23 Self Employment Statistics You Should Know More About

Especially since the onset of the global pandemic, and even before with the rise of digital nomads, self-employment is a growing sector with many benefits for workers. From greater time management and more autonomy, to a better office environment, self employment statistics are showing that across the globe, people are beginning to see the benefit of being their own boss. 

Self-employment is a fascinating phenomenon, and understanding it further can help you decide if it may be an alternative option for you. While it comes with greater responsibility, the rise of the gig economy is a way that many Americans are supplementing their income to compete with rising costs of living, and minimal wage adjustments. 

Here are 23 statistics to show you what self-employment is all about across the globe. 

Self Employment Statistics (Editor’s Choice)

  • Approximately 44 million people in the US are self-employed
  • 81,9% of low-income economy workers are self-employed
  • In the UK, self-employed people account for more than 40% of the overall employment percentage
  • 3 out of 10 jobs in the US are held by self-employed workers 
  • 54% of self-employed people state they work multiple jobs
  • 17.4% of independent self-employed workers without employees wish to work as an employee
  • At the EU level, 84.7% of the employed wouldn’t switch to self-employment
  • Self-employed people in Belgium (27.6%) and Italy (25.8%) face a high administrative burden

General Self Employment Stats

1. Approximately 44 million people in the US are self-employed.

(Forbes)

Self-employment is more common than you think. Wages in traditional jobs have been slow to adjust over time, leaving many Americans looking for extra ways to keep up with the rising cost of living. Almost 30% of the US workforce is self-employed or works at least part-time as an independent contractor. 

2. 80.3% of low-income economy workers are self-employed. 

(Statista)

The number of self-employed people varies from one country to another.

According to self employment stats, high-income economies have a lower percentage (12.2%) of independent workers, while the countries with a low average income display a higher rate of independent workers (80.3%). This shows an inverse relationship between the affluence of a country and its self-employment rate.

On average, 46.5% of the world’s working population is self-employed.

Self Employment Statistics - Percentage of Self Employed Workers in Selected Countries

3. 54% of the self-employed state they work multiple jobs. 

(Gallup)

Self employment statistics show that 54% of independent contractors need to work multiple jobs, compared to 25% of those with an employer. Out of that 54%, only 1% need to perform different jobs because they cannot find full-time employment. 

4. At the EU level, 84.7% of the employed wouldn’t switch to self-employment. 

(Eurostat)

Based on Eurostat data, 84.7% of employed people stated they wouldn’t leave their jobs and become self-employed. In contrast, 15.7% of self-employed workers would like to work as an employee. 

5. 17.4% of independent self-employed workers wish to work as an employee for a company.

(Eurostat)

Self employed statistics indicate that while self-employment is the current job status for many Americans, it isn’t more desirable for everyone. More than 80% of those who are self-employed prefer it this way, but that still leaves almost one-fifth who wish they were employed by a company. 

6. At the beginning of 2020, 5 million UK residents were self-employed.

(Statista)

In January 2020, 5 million people reported being self-employed. That number has dropped to 4.56 million since August 2020, however, mainly because of job losses as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. 

7. In the UK, the self employment rate makes up 14% of the entire workforce. 

(Department for Business Innovation & Skills)

The Labour Force conducted a survey which displayed a steady rise in the self-employment sector since 2008. The data showed that the number of independent contractors made up 40% of the increasing workforce, suggesting that, despite the economic recession, self-employment is on the rise. 

8. Based on the self employment statistics in the US, 3 out of 10 jobs are held by self-employed individuals. 

(Pew Research Center)

Self-employed people in the US and the workers they hire account for three out of every ten jobs on the market. Out of 30% of independent workers, 10% are self-employed, while sole contractors employ 20%.  

9. Self-employed people in Belgium (27.6%) and Italy (25.8%) face a high administrative burden. 

(Eurostat)

Self employment facts state there are several common difficulties that come with self-employment. From having no customers, having periods of financial hardship to heavy administrative burdens, the most prevalent issue reported in the EU was a heavy administrative burden. This issue was particularly prevalent in Belgium and Italy, although Slovakia, Czechia, and Hungary weren’t far behind. 

10. In 2019, Colombia reported that the self-employed accounted for 50.1% of the entire workforce

(OECD Data)

For those who are self employed, work from home statistics indicate that there is an established inverted relationship between the economic class of a country and the amount of people who report they are self-employed. The lower the GDP of a country, the higher levels of self employment. Columbia has a GDP of approx. 314 billion USD, and as a result, reports about half of its population as independently employed. 

11. Niger is the country with the highest self employed rate (95.1%). 

(Statista) 

Niger ranks among the poorest countries in the world, and in line with the self-employment inversion pattern, most of its population is self-employed. In low-income countries, economies often fail to support the needs of citizens and their families, leading to many seeking alternative ways to earn an income. Other explanations point to participation in family businesses which do not document family members as workers and/or working in black market trade, which fails to be properly reported in government statistics. 

Self Employment Demographics

12. The self-employment rates by gender show that in the UK, there are close to 3 million self-employed men and 1.5 million women. 

