Beneath the headline fall in unemployment announced in the ONS figures for October, are there other trends of interest to Umbrella Company Employees and others in the freelance contracting community? Was it all purely good news? PCG economist Georgios Nikolaidis offers some acute observations.

Although overall unemployment fell by 48,000, more detailed scrutiny of the ONS statistics shows that a large number of people are still being forced into part-time work because full-time positions simply are not available, Mr Nikolaidis notes. The number of people taking part-time roles rose by 1.7% on the previous quarter to hit 1.46 million, the highest level since 1992 when records began.

Young people aged 16-24 are also still in grim circumstances, with unemployment remaining stubbornly fixed at 21% throughout the previous quarter. Mr Nikolaidis believes the government should channel efforts into providing education on entrepreneurial skills for this age group to help them to strike out on their own.

Freelancers have rather more to celebrate, however. The ranks of the nation’s freelance contracting community grew by 15,000 on the previous quarter, bringing the total to 4.2 million – a rise of 0.4%. Much of this rise, Mr Nikolaidis discovered, was driven by women coming onto the freelancing scene for the first time.

With part-time employment rising and living standards stagnating and starting to slip, Mr Nikolaidis has a clear message: “This is where freelancing can come in and provide workers with specialist skills a more viable and fulfilling option. Freelancing allows workers to utilise their skills more effectively, offer more flexibility to work as and when they wish and, perhaps most importantly, be their own boss.”

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