Census Report Shows Steady Increase in Home-Based Workers

In 2010, 4.2 million more people worked at home than a decade before, according to a report released October 4 by the U.S. Census Bureau.

“Home-Based Workers in the United States: 2010” contains findings from the Survey of Income and Program Participation and the American Community Survey. According to the income survey, the number of people who worked at home at least one day per week increased from 9.5 million in 1999 to 13.4 million in 2010, growing from 7 percent to 9.5 percent of all workers.

The largest increase occurred between 2005 and 2010, when the share grew from 7.8 percent to 9.5 percent of all workers, an increase of more than 2 million people.

The survey revealed that median household income was significantly higher for mixed workers, those who worked both from home and at a location outside of the home. They had a median household income of $96,300, compared with $74,000 for home workers and $65,600 for onsite workers.

According to the American Community Survey, 5.8 million people, or 4.3 percent of the U.S. workforce, worked the majority of the week at home in 2010. This is an increase of about 1.6 million since 2000.

Estimates from the 2010 American Community Survey indicate that the Boulder, Colorado, metropolitan area had among the highest percent of workers who worked from home most of the week, with 10.9 percent, followed by Medford, Oregon (8.4 percent); Santa Fe, New Mexico (8.3 percent); Kingston, New York (8.1 percent); and Santa Rosa-Petaluma, California (7.9 percent).

The survey suggested that although nearly half of home-based workers were self-employed, government workers saw the largest increase in home-based work over the last decade. Home-based workers increased by 133 percent among state government workers and 88 percent among federal government workers. There was a 67 percent increase in home-based work for employees of private companies.

“As communication and information technologies advance, we are seeing that workers are increasingly able to perform work at home,” said Peter Mateyka, a Census Bureau analyst and one of the authors of the report. “These changes in work patterns have both economic and social implications. Researchers and policy makers, including those in the fields of technology, transportation, employment, planning, and housing, will find this report helpful in future transportation and community planning as well as technological trends.”

Other highlights:

  • About 10 percent of those who worked exclusively from home were age 65 or older in 2010.
  • About 25 percent of home-based workers were in management, business, and financial occupations.
  • Home-based workers in computer, engineering, and science occupations increased by 69 percent between 2000 and 2010.
  • Mondays and Fridays were the most popular days to work at home for those who work both at home and at another location.
  • Metro areas in the Southeast, Southwest, and West had the largest percentage of workers who worked from home.

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