Owning a small business is tough, and running a business in which the owner is the only employee can be tougher. According to the latest U.S. Census Bureau’s Non-employee Statistics, there were 1.7 million one-person firms in specialty trade contracting (carpenters, electricians, plumbers, etc.) in 2014, 582,000 of which were in residential building construction, reports Na Zhao for the National Association of Home Builder’sEye On Housing blog.

The report defines a non-employer as a business with no paid employees, which means essentially that the business consists only of the owner. Because these one-person firms count as neither employers nor employees in the official government accounts, they can be easy to overlook, even though they are so numerous.

These one-person firms tend to be relatively small, especially the trade contractors. In 2014, the average receipts among one-person firms were $51,000 for specialty trade contractors, $74,000 for residential building construction, and $158,000 for land subdivision. The average receipts of these three industries hit the lowest level during the Great Recession, but then climbed back almost the same level in 2014 as in 2007.

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