Topic Archives: Employment

Paid Leave Benefits When You Are Unable to Work

Many American workers have lost jobs or had their work hours reduced as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and response efforts. Many other workers still have jobs, but their work environment probably has changed since March. It’s reasonable to assume more people are working from home now than the 29 percent we reported who could work at home in 2017–18. At BLS we are still working to provide you with the latest economic data and analysis, but nearly all of us are now working from home, instead of in our offices.

Still, there are many jobs that just can’t be done from home. In these challenging times, I know we all are grateful for the healthcare workers who are treating patients who have COVID-19 and other medical conditions. We’re grateful for our emergency responders and for the truck drivers, warehouse workers, delivery workers, and staff in grocery stores, pharmacies, and other retail establishments that provide us with the necessities of daily life. As much as I think of these men and women as superheroes, I know they are humans. Even extraordinary humans can get sick, or they may need to take care of family members who get sick. Let’s look at the leave benefits available to them if they need it.

According to our National Compensation Survey, 73 percent of private industry workers were covered by paid sick leave in 2019. Among state and local government workers, 91 percent were covered by paid sick leave. The availability of sick leave benefits varied by occupation, ranging from 94 percent of managers in private industry to 56 percent of workers in construction and extraction occupations.

The share with paid sick leave also varies by industry, pay level, size of establishment, and other characteristics of jobs and employers. The following chart shows sick leave availability for employers of different sizes.

Percent of workers in private industry with access to paid sick leave by establishment size, March 2019

Editor’s note: Data for this chart are available in the table below.

Paid sick leave plans commonly provide a fixed number of days per year. The number of days may vary by the worker’s length of service with the employer. The average in private industry in 2019 was 7 paid sick leave days.

Average number of paid sick leave days per year for workers in private industry, by length of service and establishment size, March 2019

Editor’s note: Data for this chart are available in the table below.

About half of workers with such a plan could carry over unused days from year to year.

We recently posted a new fact sheet on paid sick leave that provides even more detail.

In the past few years, some states and cities have mandated that certain employers provide their workers with paid sick leave. We include these mandated plans in our data on paid leave. A Federal law passed in March 2020 requires paid sick leave for certain workers affected by COVID-19.

In addition to paid sick leave, some employers offer a short-term disability insurance plan when employees can’t work because of illness. These plans are sometimes called sickness and accident insurance plans. This was traditionally a blue-collar or union benefit, and it often replaces only a portion of an employee’s pay. In 2019, 42 percent of private industry workers had access to such a benefit. Like sick leave, the availability of short-term disability benefits varies widely across worker groups. Some states provide Temporary Disability Insurance plans that provide similar benefits.

While the National Compensation Survey asks employers what benefits they offer to workers, the American Time Use Survey recently asked workers whether paid leave is available from their employer and whether they used it. In 2017–18, two-thirds of workers had access to paid leave at their jobs. These data include information on age, sex, and other characteristics. For example, younger workers (ages 15–24) and older workers (age 65 and older) were less likely to have access to paid leave than were other workers.

Percent of workers with access to paid leave by age, 2017–18 averages

Editor’s note: Data for this chart are available in the table below.

While the survey did not ask workers to classify the type of leave, they were asked the reasons they could take leave. Of those with paid leave available, 94 percent could use it for their own illness or medical care, and 78 percent could use it for the illness or medical care of another family member.

I hope you and your loved ones remain healthy and are able to take care of each other in these challenging times. High-quality data will be vital in the public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic. High-quality data also will be vital for measuring the economic impact of the pandemic and recovery from it. My colleagues at BLS and our fellow U.S. statistical agencies remain on the job to provide you with gold standard data.

Percent of workers in private industry with access to paid sick leave by establishment size, March 2019
Establishment sizePercent

1–49 workers

64%

50–99 workers

68

100–499 workers

80

500 workers or more

89
Average number of paid sick leave days per year for workers in private industry, by length of service and establishment size, March 2019
Length of serviceAll establishments 1 to 49 workers50 to 99 workers100 to 499 workers500 workers or more

After 1 year

76678

After 5 years

77679

After 10 years

77779

After 20 years

77779
Percent of workers with access to paid leave by age, 2017–18 averages
AgePercent

Ages 15–24

35.4%

Ages 25–34

70.3

Ages 35–44

71.7

Ages 45–54

74.4

Ages 55–64

74.2

Age 65 and older

51.7

How We Collect Data When People Don’t Answer the Phone

I was asked recently how the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics can collect data these days when no one answers the telephone. A legitimate question and one we grapple with all the time. I had two answers – one related to data collection methods and one related to sources of data. I will elaborate here about both.

