A recent Forbes.com post offered the provocative thought that Entrepreneurs are Disrupting Unemployment. Co-written by LiveNinja founder Will Weinraub and marketing strategist Dorie Clark, a professor at the Duke University Fuqua School of Business and author of Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future, the article reinterprets unemployment data, suggesting that hidden beneath the statistics is the undocumented rise of a powerful entrepreneurial work force that is changing the focus of American business.
As the authors note, instead of — and sometimes in addition to — shoveling out resumes and standing in never-ending job fair lines, an increasing number of unemployed Americans are quietly giving up the job hunt to become home-grown entrepreneurs. Aided by virtual employment marketplaces like Zoondy, entrepreneurs are turning job skills and personal interests into viable small businesses, many of which are home-based.
In examining the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ method of categorizing employment, the authors explain, “The basic concepts involved in identifying the employed and unemployed are quite simple:
- People with jobs are employed.
- People who are jobless, looking for jobs, and available for work are unemployed.
- People who are neither employed nor unemployed are not in the labor force.”
Using these criteria, the Department of Labor has pegged U.S. unemployment at 4.9%. This is misleading, the authors say, noting that a decade of social and workplace changes have redefined the working definition of employment, if not our statistical one. The demise of the traditional 30-year career at a single company has made it more difficult to accurately track employment rates. Many entrepreneurial jobs take place off the traditional statistical grid and so are not included in statistical data. These self-employed, small-scale entrepreneurs do not show up on corporate employment rolls but neither are they looking for jobs. In effect, they represent a growing but overlooked labor force that operates under the statistical radar.