Core Research


The US Federation of Worker Cooperatives and the Democracy at Work Institute invite you to participate in our annual Worker Co-op Enterprise Census to study the economic and social benefits of worker cooperatives. This is an opportunity to contribute to a major, ongoing research that will not only help shape the future for worker cooperatives in the US, it will also help us to show off just the strong, meaningful, and rapid growth of our sector. When we know more about how our individual workplaces compare to each other and to traditional firms, it allows us share our successes and support each other.


All reporting of results will remain absolutely confidential ando single business will be identifiable in the census results, so no need to worry. If you have any questions about the census and the information we are gathering, you can reach out to Ana Martina to ana [at] or Tim Palmer to tpalmer [at] Why is this important??

§  You’ll be able to see how your cooperative experience compares to other worker cooperatives and traditional firms, and each participant will receive a digital copy of the report. Knowledge and public awareness about worker cooperatives will grow. We are at a crucial time where people are beginning to look for real, workable solutions — this census allows us to share our movement with the wider world.

§  It will be easier to gain policy support. Hard numbers will help us to  increase policy support, funding and technical assistance resources for worker cooperatives across the country.

§  Huge savings on membership to the U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives. For worker cooperatives that are not yet members of the USFWC,, we are offering 50% off of your membership dues through June 2018 upon completion of this survey. Membership gives you access to vital benefits like access dental coverage, referrals, peer networking, and *starting next year* access to vision insurance coverage.

Responses are due  November 24th, 2017.

Our ambitious hope is to amass information about  70% of known worker cooperatives, giving us a true understanding of the sector.Please help us meet this goal! A member of our survey team will follow up by phone with your workplace to support you to complete the survey.  



The Worker Co-op Individual Census is the first national study of worker cooperatives from the perspective of individual employees and worker-owners. It is a major new research project of The Democracy at Work Institute in partnership with the U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives and researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

This study will further our collective work to build the field, advocate for worker co-ops in the political arena, and serve our grassroots members. Our movement has spent years telling stories about how democratic worker ownership impacts people's lives, and this is DAWI's first effort to tell that story with high-quality empirical data that represents the entire spectrum of workplace experiences and attitudes across the country.

The Worker Co-op Census builds on the 2010 Shared Capitalism at Work study by Joseph Blasi, Douglas Kruse, and Richard Freeman that documented how employee ownership through employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs) and profit sharing is associated with higher job quality, lower turnover, and more involvement in management decisions. We suspect this association is even stronger in cooperatives that pair worker ownership with democratic governance—but we need the data to prove it.

The study will roll out in two phases.

  • The research team has invited individuals at worker cooperatives across the country to participate in a brief, confidential survey about their workplace experiences and attitudes. Responses will be aggregated across all participants and no individual or workplace will be identifiable in the results.
  • A small group of employees and worker-owners are invited to participate in qualitative face-to-face interviews and draw out key themes in the quantitative data. Again, all individuals and workplaces will remain anonymous.

For more information, please check out Frequently Asked Questions (English & Español) about the Worker Co-op Census.

If you are interested in using the final dataset in your own research, please contact our Study Director, Laura Hanson Schlachter, at census [at] or (608) 262-9588.