US Worker Cooperatives: A State of the Sector

Worker cooperatives have increasingly drawn attention from the media, policy makers and academics in recent years. Individual cooperatives across the country have been highlighted, and substantive studies have been conducted of the worker cooperative experience in other countries, including Spain, Italy, France, Canada and Argentina. But what do we know about worker cooperatives in the US as a whole? Given the limited data available, the Democracy at Work Institute conducted a national survey of worker cooperative firms to start to answer some basic questions and lay the groundwork for future longitudinal studies.

To our knowledge, this is the first nationwide survey to solely target worker cooperatives. We used publicly available data to identify basic information about 256 worker cooperatives operating in the US in 2013 (due to lack of a central registry and recent rapid growth, this is likely an undercount). 109 of these cooperatives then submitted substantial responses to our survey questions. The data set represents a combination of these two sources. For each survey question the exact number of cooperatives with available data varies, as the response rate for each question differed. Below are some key questions addressed by their responses.

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