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More Americans are self-employed than any time since 2008 crisis

July 8, 2022 Updated Fri., July 8, 2022 at 8:52 p.m.

By Alex Tanzi Bloomberg

The share of the U.S. workforce that is self-employed has climbed to the highest level since the Great Recession, as the pandemic jobs shake-up spurred many Americans to try working for themselves.

About 16.8 million people were classified as self-employed in June, according to Bloomberg calculations based on the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

That’s an increase of 1.4 million workers over the past two years, representing more than one-third of the expansion in the labor force during that period.

Many Americans were pushed into trying self-employment when millions of jobs vanished almost overnight in the early weeks of the pandemic.

Others have taken the decision voluntary, quitting their jobs and no longer seeking to work for others.

The so-called quits rate has surged in the past two years, with 4.3 million workers leaving in May alone.

There’s a wide range of reasons underlying the growth of self-employment.

For many women, the decision likely reflects the need for more flexibility because child-care became harder to get in the pandemic.

The spread of remote work and the relocation of many employees also offered new opportunities.

The construction industry is where the largest number of self-employed Americans work, and their ranks continued to grow in the pandemic, according to data from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

There’s also been an increase in the real-estate and transportation industries.

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