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Career Center Blog
Sep 22

Written by: careers
9/22/2009 8:11 AM

Self-employed adults are significantly more satisfied with their jobs than other workers according to a survey by the Pew Research Center's Social & Demographics Trends project. Nearly four-in-ten self-employed workers (39%) say they are "completely satisfied" with their jobs, compared with 28% of all wage or salaried employees.

According to government figures 11% of all workers are self-employed. Why do they work? Money is one reason - but it's far less of a factor for the self-employed than for other workers. Nearly a third of the self-employed (32%) say the main reason they work is because they want to, compared with 19% of wage and salary workers. By the same token, the self-employed are less likely than other workers to say they hold a job because they need the money (50% vs. 38%). They also place a higher value on the intangible psychological benefits of working, such as feeling useful and productive, and are more likely to say they are working to help "improve society" (55% vs. 46%).

While being your own boss may have many rewards, a hefty income isn't necessarily one of them. Even though they earn about as much as other workers, the self-employed struggle more financially: fully four-in-ten in the Pew Research survey say they just make ends meet or fall short, compared with less than a third of all wage and salary employees.

Pew Research survey results and government data also show that older adults, men and whites are significantly more likely than younger people, women and minorities to be self-employed. Self-employed jobs vary widely, from small business owners and consultants to fishing guides and freelance writers. Included in the ranks of the self-employed are private contractors, artists, construction workers, day laborers, farmers and agricultural workers, as well as doctors, lawyers and accountants who practice alone.

The full report is available at Pew Research Center's Social & Demographics Trends website,

The Social & Demographic Trends project is part of the Pew Research Center
<><> , a nonpartisan, non-advocacy research organization based in Washington, D.C., and is funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts.


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