Topic Archives: Why This Counts

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

Looking Under the Hood of Jobs Data: Job Openings and Hires by Firm Size

Let’s not bury the lead. Newly released experimental information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that firms employing 500 workers or more consistently have more job openings and more hires than smaller firms. During the most recent recession, these larger firms cut job openings at a faster pace than did smaller firms. Following the recession, job openings grew more rapidly in larger firms.

Chart showing the number of job openings by firm size from 2000 to 2016

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

OK, those are the highlights. But maybe you want to know more. Or maybe you have a comment or question. Read on.

Monthly headlines from BLS show the change in the number of jobs and information about the labor force, such as the unemployment rate. For example, employers added 228,000 jobs in November 2017, and the national unemployment rate stood at 4.1 percent. But behind those top-side numbers, there’s a lot going on in the job world. BLS provides much of that detail, including unemployment rates by demographic groups, jobs created by new versus expanding firms, and employment by occupation.

Today we take a look at some experimental information recently released from the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey. The survey provides monthly information on the number and rate of job openings at the end of the month, as well as job turnover (hires and separations) during the month. For example, at the end of October 2017, employers had 6.0 million job openings. There were 5.6 million workers hired and 5.2 million workers separated during October. And of those separations, quits outnumbered layoffs and discharges by a ratio of 2 to 1 (3.2 million quits, 1.6 million layoffs and discharges).

The Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey began in 2000. It provides nearly two decades of data that span business cycles, including the moderate recession in the early 2000s and the deep recession in the late 2000s. These monthly reports highlight differences by industry. For example, over the past several years, job openings have outpaced hires in the health care and social assistance, suggesting a continual need for skilled labor. In contrast, hires outpaced job openings in the construction industry, indicating a steady availability of labor.

What effect does firm size have on job openings and labor turnover? To unpack this question, BLS staff developed newly available experimental measures by firm size. A firm is defined as a related set of job sites. A firm may be a single location, such as Joe’s Plumbing Supply. Or a firm may have many different sites across industries and geography, including manufacturing, transportation and warehousing, and multiple retail locations. To develop these firm-level estimates, BLS staff identified entities with multiple locations and used the combined employment to slot firms into size categories. The new information is available for 3 groups: small (1–49 workers), medium (50–499 workers), and large (500 workers or more).

Some highlights from the data:

  • Large firms have twice as many job openings as do small and medium-sized firms.
  • Large firms also have the highest job opening rate, which is the ratio of job openings to the sum of employment plus job openings.
  • The number of hires by firm size is similar to the pattern of job openings; hires in large firms are nearly twice that of small and medium-sized firms.
  • The rate of hires, which compares the number of hires to employment, is about the same across firm size classes, especially in the past few years.

Chart showing the number of hires by firm size from 2000 to 2016.
Editor’s note: Data for this chart are available in the table below.

We want to hear from you. BLS develops experimental measures like these to provide greater understanding of the job market. As we continue to work on these and other measures, we seek your input. Send your questions and comments about the usefulness of these data to the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey staff.

