Tyrone in grip of self-employment boom

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Tyrone is in the grip of an entrepreneurial boom with a 15 percent increase in the number of people working for themselves over the past two years.

In fact, Tyrone and Fermanagh have the highest number of registered self-employed people in Northern Ireland, 38,000, which is three times the figure for Belfast, 13,000, unchanged from 2010.

However, there are concerns the rise might be due to the fact that many people cannot find a traditional job and are, in fact, unemployed, or scraping by with far less work than they would like.

The figures were released by the Minister of Finance and Personnel at the Northern Ireland Assembly.

According to a report commissioned by the assembly, the largest single group of people who were self-employed

worked in construction, with agriculture and fishing a close second. Manufacturing had the lowest number at 6,700 people, or 5.81%.

Almost one in seven of Northern Ireland’s employed say they are working for themselves.

Self-employment has been one of the big stories of the recovery. However, the trend has divided opinion. It has been celebrated by some as evidence of a new entrepreneurial spirit in the UK, while others see it as showing that the jobs market is not as healthy as the official figures imply.

For many people, self-employment has often been a last resort, especially as the recession took hold, with average weekly earnings for the self-employed tumbling by 20%.