Notes on Current Labor Statistics

Monthly Labor Review, June 2013 | Go to article overview

Notes on Current Labor Statistics


This section of the Review presents the principal statistical series collected and calculated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics: series on labor force; employment; unemployment; labor compensation; consumer, producer, and international prices; productivity; international comparisons; and injury and illness statistics. In the notes that follow, the data in each group of tables are briefly described; key definitions are given; notes on the data are set forth; and sources of additional information are cited.

General notes

The following notes apply to several tables in this section:

Seasonal adjustment. Certain monthly and quarterly data are adjusted to eliminate the effect on the data of such factors as climatic conditions, industry production schedules, opening and closing of schools, holiday buying periods, and vacation practices, which might prevent short-term evaluation of the statistical series. Tables containing data that have been adjusted are identified as "seasonally adjusted." (All other data are not seasonally adjusted.) Seasonal effects are estimated on the basis of current and past experiences. When new seasonal factors are computed each year, revisions may affect seasonally adjusted data for several preceding years.

Seasonally adjusted data appear in tables 1-14, 17-21, 48, and 52. Seasonally adjusted labor force data in tables 1 and 4-9 and seasonally adjusted establishment survey data shown in tables 1, 12-14, and 17 usually are revised in the March issue of the Review. A brief explanation of the seasonal adjustment methodology appears in "Notes on the data."

Revisions in the productivity data in table 54 are usually introduced in the September issue. Seasonally adjusted indexes and percent changes from month-to-month and quarter-to-quarter are published for numerous Consumer and Producer Price Index series. However, seasonally adjusted indexes are not published for the U.S. average All-Items CPI. Only seasonally adjusted percent changes are available for this series.

Adjustments for price changes. Some data--such as the "real" earnings shown in table 14--are adjusted to eliminate the effect of changes in price. These adjustments are made by dividing current-dollar values by the Consumer Price Index or the appropriate component of the index, then multiplying by 100. For example, given a current hourly wage rate of $3 and a current price index number of 150, where 1982 = 100, the hourly rate expressed in 1982 dollars is $2 ($3/150 x 100 = $2). The $2 (or any other resulting values) are described as "real," "constant," or "1982" dollars.

Sources of information

Data that supplement the tables in this section are published by the Bureau in a variety of sources. Definitions of each series and notes on the data are contained in later sections of these Notes describing each set of data. For detailed descriptions of each data series, see BLS Handbook of Methods, Bulletin 2490. Users also may wish to consult Major Programs of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Report 919. News releases provide the latest statistical information published by the Bureau; the major recurring releases are published according to the schedule appearing on the back cover of this issue.

More information about labor force, employment, and unemployment data and the household and establishment surveys underlying the data are available in the Bureau's monthly publication, Employment and Earnings. Historical unadjusted and seasonally adjusted data from the household survey are available on the Internet:

www.bls.gov/cps/

Historically comparable unadjusted and seasonally adjusted data from the establishment survey also are available on the Internet:

www.bls.gov/ces/

Additional information on labor force data for areas below the national level are provided in the BLS annual report, Geographic Profile of Employment and Unemployment.

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