Job openings levels by firm size, seasonally adjusted
Month Firm Size 1 (1-49) Firm Size 2 (50-499) Firm Size 3 (500+)
Dec 2000 1,063,970 1,212,812 2,166,647
Jan 2001 1,254,187 1,040,641 2,268,253
Feb 2001 1,150,018 1,001,138 2,330,520
Mar 2001 1,010,503 1,009,600 2,186,925
Apr 2001 998,581 1,025,288 2,321,541
May 2001 1,026,328 957,490 1,969,731
Jun 2001 935,187 944,611 1,972,341
Jul 2001 999,543 1,029,769 1,854,611
Aug 2001 889,501 900,890 1,881,136
Sep 2001 1,024,910 836,926 1,764,339
Oct 2001 888,204 725,598 1,564,310
Nov 2001 758,424 742,852 1,613,718
Dec 2001 802,515 748,965 1,658,384
Jan 2002 819,942 764,312 1,732,144
Feb 2002 656,857 762,218 1,545,264
Mar 2002 824,546 775,262 1,577,612
Apr 2002 692,005 764,940 1,506,129
May 2002 649,226 803,459 1,574,740
Jun 2002 675,642 769,944 1,454,594
Jul 2002 685,787 752,854 1,547,899
Aug 2002 692,592 803,598 1,530,478
Sep 2002 675,723 779,605 1,475,356
Oct 2002 689,451 798,260 1,660,696
Nov 2002 747,380 823,511 1,545,712
Dec 2002 591,276 749,792 1,382,984
Jan 2003 659,814 846,905 1,695,355
Feb 2003 777,288 711,685 1,530,725
Mar 2003 630,879 703,489 1,376,433
Apr 2003 726,806 723,117 1,365,285
May 2003 691,890 690,646 1,440,691
Jun 2003 682,601 765,484 1,493,878
Jul 2003 588,080 756,229 1,457,439
Aug 2003 635,308 754,020 1,513,807
Sep 2003 577,984 743,507 1,512,187
Oct 2003 587,303 829,886 1,413,296
Nov 2003 665,540 763,665 1,531,106
Dec 2003 749,094 773,746 1,524,435
Jan 2004 694,810 797,141 1,522,552
Feb 2004 769,596 786,344 1,543,821
Mar 2004 738,410 791,238 1,543,012
Apr 2004 685,387 823,964 1,690,254
May 2004 761,604 791,158 1,646,144
Jun 2004 665,849 751,611 1,621,204
Jul 2004 851,274 894,772 1,771,733
Aug 2004 748,355 827,281 1,591,622
Sep 2004 837,001 860,695 1,661,575
Oct 2004 731,538 862,201 1,733,695
Nov 2004 705,789 847,738 1,517,289
Dec 2004 847,389 876,217 1,741,215
Jan 2005 709,852 847,541 1,696,328
Feb 2005 808,783 899,841 1,813,490
Mar 2005 788,508 885,484 1,848,385
Apr 2005 903,479 885,600 1,894,028
May 2005 824,299 875,760 1,761,937
Jun 2005 870,511 925,176 1,870,100
Jul 2005 931,449 914,756 1,961,559
Aug 2005 898,673 941,476 1,844,530
Sep 2005 871,357 985,556 1,985,304
Oct 2005 895,342 914,615 2,075,976
Nov 2005 871,046 965,398 2,282,418
Dec 2005 861,935 930,504 2,127,341
Jan 2006 926,197 961,337 1,911,830
Feb 2006 870,674 935,421 2,182,583
Mar 2006 900,388 1,026,440 2,202,735
Apr 2006 880,717 1,040,964 2,159,372
May 2006 814,733 1,039,701 2,156,708
Jun 2006 866,922 1,045,813 2,002,970
Jul 2006 737,882 966,338 1,907,429
Aug 2006 876,173 1,016,973 2,192,267
Sep 2006 916,373 1,011,528 2,120,209
Oct 2006 839,329 1,058,198 2,144,379
Nov 2006 935,772 1,037,996 2,217,716
Dec 2006 856,726 1,041,513 2,177,949
Jan 2007 1,006,703 1,008,318 2,165,823
Feb 2007 981,978 1,095,137 2,069,850
Mar 2007 982,120 1,083,153 2,182,194
Apr 2007 869,195 1,175,773 2,075,431
May 2007 824,392 1,111,851 2,178,150
Jun 2007 1,026,474 1,033,211 2,150,486