Beige wall phone with rotary dial

But first, do you remember the days before caller ID, when everyone answered the phone? If you were at home, the rotary phone, permanently attached to the kitchen wall, always rang during dinner.

If you were in the office, the phone probably had a row of clear plastic buttons at the bottom that would light up and flash. In either case, who was on the other end of the phone was a mystery until you answered. In those days, your friendly BLS caller could easily get through to you and ask for information.

Vintage office phone with rows of buttons

Fast forward to today’s world of smart phones and other mobile devices. Nobody talks on the phone anymore. Many phone calls are nuisances. A call from BLS might show up as Unknown Number, U.S. Government, or U.S. Department of Labor on your caller ID, or identified as potential spam. With the spread of “spoofing,” many people do not answer calls from numbers they don’t recognize. How do we get around these issues?

Data Collection

At BLS, we consider data collection as much an art as a science. Sure, our staff needs to be well-versed in the information they are collecting. But they also need to be salespersons, able to convince busy people to spend a few minutes answering key questions. Part of that art is making a connection. There are old-fashioned ways that still work, such as sending a letter or showing up at the door. And there are more modern techniques, such as email and text. We are nothing if not persistent.

Our data-collection techniques have been called “High Touch, High Tech.” We start by building a relationship—the High Touch step. BLS has a wide range of information that people and businesses can use to help make informed decisions. We can help you access that information, and we love to see survey respondents use BLS data they helped us produce. In return, we ask for some information from you. There’s where High Tech comes in. We continue to add flexibility to our data-collection toolkit. You can provide information in person, on paper, or on the phone. You also can email information or an encrypted file. Or you can access our online portal anytime and anywhere to provide information or upload a data file. We need your information, and we want to make providing that information as easy as possible.

For example, this chart shows the number of employer self-reports that we’ve received through our online portal over the past several years. Internet data collection has really taken off.

Editor’s note: Data for this chart are available in the table below.

Another data-collection strategy we use is asking businesses to allow us to get the information we need from their website. This might involve web scraping data or using an Application Programming Interface (API). We have had success showing businesses that we can get what we need from their website, often eliminating the need for them to compile data.

Alternative Data

Beyond these data-collection strategies, we are expanding efforts to get information from alternative sources, lessening our need to contact businesses and households. Some BLS programs, such as Local Area Unemployment Statistics, the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, and Productivity Studies, rely heavily on administrative data and information from other surveys. In these cases, there is little need to contact businesses or people directly.

Other BLS programs, such as the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and the Employment Cost Index (ECI), need to capture timely information. But there are alternatives that can complement direct data collection. The CPI, for example, has produced an experimental price index for new vehicles based on a file of vehicle purchase transactions provided by J.D. Power. Using information from sources like that may eventually lessen the need to have BLS employees contact vehicle dealerships. The ECI found that it was easier to capture employer premiums for unemployment insurance from state tax records than to ask employers.

Alternative data come in many forms, from government records, data aggregators, scanners, crowdsourcing, corporate data files, and many more. BLS is investing heavily in alternative data-collection techniques and alternative data sources. The High Touch and High Tech approach we use every day in our data-collection operations helps us to maximize data quality and minimize respondent burden and cost.

The telephone may go the way of the dinosaur, but that’s not stopping us from using every tool at our disposal to continue to produce gold standard data to inform your decisions.

Number of transactions with BLS internet data collection
YearNumber of transactions

2004

105,145

2005

148,754

2006

219,923

2007

534,555

2008

972,605

2009

1,544,795

2010

1,909,410

2011

2,322,540

2012

2,769,694

2013

3,236,376

2014

3,288,665

2015

3,554,639

2016

4,013,415

2017

4,513,297

2018

4,685,414

2019

4,868,939

Ensuring Security and Fairness in the Release of Economic Statistics

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics is the gold standard of accurate, objective, relevant, timely, and accessible statistical data, and I am committed to keeping it that way. As Commissioner, it is my obligation to do everything possible to protect the integrity of our data and to make sure everyone has equitable access to these data.

One step toward equitable access and data security is coming soon; on March 1, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) will eliminate all electronics from the lock-up facility where we allow members of the media to review economic releases and prepare news stories before the official release of the data. We are changing the procedures to better protect our statistical information from premature disclosure and to ensure fairness in providing our information to the public.

