This 24-page full-color booklet features compelling stories, research results, and easy-access explanations of employee ownership and its potential to make our economy better. Written by veteran author and NCEO board member John Case, Employee Ownership: Building a Better American Economy speaks to employees, business owners, policymakers, and everyone else interested in learning what employee ownership looks like in real life. The NCEO welcomes you to circulate the booklet to anyone you think might benefit from a powerful introduction to employee ownership. The booklet is discounted to $1.75 each for quantities of 50 or more. Contact us at [email protected] to order at an additional discount if buying 180 or more.

You can download the PDF version at no cost (4.7 MB).

This booklet is now available in Spanish for all NCEO members. Click here for the new translation and more Spanish-language resources.

Additional Resources for Readers

You can also dig deeper into the ideas and statistics in the booklet. The links below can help.

To learn more about how ESOPs work for business owners:

How an Employee Stock Ownership Plan Works

Using an Employee Stock Ownership Plan for Business Continuity

To see videos on ESOPs:

A Visual Guide to Employee Ownership video area

For a summary of the research on employee ownership:

Key Studies on Employee Ownership and Corporate Performance

For information on the impact of employee ownership on employees:

Ownership Economy

Are ESOPs Good Retirement Plans?

Key NCEO publications

An Introduction to ESOPs

Understanding ESOPs

Selling Your Business to an ESOP

Product Details

Saddle-stitched, 24 pages
11 x 8.5 inches
(December 2017)
In stock

Table of Contents

What Employee Ownership Means
A Powerful Everyday Reality
PROFILE: How It Works at Polyguard
PROFILES: W. L. Gore & Associates | Davey Tree Expert Company
PROFILES: Kapco Global | Cooperative Home Care Associates
Employee-Owned Companies Are Everywhere...and in Every Industry
PROFILE: The ESOPs of Huntsville
Where Did They All Come From? Employee Ownership, American Style
A National Treasure
PROFILE: Publix Super Markets
ESOP Nuts and Bolts
What It Means to Be an Owner
PROFILE: Hypertherm
Selling Your Business to an ESOP
PROFILE: Butler/Till
How to Encourage Employee Ownership
PROFILE: Web Industries


Many companies find ways to provide their employees with stock in the business. Some include shares or options in an employee’s compensation. Others let employees buy stock at a discount.

But in the United States, the most common form of employee ownership by far is an employee stock ownership plan, or ESOP. It’s a kind of trust that enables workers as a group to own part or all of the business. You’ll learn how an ESOP works later in this booklet.

Right now, close to 7,000 U.S. companies have an ESOP. These companies employ about 11 million people—roughly 9% of private-sector workers. Estimates indicate that employees own all the stock in about 2,000 of these companies.

You probably encounter employee ownership companies every day, often without knowing it. Maybe you shop at Publix supermarkets (see page 15) or Wawa convenience stores, or wear outdoor gear waterproofed with Gore-Tex fabric. Perhaps you enjoy a Fat Tire or a Harpoon beer, snack on a Clif Bar, and bake with King Arthur Flour or Bob’s Red Mill products.

If you’ve ever worked in heavy construction or civil engineering, you’re probably familiar with big companies like Parsons, Burns & McDonnell, and Black & Veatch. Manufacturers will likely recognize enterprises such as Amsted Industries, SRC Holdings, Hypertherm (page 19), and Web Industries (page 23). Employee ownership companies all.

A few of these companies are huge. Publix, for instance, has nearly 200,000 employees. Some are small, with only a couple dozen people on the payroll. Most are in the midsize range, with anywhere from 25 to a few thousand employees.

The U.S. Congress created ESOPs back in the 1970s specifically to encourage employee ownership, and they’re pretty amazing. When a company owner sells to an ESOP, the sellers get full value for their stock, and employees as a group get an ownership stake in the company. Eventually employees may come to own all its stock. Yet it doesn’t cost them a nickel. (We’ll explain how it works on pages 16–17.)