Posted: Fri 13th Jun 2014
According to some media coverage recently, you could be forgiven for thinking that self-employment is a temporary measure and that the poor people who have gone down that route should soon be able to find themselves a 'proper job' now the economy is on the rise.
I liked this take on the situation by professional statistician Graham Archer, an Orwell prize-winning columnist for the Saturday Telegraph. He suggests self-employment is less about the desperate measures we have taken in a recession - and more about taking control of our own destiny. He suggests the recent surging numbers should be taken as 'a lesson about the human need for autonomy', rather than anything sinsiter.
And I love this line: "Two hours not spent commuting are two precious hours of freedom; worth more than any wage." He's talking about home-working for white collar workers, but it could equally apply to the self-employed, working our magic at our kitchen tables almost every day, happily avoiding the commute.
A month ago we were concerned there had been a backlash against the men and women looking to work for themselves. Like the following Guardian piece which suggests the gender pay gap can be explained away by 'bogus' self-employment forced on women who can't get employment.
So it was with great relief this week that Emma Simpson, the BBC's business correspondent decided to take a more positive view on self-employment, sparked by the Office for National Statistics (ONS)' monthly employment figures.
And last week Brian Groom, the FT's Business and Employment editor reported ONS figures in a positive light, reporting that 63 per cent of the 4.2m home workers were self-employed.
Which brings me to a thoughtful piece about the future of work on YouTube by Rohan Silva in the run-up to the Innotech Summit later this month. Although not directly talking about self-employment, it does seek to explain how middle class jobs will continue to be squeezed into the future thanks to increasing improvements in technology.
Here doctors, lawyers and journalists will not escape the salary squeeze, he suggests. Those that do not embrace technology or use technology to improve and enhance their output will perhaps never achieve the salary they might have once expected, he reports, during an interview with Tyler Cowan - 'the most important economist you've never heard of'.
What are the implications of this report? Well, it could help to explain the shift towards self-employment for more and more professional people who are seeking that 'human need for autonomy' - as well as topping up a middle class salary that, according to Rohan Silva, has dipped by ten per cent over the last five years.
At the end of the week, my view remains bright towards self-employment. That's it's far from a blip - it's a fundamental change in our economy to be celebrated. And the sun still shines!
Liz Slee (@lizziepin) is head of media for Enterprise Nation