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Topic Archives: Labor Force Characteristics

Reaching out to Stakeholders—and Steakholders—in Philadelphia

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has staff around the country who serve several critical roles:

  • Contacting employers and households to collect the vital economic information published by BLS
  • Working with partners in the states who also collect and review economic data
  • Analyzing and publishing regional, state, and local data and providing information to a wide variety of stakeholders

To expand the network of local stakeholders who are familiar with and use BLS data to help make good decisions, the BLS regional offices sponsor periodic Data User Conferences. The BLS office in Philadelphia recently held such an event, hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.

These Data User Conferences typically bring together experts from several broad topic areas. In Philadelphia, participants heard about trends in productivity measures; a mash-up of information on a single occupation—truck drivers—that shows the range of data available (pay and benefits, occupational requirements, and workplace safety); and an analysis of declines in labor force participation.

Typically, these events provide a mix of national and local data and try to include some timely local information. The Philadelphia conference included references to the recent Super Bowl victory by the Philadelphia Eagles and showed how to use the Consumer Price Index inflation calculator to compare buying power between 1960 (the last time the Eagles won the NFL Championship) and today.

We also tried to develop a cheesesteak index, a Philadelphia staple. Using data from the February 2018 Consumer Price Index, we can find the change in the price of cheesesteak ingredients over the past year.

Ingredient Change in Consumer Price Index, February 2017 to February 2018
White bread 2.5 percent decrease
Beef and veal 2.1 percent increase
Fresh vegetables 2.1 percent increase
Cheese and related products 0.8 percent decrease

Image of a Philadelphia cheesesteak

These data are for the nation as a whole and are available monthly. Consumer price data are also available for many metropolitan areas, including Philadelphia. These local data are typically available every other month and do not provide as much detail as the national data.

While the Data User Conferences focus on providing information, we also remind attendees the information is only available thanks to the voluntary cooperation of employers and households. The people who attend the conferences can help us produce gold standard data by cooperating with our data-collection efforts. In return we remind them we always have “live” economists available in their local BLS information office to answer questions by phone or email or help them find data quickly.

Although yet another Nor’easter storm was approaching, the recent Philadelphia Data User Conference included an enthusiastic audience who asked good questions and left with a greater understanding of BLS statistics. The next stop on the Data User Conference tour is Atlanta, later this year. Keep an eye on the BLS Southeast Regional Office webpage for more information.

Workplace Fatalities of Older U.S. Workers, Including Baby Boomers, Reach Historic High

We have a guest blogger for this edition of Commissioner’s Corner. Caleb Hopler is an economist in the Office of Safety, Health, and Working Conditions at the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“Baby Boomer” is a term for Americans born between 1946 and 1964. Most Baby Boomers are now age 55 and older. Workplace safety for these older workers is reflected in counts and rates of fatal occupational injuries.

Workers aged 55 and older had the highest rate of fatal work injuries among all age groups in 2016, according to the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries. The rate for workers age 65 and older—9.6 fatalities per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers—was notably higher than the rate for all workers (3.6).

Rate of fatal work injuries per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers by age, 2016

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

Workers age 55 and older accounted for 36 percent of all fatally injured workers in 2016, although workers in this age group comprised just 23 percent of all workers in 2016. The 1,848 deaths among workers age 55 and older in 2016 is the highest ever recorded for this age group since we began reporting national data in 1992.

These fatally injured employees worked in many different occupations: 29 percent in transportation and material moving; 15 percent in construction and extraction; 14 percent in management; 9 percent in installation, maintenance, and repair; 6 percent in building and grounds cleaning and maintenance; 5 percent in farming, fishing, and forestry; and the rest in other occupations.

Top occupational groups for workers age 55 and older who suffered fatal work injuries in 2016

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

We also collect the event or exposure, which describes the manner in which the fatal injury occurred. More workers die from transportation incidents than any other event, while fires and explosions have the lowest counts. Of the 773 fatal injuries from transportation incidents in 2016, 135 workers were pedestrians fatally struck by a vehicle or mobile equipment. Roadway collisions with at least one other vehicle resulted in 219 worker deaths. Another 116 workers were killed in a roadway collision with an object other than a vehicle, which could include trees or barriers.

