Independent contractors a valuable asset to Wisconsin’s economyAcross the great state of Wisconsin there are thousands of independent contractors working hard to provide for their families while contributing to our local economy. You may know them as hair stylists, software engineers, loggers, package delivery drivers, even emergency room physicians.
By: Henry Schienebeck, Superior Telegram
Across the great state of Wisconsin there are thousands of independent contractors working hard to provide for their families while contributing to our local economy. You may know them as hair stylists, software engineers, loggers, package delivery drivers, even emergency room physicians. Whatever they and many others like them do, there is one thing they all have in common: they are doing their best to make a living for their families. And in many cases they are creating much-needed jobs for others.
Recently, a national coalition called It’s My Business (www.itsmybusiness.com) launched to help provide a voice for the millions of people who have decided to be their own bosses and build their own businesses. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 82 percent of independent contractors prefer this arrangement for making their living as opposed to being an employee. And the Pew Research Center reports that 39 percent of self-employed workers are “completely satisfied” with their jobs compared to 28 percent of workers in wage or salary jobs.
At a time when the workforce is changing, it is critical to raise awareness about the contributions of independent contractors to our economy.
Independent contractors are virtually everywhere – in every city and town in this state. There are more than 10 million of them across the United States – making up more than 7 percent of the total workforce. They are essential to our economy, accounting for $473 billion in personal income, or one out of every 10 dollars earned across the nation.
Beyond the individual advantages for independent contractors, many are expanding their independent contractor status into small businesses that create jobs for others. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, small companies – many of them coming from independent contracting beginnings – create three out of every four new jobs. They are critical to job growth and economic recovery.
Yet despite the crucial role of independent contractors within our economy, the federal government is working to make it more difficult for them to grow and prosper. Recently, $25 million was allocated for a joint IRS – U.S. Department of Labor initiative aimed at taking away the independent contractor status that enables so many hard-working Americans to thrive by reclassifying them as employees. Of course, Washington prefers to target these small, independent businesses because they are easier to prosecute than larger companies with greater access to legal resources.
There’s no question that independent contractors should obey all laws and pay taxes as required. But broad-scale attempts to reclassify independent contractors in an effort to turn them into rank-and-file company employees is harmful to those who play by the rules.
America’s entrepreneurial freedom makes our economy the envy of the world. The hard-working people of Wisconsin should be free to pursue jobs that fit their needs and their lifestyles, especially when their prosperity benefits us all. That is what It’s My Business is committed to protecting and that is why the Great Lakes Timber Professionals Association has signed on to this important effort. To learn more about the coalition and how to be involved, please visitwww.itsmybusiness.com.
Henry Schienebeck is the executive director of the Great Lakes Timber Professionals Association.