For many years the news media have helped BLS and the Employment and Training Administration (ETA) inform the public about our data. Since the mid-1980s, BLS and ETA have provided prerelease data access to news organizations under strict embargoes, known as “lock-ups.” We have provided this early access consistent with federal Statistical Policy Directives of the Office of Management and Budget. BLS uses the lock-up for several major releases each month, including the Employment Situation and Consumer Price Index. ETA uses the lock-up for the Unemployment Insurance Weekly Claims data. These economic data have significant commercial value and may affect the movement of commodity and financial markets upon release.

Because of technological advancements, the current lock-up procedure creates an unfair competitive advantage for lock-up participants who provide BLS data to trading companies. Today, the internet permits anyone in the world to obtain economic releases for themselves directly from the BLS or DOL websites. However, unlike media organizations with computer access in the current lock-up, others who use the data do not have up to 30 minutes before the official release to process the data. Their postings about the data may lag behind those released directly from the lock-up at official publication time, 8:30 a.m. Eastern. High-speed algorithmic trading technology now gives a notable competitive advantage to market participants who have even a few microseconds head start. To eliminate this advantage and further protect our data from inadvertent or purposeful prerelease, no computers or any other electronic devices will be allowed in the lock-up.

In recent years, BLS and ETA have devoted significant resources to introducing improved technologies that strengthen our infrastructure and ensure data are posted to the BLS or DOL websites immediately following the official release time.

We at BLS and ETA are committed to the principle of a level playing field—our data must be made available to all users at the same time. We are equally committed to protecting our data. We are now positioned to continue helping the media produce accurate stories about the data, while also ensuring that all parties, including the media, businesses, and the general public, will have equitable and timely access to our most sensitive data.

You can find more details about these changes in our notice to lock-up participants. We also have a set of questions and answers about the changes to the lock-up procedures.

Meet Our New Science and Technology Fellow at BLS

Samantha Tyner
Samantha Tyner

Seeing that we are the U.S. Bureau of LABOR Statistics, we go the extra mile to attract the highest quality labor to accomplish our mission. This includes over 2,000 permanent staff scattered around the country. We also partner with state employees on several BLS programs, and we work with contractors and others to get the job done. Further, we look for opportunities to bring in specialized talent to help with some projects, such as the Civic Digital Fellows who joined us this past summer. Today I want to recognize the first-ever Science and Technology Policy Fellow to spend time at BLS — Samantha Tyner.

The Science & Technology Policy Fellowship is a program of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). To understand this program in a nutshell, let me quote directly from their website:

“AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellowships (STPF) provide opportunities to outstanding scientists and engineers to learn first-hand about policymaking and contribute their knowledge and analytical skills in the policy realm. Fellows serve yearlong assignments in the federal government and represent a broad range of backgrounds, disciplines, and career stages. Each year, STPF adds to a growing corps over 3,000 strong of policy-savvy leaders working across academia, government, nonprofits, and industry to serve the nation and citizens around the world.”

This is the first year BLS has worked with AAAS to bring on a Science and Technology Fellow. We are so fortunate that Samantha (Sam) Tyner started in September and will be with us over the next year. Sam, one of about 200 fellows in the current class, earned her Ph.D. in statistics from Iowa State University and was most recently a postdoctoral researcher at the Center for Statistics and Applications in Forensic Evidence. She is working in the BLS Office of Survey Methods Research (OSMR), focusing on interactive data visualization, text mining, and effective communications to wider audiences.

Let’s find out a little bit about Sam and her fellowship. I asked her what drew her to the federal government. She said she knew pretty early on in graduate school that she didn’t want to go the traditional professor route. She also wasn’t particularly interested in working in one of those internet giants, where the statistics are interesting but the focus is on getting people to click more. She wanted to find ways to use her statistical skills to solve real world problems, and government seemed like a good place for that.

Her first impressions of BLS have been positive. “It’s like hanging out with a bunch of professors, but the staff in OSMR is much more laid back.” One of her current projects involves text mining of BLS mentions on Twitter — what are people saying about us. We’ll use this research to learn how we can better serve our customers.

Another project involves BLS data from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages. There is so much data each quarter, down to the county level. She is developing an R Shiny app that will graph these data and allow users to do quick searches. I got to see a quick demo — impressive work after only 2 months on the job.