Falls, slips, and trips resulted in 426 fatal injuries to workers age 55 and older in 2016, second only behind transportation incidents. Within this category, 313 workers died from falls to a lower level. These include falls due to collapsing structures or equipment, through a surface or existing opening, or from objects or structures (such as trees, stairs, or roofs).

Fatal occupational injuries to workers age 55 and older by event

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

In 2016, the total number of deaths among workers of all ages was at an 8-year high of 5,190. This was a 7-percent increase from the 4,836 fatal injuries reported in 2015. The 2016 fatal injury rate, 3.6 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers, was the highest since 2010.

For more information on fatal occupational injuries in the United States, see the Injuries, Illnesses, and Fatalities homepage. You can get data from our data page and profiles system. We also have interactive charts, a longer set of tables and charts, and state data.

Rate of fatal work injuries per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers by age, 2016
Age Rate
16 to 17 2.1
18 to 19 1.9
20 to 24 2.4
25 to 34 2.5
35 to 44 3.1
45 to 54 3.5
55 to 64 4.7
65 and older 9.6
Top occupational groups for workers age 55 and older who suffered fatal work injuries in 2016
Occupation Number
Transportation and material moving 539
Construction and extraction 277
Management 252
Installation, maintenance, and repair 170
Building and grounds cleaning and maintenance 115
Farming, fishing, and forestry 100
Fatal occupational injuries to workers age 55 and older by event
Event or exposure 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Transportation incident 673 658 659 720 772 773
Falls, slips, and trips 285 295 304 395 344 426
Contact with objects and equipment 236 263 233 250 276 288
Violence and other injuries by persons or animals 203 220 190 195 179 227
Exposure to harmful substances or environments 67 50 68 92 70 90
Fire or explosion 36 32 29 34 33 35

Why This Counts: What Does BLS Know about Certifications and Licenses?

Whether you are an aspiring doctor or lawyer, teacher or barber, chances are you need a license to legally work. Or you may already have a license and are now rushing to get your continuing professional education courses done before the end of the year! Whatever your status, what does BLS know about certifications and licenses and how can the information help?

While BLS and other federal statistical agencies have long produced data on educational attainment, there used to be few public sources of information on nondegree credentials like certifications and licenses. To meet this need, BLS added new questions to the Current Population Survey, the national household survey best known as the source of the official unemployment rate, back in 2015. These data help researchers, policymakers, business owners, workers, and jobseekers better understand how holding a certification or license relates to employment, unemployment, and earnings.

At BLS, we define certifications and licenses as nondegree credentials that show the holder has the skill or knowledge needed to perform a specific job. Certifications come from a nongovernmental body, such as a professional or industry organization. Licenses come from a government agency and show a legal permission to work in an occupation.

In 2016, about 44.5 million people (almost the number of people who live in Spain) held a currently active professional certification or license. People with a certification or license had an unemployment rate of 2.5 percent, compared with 5.6 percent for people without one of these credentials. One-fourth of the employed held a certification or license in 2016.

The prevalence of certifications and licenses varies by a worker’s occupation. In 2016, there were four occupation groups where more than half of workers held a certification or license: healthcare practitioners and technical occupations (77.0 percent); legal occupations (66.8 percent); education, training, and library occupations (55.5 percent); and healthcare support occupations (50.9 percent).

Chart showing percent of workers in each occupational group who had a certification or license in 2016.

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

We also have information on how much workers with or without a certification or license earn. In 2016, the median weekly earnings of full-time wage and salary workers with a certification or license was $1,032—35 percent higher than the median for workers without a certification or license ($765). These broad comparisons do not account for other important reasons that may explain differences in earnings, such as educational attainment and a worker’s specific job roles and responsibilities.

Whether you are a jobseeker, business owner, policy maker, or researcher, BLS data on professional certifications and licenses help you understand the important role that these credentials play in the U.S. labor market.

