Characteristics of Low-Wage Workers and Their Labor Market Experiences: Evidence from the Mid- to Late 1990s. Self-Employment Status


  • About 13 percent of low-wage workers in 1996 were self-employed (that is, owned businesses). Self-employment rates were higher for males than females (18 percent, compared to 10 percent, Table III.7). Furthermore, self-employment rates among low-wage workers were somewhat higher than for all workers, for both males and females. For instance, about 18 percent of low-wage male workers were self-employed, compared to about 10 percent for other male workers. Interestingly, the group of older, middle-income, and low-education male workers had the highest self-employment rates among all the low-wage worker typologies (Table B.4).
  • There are some important differences between the employment characteristics of jobholders and business owners. Average hourly wages are significantly higher for those with jobs than businesses ($5.75, compared to $4.48 in 1996, Table B.5). Business owners also tend to work more hours than job holders (44 hours compared to 38 hours for all low-wage workers in 1996). Health insurance coverage rates are also substantially higher for those with jobs. Finally, there are some differences across occupations, as discussed in the next section.

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