According to the 2016 ACS, released Thursday, over 23% of construction workers are self-employed, while an economy-wide average does not reach 10% of the employed labor force. The high self-employment rates in construction reflect a common practice of builders and remodellers to maintain relatively small payrolls and rely on subcontractors for a large share of the construction work.
The construction industry has been adding payroll jobs since 2011, while the number of self-employed construction workers continued dwindling until 2015. Consequently, the self-employment rates reversed their course in 2011 and fell close to 23% in recent years.
US Construction Self-Employment: 2016
The ACS data, released Thursday, show that from 2011 to 2016 construction gained close to 1.2 million (20%) private payroll jobs but the pool of self-employed workers grew by about 100,000 (5%). This helps explain why builders have reported more extreme labor and subcontractor shortages than commonly cited numbers based only on payroll employment suggest.