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 lots 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 May 2022, the number of self-employed people in the US is at over ten million.

May 2022’s figure of 10.07 million self-employed workers is a 1.83 percent rise from April—the biggest month-over-month increase in nine months. It’s also a 0.69 annual increase, which is a slowdown from the previous month. 

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

May 2022’s figure is the highest this year, with the lowest so far recorded in January. Over the past year, the number of self-employed people in the US has been increasing, hitting a record high of 10.3 million in July 2021. This growth coincides with the rebound the US economy experienced in 2021, during which it grew 5.7 percent.

In 2020, the number of self-employed in the US tumbled as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The lowest number recorded was in April 2020. At 8.24 million, this was a 13.15 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 May 2022 show that just 2.8 percent of self-employed workers in the US continue to struggle with this problem.

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