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Report Number P70-78
Jeffrey J. Kuenzi and Clara A. Reschovsky
Component ID: #ti1835399237


Efforts to describe the American econcomy of the last quarter century have generated terms such as post-industrial, service-oriented, information-based, and more recently, a plethora of e-terminology. These terms capture not onlly technological advances, but als economic and social changes that have transformed our way of life — both at work and at home. Were these changes also accompanied by a blurring of the line between the workplace and home as many observers forecasted? One way to address this question is to look at the growth of home-based employment and the characteristics of people who work at home.

Since the mid-1980s, the U.S. Census Bureau has added work-at-home questions to several of its on-going surveys.1 In addition, numerous proprietary studies have recently been conducted on home-based work.2 However, because of the novelty and informality of the notion of home-based employment, reliable estimates of the size and composition of this workforce are difficult to obtain.

The data presented in this report are taken from a nationally representative survey containing items specifically aimed at estimating the number of people who work at least 1 full day at home during a typical workweek. To assess the extent of home-based work, the Census Bureau administered a supplement in the fourth interview of the 1996 panel of the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP). This supplement, fielded from April 1997 to July 1997, included the Work Schedule Topical Module.3 One of the goals of this module was to capture work done at home instead of at another location.

Component ID: #ti1025186681

1 These efforts are nicely summarized in Joanne H. Pratt, Counting the New Mobile Workforce, U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics, 1997.

2 For examples of these surveys, see Patricia L. Mokhtarian and Dennis K. Henderson, “Analyzing the Travel Behavior of Home-Based Workers in the 1991 CAL-TRANS Statewide Travel Survey,” Journal of Transportation Statistics, October, 1998.

3 This supplement was first added to the 1993 panel — tables comparable to those in this report are available at, under the topic “working at home.”

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