In the aftermath of the 2008 recession, many economists were struck by the performance of Britain's labour market.  Despite the deep fall in output, unemployment remained markedly lower than in previous recessions and as the economy recovered slowly, employment surged ahead of event the most optimistic forecasts.  The Bank of England declared that this was an "economic puzzle".

Part of this jobs phenomenon was rising self-employment.  Between 2008 and 2014, the number of people self-employed rose by 732,000, accounting for over half of all job creation.  During this period, self-employment rose as a proportion of the total workforce from 13% to 15%.  There are now 4.62 million people in the UK who are self-employed.

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