New Study: Why Self-Employment Keeps Accelerating

Gene Zaino


From Forbes, Elaine Pofeldt discusses the reasons why self-employment is increasing based on MBO Partners State of Independence in America 2017 report.  Elaine writes:

The top reasons for choosing independent work, according to respondents, were to be my own boss (77%) and flexibility (74%). Among all independent workers, 77% say they are happier working on their own than in a traditional job, and 64% said independent work is better for their health. “They have time to work out,” says Zaino. “They can work in the morning and then go for a jog in the afternoon. They can eat better. They’re not stressed out with traffic going back and forth.”

While working hard doesn’t necessarily cause stress, what does is not being in control, notes Zaino. “One of the main triggers of becoming an independent worker is to have control,” he says. “You’re in control of where you want to work, when you want to work, whom you want to work with. That reduces stress, which has a big impact on your health. When you’re part of a large institution doing traditional work, you’re not in control. I think the health aspects of independent work should be talked about more.”

Nonetheless, many respondents were well aware of the additional demands that independence may bring.  The top challenges cited were not enough predictable income (50%) and planning for retirement (33%). With President Trump pushing for a repeal of the Affordable Care Act, there was a significant increase in the percentage of respondents citing concern about health care this year, with the percentage of those who had some level of concern hitting 40%, up from 33% last year.

Interestingly perceptions of independent work diverged sharply between people with traditional jobs and independent workers, highlighting a gap in risk tolerance that may underlie some of the debate about whether the rise of gig work is good for society or not. Among traditional workers, 65% said becoming independent or starting your own business seemed very risky while just 5% said it wasn’t at all risky.

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