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Self-employment’s share of Alberta workers

Self-employment’s share of Alberta workers

Posted on: 2/5/2019 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team

From family doctors and restaurant owners to freelance writers and ranchers, self-employment takes many forms. It provides an outlet for entrepreneurial activity and is the beating heart of the small business sector.

Self-employment as a share of total employment in Alberta rose in the 1990s, reaching 21 per cent in 1997 compared to an average of about 16 per cent from 1976-1989. It has averaged 17 per cent since 2000.

Theories abound as to why self-employment rises and falls from year-to-year. Some argue it goes up during recessions when people who lose their jobs as paid employees are compelled to give self-employment a try. Others contend it goes up during economic expansions because people feel confident striking out on their own. The annual percentage change in self-employment in Alberta does not, however, follow a set pattern.

Most recently, the number of self-employed Albertans contracted by three per cent during the recession of 2015-16 and then grew by eight per cent over the 2017-18 period while employee positions increased by two per cent. As such, self-employment has carried a disproportionate amount of the post-recession growth in employment with 43 per cent of the jobs added since 2016 taking the form of self-employment.

Self-employed workers in Alberta, graph

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