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Census Bureau Reports Home-Based Workers Number 11 Million in 2005

     The number of people who worked at home increased by nearly 2 million, from about 9.5 million in 1999 to about 11.3 million in 2005, according to new data released by the U.S. Census Bureau. Nearly half of these home workers had college degrees and nearly half of them earned $75,000 a year or more.

     These figures come from Home-Based Workers in the United States: 1999-2005, a series of tables that describe the type of employment, occupations and characteristics of home-based workers in the United States. The tables examine the total workforce and compare those who work at home with those who do not. The data are produced from a supplement to the Survey of Income and Program Participation.

     “An examination of the data shows an increasing percentage of the workforce is spending at least some time working from home,” said Alison Fields, chief of the Census Bureau's Journey to Work and Migration Statistics Branch. “This survey provides a better picture of the attributes of these people, as well as which professions and occupations allow them to work at home.”

     Home-based workers made up 8 percent of the total U.S. workforce in 2005, an increase from 7 percent in 1999. Among those who worked at home in 2005, about 8.1 million did so exclusively, an increase from 6.7 million in 1999.

     Examining those who worked at home in 2005 by industry, the largest percentage worked in professional and related services (32 percent), followed by business and repair services (12 percent) and finance, insurance and real estate (10 percent).

     The most popular occupations among those who reported working at home were professional (25 percent), executive, administrative and managerial (22 percent) and sales (18 percent).

     The median monthly earnings of workers who worked at home were about $2,400 in 2005; the median annual family income for these workers was approximately $68,000.

     High-paying jobs were more likely to involve working at home for some or all of the work time. In 2005, 46 percent of people who said they worked at home some or all of the time earned at least $75,000 per year, compared with 34 percent of non-home workers who made at least that much. Those who worked both at home and in an office had the highest percentage of high-paying jobs — about 54 percent of whom made $75,000 or more annually in 2005.

     Along with more money came longer hours. About 11 percent of those who worked at home for some or all of their workweek reported working 11 or more hours in a typical day in 2005. Only about 7 percent of workers who worked outside the home reported doing so.

     Despite the long hours, there seemed to be more flexibility for people who worked at home. In 2005, about 23 percent of home-based workers reported their weekly work hours varied, compared with only 10 percent of those who worked outside the home.

     Characteristics of home-based workers:

  • In 2005, about 51 percent were female.
  • About 4 percent were age 15-24; nearly 18 percent were 25-34; 26 percent were 35-44; 26 percent were 45-54; 18 percent were 55-64 and nearly 9 percent were 65 and older.
  • White non-Hispanics made up about 82 percent of this workforce; blacks represented about 6 percent, Asians nearly 4 percent, and all other races about 3 percent. Hispanics, who could be of any race, made up about 6 percent.
  • About 47 percent of those who worked at home had at least a bachelor's degree; almost 32 percent had at least some college; about 17 percent had a high school diploma; and about 5 percent had less than a high school diploma.
The Survey of Income and Program Participation produces national-level estimates for the U.S. resident population and subgroups, and allows for the observation of trends over time, particularly of selected characteristics, such as income, eligibility for and participation in transfer programs, household and family composition, labor force behavior and other associated events.

As in all surveys, these data are subject to sampling and nonsampling error. For further information on the source of the data and accuracy of the estimates, including standard errors and confidence intervals, go to <>.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Public Information Office | | Last Revised: September 09, 2014