On the decline: 1 in 10 U.S. workers self-employed

Three in 10 jobs in the U.S. are held by the self-employed and the workers they hire, but those numbers are likely to decline in coming years, if recent trends persist.

In 2014, the self-employed made up 10 percent of the U.S. workforce, down from 12.2 percent a decade earlier, according to an analysis of Census Bureau data conducted by the Pew Research Center. Along with that decline is a decrease in the share of self-employed who employ others.

Of the nation's 146 million workers, 14.6 million were self-employed last year, and they created jobs for 29.4 million workers, the analysis found. Most self-employed workers aren't job creators. Only about one in four say they usually have at least one other person on their payroll. Self-employed workers with employees had a median of three paid employees in 2014 and an average of 8.6 employees.

Twenty-one percent of unincorporated self-employed workers reported having at least one paid employee in 1995, compared with 13 percent last year, the analysis found. The share of self-employed who own incorporated businesses and have paid employees is also down, from about 60 percent in 2001 to 41 percent currently.

One in 10 Asian-Americans were self-employed, and that group leads others in the rate at which they hire workers. Nearly one-third of of self-employed Asians had at least one paid employee last year, compared with one in four overall, according to the analysis.

Men were nearly twice as likely as women to be self-employed, 12 percent versus 7 percent, and men were much more likely to hire others, by 28 percent to 16 percent.

Self-employment is integral to the agriculture, forestry, fishing and construction sectors. In agriculture, forestry and fishing, 81 percent of those working in 2014 were either working for themselves or working for someone else who was self-employed. In construction, 68 percent of workers fell into one of those two categories.