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Surveying the Landscape

The Families and Work Institute released its 2002 National Study of the Changing Workforce today. Surveying large, nationally representative samples of employed workers every five years, it is the only study of its kind to provide 25-year comparisons, from 1977 to 2002, of life on and off the job. The 2002 report addresses women in the workforce, dual earner couples, the role of technology, work-life support, and free agency.

Among the highlights:

  • Women are more likely to work as managers or professionals than men (38% of women versus 28% of men) and are better educated, with 62% of women versus 56% of men having completed four-year college or some post-secondary education.
  • Fathers in dual-earner couples today spend 42 minutes more doing household chores on workdays than fathers in 1977. Mothers have reduced their time by approximately the same amount. The combined time that spouses in dual-earner couples with children spend on household chores has not changed over 25 years — what has changed is how family work is divided.
  • Nearly two thirds of wage and salaried workers use computers for their jobs daily. Employees who experience the most spillover from their jobs into their home lives rely most heavily on technology to stay in touch with friends and family.
  • Employees with families report significantly higher levels of interference between their jobs and their family lives than employees 25 years ago (45% vs. 34% report this “some” or “a lot”). And men with families report higher levels of interference between their jobs and their family lives than women in the same situation.
  • One in five employed people work for themselves. 30% of those workers are small business owners, and 70% are self-employed independents — or free agents.

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