Letter to the editor: Independent contractors are critical to U.S. economyThousands of independent contractors across North Dakota are working hard to provide for their families and contribute to our local economy. You may know them as hair stylists, software engineers, package deliverers and even emergency room physicians. Independent contractors also play a key role in helping North Dakota families realize the dream of owning their own home.
By: Daryl Braham, The Jamestown Sun
Thousands of independent contractors across North Dakota are working hard to provide for their families and contribute to our local economy.
You may know them as hair stylists, software engineers, package deliverers and even emergency room physicians. Independent contractors also play a key role in helping North Dakota families realize the dream of owning their own home.
In my business as a real estate broker, helping our independent contractor agents help those in our community buy and sell homes or properties for their business is what we do — people helping people. One of the main reasons real estate professionals choose this profession is to be independent. Real estate creates an opportunity to be your own boss.
Having the freedom to determine their pace of success and the balance in their lives without being labeled and restricted as employees is fundamental. Moreover, seven of the past eight recessions ended largely due to real estate activity. Putting restrictions on how agents function in the real estate industry could have catastrophic effects on our economy as a whole.
Despite the fact that there are more than 10 million independent contractors across the U.S., some elected leaders in Washington want to make it more difficult for individuals and businesses to serve as independent contractors. In a time of tenuous economic recovery, we should be encouraging people to take this work option if it is right for them.
Most independent contractors choose this path to do what they want in a way that makes sense for them and their families. Their work flexibility and life balance is something they highly value.
Just as importantly, many are expanding their independent contractor status into small businesses that create jobs for others. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, those small companies create three out of every four new jobs — a statistic most certainly higher here in North Dakota.
There’s plenty of reasons to embrace independent contractors for their contributions to our economy. They deserve the right to flourish fairly under our laws. But government officials should not risk driving out innovation, job creation and entrepreneurship as we try to grow the economy.
One of our companies was nominated this year as a 2011 finalist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Small Business of the Year Award, a first for North Dakota. One of the questions asked “How has the free enterprise system in the U.S. helped your success?” It hasn’t just helped our success; it is the reason for our success. Taking away the fundamental freedom to be your own independent business leader would not simply change what that freedom means. It would so drastically change the landscape of business, the damage could well be irreversible.
(Braham is the 2011 president of the North Dakota Association of REALTORS)