More people now work for themselves in Miami than anywhere else, study says

If you're working alone in Miami, you're not alone.

A new analysis shows that Miami has the largest share of independent workers in the country when viewed as a share of contribution to metro GDP.

Fiverr, a marketplace for independent workers and freelancers, analyzed the growth of businesses without any payroll among tech, artistic and professional service occupations. That would include lawyers with private practices, solo contractors like plumbers or software engineers, and artists (and leaves out groups like Uber drivers, who did not fit into any of the three occupation categories).

Fiverr found that between 2011 and 2015, the number of these solo businesses grew 11 percent across the 15 major metro areas measured.

In the Miami metro area, which includes Broward and Palm Beach counties, this group zoomed ahead 23 percent—and their revenues grew even faster, at a rate of 32 percent. This workforce now comprises 2.13 percent of the Miami's economy in 2016, the most for any major metro.

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Miami is tops in the nation for independent workers as a share of the local economy.

Perhaps surprising given Miami's reputation as an arts hub, Miami had the lowest share of independent arts professionals of any city; they made up just 13 percent of the area's independent workers. Miami's largest share was from professional service workers like lawyers, comprising 54 percent.

The independent professionals trend is spreading nationwide, Fiverr says.

"The nature of the full-time workforce has changed, with a variety of structural factors including the Affordable Care Act, a shift from a manufacturing-based to service-based economy in many areas, and increasing outsourcing and off-shoring of tech jobs leaving many skilled workers with limited or even no attractive full-time job options," the study's authors write. "For many of these workers, self-employment or a mix of part-time employment and entrepreneurial work is an attractive option."

The latest report confirms an earlier survey by The Stephen S. Fuller Institute at Virginia’s George Mason Universitythat also ranked Miami as No. 1 in the nation for independent professionals. According to Kevin Greiner, senior fellow at the Florida International University Metropolitan Center, this workforce dominates here because there are fewer large corporations in Miami than in other metros. South Florida also tends to draw highly skilled immigrants who create their own businesses.

The Herald documented the lives of several of these workers last fall. Joseph Nay, a web designer based in Hollywood, summed up the experience of the unpredictability of finding steady clients.

“It’s been a fun ride, tiring but fun,” he said.