Be Your Own Boss: 14 Cities With the Most Self-Employed People

A young, self-employed man using his laptop to direct his empire

A young, self-employed man using his laptop to direct his empire | iStock.com/g-stockstudio

Want to be your own boss? A lot of people do, but only a fraction of people can actually handle it. Being an entrepreneur requires a lot of discipline and responsibility. For that reason, a lot of people are better off focusing on one area under the management of someone else. Still, being self-employed is a worthy and noble goal. As it turns out, there are certain parts of the country where those chasing it like to congregate.

By digging through data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey from 2010-2014, lawn care company LawnStarter compiled a list of America’s most self-reliant cities. That is, the cities in which the largest percentage of households reported self-employment income. These “self-employment hubs,” as LawnStarter calls them, are America’s entrepreneurial hot spots.

“Given the importance of self-employed Americans to our business, we decided to dig into Census Bureau data to discover which metro areas are hubs for self-employment,” LawnStarter’s team said. “For the 100 metro areas with the largest populations, we examined the number of households that reported at least some income from self-employment in the previous 12 months.”

From LawnStarter’s data, here are America’s top cities for self-employment.

14. San Jose, California

view of the historic Plaza de Cesar Chavez in San Jose, CA.

The historic Plaza de Cesar Chavez in San Jose, CA | iStock.com/GerardoBrucke

San Jose kicks off the list at the No. 14 spot. San Jose is at or near the heart of Silicon Valley, meaning entrepreneurs are starting businesses and developing products and services in full force. More than 80,000 households reported self-employment income in the past year. That’s 12.3% of the city’s households.

13. Honolulu, Hawaii

A view of the City of Honolulu

A view of the city of Honolulu | Patrick Baz/AFP/Getty Images

Ever wanted to quit, and run your own business from Hawaii? Some people do, and the islands are home to a lot of self-employed people. Of the city’s 307,703 households, 12.35% of them reported self-employment income.

12. Denver, Colorado

denver

Denver | Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Denver’s another hot spot for entrepreneurial activity. Of the city’s more than 1 million households, 12.91% of them reported self-employment income in the past year.

11. Nashville, Tennessee

downtown Nashville, Tennessee

Downtown Nashville, Tennessee | iStock.com/Sean Pavone

Country music, barbecue, and running your own business. It’s the Nashville way. There are 686,640 households in Nashville, and 13.08% reported income from self-employed individuals.

10. Austin, Texas

Austin Texas and Lady Bird Lake

Austin Texas and Lady Bird Lake | iStock.com/RoschetzkyIstockPhoto

Startups? Entrepreneurs? You’ll find them in Austin. The city has roughly 724,000 households, and self-employment income was reported from 13.46% of them in the past year.

9. San Diego, California

Downtown San Diego

Downtown San Diego | iStock.com

You’d think it would be hard to get any work done in sunny San Diego. Evidently, though, plenty of people are able to get off the beach and get to work. Roughly 13.56% of the city’s households reported self-employment income last year.

8. Portland, Oregon

Portland

Portland, Oregon | iStock.com

There are plenty of business and self-employment opportunities in Portland. Of Portland’s 901,000 households, 13.67% have reported self-employment income.

7. Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, Connecticut

Seaside Park in Bridgeport, Connecticut

Seaside Park in Bridgeport, Connecticut | iStock.com/kosukeyuki

Coastal Connecticut, just outside of the New York City area, is home to 333,000 households. About 13.76% of them are home to some sort of activity by the self-employed.

6. Boise, Idaho

Capital City Public Market, Downtown, Boise

Capital City Public Market, Downtown, Boise | Visit Idaho

Low costs of living and plenty of space make Boise an attractive place to live. An estimated 14.47% of Boise’s 245,000 households are home to entrepreneurial activity.

5. Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, California

Beachgoers play volleyball on a California beach

Beachgoers play volleyball on a California beach | Corky Buczyk/Shutterstock

Nearly 270,000 households reside just outside of the greater Los Angeles area, in Thousand Oaks, Oxnard, and Ventura. About 15.59% of them reported self-employment income last year.

4. Los Angeles, California

Los Angeles skyline

Los Angeles | David McNew/Getty Images

Speaking of Los Angeles, it clocks in at No. 4 on the list. The city has more than 4.3 million households, and 15.62% of them reported self-employment income.

3. San Francisco, California

Downtown San Francisco

Downtown San Francisco | iStock.com/batuhanozdel

Just up the coast in San Francisco, 15.68% of the city’s 1.67 million households reported entrepreneurial income.

2. McAllen, Texas

The welcome sign in McAllen, TX

The welcome sign in McAllen, Texas | City of McAllen

Far from the metropolises of California, McAllen, Texas ranks at No. 2 on the list. The area has a little more than 225,000 households, and 16.18% of them reported self-employment income.

1. Provo-Orem, Utah

Downtown Provo, Utah -- the place to be if you want to be your own boss

Downtown Provo, Utah — the place to be if you want to be your own boss | Provo City via Facebook

The number one city in America for the self-employed is Provo (and Orem), Utah. Located just south of Salt Lake City, the area contains 158,270 households. About 16.24% of them reported self-employment income in the past year.

To read further, visit Lawnstarter.

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