New data from the American Community Survey shows more than 8.2 percent of Orange County’s workforce is self-employed. In comparison, only 6.3 percent of the U.S. workforce is independently employed.
“There is a culture here that working on your own is the way to advance yourself,” Christopher Lynch, vice president of business and economic development at the Irvine Chamber of Commerce, told OC Metro. “If you look at Orange County companies, with the exception of aerospace, they are almost all locally grown. So people have seen other businesses being successful and its acceptable here.”
According to the data most people who work independently don’t have any employees, with the exception of family members. However, Lynch said he believes this entrepreneurial spirit is a driving force for the local job market.
“These small enterprises are the ones that create jobs in the long run,” Lynch said. “Large companies are always becoming more efficient, which means they are shedding jobs. We need a large pipeline of new companies.”
The density of self-employed workers varies from city to city in Orange County. At the top of the list is Costa Mesa, where 14.2 percent of the workforce works independently. Nearly 11 percent of Westminster’s population is self-employed, followed by Yorba Linda with 10.3 percent and Newport Beach with 9.3 percent. Other cities with high percentages include: Orange, 9.1 percent; Buena Park, 9.1 percent; Lake Forest, 9.1 percent; Huntington Beach, 8.8 percent; Mission Viejo, 8.0 percent; and Fullerton, 7.9 percent.
Lynch said real estate demographics are most likely responsible for the variations between the cities. He believes immigration and local education programs are the driving forces behind local entrepreneurship.
“We have a large population of recent immigrants, and a lot of them come here to find their fortune in the United States,” said Lynch. Many of the immigrants find their fortune through start-up companies, which they could not do in their own country.”
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