UP to one in five workers in North Yorkshire are their “own boss”, new figures show – but the North-East lags behind in the self-employment boom.
Areas including Richmondshire (20.4 per cent), Hambleton (20.2 per cent) and Ryedale (24.9 per cent) are leading the trend away from traditional jobs.
But the North-East (10.8 per cent) is bottom of a league table of regions and nations, a list topped by London (17.3 per cent).
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And in Middlesbrough (9.8 per cent), Gateshead (9.7 per cent), Sunderland (9.6 per cent) and South Tyneside (9.3 per cent), less in one in ten workers are self-employed.
In County Durham, 11.4 per cent of the workforce are their “own bosses”, putting the area just behind Darlington (11.6 per cent).
The new self-employed include management consultants, photographers and chartered accountants, although the most common jobs are still in construction and taxi driving.
The figures were produced by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), amid growing political controversy over Britain becoming the self-employment capital of Western Europe.
Since the financial crash in 2008, two-thirds of the extra jobs created – or 732,000 - have been people working for themselves.
The Government has hailed a growth in people running their own businesses. A spokeswoman said: “Many people aspire to be their own boss.
“Self-employment has been a growing part of the labour market for most of the last 30 years, which is why we continue to support budding entrepreneurs.”
However, the ONS found the typical weekly income of the self-employed had plunged by almost a quarter since 2008 – from £269 a week, to just £207.
That means they are earning only roughly half the wages of those in staff jobs, prompting the TUC to describe the figures as “worrying”.
General Secretary Frances O'Grady said: “The growth in self-employment is reducing people's pay, job security and retirement income - and is likely to be reducing the government's tax take too.”
The higher numbers of “own bosses” in North Yorkshire, compared with the North-East, could be explained by the relative ages of the populations.
Many are people working beyond the state pension age - self-employment among the over-65s almost doubled from 241,000 in 2009 to 428,000 in 2014.
Across the country, around 4.6m people work for themselves – more than at any time in 40 years – while another 356,000 people have a second job in which they are self-employed.
The ONS said the economic downturn is likely to have discouraged people from taking up staff positions, encouraging them to remain self-employed.
Many are working long hours – 35 per cent of the self-employed work at least 45 hours per week (compared with 23 per cent of employees) and 12 per cent work at least 60 hours (five per cent of employees).