Self-Employment Surges Back to Pre-Pandemic Levels in U.S.

By Alexandre Tanzi

Self-employed entrepreneurs are back to pre-coronavirus levels in the U.S., a report from the Pew Research Center found, but their businesses are creating fewer jobs than they used to. 

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko from Pexels

The number of self-employed workers has rebounded to 14.9 million in the second quarter, after falling to 12.7 million a year earlier, according to Pew. 

Typically, some workers who lose their jobs during recessions turn to self-employment as a source of income. In the COVID-19 crisis, it may also have been an option for parents who juggled child care and work, Pew said.

The self-employed account for about 10 percent of the total laborforce. They traditionally have been a source of job creation, on the order of about 30 million in recent years, according to Pew.

As their businesses struggled to regain their footing in the past year, they hired fewer workers, Pew found. And the cutbacks mainly came from firms run by men. 

“The reasons why self-employed men reduced hiring during the pandemic, but women did not, are not readily apparent,” according to the report. 

Self-employed men, who outnumber self-employed women, are also more likely to have employees, Pew said. Sample size limitations don’t allow for a more detailed accounting of the gender difference.

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