The State of Self-Employment

Over the past decade, we’ve seen a major revolution in how we work as more Americans opt to work from home or embrace various types of self-employment, freelancing, and gig work.  An interesting new report from the Association for Enterprise Opportunity examines the current state of self-employment in the US.  The study reviews the current literature on self-employment, and also reports on survey results from more than 900 self-employed people.  While the survey likely includes some pro-self-employment bias, it still contains many useful insights. Not surprisingly, 90% of respondents express a strong preference for self-employment vs. more traditional work.  Flexibility is the primary benefit of self-employment, cited as “extremely important” by 53% of respondents. Career control and financial well-being also rank highly as benefits of self-employment. Self-employment is also viewed as an important gateway to formal business creation, offering a low barrier to entry for potential entrepreneurs. Around 35% of respondents already view themselves as “business owners:” the remaining share of respondents identify themselves as “gig workers” or “specialists.”  The report offers a 360° perspective, as respondents also point to “navigating instability” as their major challenge.  The report concludes with an excellent series of recommendations for better supporting this important, but under-appreciated, asset in our local economies.