WASHINGTON -- More than 21 million Americans did some work at home as part of their primary jobs last year, the Labor Department reported Wednesday.
About half were salaried or hourly workers who were not paid for their effort, the report said. The rest were either self-employed or salaried or hourly workers who were compensated.
The findings are from a supplement to the May 1997 Current Population Survey, a poll of the nation's labor force. The last similar report the department compiled was in May 1991, and since then the number of people doing job-related work at home increased by 1.5 million. And the number who were paid it almost doubled.
In 1997, 3.6 million salaried and hourly workers received special pay for work they did at home. Only 1.9 million were compensated in 1991.
The number of people who simply "took work home from the office" last year without extra pay was 11.1 million, a slight dip from 12.2 million six years ago. Employees in the service and manufacturing industries were most likely to take work home with them and not get paid for it -- teachers most of all.
Women and men were equally likely to work at home. In general, more than 70 percent of people doing job-related work at home came from married households, both with and without children. The report also showed that whites were more than twice as likely to be involved in some type of home-based work as blacks or Hispanics.
About six in 10 people who worked at home last year used a computer for their work, the report said. Paid home workers were more likely to use a modem for their work than unpaid home workers.
Labor Secretary Alexis Herman released a statement saying the survey shows how technology has given people "more flexibility in structuring their hours to meet the challenges of balancing work and family." She complained, however, that more than half those doing work at home received no pay for it.