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Employee Ownership and Economic Well-Being

By May 23, 2017No Comments

We are delighted to share with you a fantastic new study conducted by NCEO research director Nancy Wiefek, PhD, that examines data on workers aged 28 to 34 and finds that the employee-owners simply are economically better off than their non-employee-owner peers. What’s new in these findings is the connection between employee ownership and the fortunes of individual workers: for example, the employee-owners in the study have 92% greater median household net wealth than the non-employee-owners.

Another groundbreaking aspect of this paper is that the dataset is powerful enough to allow analysis in a US context of demographic groups that no one has been able to study before with regard to employee ownership. The strongly positive patterns of economic benefit extend to groups such as those without college educations, parents of young children, people of color, and single mothers. At a time when US tax policy is uncertain and people are searching for ways to create broader economic opportunity, I invite you to learn more about the results. If you would like to make use of them, the NCEO has generously agreed that IPSA can share links to ready-to-use resources which are available at the bottom of this post.

Research overview

This new research is the first phase of an ongoing project using data collected on workers aged 28 to 34 in the National Longitudinal Surveys. It compares workers with employee ownership benefits to those without, and finds that those in the employee ownership group have

  • 92% higher median household wealth,
  • 33% higher income from wages, and
  • 53% longer median job tenure.

The underlying data source for this report is an ongoing, nationally representative panel study sponsored by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The nearly nine thousand participants were 28 to 34 years old at their latest interview. The data source’s large size and design allows for examining demographic subsets of young workers. For workers with young children, for example, the employee ownership advantage translates into median household wealth nearly twice that of those without employee ownership, nearly one full year of increased job stability, and $10,000 more in annual wages.

The non-college graduates in the study have 83% greater median household wealth than comparable non-employee-owners. Employee-owners of color in this data have 30% higher income from wages. Lower-wage employee-owners are 3.6 times as likely as comparable non-employee-owners to have a tuition reimbursement benefit from their employer. These relationships persist across demographic groups, over time, and in statistical models that control for other demographic factors. Over-time analysis demonstrates that the two groups start out at the same modest level of wealth. Multivariate regression analysis shows that employee ownership is significantly related to higher wages after controlling for other strong predictors, including education, race, gender, and marital status.

Learn more

The site is dedicated exclusively to this research. It has the full research report, stories of employee-owners, and highlights from the data. The NCEO will release more results on that site as they become available.


You are welcome to share this research with others at your company, with journalists, with policy-makers, and anyone else who should know! The NCEO has a press kit and other resources to make it easy, and more will be following soon.


This project was funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, as part of a $200,000 grant covering the period from May 1, 2015, to March 31, 2017.