August 23, 2004
In 2003, 10.3 million workers were self-employed. The self-employment rate—the proportion of total employment made up of the self-employed—was 7.5 percent.
The likelihood of being self-employed was highest for workers in agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting; 41.8 percent of these workers were self-employed.
Construction (16.9 percent); "other services" (15.7 percent); and, professional and business services (13.7 percent) were other industries with high rates of self-employment.
Specific industries within agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting that had high rates of self-employment included animal production (52.9 percent) and crop production (38.1 percent).
Within the "other services" sector, self-employment rates were highest for barber shops (48.8 percent), personal and household goods repair and maintenance (43.1 percent), nail salons and other personal care services (41.8 percent), and beauty salons (33.5 percent).
In the professional and business services sector, the proportion of employment made up of business owners was highest in offices of other health care practitioners (39.4 percent); specialized design services (36.9 percent); other schools, institution, and education services (32.6 percent); landscaping services (29.4 percent); and child day care services (29.4 percent).
The Current Population Survey is the source of these data. To learn more about the self-employed, see "Self-employment in the United States: an update," by Steve Hipple, Monthly Labor Review, July 2004. The July issue also includes an article about self-employment among older U.S. workers. The self-employment rates shown above are all for unincorporated self-employed workers; owners of incorporated businesses are not included.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Self-employment rates by industry, 2003 on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2004/aug/wk4/art01.htm (visited November 27, 2015).
Fifty years of looking at changes in peoples lives
Longitudinal surveys help us understand long-term changes, such as how events that happened when a person was in high school affect labor market success as an adult.