Percent of employed people with a certification or license by occupation, 2016 annual averages
Occupation With a license With a certification
but no license
Healthcare practitioners and technical 72.6% 4.4%
Legal 63.4 3.4
Education, training, and library 53.6 1.9
Healthcare support 47.2 3.6
Community and social services 33.5 5.0
Protective service 36.1 1.6
Personal care and service 27.9 3.1
Architecture and engineering 22.4 4.0
Life, physical, and social science 22.3 3.1
Total, 16 years and over 22.3 2.7
Business and financial operations 20.0 4.0
Installation, maintenance, and repair 18.3 5.3
Management 19.3 3.2
Transportation and material moving 20.7 1.5
Construction and extraction 17.5 2.2
Sales and related 14.3 1.8
Computer and mathematical 6.8 7.4
Arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media 8.5 3.1
Production 8.0 2.2
Office and administrative support 8.2 1.4
Farming, fishing, and forestry 8.3 0.8
Food preparation and serving related 6.7 1.0
Building and grounds cleaning and maintenance 6.5 1.1

Labor Market Status of U.S. Military Veterans in 2017

In honor of Veterans Day, here’s a one-stop shop of all of our most up-to-date data on veterans.

  • After reaching 9.9 percent in January 2011, the unemployment rate for veterans was 2.7 percent in October 2017. This is the lowest rate since 2000.
  • The unemployment rate for Gulf War-era II veterans — who served on active duty at any time since September 2001 — reached 15.2 percent in January 2011. However, the unemployment rate was 3.6 percent in October 2017, the lowest rate since this series began in 2006.
  • The peak unemployment rate for nonveterans was 10.4 percent in January 2010; their rate was 3.8 percent in October 2017.
  • There were 347,000 unemployed veterans in the United States in the third quarter of 2017; 30 percent of them were ages 18 to 34.
  • In the third quarter of 2017, more veterans worked in government than in any other industry; 21 percent of all veterans and 25 percent of Gulf War-era II veterans worked for federal, state, or local government. By comparison, 13 percent of employed nonveterans worked in government.
  • After government, the next largest employers of veterans are manufacturing and professional and business services.

Now let’s take a look at some data that may help veterans who are looking for work or considering a career change.

Looking to move?

In 2016, the unemployment rate for veterans varied across the country, ranging from 1.8 percent in Indiana to 7.6 percent in the District of Columbia.

A map showing unemployment rates for U.S. military veterans by state in 2016

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

What industries have the most job openings?

There were 6.1 million job openings in September 2017. Here’s how they break down by industry.

A chart showing job openings by industry in September 2017.

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

What are the fastest-growing jobs?

Thank you, veterans, for your service. Check out our website at www.bls.gov 24/7 or give our information office a call at 202-691-5200. We also have regional information offices available to assist you. BLS has the data you need to make wise decisions.

Unemployment rates for veterans by state, 2016 annual averages
State Unemployment rate
Total, 18 years and over 4.3%