Jul 2007 931,291 995,952 2,052,904
Aug 2007 944,960 1,014,174 2,094,487
Sep 2007 1,066,472 1,032,697 1,980,685
Oct 2007 972,154 970,969 1,913,129
Nov 2007 801,655 1,093,272 2,006,124
Dec 2007 827,479 1,097,070 2,015,637
Jan 2008 838,863 1,078,494 1,894,825
Feb 2008 761,539 1,009,438 1,970,060
Mar 2008 774,405 928,884 1,920,134
Apr 2008 710,503 890,409 1,929,298
May 2008 710,516 961,534 1,793,445
Jun 2008 638,053 883,051 1,861,865
Jul 2008 701,938 886,335 1,804,058
Aug 2008 633,271 783,453 1,761,845
Sep 2008 623,029 723,106 1,530,778
Oct 2008 581,304 773,531 1,461,046
Nov 2008 606,081 660,174 1,378,183
Dec 2008 622,312 673,974 1,360,074
Jan 2009 495,874 569,429 1,320,120
Feb 2009 587,551 606,813 1,264,330
Mar 2009 497,280 576,812 1,029,149
Apr 2009 530,082 443,185 865,437
May 2009 526,902 526,912 1,012,171
Jun 2009 542,708 536,379 1,013,176
Jul 2009 444,382 493,845 954,306
Aug 2009 428,605 513,075 1,010,607
Sep 2009 542,212 574,082 1,108,933
Oct 2009 501,879 510,090 959,637
Nov 2009 536,770 473,118 1,086,248
Dec 2009 457,470 575,790 1,145,838
Jan 2010 643,666 596,114 1,032,360
Feb 2010 580,156 536,242 1,149,156
Mar 2010 502,226 558,306 1,239,238
Apr 2010 592,456 631,601 1,203,511
May 2010 639,745 537,033 1,282,322
Jun 2010 533,152 599,522 1,202,898
Jul 2010 597,570 607,774 1,359,417
Aug 2010 599,959 646,695 1,319,523
Sep 2010 531,391 595,451 1,331,049
Oct 2010 593,875 616,584 1,348,310
Nov 2010 643,919 659,356 1,496,531
Dec 2010 558,604 582,033 1,418,940
Jan 2011 506,982 659,392 1,499,176
Feb 2011 544,751 706,101 1,519,162
Mar 2011 584,823 727,292 1,547,740
Apr 2011 549,428 711,284 1,595,959
May 2011 567,386 682,449 1,611,429
Jun 2011 544,848 690,205 1,657,846
Jul 2011 605,337 767,058 1,619,459
Aug 2011 556,717 677,988 1,648,114
Sep 2011 614,540 778,966 1,731,454
Oct 2011 574,275 746,781 1,725,148
Nov 2011 577,001 791,911 1,558,570
Dec 2011 638,596 810,484 1,611,179
Jan 2012 856,476 852,412 1,641,457
Feb 2012 647,857 790,085 1,731,296
Mar 2012 664,828 844,686 1,906,753
Apr 2012 803,914 809,055 1,514,008
May 2012 683,030 808,866 1,790,451
Jun 2012 752,012 831,447 1,765,436
Jul 2012 584,262 817,409 1,796,499
Aug 2012 626,419 886,155 1,694,821
Sep 2012 694,209 800,200 1,654,448
Oct 2012 645,981 826,044 1,854,123
Nov 2012 689,248 821,095 1,838,717
Dec 2012 609,350 797,497 1,909,677
Jan 2013 605,325 732,763 2,107,198
Feb 2013 775,285 897,160 1,964,961
Mar 2013 740,705 845,484 1,879,283
Apr 2013 655,993 797,119 2,017,197
May 2013 712,099 886,951 1,791,954
Jun 2013 751,267 824,265 1,921,027
Jul 2013 759,741 823,744 1,875,751
Aug 2013 695,439 848,376 1,976,546
Sep 2013 759,238 777,782 2,131,494
Oct 2013 775,829 890,226 2,031,372
Nov 2013 665,386 906,564 2,065,046
Dec 2013 863,397 850,283 1,902,300
Jan 2014 738,287 868,753 1,955,377
Feb 2014 719,973 894,977 2,131,462
Mar 2014 724,779 908,744 2,140,206
Apr 2014 672,254 968,735 2,226,002
May 2014 897,433 1,021,611 2,100,846
