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September 1996, Vol. 119, No. 9
Clyde Tucker and Brian Kojetin
Since 1977, Federal data collection agencies have been required to obtain and present racial and ethnic origin information according to Statistical Policy Directive No.15.1 The basic racial categories set forth in the directive are: American Indian or Alaskan Native; Asian or Pacific Islander; black; and white. Ethnic categories specified in the directive are: Hispanic-origin and not of Hispanic-origin. Federal agencies have used these standards for record keeping, data collection, and presentation of data on race and Hispanic-origin for almost two decades. However, they have come under increasing criticism from persons who believe that the basic categories do not reflect the growing diversity of the Nation's population. Some groups also have proposed changing the names of several categories.
In response to these concerns, the Office of Management and Budget established the Interagency Committee for the Review of the Racial and Ethnic Standards. From this committee, a research working group developed a research agenda, recommending that certain studies be conducted by Federal agencies. The research agenda included a supplement to the May 1995 Current Population Survey (CPS)2 that was designed to collect information on several key issues under review. This article describes the results of a May 1995 CPS supplement that tested different questions to assess race and ethnic origin. Results from the supplement also are compared with race and ethnic tabulations from the CPS, which contains only the basic categories in the directive.
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1 Statistical Policy Directive No. 15, issued by Office of management and budget in 1977, is entitled, "Race and Ethnic Standards for Federal Statistics and Administering."
2 The Current Population Survey (CPS) is a sample survey of 60,000 U.S. households. Each month, labor force statistics are derived from the CPS, which is conducted by the Bureau of the Census for the Bureau of Labor Statistics. BLS analyzes and publishes labor force statistics, classified by demographic, social, and economic characteristics.
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