Dateline: 5 May 2015
We hear a lot about the 1% these days, with the 1% being the super rich. This 1% happens to be getting richer while everyone else is getting poorer. It's a bad sign.
But I have just learned that there is another 1%, and to my surprise, it turns out I am in this rare group. I discovered this by way of an article at Zero Hedge by a guy named Charles Hugh Smith. The article is titled, Endangered Species: The Self-Employed Middle Class
Self employment has long been a part of the American dream but how many independent, sole-proprietor, self-employed people in the US actually make a middle class income (defined as $50,000 a year)? Mr. Smith has taken a close look at "the numbers"and come to the conclusion that only 1% of Americans fall into this category. Here is a pertinent section from the article...
"While 19.4 million sole proprietors is a big number, it turns out most are side businesses that earn relatively little income. 5.5 million earn less than $5,000 annually, 3.8 million net between $5,000 and $10,000, 5.7 million earn between $10,000 and $25,000, and another 3 million net between $25,000 and $50,000.
Only 4.48 million self-employed earn $50,000 or more, and 3 million of those are partnerships or corporations, i.e. professionals such as CPAs, attorneys, etc. That leaves about 1.5 million people who aren't in the professional class (those with advanced degrees and professional licenses and credentials) who earn a middle class living as sole proprietors.
This is roughly 1% of the workforce of 145 million. It turns out the non-professional self-employed that make enough to maintain a minimally middle class lifestyle are a razor-thin slice of the workforce."
When the professional class of sole proprietorships is added in, Mr. Smith says the number of truly independent self-employed in America increases to only about 3% of the workforce.
This is a powerfully discouraging statistic, especially for anyone who dreams of owning their own business and achieving the measure of independence (a.k.a., freedom) that such a business can bring.
But from my perspective, I believe that being self employed to any degree is better than not being self employed at all. I've believed that since I was a teenager, and I've long acted on that belief.
Besides that, I can say with certainty that every little venture (of which I've had many) into self employment was a learning experience that contributed to me finally finding the freedom from employment that I now enjoy.
My point being, if you want to be free from wage slavery, you can do it. But it will take a lot of focus, imagination, determination, hard work, and persistence. Oh, and if my example is any indication, it might take a very long time (35+ years).
One last thought... If you stay out of debt and live a simplified, self-reliant lifestyle, you can be among the independent sole proprietor class for less (in some cases, a lot less) than the defined middle class income.