Jun 2014 809,532 1,065,672 2,279,388
Jul 2014 843,835 1,045,672 2,201,345
Aug 2014 1,023,698 1,076,735 2,405,701
Sep 2014 848,249 1,082,785 2,271,364
Oct 2014 925,023 1,112,348 2,407,717
Nov 2014 913,184 1,071,576 2,471,944
Dec 2014 1,020,488 1,045,791 2,519,759
Jan 2015 978,576 1,133,080 2,406,159
Feb 2015 1,034,832 1,137,611 2,474,784
Mar 2015 1,069,993 1,123,116 2,497,265
Apr 2015 1,127,145 1,124,431 2,752,632
May 2015 912,763 1,193,958 2,716,834
Jun 2015 922,279 1,148,527 2,670,402
Jul 2015 1,098,547 1,283,295 2,934,229
Aug 2015 1,081,112 1,179,710 2,696,909
Sep 2015 1,009,519 1,227,686 2,769,545
Oct 2015 1,126,124 1,179,108 2,681,410
Nov 2015 1,107,200 1,149,924 2,799,185
Dec 2015 1,089,582 1,265,657 2,777,688
Jan 2016 1,072,685 1,183,639 2,832,936
Feb 2016 1,200,143 1,183,363 2,836,629
Mar 2016 1,259,657 1,245,163 2,897,275
Apr 2016 1,031,362 1,166,838 2,759,454
May 2016 1,104,170 1,160,643 2,838,929
Jun 2016 1,085,279 1,157,550 2,818,792
Jul 2016 1,146,899 1,197,112 2,871,515
Aug 2016 1,010,185 1,167,324 2,885,284
Sep 2016 1,096,455 1,213,755 2,939,373
Oct 2016 1,074,446 1,186,426 2,853,713
Nov 2016 1,170,857 1,278,675 2,920,800
Dec 2016 1,099,875 1,251,094 2,843,566
Hires levels by firm size, seasonally adjusted
Month Firm Size 1 (1-49) Firm Size 2 (50-499) Firm Size 3 (500+)
Dec 2000 1,318,760 1,465,514 2,226,675
Jan 2001 1,446,901 1,367,157 2,489,504
Feb 2001 1,305,908 1,567,814 2,318,121
Mar 2001 1,353,462 1,552,926 2,422,797
Apr 2001 1,426,138 1,359,579 2,351,722
May 2001 1,370,351 1,395,206 2,350,992
Jun 2001 1,336,154 1,399,976 2,094,197
Jul 2001 1,293,642 1,454,056 2,076,131
Aug 2001 1,302,158 1,337,434 2,047,302
Sep 2001 1,281,957 1,384,610 1,967,274
Oct 2001 1,353,912 1,338,900 2,011,421
Nov 2001 1,334,527 1,257,781 1,941,739
Dec 2001 1,307,061 1,295,405 1,881,384
Jan 2002 1,279,438 1,287,183 2,021,261
Feb 2002 1,325,149 1,303,163 1,997,492
Mar 2002 1,146,362 1,277,928 1,965,695
Apr 2002 1,235,074 1,346,882 2,001,240
May 2002 1,271,869 1,358,353 1,991,768
Jun 2002 1,337,649 1,346,893 1,854,062
Jul 2002 1,427,260 1,308,277 1,916,786
Aug 2002 1,337,754 1,280,995 1,888,414
Sep 2002 1,388,080 1,249,723 1,895,845
Oct 2002 1,317,940 1,245,359 1,904,631
Nov 2002 1,328,551 1,249,760 1,942,073
Dec 2002 1,403,834 1,263,550 1,973,256
Jan 2003 1,425,007 1,301,127 1,889,634
Feb 2003 1,355,952 1,218,959 1,896,054
Mar 2003 1,257,855 1,151,789 1,798,934
Apr 2003 1,378,746 1,221,686 1,690,254
May 2003 1,298,053 1,219,640 1,793,446
Jun 2003 1,344,844 1,226,149 1,876,850
Jul 2003 1,369,431 1,195,969 1,812,395
Aug 2003 1,390,340 1,217,625 1,823,133
Sep 2003 1,391,621 1,285,592 1,895,176
Oct 2003 1,372,786 1,277,518 1,891,770
Nov 2003 1,312,049 1,284,619 1,871,773
Dec 2003 1,460,039 1,282,030 1,899,105
Jan 2004 1,404,237 1,273,957 1,866,649
Feb 2004 1,377,906 1,268,343 1,792,621
Mar 2004 1,533,492 1,365,907 1,971,024
Apr 2004 1,417,666 1,352,287 2,050,848
May 2004 1,380,450 1,277,778 1,959,227