Alabama

4.9

Alaska

2.7

Arizona

3.9

Arkansas

3.1

California

5.4

Colorado

3.9

Connecticut

4.4

Delaware

4.1

District of Columbia

7.6

Florida

4.2

Georgia

3.5

Hawaii

2.2

Idaho

3.6

Illinois

6.7

Indiana

1.8

Iowa

4.2

Kansas

5.2

Kentucky

3.9

Louisiana

5.0

Maine

3.1

Maryland

3.8

Massachusetts

4.6

Michigan

3.2

Minnesota

5.8

Mississippi

4.6

Missouri

3.2

Montana

4.4

Nebraska

4.1

Nevada

4.0

New Hampshire

2.1

New Jersey

4.9

New Mexico

3.6

New York

5.6

North Carolina

4.5

North Dakota

3.9

Ohio

4.2

Oklahoma

4.5

Oregon

6.3

Pennsylvania

5.2

Rhode Island

3.7

South Carolina

5.0

South Dakota

2.6

Tennessee

3.6

Texas

3.6

Utah

2.3

Vermont

2.2

Virginia

3.4

Washington

3.8

West Virginia

4.8

Wisconsin

5.0

Wyoming

5.1
Note: Veterans are men and women who served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces and were not on active duty at the time of the survey.
Job openings by industry in September 2017
Industry Number
Professional and business services 1,193,000
Health care and social assistance 1,074,000
Accommodation and food services 667,000
Retail trade 616,000
Manufacturing 425,000
Finance and insurance 280,000
Other services 280,000
State and local government, excluding education 267,000
Transportation, warehousing, and utilities 246,000
Wholesale trade 222,000
Construction 196,000
State and local government education 182,000
Educational services 98,000
Information 94,000
Arts, entertainment, and recreation 90,000
Federal government 81,000
Real estate and rental and leasing 59,000
Mining and logging 24,000

People with a Disability in the Labor Market

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. BLS has been collecting data on the employment status of people with a disability for nearly a decade. Let’s talk about how we gather the data and then look at some long-term trends.

Why does BLS gather information about people with a disability?

BLS added six questions to the Current Population Survey in June 2008 to begin gathering timely information on the employment and unemployment status of people with a disability. Policymakers and others use these data to see how this population fares in the job market.

How does BLS collect these data?

The survey asks about physical, mental, and emotional disabilities. It is difficult to accurately identify all people with a disability using only a few questions. Research conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau and others resulted in six questions that identify this population.

The questions used to find out whether anyone in a household has a disability are:

  1. Is anyone deaf or does anyone have serious difficulty hearing?
  2. Is anyone blind or does anyone have serious difficulty seeing even when wearing glasses?
  3. Because of a physical, mental, or emotional condition, does anyone have serious difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions?
  4. Does anyone have serious difficulty walking or climbing stairs?
  5. Does anyone have difficulty dressing or bathing?
  6. Because of a physical, mental, or emotional condition, does anyone have difficulty doing errands alone such as visiting a doctor’s office or shopping?

People who respond “yes” to any of these questions are classified as having a disability.

How likely are people with a disability to be employed?

  • The employment-population ratio is the percentage of the population who are working.
  • People with no disabilities are more than 3 times as likely to be employed as those with a disability (65.3 percent in 2016, compared with 17.9 percent). This disparity has held throughout the time these data have been available.
  • People with a disability tend to be older, and older people are less likely to be employed. However, people with a disability are less likely to be employed regardless of their age.
  • About 1 in 30 employed people in the U.S. have a disability.

What is the unemployment rate for people with a disability?

  • Someone is unemployed if they do not have a job but are available to work and looked for a job in the previous 4 weeks.
  • The unemployment rate is the number of unemployed people divided by the labor force, which is the sum of employed and unemployed people.
  • The unemployment rate for people with a disability has been about twice that of people with no disabilities in recent years. In 2016, the unemployment rate for people with a disability was 10.5 percent, and the rate for those without a disability was 4.6 percent.

 Chart showing the unemployment rates of people with and without a disability from 2009 to 2016.

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

What about people who are neither working nor looking for work?

  • People who are neither working nor looking for work are not in the labor force.
  • In 2016, a larger proportion of people with a disability—8 in 10—were not in the labor force than those with no disability, at about 3 in 10.
  • Many people with a disability are age 65 and older. In general, older people are less likely to participate in the labor force than younger people.
  • Most people with and without a disability who are not in the labor force do not want a job, perhaps because they are retired, have family responsibilities, or are in school.

We honor the contributions and innovations that people with a disability make to our workforce and to our nation. We look forward to providing information about people with a disability for years to come.

Want to learn more? Check out our webpage with more data about people with a disability. We also have answers to frequently asked questions.

Unemployment rates for people with and without a disability
Characteristic 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
With a disability 14.5% 14.8% 15.0% 13.4% 13.2% 12.5% 10.7% 10.5%
Without a disability 9.0 9.4 8.7 7.9 7.1 5.9 5.1 4.6