Self-Employment Slips in April

By at 5 May, 2023, 12:20 pm

by Raymond J. Keating –

It’s National Small Business Week, so let’s zero in on the self-employment numbers in the latest employment report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The self-employment numbers in this report show those who are full-time entrepreneurs. These small business owners can be one-person operations, or they can have employees. Also, they are broken down between incorporated and unincorporated self-employed.

Numbers Decrease for Incorporated and Unincorporated Self-Employed

The incorporated data is not seasonally adjusted, so we need to compare the April 2023 data to the same time in previous years. Unfortunately, the April 2023 number of 6.404 million incorporated self-employed compared to 6.678 million in April 2022. The numbers in March 2023 also were down from March 2022.

And if we look at the unincorporated data that isn’t seasonally adjusted, the April 2023 level of 9.748 million compared to 9.828 million in April 2022. Again, the March 2023 level was below the March 2022 level as well.

This is all troubling, and one hopes that it doesn’t turn into a trend, given the stagnation, at best, that the U.S. has experienced in entrepreneurship going back to just before the Great Recession (late 2007 to mid-2009).

However, we also have seasonally-adjusted data for unincorporated self-employed. And what we see here is a rather dramatic decline in March and April of this year (going from 10.119 million in February to 9.839 million in March and 9.815 million in April). The April level was the lowest since November of last year.

As for policymaking influencing entrepreneurship, the U.S. clearly needs tax and regulatory relief and stability, government spending restraint, a pivot back to free trade, and a welcoming immigration agenda. That’s the type of policymaking that should be embraced during Small Business Week, and during every other week throughout the year.

Raymond J. Keating is chief economist for the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council. His latest book is The Weekly Economist: 52 Quick Reads to Help You Think Like an Economist.


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