Jun 2004 1,435,713 1,295,345 1,928,735
Jul 2004 1,382,952 1,340,491 1,856,892
Aug 2004 1,408,878 1,372,834 1,968,591
Sep 2004 1,403,414 1,355,400 1,895,594
Oct 2004 1,540,296 1,328,544 1,892,138
Nov 2004 1,486,331 1,346,403 1,905,103
Dec 2004 1,439,186 1,371,908 2,059,142
Jan 2005 1,440,918 1,427,256 2,071,931
Feb 2005 1,547,511 1,355,205 2,103,535
Mar 2005 1,512,477 1,369,490 2,029,732
Apr 2005 1,515,338 1,369,141 2,071,545
May 2005 1,527,484 1,406,320 2,022,931
Jun 2005 1,497,350 1,435,937 2,128,139
Jul 2005 1,391,798 1,318,066 2,193,308
Aug 2005 1,564,504 1,398,008 2,126,327
Sep 2005 1,526,094 1,491,917 2,045,598
Oct 2005 1,428,827 1,302,892 1,965,450
Nov 2005 1,502,986 1,374,253 2,058,195
Dec 2005 1,356,557 1,376,234 1,990,594
Jan 2006 1,410,289 1,432,683 2,054,309
Feb 2006 1,460,785 1,447,390 2,096,165
Mar 2006 1,407,262 1,447,276 2,095,818
Apr 2006 1,450,448 1,413,888 2,065,425
May 2006 1,484,521 1,439,687 2,224,986
Jun 2006 1,419,368 1,353,346 2,132,509
Jul 2006 1,452,650 1,423,682 2,040,980
Aug 2006 1,405,847 1,380,246 2,052,351
Sep 2006 1,358,985 1,316,145 2,073,467
Oct 2006 1,331,918 1,398,602 2,144,326
Nov 2006 1,446,960 1,387,794 2,229,577
Dec 2006 1,420,679 1,370,741 2,154,608
Jan 2007 1,409,639 1,287,272 2,115,281
Feb 2007 1,393,078 1,294,136 2,202,493
Mar 2007 1,411,430 1,370,502 2,178,838
Apr 2007 1,309,820 1,373,503 2,111,258
May 2007 1,410,149 1,352,687 2,181,448
Jun 2007 1,333,598 1,389,660 2,037,214
Jul 2007 1,324,344 1,343,331 2,045,869
Aug 2007 1,337,920 1,370,599 1,992,727
Sep 2007 1,355,047 1,309,281 2,104,084
Oct 2007 1,383,515 1,395,818 2,027,436
Nov 2007 1,281,548 1,363,251 2,099,231
Dec 2007 1,309,850 1,288,603 2,019,383
Jan 2008 1,217,771 1,269,877 2,023,082
Feb 2008 1,262,912 1,291,378 2,015,008
Mar 2008 1,263,120 1,239,302 1,857,792
Apr 2008 1,231,862 1,215,344 2,160,571
May 2008 1,236,957 1,230,516 1,823,008
Jun 2008 1,273,816 1,219,170 1,896,089
Jul 2008 1,187,865 1,150,430 1,816,436
Aug 2008 1,269,645 1,155,033 1,813,791
Sep 2008 1,089,156 1,111,869 1,772,296
Oct 2008 1,201,954 1,106,524 1,818,684
Nov 2008 1,110,536 992,021 1,525,636
Dec 2008 1,209,249 1,057,698 1,600,882
Jan 2009 1,225,559 940,159 1,634,854
Feb 2009 1,243,700 986,210 1,429,135
Mar 2009 1,150,065 887,705 1,332,012
Apr 2009 1,220,912 869,669 1,361,420
May 2009 1,136,971 889,487 1,493,545
Jun 2009 1,097,273 865,400 1,328,077
Jul 2009 1,320,304 893,442 1,308,501
Aug 2009 1,114,072 880,755 1,419,193
Sep 2009 1,185,031 936,367 1,418,408
Oct 2009 1,238,379 933,386 1,239,511
Nov 2009 1,115,148 971,214 1,501,134
Dec 2009 1,226,484 919,104 1,434,415
Jan 2010 1,170,752 973,298 1,373,246
Feb 2010 1,087,871 962,895 1,420,048
Mar 2010 1,158,651 986,494 1,529,647
Apr 2010 1,255,357 1,025,533 1,419,978
May 2010 1,116,114 963,500 1,530,405
Jun 2010 1,121,494 1,002,751 1,571,730
Jul 2010 1,162,768 1,046,762 1,595,877
Aug 2010 1,138,075 930,594 1,594,389
Sep 2010 1,111,015 997,738 1,576,427
