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Oregon is 6th in the Nation for Self Employment

Monday, December 08, 2014


Oregon has the 6th highest self-employment rates in the country, according to research by the Oregon Employment Department.

Self-employers made up 9.3 percent of Oregon’s workforce in 2013, well above the national average of 6.5 percent. 

Although there is no data behind the cause of this trend, Jessica Nelson, an employment economist with the Oregon Department of Labor, thinks it has to do with independent spirit of Oregonians. 

“It could be the frontier-loving nature out West,” Nelson said. “There’s a pattern around the country where sates out West have higher shares of self-employment.” 

There only five states East of Texas that have self-employment rates higher than 7 percent. Among western states, Oregon is fourth overall. 

For some entrepreneurs, starting their own business is made easier with new technology. Lily Jeung, president of the Portland Small Business Network, said social media helps many small businesses get their name known for low costs. 

“Social media basically makes them look bigger than they really are,” Jung said. “It’s very important for small businesses to get themselves out there, and online is a lot less expensive then print.” 

Self-employment in Portland

In Portland, Jung said the city’s neighborly- feeling of people wanting to help each other helps self-employers thrive. 

A part time self-employer herself, Jung said being your own boss is a big draw. 

“I think everyone feels like they could do a better job at things then were they are,” Jung said. “[Self-employment] is an opportunity to do those things.” 

Although there is more freedom, Jung said it can be difficult to manage every part of the business instead of just one aspect. 

Mercy Corps Northwest, a small business resource and community in Portland, has noticed increasing trend of people starting their own business. However, motivations changed as the economy improved. 

“We used to see people enterprise less out of dream and more out necessity,” John Haines, executive director of Mercy Corps, said.  “Now we are seeing just more raw entrepreneurial activity.” 

The top sector for non-employers are professional, scientific, and technical services, followed by real estate and health care and social assistance.  

Nelson said self-employers probably fall into these categories as well. 

Self-employment [in Oregon] saw slight dip during the recession, but Nelson said Oregon has remained among the top states over time. Nelson expects numbers of self  employment to stay high in the future as well. 

“I see no reason why it should drastically change,” Nelson said. 

Roy Jay, president of the Portland African American Chamber Commerce, said he believes Oregon will continue to see people chose self  employment, even if it means keeping their day job and working from home. 

“I think we will see more people taking the opportunity to be self employed and see some people straddle both sides of the fence,” Jay said. “People will be stepping out of their comfort zone and step over the line to go after what they want.” 


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