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October 1982, Vol. 105, No. 10
Unpaid family workers:
long-term decline continues
Patricia A. Daly
For more than 30 years, the total number of persons working without pay in family businesses has dwindled to a point that, by 1981, was less than half of the 1950 total. At 650,000, unpaid family workers accounted for less than 1 percent of total employment in 1981, down from almost 3 percent in 1950.
Historically, the vast majority of unpaid family workers had been in the agricultural sector, but there are now fewer unpaid family workers in agriculture than in other industries. Unpaid family workers accounted for one-sixth of farm employment in 1950, but for less than one-tenth in 1981. The largest numerical decline occurred between 1960 and 1970, a decade which experienced dramatic declines in total agricultural employment. Although the number of unpaid family workers in nonagricultural industries has fluctuated in the last 30 years, the levels for 1950 and 1981 were virtually the same at about 400,000, a very small share of nonfarm employment. (See table 1.)
This article is the first by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to examine and analyze the available data on unpaid family workers. The group, although numerically small, exhibits some interesting characteristics and reflects some of the widespread changes in the work force and the economy.
This excerpt is from an article published in the October 1982 issue of the Monthly Labor Review. The full text of the article is available in Adobe Acrobat's Portable Document Format (PDF). See How to view a PDF file for more information.
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