15 Cities With the Most Self-Employed Workers

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Young self-employed worker ready for work with laptop
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Editor's Note: This story originally appeared on Self.

Prior to the pandemic, self-employment was on the decline and had been falling since 2004. When the economic shutdown occurred in the spring of 2020, nearly 22 million workers lost their jobs and the self-employment rate rose to 10.5%.

The following year, workers began quitting their jobs at the highest rates since the Great Recession, and consequently, the self-employment rate held steady as some of those workers sought to start businesses.

While some industries and occupations have much higher rates of self-employment, all industry sectors saw increases in their self-employment rates when compared with pre-pandemic levels.

Manufacturing has the smallest self-employment rate, but saw the largest increase in total self-employed workers at 13.3%. Similarly, the finance industry saw a 7.0% increase in the total number of self-employed workers.

These industry differences in self-employment also create regional differences.

To find the metropolitan areas with the most self-employed workers, researchers on behalf of Self Financial analyzed the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Find details on our methodology at the end.

Here are the U.S. metropolitan areas with the most self-employed workers.

15. Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX

Houston, Texas
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  • Percentage of workers who are self-employed: 10.4%
  • Total self-employed workers: 350,713
  • Median income for full-time self-employed workers: $50,000
  • Median income for all full-time workers: $50,000
  • Population: 7,206,841

14. San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX

San Antonio, Texas outdoors
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  • Percentage of workers who are self-employed: 10.5%
  • Total self-employed workers: 126,262
  • Median income for full-time self-employed workers: $45,000
  • Median income for all full-time workers: $45,000
  • Population: 2,601,788

13. Oklahoma City, OK

Oklahoma City skyline
Natalia Bratslavsky / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage of workers who are self-employed: 10.6%
  • Total self-employed workers: 72,666
  • Median income for full-time self-employed workers: $40,000
  • Median income for all full-time workers: $45,000
  • Population: 1,441,647

12. Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Alpharetta, GA

Atlanta, Georgia
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage of workers who are self-employed: 10.6%
  • Total self-employed workers: 323,989
  • Median income for full-time self-employed workers: $50,000
  • Median income for all full-time workers: $54,000
  • Population: 6,144,050

11. Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA

Portland skyline
Jon Bilous / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage of workers who are self-employed: 10.9%
  • Total self-employed workers: 137,893
  • Median income for full-time self-employed workers: $59,000
  • Median income for all full-time workers: $60,000
  • Population: 2,511,612

10. Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO

Denver Colorado
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  • Percentage of workers who are self-employed: 10.9%
  • Total self-employed workers: 177,204
  • Median income for full-time self-employed workers: $62,000
  • Median income for all full-time workers: $60,000
  • Population: 2,972,566

9. San Francisco-Oakland-Berkeley, CA

San Francisco neighborhood.
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  • Percentage of workers who are self-employed: 10.9%
  • Total self-employed workers: 256,567
  • Median income for full-time self-employed workers: $70,000
  • Median income for all full-time workers: $82,000
  • Population: 4,623,264

8. New Orleans-Metairie, LA

New Orleans Louisiana
Tim Roberts Photography / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage of workers who are self-employed: 11.0%
  • Total self-employed workers: 62,112
  • Median income for full-time self-employed workers: $48,000
  • Median income for all full-time workers: $50,000
  • Population: 1,261,726

7. San Diego-Chula Vista-Carlsbad, CA

San Diego cityscape
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage of workers who are self-employed: 11.0%
  • Total self-employed workers: 169,080
  • Median income for full-time self-employed workers: $52,000
  • Median income for all full-time workers: $59,000
  • Population: 3,286,069

6. Austin-Round Rock-Georgetown, TX

Austin, Texas waterscape
Silvio Ligutti / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage of workers who are self-employed: 11.2%
  • Total self-employed workers: 142,711
  • Median income for full-time self-employed workers: $60,000
  • Median income for all full-time workers: $60,000
  • Population: 2,352,426

5. Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL

Orlando, Florida
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  • Percentage of workers who are self-employed: 11.2%
  • Total self-employed workers: 145,480
  • Median income for full-time self-employed workers: $50,000
  • Median income for all full-time workers: $45,000
  • Population: 2,691,925

4. Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL

Tampa, Florida
kevin-j-king / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage of workers who are self-employed: 11.5%
  • Total self-employed workers: 175,962
  • Median income for full-time self-employed workers: $50,000
  • Median income for all full-time workers: $48,000
  • Population: 3,219,514

3. Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin, TN

Nashville, Tennessee
jdross75 / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage of workers who are self-employed: 11.6%
  • Total self-employed workers: 120,898
  • Median income for full-time self-employed workers: $50,000
  • Median income for all full-time workers: $50,000
  • Population: 2,012,476

2. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA

The streets of Los Angeles, where median rent is relatively low
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage of workers who are self-employed: 13.2%
  • Total self-employed workers: 820,969
  • Median income for full-time self-employed workers: $50,000
  • Median income for all full-time workers: $53,000
  • Population: 12,997,353

1. Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL

Miami, Florida
GagliardiImages / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage of workers who are self-employed: 15.8%
  • Total self-employed workers: 468,070
  • Median income for full-time self-employed workers: $40,000
  • Median income for all full-time workers: $44,200
  • Population: 6,091,747

Methodology

Woman looking at financial chart on tablet computer
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To find the metropolitan areas with the most self-employed workers, researchers on behalf of Self Financial analyzed the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2021 American Community Survey.

The researchers ranked metro areas according to the percentage of workers who are self-employed. In the event of a tie, the metro with the larger number of self-employed workers was ranked higher.

Researchers also calculated the median income for full-time self-employed workers and the median income for all full-time workers using data from 2020, the latest available.

To improve relevance, only metropolitan areas with at least 100,000 people were included in the analysis.