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Copyright 2004

CBS.MarketWatch.com

October 20, 2004

BYLINE: Andrea Coombes

 

The one-minute commute

U.S. Census: Home-based work force grows 23 percent

 

If you're reading this as you work from home, you're not alone -- and more of your neighbors are likely doing the same. The number of nearly full-time home-based workers, both telecommuters and small-business owners, rose sharply in the past decade, likely as a result of advances in technology, the U.S. Census Bureau reported Wednesday.

 

Americans working from home three days a week or more rose 23 percent over the decade ending in 2000, according to a new analysis of a census question asking Americans how they commute to work.

 

About 4.2 million people worked almost full-time from home in 2000, up from 3.4 million in 1990. The number of home-based workers grew at a rate nearly double the 12 percent growth rate of the overall work force in that time.

 

"In the last couple of decades there's been a growth in technology which has allowed people to do more traditional office jobs at home, rather than in a traditional office setting," said Clara Reschovsky, a Census Bureau demographer. "We're going on the assumption that is what allowed the increase to happen."

 

From 1960 to 1970, a decline in family farms helped drive a 42 percent drop in at-home workers. The decade spanning 1970 to 1980 saw a further 19 percent drop, but then things turned around, with a 56 percent gain in the number of at-home workers through the 1980s, followed by the 23 percent gain in the 1990s.

 

In 2000, more than 31 percent of at-home workers were company employees, while about 46 percent were self-employed in an unincorporated business. Another 12 percent were self-employed in an incorporated company. Fifty-three percent of the at-home workers were women.

 

A 'bit of change' since 2000 means many more at-home workers The recession may well have prompted more people to start home-based businesses, plus additional technological advances mean even more striking growth in the number of at-home workers from 2000 to the present. "It's fair to say there has been a bit of change in that time period," said Robert Smith, Jr., executive director of the International Telework Association and Council, or ITAC.

 

"When you think just of the changes in technology, with broadband being more accessible in the home, we're finding that has changed quite importantly the dynamics of working at home. It provides the home worker with many of the same tools at home that they could have at their employers' office," Smith said.

 

Plus, more workers now can access their work computer's desktop from anywhere, he said. The development of "secure capabilities to access your employer's computer system has really changed the dynamics of all this."

 

The number of telecommuters working from home "almost every day" rose to more than 12 million this year, from almost 9 million last year, according to a survey released last month by ITAC and The Dieringer Research Group.

 

The ITAC survey also found more than 8 million teleworkers used broadband at home, an 84 percent rise from the 4.4 million who did so last year.

 

Also, the Census survey focuses on Americans who work three days a week or more at home, thus overlooking the many who telecommute less often.

 

The number of telecommuters working from home during business hours "at least one day a month" rose to 24 million, from 23.5 million last year, according to the ITAC survey.

 

Looking for more statistics on the Virtual Assistance industry?

 

Visit Brenner Books for the most current survey.

 

 

 

 

   

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