She is an expert in data visualization, so I asked her what she thinks of some of the charts that BLS produces. I think she was a bit reluctant to criticize, but the comment “you do have a lot of bar charts” was very telling. She describes her goal as to “take a sad chart and make it better.” We certainly welcome her guidance and look forward to producing fewer sad charts in the future.

Beyond all the work Sam is doing at BLS, she also provides posts on the AAAS blog, focusing on some practical aspects of her research. A recent blog taps into her expertise on data visualization. She writes about a problem that can sometimes occur when charts provide too much information. We hope we are not making this mistake with BLS charts.

I’m glad that Samantha has gotten a good start to her Fellowship. We are planning to take full advantage of her research and skills to improve BLS products. I asked her what will make this year a success. Her response — a job offer. Maybe at BLS, or at one of many government agencies where she can use her skills. She will be an asset anywhere she goes.

New Data on Employment and Wages in U.S. Establishments with Foreign Ownership

Did you know that U.S. establishments at least partially owned by foreign companies employed 5.5 million U.S. workers in 2012? That was 5.0 percent of U.S. private-sector employment. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recently partnered with the Bureau of Economic Analysis to produce new data on foreign direct investment in the United States. These two agencies created a new, richer dataset on employment, wages, and occupations in U.S. establishments that have at least one foreign owner.

So how do we define foreign direct investment anyway? In the simplest sense, it is when a U.S. establishment has an owner from another country with at least a 10-percent stake. We consider any establishment that does not meet this threshold as domestically owned. The new data are more detailed than any data previously available on foreign direct investment in the United States. This first set of data is for 2012, but the agencies plan to work together to produce more recent data soon.

Nearly two-thirds of jobs in establishments with foreign ownership had European ownership (3.5 million jobs). The United Kingdom accounted for 874,000 of these jobs. Asia accounted for 17 percent (936,000 jobs) of jobs in U.S. establishments with foreign ownership. Canada accounted for 12 percent (671,000 jobs). The remaining world regions together accounted for less than 8 percent.

Now let’s look at how employment in establishments with foreign ownership breaks down within the United States. The map below shows the percent of private employment in establishments with foreign ownership in each state. South Carolina had the largest share of private employment in establishments with foreign ownership, 8.0 percent. Other states with large shares include New Hampshire, Michigan, Connecticut, New Jersey, and Indiana.

Map showing  each state's percent of private employment in establishments with foreign ownership, 2012

Editor’s note: Data for this map are available in the table below.

Each state’s percent of employment in establishments with foreign ownership depends in part on the industry mix in the state. The chart below shows the percent of each industry’s employment in establishments with foreign ownership. In mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction, 14.7 percent of employment is in establishments with foreign ownership. A large share of employment in Alaska is in this industry. Alaska’s share of employment in establishments with foreign ownership, 5.7 percent, is above the national average. Alaska’s vast energy resources may play a role in its share of employment in establishments with foreign ownership.

About 13.2 percent of all employees in manufacturing work in establishments with foreign ownership. Michigan has a large share of employment in manufacturing, and also a large share of employment in establishments with foreign ownership.

Chart showing percent of private employment in establishments with foreign ownership, by industry, 2012

Editor’s note: Data for this chart are available in the table below.

Now let’s turn from employment to wages. The map below shows how wages in establishments with foreign ownership compare with wages in domestically owned establishments across the country. We make this comparison by calculating the ratio of what workers make in average wages in establishments with foreign ownership compared to the average wage in domestically owned establishments. Wage ratios greater than one mean the average for establishments with foreign ownership is higher than for domestically owned establishments. The U.S. wage ratio in 2012 was 1.57, and every state had a wage ratio greater than one. The highest wage ratio was in New York, at 1.98. At the other end of the spectrum, Vermont had a wage ratio of 1.05.

Map showing each state's ratio of average wages in establishments with foreign ownership to domestically owned establishments, 2012

Editor’s note: Data for this map are available in the table below.

Does this mean every establishment with foreign ownership pays higher wages than domestically owned establishments? Let’s analyze wage ratios by industry. We see that the health care and social assistance industry had a wage ratio of 0.86 in 2012. All other major industry groups had wage ratios of 1.00 or higher. The finance and insurance industry had a wage ratio of 1.82.

Want to know more about these data? See our Spotlight on Statistics, “A look at employment and wages in U.S. establishments with foreign ownership.”

Chart showing ratio of average wages in establishments with foreign ownership to domestically owned establishments, by industry, 2012

Editor’s note: Data for this chart are available in the table below.

