American Time Use Survey (ATUS)

Other federal data collections exist that, although not specifically designed to measure entrepreneurial activity, may eventually be useful. One example is BLS’s recently launched ATUS. The ATUS includes data on time spent working, sleeping, shopping, volunteering, participating in leisure activities, etc. It also includes self-employment identifiers and data on hours worked. In addition to its time diary, the ATUS collects demographic and labor force information, as well as summary questions on child care activities, paid work activities, and absences from home (Frazis and Stewart, 2004).

The ATUS diary can be used to assess the validity of claims that household surveys overstate hours worked (Robinson and Bostrom, 1994). A comparison of data on hours worked from the CPS and the ATUS (2003 data) provides some support for this claim. The average number of weekly hours worked estimated from the ATUS fell in the 37.3 to 37.9 range—depending on which work-related activities are included—relative to about 39 hours reported in the CPS (Frazis and Stewart, 2004). One possible explanation is that hours worked during CPS reference weeks (the week including the 12th of the month) are higher than nonreference weeks. In fact, in their comparison work, Frazis and Stewart found that “estimates of actual hours worked from the CPS are very close to (ATUS) time-diary estimates for the CPS reference week.” In other research, Song (2005) and Eldridge and Pabilonia (2005) used ATUS data to investigate the incidence of people working at home and its relation to pay status and length of hours worked. ATUS data can also be used to compare how self-employed workers spend their time relative to wage and salary workers. However, “work” itself is a black box category, and not much can currently be done to measure specific entrepreneurial activities.

The American Community Survey (ACS)

The Census Bureau’s ACS will generate household-based data that will also be useful for studying self-employment trends. Question 35 of the survey asks respondents about their current or most recent job activity—specifically, whether the person was “an employee of a private for profit company; an employee of a private not for profit, tax-exempt, or charitable organization; a local government employee; a state government employee; a federal government employee; self-employed in own not incorporated business, professional practice, or farm; self-employed in own incorporated business, professional practice or farm; working without pay in a family business or farm.” Question 41 asks for “self-employment income from own non-farm business or farm business, including

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001

Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement