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 April 2021, the number of self-employed people in the US is 9.651 million.

April 2021’s figures are a slight 2.28 percent from the previous month, during which the number of self-employed in the US grew 4.38 percent annually to 9.876 million. This was the highest number of self-employed in the US in any given month in nearly three years.

Don’t wait for someone else to do it. Hire yourself and start calling the shots.

Get Started Free

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

Despite the slight month-over-month dip, April’s figures are a whopping 17.39 percent annual increase and an indication that the number of self-employed in the US is back to pre-pandemic figures. 

The lowest number of self-employed in the US came 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. 

In fact, in early 2021 (January), 16.1 percent of the total number of self-employed in the US reported that they were unable to work at some point in the past month as a result of the pandemic. In comparison, just 4.7 percent of workers in the private sector and 2.9 percent of public workers faced the same difficulty. 

However, this is already a stark improvement from May 2020, during which 42.2 percent of self-employed workers said they weren’t able to work. This figure was also relatively high for private and government workers at 18.5 percent and 12.5 percent respectively.

Want to Learn More?