Skip to Content
Resource Articles //

The State of Self-Employment in the U.S.

Five Facts About Entrepreneurs in the Age of The Great Resignation


In August 2021, more than 4 million Americans quit their jobs.1 That means 2.9% of the workforce joined what’s been called “The Great Resignation.” Many workers are leaving corporate jobs to become their own bosses. If you dream of firing your boss and becoming the CEO of your own business, explore these five facts about self-employment in the U.S. and find out who is self-employed, how COVID-19 has impacted self-employment, and who will be the next entrepreneurs.

  1. As of fall 2021, about 16 million workers said they are self-employed.2 Those who are self-employed might be sole proprietors of a business, work as independent contractors, or own a company in partnership with other people. The self-employed themselves employ a significant number of workers. More than 29 million people were employed by self-employed men and women in 2021—which is a drop from 31.4 million in 2019.3
  2. The pandemic impacted the self-employed and traditional employees similarly—but self-employed people have recovered more quickly. Between the second quarter of 2019 and the second quarter of 2020, self-employment fell by 14.2% while corporate employment fell by 15.5%. But by the second quarter of 2021, the number of self-employed increased by 17.6%, while corporate employment only increased by 13.3%.4
  3. While COVID-19 may have influenced some people to become self-employed (two in five recent entrepreneurs say the pandemic is at least partially responsible for their self-employment), 95% of more than 3,000 self-employed people surveyed in August and September 2021 planned to remain self-employed. Sixty-five percent disagreed with the statement “I envy people with good traditional jobs.” 5
  4. Nearly 70% of those who are self-employed report better work–life balance, and 60% say they experience less work stress than when they were traditionally employed. Slightly more than half (53%) say they work harder as entrepreneurs than as employees, but 57% say they now earn more money.6
  5. Who will be next to fire their bosses? Forty percent of employees predict that they may become self-employed within two years, and 25% say it’s highly likely. Within the next five years, more than 60% of employees under the age of 35 indicate they could become self-employed. Many are actively exploring self-employment: 42% of people who are thinking of becoming entrepreneurs are already working for themselves on the side.7

If you’re ready to work for yourself, you can prepare for success by earning a degree in business management. A Master of Business Administration (MBA degree) or a Doctor of Business Administration (DBA degree) can help you gain expert management skills that can help you reach your entrepreneurial goals. You can even earn your master’s of business administration or doctorate in business administration online. Rather than driving to a campus to attend classes at a particular time, you can complete your schoolwork when and where it’s convenient for you.

A DBA is a particularly good choice for aspiring consultants, analysts, and entrepreneurs. Earning a doctorate in business administration can empower you to develop and implement thoughtful, innovative solutions to today’s complex business challenges. An MBA is a highly recognized master’s degree that can help you develop the negotiation capabilities, systems thinking, and coaching and mentoring skills that are critical for leaders. Either of these advanced business management degrees can help prepare you to become a respected, successful entrepreneur.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering Master of Business Administration (MBA) and Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) degree programs online. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.


Career options may require additional experience, training, or other factors beyond the successful completion of a degree program.

Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission,