Lane County Businesses Without Employees

by Henry Fields

December 17, 2018

The 21st century brought with it new additions to the common economic vocabulary. More than ever, people want to know about things like the growth of contingent work, “side gigs,” or “1099 workers” (for the name of the IRS form that independent contractors complete). These questions can be difficult to answer for a number of reasons, but one of the largest barriers is a lack of data, especially compared with the businesses that employ workers.

The foremost source of data on independent contractors, partnerships, and other businesses without employees is the Census Bureau’s Nonemployer Statistics program, which produces data down to the county level.

The most recent available data is from 2016, which our State Employment Economist Nick Beleiciks recently took a look at. Start there to learn more about who nonemployers are and who is included. Let’s take a look at the local composition of businesses without employees.

Lane County Average for a Non-Portland County

Lane County doesn’t look too different from the state outside of Portland, but some interesting nuggets of information are hidden in the overall numbers.
The top three fastest growing sectors were the same as the state, although in a different order. Transportation and warehousing grew at a slower but still substantial rate – ride-hailing apps operated only briefly in the period before the Eugene City Council changed the rules applying to the companies in 2018.

Wholesale trade and accommodation and food services grew faster than the state. That may be a result of local energy around food entrepreneurship, although without more specific industry data, it’s difficult to say.

Information and construction establishments were both below their 2012 levels, although growth in the years since 2016 may have reversed the trend. Keeping an eye on these numbers when new data are released could help tease out if independent contractors in these sectors are recovering.

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