Labor Force Data Derived from the Current Population
Presentation and Uses
The CPS provides comprehensive information on the social,
demographic, and economic characteristics of the civilian
noninstitutional population 16 years of age and older.
Each month, the employment and unemployment data are published
initially in The Employment Situation
news release about 2 weeks
after they are collected. The release includes a narrative
summary and analysis of the major employment and unemployment
developments, together with tables containing statistics for
the principal data series. The news release is available on
the Internet and can be accessed via the World Wide Web. The
Universal Resource Locator is:
The news release also is available on the BLS fax-on-demand service.
More detailed statistics are subsequently published in
Employment and Earnings, a monthly periodical. The detailed
tables provide information on the labor force, employment,
and unemployment by a number of characteristics, such as age,
sex, race, marital status, industry, and occupation.
In addition, the January issue of Employment and Earnings
provides annual averages for employment and earnings by
detailed occupational categories and union affiliation, as well
as estimates of employee absences.
Thousands of labor force data series are maintained in
LABSTAT, the BLS public database on the Internet. They can
be accessed at www.bls.gov/cps/cpsatabs.htm,
The CPS also is used to obtain detailed information on
particular segments of the population and labor force. Generally,
these "supplemental" inquiries are repeated annually or biennially
in the same month and include topics such as annual earnings and
total incomes of individuals and families (published by the Census
Bureau); the extent of work experience of the population during
the prior calendar year; the employment of school-age youths, high
school graduates, and dropouts; contingent workers; job tenure;
displaced workers; and disabled veterans. Some additional
supplements that are unrelated to labor force issues, such as
those on smoking and voting, also are conducted through the CPS.
Supplemental questions are asked following the completion of the
regular monthly labor force questions.
Generally, the persons who provide information for the monthly
CPS questions also answer the supplemental questions.
Occasionally, the kind of information sought in the special survey
requires the respondent to be the person about whom the questions
are asked. Results of these special surveys usually are published
in news releases and in the Monthly Labor Review
or BLS reports.
In addition to the regularly tabulated statistics described
above, special data can be generated from the public-use versions
of CPS individual record (microdata) files. These files contain
records of the responses to the survey questionnaire for all
individuals in the survey, edited to protect the confidentiality
of the respondents. While the files can be used simply to create
additional cross-sectional detail, an important feature of their
use is the ability to match the records of specific individuals at
different points during their participation in the survey.
By matching these records, data files can be created that lend
themselves to some limited longitudinal analysis and the
investigation of short-run labor market dynamics. Microdata files
are available for all months since January 1976 and for various
months in prior years. These data are made available on CD-Rom.
Address inquiries regarding these files to: Division of Data
Development and Publications, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Room
4965, 2 Massachusetts Ave., NE., Washington, DC 20212-0001,
telephone 202-691-6345; e-mail
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