Self-Employed Workers in Oregon

by Dallas Fridley

April 6, 2020

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed into law March 27, 2020. The CARES Act expands unemployment insurance benefits to cover more workers that are self-employed. These workers would not normally qualify for unemployment insurance benefits. While the Oregon Employment Department does not have information on which self-employed workers are seeking unemployment insurance benefits, the following information from the American Community Survey (2018, five-year estimates) provides figures for self-employed workers in Oregon.

226,000 people were self-employed in 2018, or 12 percent of all Oregon workers

Self-employment continues to be an important source of jobs in Oregon. According to the American Community Survey, 226,000 people, or 11.7 percent of total Oregon workers, were self-employed in 2018. This includes those who had incorporated their businesses and those who had not. Of all the self-employed, 145,000, or about six out of 10, were unincorporated; the remaining 81,000 were incorporated. People who are self-employed typically incorporate their businesses in order to receive traditional benefits of the corporate structure, including limited liability, tax considerations, and enhanced opportunity to raise capital through the sale of stocks and bonds.

Self-employed workers are found in many different occupations

The self-employed are found in a wide variety of occupations. For example, in 2018, unincorporated self-employment rates were highest for workers in service occupations (10.6 percent); natural resource, construction, and maintenance occupations (10.0 percent); and management, business, science and arts occupations (7.8 percent). Self-employment rates had a somewhat different pattern for incorporated business owners than for the unincorporated self-employed. Among the incorporated self-employed, business ownership rates were highest for management, business, science and arts occupations (5.8 percent), and for natural resources, construction and maintenance occupations (4.9 percent).

207,000 Oregon households had self-employment income

Nearly 207,000 Oregon households, or 13 percent, had self-employment income, which totaled more than $6.9 billion in 2018. Self-employment’s $6.9 billion in household income represented about 5.4 percent of Oregon’s household income total.


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