The Pew Research Center reports that the rate of self-employment in the U.S. has held remarkably steady for the past several decades. The report states:
The rate of self-employment in the U.S. has held remarkably steady for the past several decades. In 2014, some 10% of American workers, 14.6 million in all, were self-employed.12 That is virtually the same as in 1976, the first year for which data on both incorporated and unincorporated self-employed workers are available, when the self-employment rate was 10.2%.13
The long-term stability in the self-employment rate conceals some variation in the interim. Speaking generally, the self-employment rate has fluctuated between 10% and 12% in the past 25 years.14 It peaked most recently in 1994, at 12.2%.
There has also been a shift in the nature of self-employment, away from the unincorporated to the incorporated. The share of workers who are self-employed and incorporated rose from 2.9% in 1990 to 3.7% in 2014, and the share of workers who are self-employed and unincorporated fell from 8.5% in 1990 to 6.3% in 2014. A major reason is the changing nature of employment in the agriculture, forestry and fishing sector. In 1990, 42.8% of all workers in this sector were unincorporated self-employed workers. By 2014, the share had fallen to 33.5%.15
Read the full story at National Trends in Self-Employment and Job Creation