Well known author and academic Richard Florida has written extensively about the rise of the creative class.
According to his work, the creative class - a grouping of knowledge-based professions - has rapidly increased its share of total employment over the last 2 decades and now comprises about one third of all U.S. jobs.
While the majority of creative class members have traditional jobs, a growing share of the self-employed are also members of the creative class.
The chart below shows the percent of total self-employment for 2 of the 3 broad employment sectors. I left off the services sector because it made the chart too busy.
The working sector consists consists of manufacturing, construction, retail and related industries. The creative sector consists of professional, managerial and educational services; finance and insurance; information services and related industries.
The data does not map exactly to Florida's definitions due to differences in source data. But this data, which comes from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, is directionally consistent with Florida's data.
As you can see from this chart, the share of creative class jobs has increased from roughly 25% in 2003 to almost 30% in 2012. The working sector's share of self-employment fell from almost 40% to about 34%.
The chart below shows the number of self-employed by sector. It shows the number of self-employed in the working sector has fallen substantially since 2007. This is mostly due to the recessionary bust in the construction industry and falling retail self-employment.
And while self-employment job growth in the creative sector has been weak, it did grow through the Great Recession - which is quite an accomplishment.
It will be interesting to see if the working sector recovers as the economy improves. A bit more than one third of all constructions workers are self-employed (and 1 in 6 of the self-employed are construction workers), so a pick-up in this industry could easily shift these numbers.
But we think the long term trend towards more creative sector self-employment is strong and this sector will continue to gain share.