Employment and Jobs

Employee Ownership and ESOPs: What We Know from Recent Research

August 11, 2023  • Joseph Blasi & Douglas Kruse

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Employee ownership has a long and important tradition in the US. Today, approximately 18% of employees have some form of ownership stake in the company where they work. Employees participating in ownership in the US do so through a variety of means, including employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs), equity compensation programs, worker-owned cooperatives, and employee-owned trusts (EOTs). About 10.1 million employees participate in ESOPs, and an estimated 11.8 million employees participate in different combinations of equity compensation plans, including grants of restricted stock, stock options, and employee stock purchase plans. Estimates show that approximately 10,000 workers are employed in between 900 and 1,000 worker-owned cooperatives, and an estimated 13,000-60,000 employees are employed by 31 EOTs.

In this short brief, released in conjunction with the Employee Ownership Ideas Forum, we provide some updated statistics and analysis regarding workers’ participation in employee ownership plans and the wealth and job quality benefits those workers realize from their participation. ESOPs are the most common form of broad-based employee share ownership in the US, and, likely for that reason, there is more robust data related to ESOPs. For these reasons, this brief focuses primarily on workers who participate in ESOPs.

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