Oct 2010 1,137,516 999,908 1,609,164
Nov 2010 1,120,077 1,055,164 1,605,815
Dec 2010 1,160,044 1,075,095 1,607,322
Jan 2011 1,048,173 1,017,702 1,574,526
Feb 2011 1,192,245 996,951 1,688,950
Mar 2011 1,169,580 1,072,233 1,685,502
Apr 2011 1,131,876 1,119,162 1,671,499
May 2011 1,106,814 1,020,239 1,750,821
Jun 2011 1,216,172 1,035,178 1,756,111
Jul 2011 1,109,922 998,628 1,740,574
Aug 2011 1,145,240 1,079,415 1,644,789
Sep 2011 1,195,530 1,101,563 1,682,709
Oct 2011 1,086,715 1,019,294 1,811,912
Nov 2011 1,201,244 1,063,548 1,698,367
Dec 2011 1,136,007 1,064,969 1,698,529
Jan 2012 1,193,211 1,109,032 1,675,329
Feb 2012 1,178,924 1,045,587 1,920,240
Mar 2012 1,162,416 1,067,826 1,850,816
Apr 2012 1,190,873 1,084,135 1,719,193
May 2012 1,139,691 1,138,575 1,872,741
Jun 2012 1,154,599 1,165,322 1,793,172
Jul 2012 1,089,151 1,032,845 1,765,991
Aug 2012 1,112,769 1,152,600 1,816,371
Sep 2012 1,118,053 1,103,702 1,742,666
Oct 2012 1,065,148 989,872 1,906,174
Nov 2012 1,212,687 1,115,565 1,819,064
Dec 2012 1,136,490 1,080,390 1,871,245
Jan 2013 1,121,119 997,951 1,958,366
Feb 2013 1,238,795 1,125,022 1,892,729
Mar 2013 1,107,566 1,101,311 1,752,245
Apr 2013 1,052,228 1,093,062 2,080,310
May 2013 1,250,398 1,154,137 1,829,976
Jun 2013 1,148,502 1,072,681 1,988,865
Jul 2013 1,147,374 1,104,954 1,918,433
Aug 2013 1,208,593 1,155,864 2,036,422
Sep 2013 1,177,088 1,079,386 2,113,766
Oct 2013 1,110,623 1,143,208 1,839,957
Nov 2013 1,073,131 1,065,698 2,167,660
Dec 2013 1,106,693 1,074,856 2,039,483
Jan 2014 1,104,023 1,154,049 2,028,844
Feb 2014 1,055,989 1,148,844 2,122,444
Mar 2014 1,122,872 1,148,640 2,169,515
Apr 2014 1,042,346 1,119,847 2,143,104
May 2014 1,108,411 1,173,336 2,109,039
Jun 2014 1,083,067 1,211,803 2,170,004
Jul 2014 1,240,653 1,251,579 2,172,983
Aug 2014 1,189,251 1,175,148 2,206,985
Sep 2014 1,226,232 1,190,158 2,254,999
Oct 2014 1,207,446 1,312,524 2,231,064
Nov 2014 1,218,237 1,225,569 2,312,003
Dec 2014 1,267,948 1,232,018 2,284,648
Jan 2015 1,213,062 1,228,166 2,272,373
Feb 2015 1,250,159 1,263,418 2,126,148
Mar 2015 1,231,678 1,241,767 2,279,434
Apr 2015 1,245,923 1,264,923 2,264,581
May 2015 1,291,302 1,207,006 2,302,261
Jun 2015 1,289,104 1,271,444 2,259,159
Jul 2015 1,210,158 1,243,010 2,271,680
Aug 2015 1,275,162 1,237,645 2,271,298
Sep 2015 1,268,954 1,248,053 2,245,990
Oct 2015 1,315,735 1,255,112 2,338,626
Nov 2015 1,246,228 1,243,741 2,414,955
Dec 2015 1,270,772 1,331,290 2,524,798
Jan 2016 1,253,571 1,222,686 2,334,028
Feb 2016 1,310,998 1,271,022 2,471,003
Mar 2016 1,270,692 1,260,761 2,389,419
Apr 2016 1,163,963 1,233,095 2,307,158
May 2016 1,187,302 1,261,620 2,345,003
Jun 2016 1,237,558 1,301,508 2,281,249
Jul 2016 1,254,032 1,229,814 2,398,035
Aug 2016 1,212,786 1,316,852 2,313,075
Sep 2016 1,104,791 1,251,080 2,324,681
Oct 2016 1,243,323 1,291,155 2,331,589
Nov 2016 1,283,522 1,349,233 2,237,211
Dec 2016 1,296,891 1,277,402 2,311,098

