U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Work At Home Technical Note
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These data and other information on work at home were obtained from a
supplement to the May 2004 Current Population Survey (CPS). The CPS is
a monthly sample survey of about 60,000 households conducted by the U.S.
Census Bureau for the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), principally to
gather information on employment and unemployment for the nation. Respon-
dents to the May 2004 supplement answered questions about work schedules,
job-related work at home, and other related topics. The data in this
release pertain to workers who did some job-related work at home on their
primary job in nonagricultural industries.
Information in this release will be made available to sensory impaired
individuals upon request. Voice phone: 202-691-5200; TDD message referral
phone number: 1-800-877-8339.
Reliability of the estimates
Statistics based on the CPS are subject to both sampling and nonsampling
error. When a sample, rather than the entire population, is surveyed, there
is a chance that the sample estimates may differ from the "true" population
values they represent. The exact difference, or sampling error, varies de-
pending on the particular sample selected, and this variability is measured
by the standard error of the estimate. There is about a 90-percent chance,
or level of confidence, that an estimate based on a sample will differ by
no more than 1.6 standard errors from the "true" population value because
of sampling error. BLS analyses are generally conducted at the 90-percent
level of confidence.
The CPS data also are affected by nonsampling error. Nonsampling error
can occur for many reasons, including the failure to sample a segment of
the population, inability to obtain information for all respondents in the
sample, inability or unwillingness of respondents to provide correct infor-
mation, and errors made in the collection or processing of the data.
For a full discussion of the reliability of data from the CPS and infor-
mation on estimating standard errors, see the "Explanatory Notes and Estimates
of Error" section of Employment and Earnings.
The principal concepts used in connection with the work-at-home data are
described briefly below.
Work at home. Respondents were asked whether they do any of their
work at home as part of their primary job in nonagricultural industries.
Persons who worked at home at least once a week--referred to as those who
usually worked at home--are the focus of this report. Wage and salary
workers who worked at home were asked if they have a formal arrangement
with their employer to be paid for the work that they do at home, or if
they were just taking work home from the job.
Home-based business. Self-employed persons who usually worked at
home and whose business is run from home and no other location are
considered to have a home-based business. This includes all self-employed
persons in nonagricultural industries, whether or not their business is
incorporated who reported that they usually worked at home at least once
per week as part of their primary job.
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Data discussed in this release on job-related work at home were obtained
from the following questions:
As part of this job, do you do any of your work at home?
(Wage and salary workers only) Do you have a formal arrangement with your
employer to be paid for the work that you do at home, or were you just
taking work home from the job?
2. Taking work home
(Self-employed only) Do you run your business from home or some other
2. Some other location
How frequently do you work at home? (Interviewer reads all.)
1. At least once a week
2. At least once every two weeks
3. At least once a month
4. Less than once a month
When you work at home, how many hours per week do you work at home for this
1. Hours: ___
2. It varies
Do you use any of the following equipment at home to do your work?
(Interviewer reads all.)
1. Computer, including laptop
2. E-mail or Internet access
4. Telephone, cell phone, or pager
5. Some other electronic or communication equipment
What is the main reason why you work at home? (Interviewer reads all.)
1. Finish or catch up on work
2. Business is conducted from home
3. Nature of the job
4. Coordinate work schedule with personal or family needs
5. Reduce commuting time or expense
6. Local transportation or pollution control program
7. Some other reason
Special notes on May 2004 work-at-home data
This release focuses on persons who worked at home at least once per
week on their primary job in nonagricultural industries. This group--
referred to as those who usually worked at home--totaled 20.7 million in
May 2004 and accounted for about four-fifths of all persons who responded
that they did job-related work at home. When persons who worked at home
less frequently are included (that is, at least once every 2 weeks, once
per month, or less than once per month), a total of 25.4 million workers
engaged in work at home to some degree in May 2004. Unpublished tabula-
tions of May 2004 data for all workers--not restricted by frequency of
work at home--are available upon request.
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Data in this release for May 2004 and May 2001 are not strictly com-
parable with earlier data on work at home. The May 2001 data in this
release have been revised to incorporate population controls from Census
2000. The revised data also reflect new industry and occupational classi-
fications, which affect the class of worker status--that is, the classifi-
cation of workers as either self-employed or wage and salary workers.
These changes affect comparability with 2001 estimates as originally pub-
lished in "Work at Home in 2001" (USDL 02-107, March 1, 2002). In addition,
changes in the wording of questions in 2001 affected comparability with data
collected in previous surveys. For a fuller discussion of these changes,
see the Technical Note of "Work at Home in 2001."
Last Modified Date: September 22, 2005