As Jobs Dry Up, Self Employment On the Rise More Americans set out on their own, often in real estate By Kevin Spak, Newser Staff Posted Feb 4, 2010 3:59 PM CST 5 comments Comments A man works from home. (Shutterstock) (Newser) – The number of hours worked by the self-employed jumped 8.5% in the last three months of 2009, as more unemployed people decided to try being their own bosses and those already self-employed buckled down, according to new figures from the Labor Department. “Firms aren’t hiring, so people are hanging up a shingle and trying to make it on their own,” one economist told Bloomberg. “You get this playing out in rough labor markets.” The jump represented the biggest rise in self-employment in four years, and came amid a general 6.2% rise in overall worker productivity for the country. It may also help account for stabilizing unemployment figures. What are people employing themselves to do? Ironically, many are embarking on careers in the recovering real estate industry, particularly as mortgage brokers, the economist said.