February 6, 2023

Juan Kabayan

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15 Cities With the Most Self-Employed Workers

Young self-employed worker ready for work with laptopbaranq / Shutterstock.com

Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared on Self.

Prior to the pandemic, self-employment was on the decline and had been falling since 2004. When the economic shutdown occurred in the spring of 2020, nearly 22 million workers lost their jobs and the self-employment rate rose to 10.5%.

The following year, workers began quitting their jobs at the highest rates since the Great Recession, and consequently, the self-employment rate held steady as some of those workers sought to start businesses.

While some industries and occupations have much higher rates of self-employment, all industry sectors saw increases in their self-employment rates when compared with pre-pandemic levels.

Manufacturing has the smallest self-employment rate, but saw the largest increase in total self-employed workers at 13.3%. Similarly, the finance industry saw a 7.0% increase in the total number of self-employed workers.

These industry differences in self-employment also create regional differences.

To find the metropolitan areas with the most self-employed workers, researchers on behalf of Self Financial analyzed the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Find details on our methodology at the end.

Here are the U.S. metropolitan areas with the most self-employed workers.

15. Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX

Houston, TexasNate Hovee / Shutterstock.comPercentage of workers who are self-employed: 10.4%
Total self-employed workers: 350,713
Median income for full-time self-employed workers: $50,000
Median income for all full-time workers: $50,000
Population: 7,206,841

14. San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX

San Antonio, Texas outdoorsSean Pavone / Shutterstock.comPercentage of workers who are self-employed: 10.5%
Total self-employed workers: 126,262
Median income for full-time self-employed workers: $45,000
Median income for all full-time workers: $45,000
Population: 2,601,788

13. Oklahoma City, OK

Oklahoma City skylineNatalia Bratslavsky / Shutterstock.comPercentage of workers who are self-employed: 10.6%
Total self-employed workers: 72,666
Median income for full-time self-employed workers: $40,000
Median income for all full-time workers: $45,000
Population: 1,441,647

12. Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Alpharetta, GA

Atlanta, GeorgiaSean Pavone / Shutterstock.comPercentage of workers who are self-employed: 10.6%
Total self-employed workers: 323,989
Median income for full-time self-employed workers: $50,000
Median income for all full-time workers: $54,000
Population: 6,144,050

11. Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA

Portland skylineJon Bilous / Shutterstock.comPercentage of workers who are self-employed: 10.9%
Total self-employed workers: 137,893
Median income for full-time self-employed workers: $59,000
Median income for all full-time workers: $60,000
Population: 2,511,612

10. Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO

Denver ColoradoKevin Ruck / Shutterstock.comPercentage of workers who are self-employed: 10.9%
Total self-employed workers: 177,204
Median income for full-time self-employed workers: $62,000
Median income for all full-time workers: $60,000
Population: 2,972,566

9. San Francisco-Oakland-Berkeley, CA

San Francisco neighborhood.Bertl123 / Shutterstock.comPercentage of workers who are self-employed: 10.9%
Total self-employed workers: 256,567
Median income for full-time self-employed workers: $70,000
Median income for all full-time workers: $82,000
Population: 4,623,264

8. New Orleans-Metairie, LA

New Orleans LouisianaTim Roberts Photography / Shutterstock.comPercentage of workers who are self-employed: 11.0%
Total self-employed workers: 62,112
Median income for full-time self-employed workers: $48,000
Median income for all full-time workers: $50,000
Population: 1,261,726

7. San Diego-Chula Vista-Carlsbad, CA

San Diego cityscapeSean Pavone / Shutterstock.comPercentage of workers who are self-employed: 11.0%
Total self-employed workers: 169,080
Median income for full-time self-employed workers: $52,000
Median income for all full-time workers: $59,000
Population: 3,286,069

6. Austin-Round Rock-Georgetown, TX

Austin, Texas waterscapeSilvio Ligutti / Shutterstock.comPercentage of workers who are self-employed: 11.2%
Total self-employed workers: 142,711
Median income for full-time self-employed workers: $60,000
Median income for all full-time workers: $60,000
Population: 2,352,426

5. Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL

Orlando, Floridasongquan-deng / Shutterstock.comPercentage of workers who are self-employed: 11.2%
Total self-employed workers: 145,480
Median income for full-time self-employed workers: $50,000
Median income for all full-time workers: $45,000
Population: 2,691,925

4. Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL

Tampa, Floridakevin-j-king / Shutterstock.comPercentage of workers who are self-employed: 11.5%
Total self-employed workers: 175,962
Median income for full-time self-employed workers: $50,000
Median income for all full-time workers: $48,000
Population: 3,219,514

3. Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin, TN

Nashville, Tennesseejdross75 / Shutterstock.comPercentage of workers who are self-employed: 11.6%
Total self-employed workers: 120,898
Median income for full-time self-employed workers: $50,000
Median income for all full-time workers: $50,000
Population: 2,012,476

2. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA

The streets of Los Angeles, where median rent is relatively lowSean Pavone / Shutterstock.comPercentage of workers who are self-employed: 13.2%
Total self-employed workers: 820,969
Median income for full-time self-employed workers: $50,000
Median income for all full-time workers: $53,000
Population: 12,997,353

1. Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL

Miami, FloridaGagliardiImages / Shutterstock.comPercentage of workers who are self-employed: 15.8%
Total self-employed workers: 468,070
Median income for full-time self-employed workers: $40,000
Median income for all full-time workers: $44,200
Population: 6,091,747

Methodology

Woman looking at financial chart on tablet computerWright Studio / Shutterstock.com

To find the metropolitan areas with the most self-employed workers, researchers on behalf of Self Financial analyzed the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2021 American Community Survey.

The researchers ranked metro areas according to the percentage of workers who are self-employed. In the event of a tie, the metro with the larger number of self-employed workers was ranked higher.

Researchers also calculated the median income for full-time self-employed workers and the median income for all full-time workers using data from 2020, the latest available.

To improve relevance, only metropolitan areas with at least 100,000 people were included in the analysis.