June 2011, Vol. 134, No. 6
Labor month in review
The June Review
People with disabilities and employment
Executive editor retires
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Labor month in review from past issues
The article leading this month's Review examines changes in employment in establishments in which extended mass layoffs took place. Bureau authors Dina Itkin and Laurie Salmon analyze business establishment microdata—created from a combination of microdata from the Occupational Employment Statistics program and the Mass Layoff Statistics program—to look into how occupational employment was affected from 2000 to 2007. The authors reveal that jobs lost in establishments with extended mass layoffs tended to be those which were associated with little training and few analytical skills. Jobs in occupations associated with strong analytical skills and extensive technical training generally were retained, as were jobs in occupations that were core to their industry. The authors also include findings by industry as well as by geographic region.
As the baby-boom generation retires, it is in some ways redefining what "retirement" is. In this month's second article, Michael D. Giandrea of the Bureau, Kevin E. Cahill, and Joseph F. Quinn (the latter two from the Sloan Center on Aging & Work at Boston College) look into how this structural shift affects retirees. The authors find that retirement is no longer a "one-time, permanent event"; instead of retiring in this way, workers are increasingly likely to gradually exit the labor force by moving to another job, commonly referred to as a "bridge job," before permanently retiring. Using data from the Retirement History Survey, the article shows that a considerable number of older Americans with career jobs returned to the labor force after having retired. In addition, the authors indicate that workers were more likely to reenter the workforce after retirement if they were younger, were in better health, or had a defined-contribution pension plan.
This issue of the Review concludes with an article that compares data from multiple surveys which seem to indicate that statistics on hours worked vary according to the survey method used. The authors conclude that "time-estimate questions" generate higher estimates of the time workers spend doing paid work than do time diaries. Time-estimate questions, such as those used by the Current Population Survey, are those in which respondents are asked to estimate the amount of time they spend or spent doing a certain activity, such as working or watching television. In contrast, the diary approach, as utilized by the American Time Use Survey and two surveys conducted in Belgium, involves asking respondents to recall their activities sequentially for a specific period such as the previous day, with the total of the day's activities summing to exactly 24 hours. The article discusses the various strengths and possible weaknesses of each approach and makes suggestions regarding potential survey improvements.
The unemployment rate among people with disabilities in 2010 was 14.8 percent, compared with 9.4 percent among people who did not have a disability, according to figures released this month by BLS from the Current Population Survey (CPS). The data also indicate that the share of adults with disabilities who were employed last year was 18.6 percent, compared with 63.5 percent among adults without disabilities. This gap in employment exists in part because people with disabilities tend to be older, and older people are less likely to be employed, regardless of disability status. The CPS, a household survey, asks respondents whether anyone in the household age 15 or older is deaf or has serious difficulty hearing; is blind or has serious difficulty seeing even when wearing glasses; has difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions, because of a physical, mental, or emotional condition; has difficulty walking or climbing stairs; has difficulty bathing or dressing; or has difficulty doing errands alone, such as visiting a doctor's office or shopping, because of a physical, mental, or emotional condition. The news release regarding these data is available at www.bls.gov/news.release/archives/disabl_06242011.htm. Additional information is available at www.bls.gov/cps.
With the publication of this issue, William Parks II, executive editor of the Monthly Labor Review, retires from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Bill's tenure at the Bureau is filled with noteworthy contributions to the agency and to the Review, and these contributions are a direct result of his knowledge of Bureau programs and data, his dedication to the goals and objectives of the organization, and his commitment to public service.
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