Depending on whose statistics you read, there are somewhere between 23.3 million and 34.7 million households in the US that have people who work at home either as part of their primary job or for a second job.
In a study released in March, 1998, the US Department of Labor (DOL) reports there were 23.3 million people who did some work at home in 1997. However, the DOL says that more than half of those people were wage and salary workers who were not paid expressly for the time worked at home. According to their figures, only 4.1 million of the at-home workers were self-employed, and only 3.6 million were telecommuters who were paid for the hours they worked at home.
The market research company, IDC/LINK, has a somewhat different view of the home office scene. In a report published at the end of December 1997, they put the number of home offices at 34.7 million. Of those, IDC/LINK says, 20.7 million were used to earn income from either full-time or part-time self-employment.
While there is considerable variation between the two sets of statistics, the fact remains that working at home - either in self-employment or as a telecommuter - is a trend that's here to stay. And it's most prevalent among married couples.
According to studies published in 1997 by the US Department of labor, more than 70 percent of persons who did some work at home in 1997 were in married-couple families. It isn't just women with kids to take care of who are working at home. The DOL study shows that women and men were about equally likely to work at home and that the work-at-home rate for married parents was about the same as the rate for married persons without children. Whites were more than twice as likely to be engaged in some form of home-based work as either blacks or Hispanics.
The same study shows that just under 60 percent of those who worked at home in 1997 used computers. Among wage and salary workers, computer use was about the same for those who were paid for work done at home (63.3 percent) as for those doing unpaid work at home (61.6 percent). Paid home workers were more likely to use a modem for their work at home (43.2 percent) than were unpaid home workers (32.8 percent). Also, 23.2 percent of paid home workers used a telephone line that was furnished by their employer. Only 54.4 percent of self-employed home workers used a computer for work done at home.