Self-employment is an important source of jobs for the U.S. economy. And as the chart below shows, the last decade has seen little change in the percentage of the workforce that is self-employed. Self-employment has remained relatively stable - hovering around 10% of the non-agricultural workforce.
The chart data is from the Current Population Survey (CPS), which for historical reasons classifies the self-employed into two categories.
Unincorporated self-employed refers to people who identify themselves as self-employed but don't have a corporate entity. The percentage of unincorporated self-employment has trended down over the last decade, going from 7% in 1998 to 6.44% in 2008.
The second group is the incorporated self-employed. This group consists of people who identify themselves as self-employed and say their business is incorporated. The precentage of incorporated self-employed has trended up over the last decade, going from 3.2% in 1998 to 3.93 in 2008.
Over the next few days we will look at these trends in more detail.
Many thanks to BLS economist Steve Hipple for providing and helping us understand the data. His 2004 article Self- employment in the United States is an excellent reference source on this topic.