One-person businesses are on the rise.
The number of self-employed workers has increased by nearly one million (988,418) since 2016, according to the Census Bureau.
Whether they’re designers, consultants, plumbers or painters, there are nearly 16 million self-employed workers among the more than 156 million workers in the United States.
For many, self-employment provides a gateway to entrepreneurship, more flexible work hours, and the opportunity to be their own boss.
But which cities are home to the most self-employed workers?
We analyzed U.S. Census Bureau data in 170 of the most populated cities across the country in order to determine which cities have the highest percentage of self-employed within the workforce.
- Cities within Florida dominate the top 10 list of cities with the most self-employed workers. Overall, six out of the top 10 cities are all located in Florida, and the top 3 are all located within the Miami metropolitan area.
- Among the 170 cities on our list, there are only 16 cities where self-employed females outweigh the number of self-employed males.
- The average nationwide income for self-employed workers is $54,232, which is $107 higher than the nationwide median income for all workers ($54,339).
Which cities have the most self-employed workers?
Florida dominates the list of cities with the most self-employed workers, specifically in Miami-Dade County, which is home to the most cities within the list of top 10.
In the city of Miami, nearly 19% (or 43,536) workers are self-employed. In nearby Hialeah, Florida, the percentage of self-employed workers is 20%, which makes it the No. 1 city on the list.
Elsewhere, Los Angeles ranks within the top five. Nearly 16% (297,479) of its workforce identify as self-employed. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles suburb of Glendale ranks No. 7 on the list. Among the top 30 cities, 12 are located within California.
Top five cities with the most self-employed workers
#1. Hialeah, Florida
- Percent of Workforce Self-Employed: 20.3%
- Number of Self-Employed: 21,900
- Percent of Self-Employed – Females: 33.2%
- Percent of Self-Employed – Males: 66.8%
- Average Income of Self-Employed: $31,570
#2 Miami, Florida
- Percent of Workforce Self-Employed: 18.9%
- Number of Self-Employed: 43,536
- Percent of Self-Employed – Females: 41.1%
- Percent of Self-Employed – Males: 58.9%
- Average Income of Self-Employed: $46,046
#3 Hollywood, Florida
- Percent of Workforce Self-Employed: 18.0%
- Number of Self-Employed: 13,806
- Percent of Self-Employed – Females: 28.9%
- Percent of Self-Employed – Males: 71.1%
- Average Income of Self-Employed: $50,661
#4 Cape Coral, Florida
- Percent of Workforce Self-Employed: 16.2%
- Number of Self-Employed: 15,964
- Percent of Self-Employed – Females: 40.4%
- Percent of Self-Employed – Males: 59.6%
- Average Income of Self-Employed: $42,730
#5 Los Angeles, California
- Percent of Workforce Self-Employed: 15.9%
- Number of Self-Employed: 297,479
- Percent of Self-Employed – Females: 38.0%
- Percent of Self-Employed – Males: 62.0%
- Average Income of Self-Employed: $61,171
Where do self-employed workers earn more than the median income?
Along with looking at cities with the highest percentage of self-employed workers, our analysis also examined income levels for those who are self-employed.
Overall, there are 89 cities across the U.S. where self-employed workers earn more than the median income.
The largest income gap can be found in Amarillo, Texas. The median income in Amarillo is slightly above $47,000, but the average income for self-employed workers is $110,625, which is more than $63,000 higher. Among the city’s working population, 9.7% are self-employed, which is roughly 9,385.
Elsewhere on the list, Modesto, California is another city where self-employed workers out-earn the median income. On average, self-employed workers in Modesto earn $46,729 more than the median income. Cincinnati ranks 3rd ($30,914); Knoxville ranks 4th ($24,758) and Chattanooga ranks 5th ($23,167) for cities where self-employed workers make more than the median income.
Cities with the most self-employed women
Nationwide, only 8.3% of all females within the workforce are self-employed, but there are several cities across the country where a large percentage of the female workforce is self-employed.
Topping the list is Miami, Florida (17.1%), followed by Hialeah, Florida (14.4%); Huntington Beach, California (14%); Cape Coral, Florida (13.6%) and Oakland, California (13.2%).
Starting a business may seem like a daunting task, but not everyone looking to leave their job has to run a massive corporation or large business. Self-employment provides a middle-ground for those looking to run their own business while maintaining a work-life balance.
Whether you’re looking to start an LLC or a sole proprietorship, there are several different options to choose from when it comes to starting your own business. But be sure to map out your goals and write down a business plan first. Putting the right pieces in place before you go off on your own can help turn your dream of self-employment into a tangible goal.
To determine our ranking, we analyzed the class of workers among those employed ages 16 and older in the most populated 170 census-defined places via the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. We then analyzed median earnings for workers ages 16 and older. Data for self-employed workers include both self-employed working in incorporated businesses as well as unincorporated businesses. We compared the median income for those within both incorporated and unincorporated businesses in order to find the average income for self-employed workers. In order to determine which cities have the most self-employed women, we calculated the percent of all females within the workforce who are self-employed.
Sources: U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey
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