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Insufficiently analytical for your standards, I'm afraid, but what I see in my law practice, and what I hear from other attorneys around the country, who used to get paychecks, don't get paychecks anymore, list themselves as self-employed because putting "unemployed" in your sales pitch just doesn't cut it, but are in reality just scraping by on sporadic income.

My best source on this is Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases.  Lots of self-employed people need them but can't qualify because their businesses don't generate enough income.  If they do happen to have enough income at the moment to get a plan approved, they can't keep it going for the 3-5 years required.  None of this information is being collected even anecdotally, let alone systematically.  The Chapter 13 success rate is a joke, and DOJ is doing no real research on the reasons; everything is just the "anecdotal" stories of those of us in the trenches.

This seems to be the pattern for data collection on the self-employed.  There is nothing close to the systematic data collection in place concerning wage earners and benefits recipients.  Even when data are collected, they seem to go nowhere.  A self-employed person applying for benefits has to jump through far more hoops far more frequently (so much so that a significant number either give up or are dropped, which creates its own data accuracy problem), yet the data collected seem to go nowhere other than some warehouse such as at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Consequently, I am compelled to conclude the status of the self-employed is not adequately accounted for in the statistics.  I'm also inclined to think this is not exactly accidental; if you don't bother collecting data on a problem, you can pretend it doesn't exist.

by rifek on Wed Apr 22nd, 2015 at 05:59:29 PM EST
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