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

How do we spend our time? Unpaid Eldercare

Time is a limited resource. We have only 24 hours in a day to do everything we want to do, along with everything we need to do. Caregivers may be especially pressed for time, spending time not only on their own needs, but on the needs of their children or aging family members or friends.

Today I want to focus on care for the elderly. Sixteen percent of the population, amounting to 41.3 million people, provide unpaid eldercare in the United States. About one-quarter of this population provides unpaid eldercare on a given day, spending an average of 2.8 hours providing eldercare. Think about it. That’s almost 3 hours of the day spent caring for someone else—and that doesn’t even count the hours some eldercare providers spend caring for children!

We know this because the American Time Use Survey includes questions about unpaid eldercare. Eldercare commonly refers to the informal or unpaid care that family members or friends provide aging adults, although it can sometimes include formal or paid care. The number of people age 65 and older is expected to rise dramatically over the next two decades. The number of years elderly people live with chronic conditions due to longer life spans is also expected to rise. Because of this, there is wide interest in understanding how much time Americans devote to unpaid eldercare and how it affects caregivers’ lives.

Hours spent providing eldercare by eldercare activity and sex of eldercare provider, on days they provided care, 2015–16

Editor’s note: A text-only version of the graphic is below.

Let’s take a closer look at eldercare providers using the 2015–16 American Time Use Survey data.

Who are they?

  • The majority (56 percent) of eldercare providers are women.
  • People ages 55 to 64 are the most likely to provide eldercare (24 percent), followed by those ages 45 to 54 (21 percent) and those ages 65 and older (19 percent).
  • Sixty-one percent of eldercare providers are employed.
  • Four million people are parents of children under the age of 18 and also provide care for their own parent. These people sometimes are called members of the “sandwich generation,” because they are between two generations that need care.

For whom are they providing care?

  • Thirty-nine percent of eldercare providers care for someone age 85 or older, while 14 percent provide care for someone ages 65 to 69.
  • Most eldercare providers ages 15 to 34 care for a grandparent. Providers ages 35 to 64 are more likely to care for a parent than are caregivers who are younger or older. Providers age 65 and older are more likely to care for a spouse.

