December 6, 2004--Between 1979 and 2003 the number of self-employed women, blacks and Latinos has risen sharply, according to a report released on Dec. 2 by the Office of Advocacy of the U.S. Small Business Administration. Overall, a 5% increase in self-employment rates occurred across ethnic groups and gender.

"The increase in self-employment rates for women, blacks, and Latinos show that small business ownership can move minorities and women further into our economic mainstream," said Thomas M. Sullivan, Chief Counsel for Advocacy in a statement. The study revealed that the rate of self-employment increased 33% for women, 37% for blacks, and 15% for Latinos. The male rate of self-employment increased 2.5%, while the white race increased 10%. (Rate is the number of self-employed divided by the number of those in the labor force.)

The number of self-employed Latinos increased dramatically from 1979 to 2003. In 1979, there were 241,000 self-employed Latinos; in 2003 there were 1 million. The number of self-employed African-Americans reached its highest level in 2003 at 710,000, while the number of self-employed women reached 3.8 million in 2003, with a self-employment rate of 9.8%.

Microdata from the U.S. Census Bureau/U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Current Population Survey was used to update an existing report to arrive at the numbers. All in all, the number of non-agricultural self-employed reached 12.2 million in 2003, an increase of 716,000 over the year 2000.