BLS and the Bureau of Economic Analysis hope to continue this interagency collaboration. Our goal is to merge and analyze more recent data from both agencies. When agencies work together to produce new datasets with little increase in cost to the public, all data users benefit. Producing accurate, objective, relevant, timely, and accessible products is the BLS mission. This collaboration to produce new relevant data allows us to improve our service to the American people.

Percent of private employment in establishments with foreign ownership, 2012
StateEmployment share

National

5.0%

Alabama

5.4

Alaska

5.7

Arizona

3.9

Arkansas

4.5

California

4.2

Colorado

4.6

Connecticut

6.5

Delaware

6.0

District of Columbia

3.4

Florida

3.6

Georgia

5.5

Hawaii

6.0

Idaho

2.9

Illinois

5.1

Indiana

6.4

Iowa

4.0

Kansas

5.7

Kentucky

6.2

Louisiana

3.9

Maine

6.1

Maryland

4.7

Massachusetts

6.3

Michigan

6.6

Minnesota

4.0

Mississippi

3.4

Missouri

4.0

Montana

1.8

Nebraska

3.6

Nevada

3.8

New Hampshire

6.9

New Jersey

6.5

New Mexico

3.0

New York

5.8

North Carolina

6.2

North Dakota

3.8

Ohio

5.3

Oklahoma

3.6

Oregon

3.4

Pennsylvania

5.5

Rhode Island

6.1

South Carolina

8.0

South Dakota

2.1

Tennessee

5.5

Texas

5.3

Utah

4.0

Vermont

3.7

Virginia

5.1

Washington

4.0

West Virginia

4.8

Wisconsin

3.5

Wyoming

3.8
Percent of private employment in establishments with foreign ownership, by industry, 2012
IndustryEmployment share

Mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction

14.7%

Manufacturing

13.2

Management of companies and enterprises

9.6

Wholesale trade

9.0

Information

7.8

Finance and insurance

7.5

Utilities

7.3

Transportation and warehousing

6.3

Administrative and waste services

6.0

Professional, scientific, and technical services

5.5

Total private

5.0

Retail trade

4.7

Real estate and rental and leasing

2.2

Construction

1.8

Accommodation and food services

1.6

Other services (except public administration)

1.3

Agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting

1.0

Health care and social assistance

0.9

Arts, entertainment, and recreation

0.7

Educational services

0.6
Ratio of average wages in establishments with foreign ownership to domestically owned establishments, 2012
StateWage ratio

National

1.57

Alabama

1.44

Alaska

1.63

Arizona

1.28

Arkansas

1.43

California

1.49

Colorado

1.53

Connecticut

1.53

Delaware

1.78

District of Columbia

1.08

Florida

1.52

Georgia

1.36

Hawaii

1.06

Idaho

1.30

Illinois

1.61

Indiana

1.56

Iowa

1.48

Kansas

1.56

Kentucky

1.36

Louisiana

1.67

Maine

1.26

Maryland

1.28

Massachusetts

1.46

Michigan

1.84

Minnesota

1.50

Mississippi

1.63

Missouri

1.55

Montana

1.63

Nebraska

1.35

Nevada

1.47

New Hampshire

1.39

New Jersey

1.64

New Mexico

1.22

New York

1.98

North Carolina

1.47

North Dakota

1.55

Ohio

1.49

Oklahoma

1.40

Oregon

1.41

Pennsylvania

1.43

Rhode Island

1.31

South Carolina

1.43

South Dakota

1.45

Tennessee

1.42

Texas

1.80

Utah

1.45

Vermont

1.05

Virginia

1.23

Washington

1.40

West Virginia

1.33

Wisconsin

1.38

Wyoming

1.72
Ratio of average wages in establishments with foreign ownership to domestically owned establishments, by industry, 2012
IndustryWage ratio

Finance and insurance

1.82

Construction

1.62

Total private

1.57

Accommodation and food services

1.51

Real estate and rental and leasing

1.50

Arts, entertainment, and recreation

1.45

Other services (except public administration)

1.44

Agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting

1.40

Wholesale trade

1.39

Professional, scientific, and technical services

1.39

Mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction

1.28

Management of companies and enterprises

1.23

Retail trade

1.20

Educational services

1.19

Manufacturing

1.18

Utilities

1.15

Administrative and waste services

1.13

Information

1.05

Transportation and warehousing

1.00

Health care and social assistance

0.86