by Vittorio Hernandez

Washington, D.C., United States

Fewer Americans are working for themselves. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of self-employed Americans went down by 2.1 million to 14.5 million in August.

The number of self-employed people reached a peak of 16.6 million in December 2006.

Within those figures are self-employed workers who registered with proper government agencies to gain legal protection and secure benefits. This category of self-employed people also showed a decrease by 726,000 in August from 5.1 million.

An entrepreneurship expert described the declining trend, particularly for incorporated self-employed workers, as troubling since these people usually hire other employees compared to unincorporated workers.

The expert attributed the decrease in number of incorporated self-employed workers to tighter bank lending policies, reduced spending and weak consumer spending, and lost income-generating opportunities as a result of the housing market crash and the recession.

With a high national unemployment rate above 9 percent, creating jobs has become a key issue that prospective candidates for the 2012 presidential election would need a good and viable policy to attract voters. Polls have shown that employment is the top concern of American voters for the coming election.

President Barack Obama, who is seeking reelection, will focus on jobs in his address to a joint session of Congress. His jobs package includes payroll tax reductions, money to construct roads and renovate schools and direct financial assistance to states and local governments to prevent layoffs of teachers and emergency employees.

Ahead of Obama's address, Republican leaders have spoken against the jobs plan because it resembled the president's $830 billion economic stimulus package in 2009. The legislators said priming the economy is not the answer to the economic slow down because given the rate of public spending in 2009 the U.S. should by now be enjoying an economic boom.


Self-employed Americans Down by 2.1 Million