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Most self-employed see it as a choice, not a necessity

Most self-employed see it as a choice, not a necessity

Posted on: 6/4/2019 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team

One of the recurring questions around self-employment is whether workers are pushed into it by a lack of job opportunities or pulled into it by desire. It’s been a hard question for analysts to answer as they’ve had to rely mostly on indirect evidence.

Statistics Canada is helping to rectify this knowledge gap by conducting "a one-time supplement to the Labour Force Survey.” The survey asked self-employed workers “to indicate the main reason for their self-employment."

The results suggest only five per cent of Canadian workers chose self-employment in 2018 because they “could not find suitable paid employment.” The most popular reason, at 33.5 per cent, was “independence, freedom, being one's own boss.” Other possible factors include “work-family balance” (8.6 per cent), “flexible hours” (8.4 per cent), “challenge, creativity, success, satisfaction” (6.6 per cent).

In 15.2 per cent of the cases, the nature of the job was such that workers “had to be self-employed.” Jobs associated with this include physician, dentist, farmer and artist.

In 4.8 per cent of cases, self-employed workers said they “joined or took over the family business.” This can be interpreted as being either pushed or pulled into self-employment. Someone might join the family business because they are having trouble finding an employee position elsewhere or because they have always wanted to do so.

Self-employment is an important slice of the provincial employment pie, with 17.2 per cent of Alberta workers falling into this category in 2018. Nationally, the proportion of workers who were self-employed was 15.3 per cent. As a result of the survey, we can now understand that, in 2018, most of these Canadians were in this category by choice rather than necessity.

Self-employed, graph​​​​​​​​

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