Source: The National Center for Employee Ownership
ESOPs (employee stock ownership plans) are stock bonus plans qualified to borrow money; otherwise, the two types of plans are very similar. Estimating the number of ESOP companies, participants, and the assets they hold is limited by the availability and quality of data collected by the US Department of Labor through Form 5500.
The NCEO has revised its estimates for the number of ESOPs, using a consistent and conservative method across each plan filing year from 1999 on (earlier estimates use a different combination of methods). You may have seen somewhat different numbers in prior years, but we believe this new technique is both more conservative and more accurate. The current method begins with all available 5500 records. The NCEO cleaned the data in as many ways as possible by searching for missing data, removing companies that appear to have inactive ESOPs, and removing records with obvious errors. We erred on the side of making the most conservative estimate we were comfortable with, especially with regard to the number of plans.
Link: A Statistical Profile of Employee Ownership
Publication Date: 2009-02-01