In August, I blogged about what appeared to be a growing trend among small businesses: the use of Amish workers. As a result of a number of factors, among them: a growing population and a dearth of available cheap farmland, members of this strict, conservative Christian group have been moving away from traditional Amish ventures such as farming for a number of jobs in the non-Amish world. Many small businesses in such sectors as construction, furniture making, and food, have seen an uptick in both the use of Amish as well as Amish entrepreneurs founding their own businesses in these areas. Today’s NYT has a fairly substantial piece examining this interesting shift and its implications for a community that has largely isolated itself from the modern world for centuries and now largely because of economic factors, must find some kind of accommodation with the twenty-first century. It’s well worth a read. In the article, Donald B. Kraybill, a professor and senior fellow at the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies at Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania estimates that among the 400 different Amish communities more than half now earn most of their income from small businesses and in some cases that number is as high as 90 percent.
“For the Amish community in North America, the move from farming to small business is really a mini-industrial revolution.”
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