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Empowering Our Nation’s Microbusinesses

Sep 23, 2021

by Josh Silverman

Etsy.com handmade and vintage goods

At Etsy, we’re inspired every day by the millions of creative entrepreneurs who rely on our marketplace to start and grow their businesses. Our teams are focused on continuing to make Etsy the best place to sell unique and handmade goods. By doing that, we believe we’re providing more than an income for our sellers — we’re strengthening communities and empowering people around the world. 

We recognize that many factors beyond our marketplace can impact our sellers’ ability to find long-term success. Government policies and programs are crucial to get right, which is why Etsy actively engages with lawmakers to advocate for the wellbeing of our country’s microbusinesses. 

Today, I sent a letter to Congressional leaders offering Etsy’s support for key caregiving elements included in the reconciliation package, also known as the Build Back Better plan. We believe these caregiving proposals offer smart solutions for supporting a critical and growing section of the workforce: microbusinesses and the self-employed. 

I invite you to read the letter below:

Dear Leader Schumer, Minority Leader McConnell, Speaker Pelosi, and Minority Leader McCarthy, 

I am writing today on behalf of Etsy and the 5.2 million creative entrepreneurs who power our seller community as Congress considers the budget resolution and other legislative actions in the coming months.

Etsy has long functioned as a pathway to entrepreneurship by creating opportunities for people who might not have started a business otherwise. The majority of our sellers made their first ever sale of handmade or vintage goods on Etsy. 81% of our sellers are women and the vast majority are businesses of one working out of their homes, often in rural communities. For 30% of Etsy sellers, their creative business is their sole occupation. For the rest, it provides an important source of supplemental income. While Etsy operates a global platform, the majority of our sellers are from the United States. Etsy sellers pursue their passions, work for themselves and define success on their own terms. Yet despite their small size, their economic impact is considerable. Together, sellers on Etsy’s marketplaces sold $10.3 billion in goods in 2020 alone. 

The goals set out in the budget resolution are ambitious, aiming to improve the care economy and provide more support to American workers and families. Congress has a once in a generation opportunity to structure these provisions in a manner to help microbusinesses, especially businesses operated by women. This is why, as part of our Advocacy efforts, we fully support efforts to promote caregiving including increased access to affordable child care and paid leave. I ask that you please consider the following legislative priorities as Congress debates reconciliation:

Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit (CDCTC): Throughout the course of the pandemic, lack of adequate childcare has forced millions of Americans out of the workforce to care for their children. This burden has, of course, disproportionately fallen on the shoulders of women who are more likely to be responsible for childcare in the home. Similarly, the vast majority of childcare workers are women, especially women of color, who have for decades worked long hours for low wages. We also know that thousands of childcare centers have closed since the pandemic began, many with no plans to reopen. We know that 26% of our sellers have children at home and women sellers are more likely than male sellers (43% vs. 31%) to find it a challenge to spend time on their business. Childcare is a major driver of this gap, with women citing it seven times more often than men as a barrier to working.1 Etsy supports the expansion of the the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit (CDCTC), first included in the American Rescue Plan, that would continue to enable all families earning up to $125,000 to recover as much as half of their child care expenses for children under age 13, a total of $4,000 for one child or $8,000 for two or more children. 

Child Tax Credit (CTC): The recent expansion of the Child Tax Credit in the American Rescue Plan, $2,000 per child to $3,000 per child 6 and above, and $3,600 for children under 6, was a hugely positive benefit for America’s self-employed, including the Etsy seller community. Those who stand to benefit the most from these efforts are America’s self-employed creative entrepreneurs. Etsy urges Congress to maintain this strong commitment to childcare, doing so for the benefit of women, families and children. 

Paid Family and Medical Leave: Etsy supports getting all workers – particularly women – back into the workforce after this pandemic, which will require paid leave policies that lean into flexibility, compassion, and equality. Etsy designed our own caregiving policies to support employees at all life stages. This is why our employee leave policies — including 26 weeks of fully paid parental leave and 12 weeks of paid family leave — are designed to be flexible, gender-neutral and to provide our employees with the comfort of knowing that they do not have to choose between their families and their jobs. We’re proud that men and women take parental leave in roughly equal numbers at Etsy. Generous paid leave is good for business. It gives us the ability to ensure people from all backgrounds can come, stay, and thrive at Etsy. 

We believe in supporting strong national policies that enable parents and families, regardless of gender, to play equal roles in building successful companies and nurturing their families. The proposed paid family and medical leave provisions within the budget resolution would be the greatest investment in the workforce and social safety net in a generation. This investment would allow more families to care for their children and loved ones without worrying about how they will pay their bills. We strongly endorse the inclusion of paid family and medical leave in the reconciliation package.

Support for the Self-Employed: While 70% of sellers on the Etsy platform also have full time jobs, a significant amount rely on their shops, and their making and crafting skills, as their key source of income. Etsy urges Congress to guarantee that the self-employed are considered throughout the budget reconciliation process. This means ensuring that they have access to the same paid leave and childcare benefits as traditional employees as well as ensuring the tax code does not become more burdensome on them. Etsy applauded Congress’ leadership when the self-employed were included in the CARES Act, and we hope to see the self-employed included in future workforce related legislation. 

Retirement: Most Americans have not set aside sufficient funds for retirement. Many cannot afford to save for retirement, while others don’t have access to a retirement plan through employers. Etsy has long advocated for a portable benefits solution that would provide a greater level of flexibility to workers saving for retirement. A portable benefits plan would follow workers from job to job, allowing them to contribute to their retirement on their own terms. This reflects the evolving nature of the workforce, as it is highly uncommon for workers to remain at the same employer for their entire career. A retirement plan that moves with workers over the span of their careers saves time and reduces the possibility of losing retirement funds during career changes. 

Congress has debated portable benefits in the past and there have been pieces of legislation to address this, such as the Portable Benefits for Independent Workers Pilot Program Act and the Portable Retirement and Investment Act. The pandemic has highlighted the need for changes to our benefits structure, and Etsy is prepared to be a resource to Congress as it continues to debate issues such as portable benefits and retirement. 

Thank you for your consideration of these issues. Etsy looks forward to working with Congress to ensure that the interests of America’s self-employed and small businesses are represented as Congress moves forward with these important measures. We are eager to work together to help America make this needed investment in our children, for our families and for our economy. 

Sincerely, 
Josh Silverman
CEO, Etsy, Inc.

12020 Etsy Seller Census