The benefits of self-employment are clear—work flexibility, not having to answer to a boss, getting to choose the work you want to do, and more.

If you’re thinking about becoming a self-employed worker in the US, it helps to get an overview of the trends, numbers, and statistics about self-employment. More specifically, understand how many Americans are self-employed.

According to the latest figures released by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as of November 2021, the number of self-employed people in the US just under ten million.

November 2021’s figures are a slight two percent fall from the previous month, during which the number of self-employed in the US grew 6.58 percent annually to 10.2 million. This was also the third-highest number of self-employed in the US recorded in any given month.

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Coronavirus Impact on the Number of Self-Employed in the US

Despite the slight month-over-month dip, November 2021’s figures mark a 6.26 percent annual increase. The number of self-employed in the US, which had fallen in 2020 due to the pandemic, appears to be on a rebound.

The lowest number of self-employed in the US had been in April 2020. At 8.221 million, this was a 12.29 percent year-over-year decrease, and the first time the number of self-employed workers in the US fell below nine million in more than ten years.

The decline was caused by the coronavirus pandemic, which resulted in work losses and business closures for many of the self-employed in the US. This comes as no surprise, as self-employed workers are among the most vulnerable during economic downturns and tend to be the first ones to be made redundant as businesses scale back to cut costs.

According to the BLS, self-employed workers were “much more likely” to have lost work as a result of the recession caused by the coronavirus pandemic than workers in the private and government sectors. 

This was most evident in May 2020, during which 42.2 percent of self-employed workers said they weren’t able to work at some point in the past month as a result of the pandemic. 

Things have, however, improved since. The latest figures from November 2021 show that a relatively low 5.3 percent of self-employed workers in the US continue to struggle with this problem.

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