AQUA BOOK 2014 II - Page 7

Trends across Counties Relative to the overall labor force, the number of self-employed in the Coastal Bend has grown at a slower pace. Between 2001 and 2014, the self-employment population in the region grew 6 percent, a slower pace than the 9 percent nationally. During that 15-year period, total regional employment grew nearly 20 percent. As a result of the discrepancy between the growth rates of the number of self-employed and the number of wage workers, the share of self-employment in the regional workforce declined by nearly one percent from 8.3 percent to 7.4 percent. Despite the overall steady trend of self-employment in the Coastal Bend region as a whole, the relative role of selfemployment varies drastically across its counties. Self-employment is a mainstay for some small counties. In particular, more than one in 10 workers in Aransas (14%) and McMullen (16%) counties are self-employed. ENTREPR Since 2001, the number of self-employed in McMullen County more than doubled (122%). Kleberg County’s self-employment level also grew nearly 50 percent. By contrast, self-employment in Kenedy County with fewer than 600 workers declined 65 percent. Nueces County, where most self-employed in the region are found, gained 5 percent. This county’s self-employment level also exhibited a cyclical pattern in association with the rise and fall of the local construction industry. The accompanying line chart also indicates an overall downward trend in the self-employment share of the local workforce for most counties. County Self-Employment Share in Labor Force ENEURSHIP IN THE Source: EMSI Analyst Online Significance to Community COASTAL A recent study by Rupasingha and Goetz (2011) found that increased levels of self-employment were associated with corresponding increases in local household income and job growth. However, the study also found that self-employed people earned less on average in comparison with salaried employees. The gap is perhaps due to underreporting of income by the self-employed, or perhaps those workers are less productive than their peers and thus are forced to be self-employed. Nevertheless, that study notes that self-employment helps reduce local poverty rates, especially among rural counties. Further, self-employment provides an alternative source of income for unemployed workers, implying that the promotion of self-employment is beneficial to local economic development. BEND Review of South Texas Business Conditions 5 llllllllllll llllllllllll