14.60 per hour in 2010 and only inching up to £15.26 by the end of 2015. By the end of 2015, the self-employed on PeoplePerHour earned an average of £5.47 (36%) more per hour than the national average for employees.

Xenios Thrasyvoulou, founder and CEO of PeoplePerHour, comments: "In 2010, in the midst of the financial crisis, freelancers on PeoplePerHour were already earning more than their employed counterparts, and that gap has significantly widened.

The fact that freelancers using our platform are significantly out-earning the national average wage is a reflection of two factors: the quality of the work delivered and the growth in demand from businesses wanting to hire skilled professionals on a freelance basis.

With more highly-skilled professionals seeking equilibrium in their work-life balance, many are turning to self-employment as a way to both command higher hourly rates and to have the autonomy they crave. Equally, as companies switch on to the

 many benefits of the freelance workforce, freelancers are able to pick and choose their clients and negotiate their hourly rate they are worth, and in turn, businesses are willing to pay more for the skills, expertise and flexibility such a workforce brings."