Number of Self-Employed Workers in U.S. Down Since End of Recession


Chicago — Feb. 6

The U.S. has an estimated 10 million self-employed jobs as of 2013 — 6.6 percent of all reported jobs, but down from a high of 7.2 percent in 2006.

This is according to a new report from CareerBuilder and Economic Modeling Specialists Intl. Self-employment grew rapidly from 2001-2006, adding close to 1.8 million new jobs nationwide. Since the beginning of the recession, however, self-employed jobs declined by 936,000 and did not recover post-recession.

Self-employed workers are those who, when surveyed by the U.S. Census Bureau, consider self-employment to be a significant part of their income or time working. Owners of incorporated business are not counted among the self-employed nor are workers who freelance or have other smaller, secondary sources of income.

Other key Findings:

Self-employment jobs have declined 5 percent since 2009. Since the peak of self-employment in 2006, the U.S. has lost nearly a million self-employed jobs, a 9 percent decline. By contrast, the number of jobs for salaried employees has risen 4 percent since 2009.

The decline in self-employed jobs coincides with a rise in Americans working on the side to supplement their incomes. More people are getting second and third jobs, but fewer people are dropping their day jobs altogether to work on their own. According to a new CareerBuilder survey, 20 percent of full-time workers picked up a second job in 2013 or plan to do so in 2014.

The biggest declines in self-employment have come in agriculture, real estate, childcare and retail trade industries. While self-employment for construction laborers has grown since 2006, the industry as a whole has experienced significant declines. The biggest gains in self-employment have been in lower-wage jobs — landscaping workers, maids, personal care aides and photographers.

Even with low-wage occupations at the top of the self-employment growth list, several high-wage occupations have made significant gains, most notably market research analysts/specialists, management analysts and computer occupations such as Web developers.

Nearly two-thirds of self-employed jobs in the U.S. are taken up by men and more than 30 percent of the self-employed are 55 years and older.

Only North Dakota and Washington, D.C., have seen self-employment increases since 2009, and their gains have been minimal. Among large metros, only five have seen at least 2 percent growth in self-employment jobs: Memphis (4 percent), Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk (3 percent), Austin (2 percent), Orlando (2 percent) and Las Vegas (2 percent).

Source: CareerBuilder