Self-Employed Workforce Shrinks from Highs

Posted on November 15th, 2022

During the Great Resignation in 2021, when significantly high numbers of workers quit their jobs, many turned to remote work and self-employment. The cultural zeitgeist of the time promoted worker confidence in the ability to work for themselves, leading to a spike in the self-employed workforce and fed the resignation trend.

By late 2021, the self-employed workforce expanded to over 10 million people for the first time since 2008. Concurrently, those quitting their jobs also hit historic levels, jumping from 2 million people in April 2020 to over 4.5 million people by November 2021. Over 47.8 million workers quit their jobs in 2021 alone, with many opting for greener pastures of self-employed remote work.

In 2022, however, confidence in the economy has cratered as rapid inflation has wreaked havoc. The falling sentiment has created significant challenges for the self-employed as business slows and many contend with rising costs, prompting many to seek more stable work with traditional employment with larger businesses. The self-employed workforce has fallen back under 10 million, hitting an 18-month low in August. The continuing challenges to the economy will likely put significant pressure on the self-employed workforce, forcing the trend to continue down.