(Statista)

Along with the steady growth of self-employment, the addition of women into this sector has been steadily growing over the years. Notably, while both males and females experienced job loss during the coronavirus pandemic, the self-employed male sector lost more jobs than female workers.

13. In the United States, men are nearly two times more likely to be self-employed than women. 

(Pew Research Center)

US workforce demographics show that the gender gap is a pervasive phenomenon. Not only were men in the United States twice as likely to be self-employed than women (12% vs. 7%), but they were also more likely to hire employees and have more of them. 

Self Employment Statistics - Percentage of US Self Employed Workers by Gender

14. 28% of self-employed men and 16% of women will offer paid employment and hire extra employees. 

(Pew Research Center)

The ability to hire additional employees is a direct indicator of success or security in employment. The gender disparity persists in this part of the sector, with men almost doubling women who take on hired help, according to the US workforce size study.  

15. 11% of white workers compared to 5% of black workers are likely to be self-employed

(Pew Research Center)

When research examined self-employment with a racial demographics lens, statistics show a similar disparity between white and black ethnicities. White people were more than twice as likely (11%) to be self-employed compared to black people (5%) in the US. 

16. Among Asian employees, 10% are independent contractors, while only 8% of the Hispanic workers belong to this sector. 

(Pew Research Center)

Further examination of racial demographics in US job statistics shows that Asian independent workers are almost as common as white independent workers, filling 10% of the self-employment sector. Additionally, one-third of Asian self-employed workers have at least one extra worker, showing them to be major contributors to the workforce. 

Hispanic workers, however, ranked somewhere in the middle at about 8%. Interestingly, Hispanic immigrants were twice as likely to work independently (11%), in contrast to Hispanic citizens (6%). 

Self Employment Statistics - Percentage of US Self-Employed Workers by Race

Self Employment Statistics by Industry

17. In the UK, more than 800,000 self-employed people work in construction. 

(Statista)

Out of 4.5 million self-employed UK residents, 811,000 workers are in the construction industry, the largest number of all industries, and twice as much as health and social work activities. 

In the US, outside of farming, there are five main industries that account for over half of self-employed workers. Self employment trends indicate that professional services, repair, and personal services, construction, administration, and retail are the main ways people are independently employed in the US. 

Self Employment Statistics - UK Self-Employment Statistics by Industry

18. The second-largest self employment industry in the UK is professional, scientific, and technical activities. 

(Statista)

Aside from construction, the second largest industry involves work of quite high degree. Services such as accounting, research, architecture, payroll, legal advice, engineering, computer services, and more are all underneath this industry. 

Studies on the self employment rate reveal that this industry amounts to 602 thousand independent workers, while human health and social work activities support 342 thousand. Wholesale, retail, and repair of motor vehicles reported 334 thousand workers, and administrative and support services held 319 thousand self-employed workers. 

19. From 2000 to 2017, independent workers in transportation services grew by 722%.

(Gallup)

Sole proprietors, especially transportation, saw the biggest growth over the last two decades, especially for taxi drivers. With the introduction of alternative transportation services like Uber, it became unnecessary for transportation workers to register with a taxi company, making them now part of the self-employment pool. 

Self-Employed Income Statistics

20. 22% of the self-employed have multiple income streams.

(Gallup)

The culture of self-employment greatly varies from those working traditional jobs. In the US, 22%, or 9.7 million self-employed people, work multiple jobs to earn extra money, compared to only 11% (12.2 million) of those who work for an employer.  

This gives rise to the popular trend of a gig economy, with more citizens trying to keep up with rising costs by taking on extra income streams. 

21. 59.1% of self-employed workers are satisfied with their income.

(Gallup)

There are many factors to consider in employment vs. self employment salary satisfaction. Recent reports show that 80.8% of people working for an employer are content with their income, while that percentage among the self-employed is significantly lower at 59.1%. 

Independent workers, however, enjoy more power to change their working conditions (59.9%), while that percentage among employees is relatively lower (44.3%). After all, job satisfaction is far more than just a good salary; working hours, responsibility, and environment are all factors that contribute to a good employment experience. 

22. The self employment tax chart shows that California (15.1%), South (14.6%) and North Dakota (14.3%), and Louisiana (14%) have the highest percentage of tax returns.

(Gallup)

While the highest rates of self-employment are found in Florida, Vermont, and Georgia, the highest rates of reported self-employment tax are elsewhere. California reports the highest percentage of self-employment tax returns at 15.1%, followed by North Dakota, South Dakota, and Louisiana.

Self Employment Statistics - Percent of Tax Returns Paying Self-Employment Tax

23. In 2017, only four US states reported a median income higher than $42,000 for self-employed workers.  

(Gallup)

The self-employment rates by state revealed that in 2017, the median income of more than $42,000 was found in only four states — the District of Columbia ($53,246), New Jersey ($44,348), Rhode Island ($43,126), and Connecticut ($42,960). Considering the median income for the US is just $31,133 per year, these states show a promising self-employment standard for income.  The range for self-employed salaries for all states is between $28,255 and $54,246.

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