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Kristie Arslan Headshot

America's Self-Employed: Not So "Bunny"

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The Obama Administration is trying desperately to create jobs and boost our sluggish economy. But the public increasingly thinks the President's economic policies are making things worse. The latest Pew Research Center survey clearly illustrates the pessimism that continues to loom like a dark cloud over the nation. For the first time, more people now believe that Administration policies have made economic conditions worse (29%) than they have made them better (23%).

For the nation's self-employed, the root of that pessimism is frustratingly simple: the Administration talks a good game about supporting small businesses while quietly issuing backdoor rules and regulations that pull the rug out from under our entrepreneurs. It's as though they just don't appreciate who small business owners are, how they operate and why one more IRS reporting requirement can make the difference between just making it and packing it in.

As an advocate for the nation's self-employed businesses and micro-business owners (those with fewer than 10 employees), I attend a lot of meetings on Capitol Hill and with the White House. My general impression is often that our policymakers are out of touch with the overall employment picture. They don't seem to appreciate that being your own boss means that you have a job. More often than not, it means you have a great job.

Enter the National Association for the Self-Employed's "Not So 'Bunny" campaign.

We think it's time for policymakers to shake the stereotype that our nation's smallest businesses aren't making real contributions to the economy. They are not sitting at home in their pajamas and wearing bunny slippers all day. Their job is just as valuable to the economy as an office or factory job.

The vast majority - 95% - of all small businesses in the United States are either self-employed entrepreneurs or micro-businesses. These businesses have grown faster than all other segments of the economy in recent years and are historically a key driver of economic recovery after a recession. Not surprisingly, the Kauffman Foundation just reported that business startups reached their highest levels in 14 years during 2009, suggesting that laid-off workers are choosing to join the ranks of the self-employed rather than take their chances in a less-than-promising job market.

Since so many Americans are embracing entrepreneurialism, the Administration should be finding ways to support self-employment and help them drive the country's economic recovery. They should be fostering these businesses that add billions of dollars to our economy, provide for their families and contribute to their local communities. Otherwise, the nation's job generators might just find themselves sitting at home out of work and in their slippers.

The writer is the Executive Director of Legislative Offices for the National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE).

This blog is cross posted with the NASE Staff blog