Recent Changes in the National Current Employment Statistics Survey

Article excerpt

The conversion of the survey to the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) will provide statistics that better reflect today's high-technology and service-providing industries; other important changes are a shift to a probability-based sample and the incorporation of concurrent seasonal adjustment

The Current Employment Statistics (CES) survey for the national series underwent a number of important changes with the release of May 2003 preliminary data on June 6 of that year. First and foremost, the CES survey converted to the 2002 North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) from the 1987 Standard Industrial Classification System (SIC). With the release of national data in June 2003, all CES data--both the current and the historical series--are now based on NAICS.

The CES survey also completed the transition to a probability-based sample design from a quota-based sample design. Yet another change to the national series was the introduction of concurrent seasonal adjustment, in which seasonal factors are calculated each month to produce seasonally adjusted data series.

This article covers changes as they occurred in the national CES series. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has a separate CES State and Area program that provides employment, hours, and earnings statistics for States and metropolitan areas. (1) The State and Area program converted to NAICS with the release of preliminary January 2003 data in March 2003. (2)

Overview of the CES program

The CES survey is a sample survey of business establishments that is conducted each month. Preliminary national data are released 3 weeks after the reference period. Businesses report the number of employees, hours worked, and earnings of workers on their payrolls who received pay for the pay period that includes the 12th day of the month. The CES program then calculates estimates of the number of nonfarm jobs, average hours, and earnings by industry for the Nation, States, and major metropolitan areas. Estimates from the CES survey are benchmarked once a year to universe counts provided by the Covered Employment and Wages program (commonly known as the ES-202).

The CES program publishes estimates of all employees, women workers, and production workers in the goods-producing industries and nonsupervisory workers in the service-providing industries. In addition, average weekly hours, average hourly earnings, and average weekly earnings of the production or nonsupervisory workers are calculated; other derivative series are also published. CES data serve as timely statistics that are widely followed and much anticipated as indicators of current economic trends.

Difference between NAICS and SIC

NAICS is an improvement over the SIC system, which was last revised in 1987. NAICS varies from the SIC system chiefly in its method of classification and coding structure; it also provides a comparable industry classification system for the countries of North America.

A new classification system for the NAFTA trading partners. NAICS is a new industry classification system that was devised by the statistical agencies of the United States, Mexico, and Canada. NAICS provides industry comparability among the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) trading partners. The developers of NAICS also sought to provide comparability with the two-digit level of the International Standard Industrial Classification (ISIC), Revision 3.

The U.S. Economic Classification Policy Committee represented the United States in the negotiations with the other countries. The committee, which was established by the Office of Management and Budget and was directed to create a new industry classification system, consists of members from the Census Bureau, the Bureau of Economic Analysis, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Classification based on production processes. NAICS is based on a unifying classification concept: establishments should be grouped together according to their production processes. …