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WASHINGTON – Credit unions on the fence wondering if there is a tangible market for business services can look to the growing number of women, minorities and veterans that are starting their own businesses. Self-employment numbers have grown slowly and steadily since the late 1970s, and self-employment rates have been relatively stable, according to a report titled Self-Employed Business Ownership Rates in the United States: 1979-2003 written by Robert Fairlie, an associate professor of economics and finance at University of California, Santa Cruz, for the Small Business Administration. Women’s self-employment reached 3.8 million in 2003 and their self-employment rate was 9.8%, which was computed by the number of self-employed women divided by the number of women in the labor force. In 2003, African-American self-employment reached its highest levels in both number, at 710,000 and rate, at 5.2%. Latino self-employment increased significantly, from 241,000 in 1979 to 1 million in 2003. The Latino self-employment rate was 7% in 2003. The Asian self-employment rate peaked in 1992 at a “relatively high” 12.9%, then dropped over the next decade to 9.4% in 2000 and increased to 10.4% by 2003. Asian self-employment figures are available only since 1989, according to the report. Meanwhile, male veterans’ self-employment rates, which are the number of self-employed male veterans divided by the number of male veterans in the labor force, were higher than those of nonveterans from 1979 to 2003. In 2003, the male veteran self-employment rate was 13.7%. [email protected]

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