Even after yesterday’s promising first time claims and GDP numbers, the state of the economy – especially on the jobs, employment, wages side – remains uncertain and troubling as we enter the Labor Day weekend. As Mark Gimein of Bloomberg reports:

While the headline unemployment rate is indeed falling, we keep finding that other indicators of the job market don’t look great.

And one lagging sector of the labor market is reason for special concern. That would be self-employment. While one might intuitively suspect that self-employment would be on the rise during bad times – as people who can’t get hired, hire themselves – the converse is true.

The self-employment number has historically behaved like other indicators of employment, rising in times of prosperity and falling in recessions.


After other recessions, the number of self-employed bounced back, increasing dramatically in the early 1990s and the early 2000s. Not this time. The self-employment number kept falling into late 2011, and has stayed mainly flat since then, dipping in recent months.

This recovery, then, is still a tentative thing.

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