The number of self-employed jobs has increased strongly in recent years, from 1.6 million in 2003 to 2.0 million in 2017. Over one in five jobs in the business sector (22%) is a full-time or part-time self-employed position. This means that the income development of employees in businesses is not always representative for the income development of all people working in the business sector. There is after all a large group of working people who are not employees and who do not therefore receive a salary. This raises the question of whether development of earnings in the Netherlands is higher or lower when the income development of self-employed is taken into consideration.
To answer this question, Figure 1 shows the development of the wage rate, or compensation per employee, in businesses (green line) compared to the development of net mixed income per self-employed person in businesses (blue line). When determining the labour-income share (LIS), net mixed income is attributed to the self-employed as labour income. The differences between the two categories of income are considerable. During periods of economic slump and high unemployment, such as around 2004, 2009 and 2012, income development for the self-employed fell substantially behind that for employees. During times of economic boom and a tight labour market, such as during 2000 and 2017, there was a relatively strong increase in income development for the self-employed. In short, income development for the self-employed is relatively sensitive to cyclical fluctuations.