How much time are they spending on eldercare?

  • Eldercare providers who care solely for someone with whom they live spend an average of 2.2 hours per day providing care.
  • On weekdays they provide care, employed caregivers spend an average of 1.8 hours doing so.
  • Among caregivers, women are more likely than men to provide eldercare on a given day. On days they provide eldercare, however, men and women spend about the same amount of time providing care.

What types of eldercare activities are they doing?

  • When we think of eldercare, it might be easy to think of just the physical care. However, eldercare may include nearly any activity. Providers care for their family and friends by helping with grooming, preparing meals, providing rides, and more. They also provide companionship or remain available to help when needed.
  • On days they provide care, 37 percent of eldercare providers prepare food, perform housework, or engage in other household tasks.
  • Eldercare providers spend an average of 1.0 hour in caregiving associated with leisure and sports on days they provide care. This includes socializing and communicating.

This is just a snapshot of the eldercare information available from the American Time Use Survey. Find out more about unpaid eldercare in the United States.

Hours spent providing eldercare by eldercare activity and sex of eldercare provider, on days they provided care, 2015–16
Caregiving activity Total Men Women
Total, activities reported as care done for those age 65 and older 2.84 2.77 2.88

Telephone calls, mail, and e-mail

0.03 0.03 0.02

Working and work-related activities

0.05 (1) 0.07

Other activities, not elsewhere classified

0.05 (1) 0.04

Organizational, civic, and religious activities

0.06 0.05 0.06

Purchasing goods and services

0.08 0.07 0.09

Traveling

0.17 0.17 0.17

Eating and drinking

0.19 0.23 0.17

Caring for and helping household members

0.28 0.24 0.31

Caring for and helping nonhousehold members

0.36 0.29 0.40

Household activities

0.54 0.52 0.56

Leisure and sports

1.03 1.10 0.99
 

(1) Estimate is not shown because it does not meet the American Time Use Survey publication standards.

Most Dangerous Jobs?

TV shows like Dangerous Jobs, Deadliest Job Interview, Ax Men, and Deadliest Catch vividly portray some of the most dangerous jobs people have. Here at the Bureau of Labor Statistics we produce data about dangers in the workplace, or workplace injuries, illnesses, and fatalities.

Our list of occupations with high fatal injury rates (on page 19) is often used externally as a list of the “most dangerous” jobs. However, at BLS we strongly believe there is no one measure that tells which job is the most dangerous. Why is that?

A graphic showing the 3 occupations with the highest death rates.

For starters, there is no universal definition of “dangerous” or “hazardous.” There are many other elements that factor into any definition of a “dangerous job,” such as the likelihood of incurring a nonfatal injury, the potential severity of that nonfatal injury, the safety precautions necessary to perform the job, and the physical and mental demands of the job.

It’s also difficult to accurately measure fatal injury rates for occupations with fewer workers.

BLS has certain minimum thresholds that must be met for a fatal injury rate to be published. So, fatal injury rates are not calculated for many occupations that have a relatively small number of fatal work injuries and employment.

A graphic showing the 3 occupations with the highest number of deaths.

Take the occupation elephant trainer*, for instance. Because few workers are employed as elephant trainers, a small number of fatal injuries to elephant trainers would make the fatal injury rate extremely high for a single year, despite their low number of deaths. On the other hand, in most years, this occupation incurs no deaths, rendering their fatality rate 0 and ranking them among the least at risk for incurring a fatal injury.

BLS provides the data to help people, from policymakers to businesses and workers, better understand hazards in the workplace. However, we can only talk about what our data show, such as the number of deaths and fatal injury rates of different occupations. We have to leave it to others to analyze or rank the danger of particular jobs.

*“Elephant trainer” is a hypothetical occupational classification. The classification BLS uses groups these workers with either “artists and performers” or “animal caretakers,” both of which include many more people than just elephant trainers.