work spans a wide range. A membership research organization that counts hundreds of private and public corporations as members, the Conference Board conducts lines of research in economics, labor markets, human capital, and other topic areas important to businesses. Levanon noted that the ACS is a fairly recent discovery for the Conference Board but that it has already factored significantly into several projects; like many other users, awareness of the ACS data—and the availability of those data in sufficiently fine-grained form—really came about with the release of the first 5-year ACS estimates and the PUMS files. Like previous speakers, Levanon said that—prior to the ACS—his analyses depended heavily on the Current Population Survey (CPS); also like previous speakers, he has found the ACS’s sample size relative to the CPS makes a lot of things possible analytically that could not be done before. In his workshop comments, Levanon said that he would review three Conference Board projects relying on ACS data—one still in progress—as case studies.
First, he described analysis that the Conference Board has done on teleworking—working from home. The ACS question on mode of transportation to get to work includes “worked at home” as a response option,7 which permits study of people who usually telework (even though the analysis might omit people who occasionally telework). Other ACS questions and variables allow the analysis to get as close to the teleworking community as possible—including full-time workers who work for some employers and excluding those who are self-employed.8 ACS data (including the not-yet-full-scale collection between 2000 and 2005) suggest that the overall percentage of people who primarily work from home roughly doubled over the past decade, even though the percentage is very small—from roughly 1 percent in 2000 to just over 2 percent in 2010. Levanon explained that this overall percentage presents a distorted view because it includes a lot of people with occupations where the telework percentage is essentially (or necessarily) zero; to wit, elementary school teachers cannot primarily work from home by nature of the job, linked to the workplace (the school). Still, the overall percentage does suggest an escalating trend; growth seems to have been particularly rapid in the last 5 years relative to earlier in the decade.
7Person Question 31 on the 2012 ACS questionnaire asks “How did this person usually get to work LAST WEEK?” and permits the respondent to check multiple responses from the following: car, truck, or van; bus or trolley bus; streetcar or trolley car; subway or elevated; railroad; ferryboat; taxicab; motorcycle; bicycle; walked; worked at home; and other method. Answering “worked at home” routes the respondent to Question 39a, skipping over questions on commute time and unemployment/layoffs. Person Question 30 also asks “At what location did this person work LAST WEEK?,” and that location could presumably be compared with the housing unit address.
8Person Question 41 on the 2012 ACS questionnaire asks about the nature of each person’s current or most recent job activity, including two self-employed categories (depending on whether the person’s business is incorporated or not incorporated) as options; responses for different classes of private- and public-sector employment (e.g., work for a private nonprofit organization or for a state government) are also permitted.