The informal economy, meaning employment and production that operate outside the regulatory and tax systems, tends to be overlooked in U.S. policy discussions. When it is considered, it is often viewed in terms of black market (i.e., criminal and illegal) activities, undocumented immigrants, or white-collar tax evasion. Beyond these stereotypes, millions of workers are in various informal employment arrangements performing activities not otherwise criminal in nature. This brief presents background information on the informal sector and policy options that could improve economic conditions for low-wage informal workers and their families.
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