Tag Archives: Methodology

Celebrating 75 Years of BLS Regional Offices

World War II had a significant impact on the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 1942, the Office of Price Administration asked BLS to help them understand what was going on with prices and price controls. Price controls? Remember, this was during World War II and there was significant government intervention in markets. Shortly after that, the National War Labor Board asked BLS to conduct surveys and evaluate wage rate increases. These two projects showed the need for local information, not just national averages. Why am I writing about events from World War II? Well, the growing need for local data led BLS to create our regional offices, and we recently celebrated their 75th anniversary. I want to tell you a little about these offices and their rich history.

Today, BLS staff throughout the country collect price and wage data and more. As you can imagine, the uses of these data and the methods for collecting them have changed significantly. Our regional offices collect survey data, work closely with our state partners, and help people find and understand the information they need.

Survey data collection has changed significantly from the 1940s. Today our regional staff throughout the country work with survey respondents to make it as easy as possible to provide accurate information. Modern technology makes it easier to respond to our surveys, but even more important is the close relationships our regional staff have with survey respondents. That high-touch, high-tech approach has proven successful and helped us achieve high response rates.

BLS has a long history of working with states. We wrote about this unique and important partnership back in 2016. Our regional staff work closely with their state colleagues to provide data that are timely, accurate, and relevant to the local economy. We are proud of our partnership with the states.

Finally, each regional office has a small staff of economists dedicated to providing information to the public. These Economic Analysis and Information staff write news releases and other reports that focus on local data. The staff support our data collection efforts through outreach to local business communities and associations. The staff also provide information to people and businesses who use data to make important decisions.

What started as a way to provide analysis on government price controls and wage increases has evolved and blossomed into an integral part of BLS. The pioneering staff from our past and the dedicated staff of today allow us to produce gold standard economic statistics.

Congratulations to the BLS regional offices staff on 75 years of excellent service to the nation!

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

Trying to Understand an Unusual Employment Report

This column is called the Commissioner’s Corner, but I’m just keeping the seat warm until a new Commissioner is nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate. More often than not I feel like I’m back in school, having to learn new concepts from scratch. Fortunately, I’m surrounded by incredibly knowledgeable and dedicated BLS employees who go out of their way to make sure things are done correctly and are very patient in helping me to learn new things. That certainly was the case with the September 2017 Employment Situation report, released on October 6.

The turnaround time from data collection to processing to publication of most BLS data series is very short. That’s the case with the monthly employment and unemployment information. I first saw the payroll employment information about 48 hours before we would release it, and my reaction isn’t suitable for a G-rated blog. What happened? The employment information looked so much different from the recent trend. Fortunately, some more information from that dedicated staff helped me to understand what was going on.

If you haven’t heard, it’s hurricane season. And several storms affected the United States in August and September. Evacuations, damaged businesses, and damaged homes have a lot of implications, including for the job market. Let me give you my description of what the data reveal, using (I hope) some nontechnical terms.

The monthly Employment Situation release contains information from two separate surveys—a survey of businesses (called the Current Employment Statistics program) and a survey of households (called the Current Population Survey). We get different information from each survey, but over time they typically tell a consistent story. For example, during the 2007–09 recession, the business survey showed a decline in jobs, while the household survey showed an increase in unemployment. A consistent story.

So what happened in September 2017?

The business survey asks how many workers were paid for any time during the payroll period that includes the 12th of September. An important fact to understand is that people who did not receive pay for the payroll period are not counted as employed. In September, the business survey showed that the number of jobs in “food service and drinking places” (let’s call them restaurants) declined by 105,000 from the previous month. That’s very different from the trend, which has shown consistent job gains. Workers in these jobs are typically paid on an hourly basis and don’t get paid if they don’t work. This large decline in restaurant jobs in turn affected the overall number of jobs, which declined by 33,000.

Chart showing over-the-month change in food services and drinking places employment

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

In contrast, the household survey showed an increase in people who were employed and a decrease in the unemployment rate. Once again, it is important to understand definitions. In this survey, people are counted as employed if they had a job but did not work due to bad weather, whether or not they were paid. So those same restaurant workers who were not paid and therefore not counted in the business survey were counted as employed in the household survey.

And the household survey tells us more. In something we call the “bad weather” series, 1.5 million employed Americans were not at work due to bad weather during the week that included September 12. This is the highest number for that series in over 20 years. In contrast, in September 2016 there were only 24,000 people in this category. The number of “bad weather” workers was unusually high because Hurricane Irma happened to fall during the week that included September 12—the reference period for the survey. The figure was much lower for many other major weather events, including Hurricane Katrina in 2005, because those events fell outside the reference period for the survey.

Chart showing the number of people each month with a job in nonagricultural industries but were not at work because of bad weather.

Editor’s note: Data for this chart are available at https://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNU02036012

So what I thought would be a major story turned out to be easily explained by weather events and differing definitions. And it taught me something new about the wide variety of information available from BLS.

One last note. The national information included in the monthly Employment Situation news release does not include data for the U.S. territories, such as Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Data for some territories are included with the State Employment and Unemployment news release, which typically is available a couple weeks after the national data. Want to know about how recent hurricanes have affected BLS data? See our page about Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria.

Over-the-month change in food services and drinking places employment
Month Change
Jan 2014 22,700
Feb 2014 6,500
Mar 2014 61,000
Apr 2014 36,600
May 2014 39,600
Jun 2014 25,000
Jul 2014 13,500
Aug 2014 23,300
Sep 2014 31,400
Oct 2014 24,700
Nov 2014 26,300
Dec 2014 36,400
Jan 2015 17,600
Feb 2015 46,200
Mar 2015 11,600
Apr 2015 37,100
May 2015 33,900
Jun 2015 46,500
Jul 2015 39,700
Aug 2015 26,400
Sep 2015 36,200
Oct 2015 52,900
Nov 2015 30,800
Dec 2015 38,000
Jan 2016 30,000
Feb 2016 28,100
Mar 2016 32,700
Apr 2016 16,900
May 2016 24,600
Jun 2016 21,900
Jul 2016 19,100
Aug 2016 32,300
Sep 2016 20,800
Oct 2016 11,500
Nov 2016 23,700
Dec 2016 14,700
Jan 2017 18,000
Feb 2017 20,600
Mar 2017 27,900
Apr 2017 26,100
May 2017 37,200
Jun 2017 20,500
Jul 2017 52,000
Aug 2017(p) 8,600
Sep 2017(p) -104,700
Footnotes:

(p) = preliminary

BLS Staff Member Receives Prestigious Honor

Daniell Toth

ASA Fellow Daniell Toth

One of the things I love about leading BLS is working with so many dedicated and talented professionals, who care deeply about the quality of the statistics we publish. One of our colleagues recently was recognized for his good work. All of us at BLS congratulate Daniell Toth, a research mathematical statistician in the Office of Survey Methods Research, who was selected as a Fellow of the American Statistical Association.

Only one-third of one percent of the ASA’s membership receives this prestigious distinction. Daniell has been honored for outstanding contributions to survey methods. Among these contributions are better methods for designing survey samples and assessing and reducing the bias that can result from survey nonresponse. The honor also recognizes Daniell’s research on methods to protect the confidentiality of survey respondents. In addition to Daniell’s important research, the ASA recognized his long service to support junior statisticians and researchers, the broader statistical community, and the ASA itself. Congratulations, Daniell!