Self-Employment in Northwest Florida

After declining for many years, self-employment in Northwest Florida is back on the rise.


Haas Center | June 12, 2019

The self-employed consist of those who work as independent contractors and owners of both incorporated and unincorporated businesses. Some of these businesses will have no employees and are formed for legal and tax reasons. Examples of the self-employed range from Uber drivers to solo law practitioners. Making up about 6 percent of the total workforce, the self-employed hit their highest numbers during the region’s construction boom and hurricane recovery of the early 2000’s. They then steadily declined during the Great Recession and its aftermath before beginning a resurgence in 2014.

Self-Employed in the ten-county region

Industries where the self-employed work have changed during this time period. Comparing the two high points in 2005 and 2019 illustrates these changes.

Self-Employment by industry in the 10-county region

According to the American Community Survey 2017 5-year estimates, the numbers of households with self-employment income were highest in Escambia County, with Walton County having the highest percentage of households with self-employment income at 13.7 percent.

Self-employed Workforce Demographics

In Northwest Florida, males are more likely to be self-employed than females. Self-employed workers are more likely to be older than the employed workforce. In Northwest Florida, the largest percentage of self-employed workers are between 45 and 54 years of age.

Workforce Demographics in Northwest Florida

The top industries with self-employed workers in Northwest Florida are mostly different than the top industries with employees.

Top industries with self-employed workers

Occupations for the self-employed are also mostly different as well – although there are some exceptions.

Top occupations with self-employed workers