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Fifteen Million Americans Work for Themselves

Jake Wilson is one of 15 million Americans who work for themselves. He is owner of Top Class Lawn Care, on the job last month in Kansas City, Missouri. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
Jake Wilson is one of 15 million Americans who work for themselves. He is owner of Top Class Lawn Care, on the job last month in Kansas City, Missouri. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
15 Million Americans Work for Themselves
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About 15 million people in the United States work for themselves.

That finding comes from the Pew Research Center, a not-for-profit research group. The center prepared a report on the kind of work Americans do and the wages they receive.

Pew found that the 15 million people who work for themselves are not always working alone -- even if they do not report to someone else. They often employ people to help them do their work, the report said.

In 2015, Pew reported that millennials, people from 18 to 34 years old, became the largest age group in the U.S. workforce. Millennials replaced Generation Xers, aged 35 to 50 -- as the largest age group.

Pew also reported that women earn 83 percent as much as men. But younger women come closer to pay equity. Women aged 25 to 34 earn 91 percent as much as men, the report said.

Also releasing employment information this month was Project Time Off, a group based in Washington, D.C. The group argues that people should take time off from work both for employees' well-being and more success in the workplace.

An employee who takes time off is not only more rested, but more productive, Project Time Off said.

But the group reported that in 2015 more than half of American workers did not use up all their vacation time. These Americans left 658 million vacation days unused, it said.

Millennials, aged 18 to 34, are the least likely generation of workers to take a paid holiday, the group said. And they generally earn fewer vacation days than older workers.

Another report found that nearly 9 percent of American businesses with paid workers are less than two years old. That information comes from the U.S. Census Bureau.

A much smaller percentage, about 3 percent, has been in business for 16 years or longer, the Census Bureau said.

The report suggests it is easier to open up a business than to keep it going for many years.

The Pew Research Center’s report provided lots of other information about American workers. Among its findings:

  • The difference in wages between young workers with college degrees and those with less education is the biggest in years. Pew said college graduates, aged 24 to 34 and working full time, now earn about $20,000 more a year than young adults without a college degree.
  • Fewer teenagers are working in the summer now compared to the 1990s. In 2014, 32.3 percent of U.S. teenagers had paid jobs in the summer, compared to rates over 40 percent in the 1990s.
  • But older adults are working more. In May, 18.8 percent of Americans aged over 65 were working. In 2000, the percentage was 12.8 percent.

I’m ​Bruce Alpert.

Bruce Alpert reported this story for VOA Learning English. ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­George Grow was the editor.

We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section and share your views on our Facebook Page. Tell us about your job. Does your boss treat you fairly?


Words in this Story

millennials - n. young people who finished high school in 2000 or later

equity - n. meaning that people are treated and paid the same way, regardless of gender or race

vacation – n. the days for which an employer agrees to pay workers while they are not working; a period that a person spends away from work