Thursday, March 26, 2009

Self-employment rises in depopulating rural areas

A Nebraska sociologist says self-employment is on the rise in rural areas, reflecting a new way of making a living that relies more on private contracting than traditional employer-employee relationships. Randy Cantrell of the University of Nebraska estimates that self-employment accounts for 18 percent to 30 percent of workers in the state's rural counties.

The annual poll of rural Nebraskans hasn't backed up Cantrell's numbers, writes Joan Ortiz of The Associated Press. "but he has a theory: The rural poll is asking the wrong question. In the past, people have been asked if they have a business. Cantrell realizes that may be leaving out those who still get a paycheck from their employers, but technically are private contractors. He used the example of inbound telemarketers, who he thinks can rightfully assert they have a business."

Cantrell says decreasing rural populations means that there are not enough people to support a multiple-person business, but the same services are still needed. This leads many to sub-contract work out to individuals, a trend which he says will only grow. He hopes to test his theory in this year's version of an annual poll he send to rural dwellers on work, well-being and policies. (Read more)

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