Non-Employer Businesses in the Rogue Valley

by Guy Tauer

September 7, 2018

We recently looked at employment in the Rogue Valley by age of firm. Trends show a decline in the percent of total employment at the youngest businesses, those a year old or newer. Could this decline in workers at the youngest firms be a result of fewer start-ups or new businesses? Or is there a turn away from new business starts that have paid employees to more sole proprietors or owner-operated businesses without paid employees? Information from the Census Bureau’s non-employer statistics data can help answer these questions.

From 2010 to 2016, total employment at Rogue Valley firms rose by almost 16 percent, from 83,000 to 96,245. During that time, employment at the youngest firms rose by 8.5 percent. If employment at these youngest firms is growing more slowly than at older firms, was there a corresponding uptick in non-employer businesses from 2010 to 2016? For all the hype about the gig economy and the idea that we’ll all be self-employed as consultants or Uber drivers, the data through 2016 doesn’t seem to concur.

In 2010, there were 21,809 non-employer businesses in the Rogue Valley. By 2016 there were 22,748 non-employer firms (+939 firms), an increase of 4.3 percent during those six years. We won’t see any impacts from those now working as Uber drivers or other ride sharing services since that service only came to the Rogue Valley in late 2017. We’ll have to wait for the 2018 non-employer figures to gauge the ride-sharing industry’s impacts on traditional transportation services employment. At least through 2016, the data show slower growth in non-employer businesses than in firms with employees on their payroll. This growth is also slower than the growth of the youngest firms that have been in business a year or less. So far, the roll-out of this new gig economy is pretty lackluster in the Rogue Valley.
Despite the tepid pace of growth of Rogue Valley non-employer businesses overall during the past few years, some industries did see a more robust upturn in these owner-operated ventures. Educational services increased by more than 25 percent, a gain of 112 non-employer businesses. Arts, entertainment and recreation non-employer firms rose by about 20 percent, an increase of 252 firms. The industry with the most non-employer businesses was other services. This industry added 227 new firms, a gain of 7.3 percent. Professional, scientific and technical services (+277), real estate and rental and leasing (+216), and retail trade (+155) all gained new non-employer firms, and had growth rates above the all non-employer average of 4.3 percent.

Not all industries saw growth from 2010 to 2016. Construction (-306), health care and social assistance (-135), and finance and insurance (-75) all had fewer non-employer businesses in 2016 than in 2010.
For more information about non-employers from the Census Bureau go to:


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