Department of Labor Logo United States Department of Labor
Dot gov

The .gov means it's official.
Federal government websites often end in .gov or .mil. Before sharing sensitive information, make sure you're on a federal government site.


The site is secure.
The https:// ensures that you are connecting to the official website and that any information you provide is encrypted and transmitted securely.

Economic News Release
CPS CPS Program Links

Persons with a Disability: Labor Force Characteristics Technical Note

Technical Note

   The estimates in this release are based on annual average data obtained from  
the Current Population Survey (CPS). The CPS, which is conducted by the U.S. 
Census Bureau for the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), is a monthly survey of 
about 60,000 eligible households that provides information on the labor force 
status, demographics, and other characteristics of the nation's civilian
noninstitutional population age 16 and over.
   Questions were added to the CPS in June 2008 to identify people with a 
disability in the civilian noninstitutional population age 16 and over. The 
addition of these questions allowed the BLS to begin releasing monthly labor 
force data from the CPS for people with a disability. The collection of these 
data is sponsored by the Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment 
   If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or have a speech disability, please dial
7-1-1 to access telecommunications relay services.

Reliability of the estimates

   Statistics based on the CPS are subject to both sampling and nonsampling 
error. When a sample, rather than the entire population, is surveyed, there is 
a chance that the sample estimates may differ from the true population values 
they represent. The component of this difference that occurs because samples 
differ by chance is known as sampling error, and its variability is measured 
by the standard error of the estimate. There is about a 90-percent chance, or
level of confidence, that an estimate based on a sample will differ by no more 
than 1.6 standard errors from the true population value because of sampling 
error. BLS analyses are generally conducted at the 90-percent level of 

   The CPS data also are affected by nonsampling error. Nonsampling error can 
occur for many reasons, including the failure to sample a segment of the 
population, inability to obtain information for all respondents in the sample, 
inability or unwillingness of respondents to provide correct information, and
errors made in the collection or processing of the data.

   Additional information about the reliability of data from the CPS and 
estimating standard errors is available at

   CPS estimates are controlled to population totals that are available by 
age, sex, race, and Hispanic ethnicity. These controls are developed by the 
Census Bureau and are based on complete population counts obtained in the 
decennial census. In the years between decennial censuses, they incorporate 
the latest information about population change (births, deaths, and net
international migration). As part of its annual update of population
estimates, the Census Bureau introduces adjustments to the total population
controls. The updated controls typically have a negligible impact on 
unemployment rates and other ratios. The estimates of the population of 
people with a disability are not controlled to independent population totals 
of people with a disability because such data are not available. Without 
independent population totals, sample-based estimates are more apt to vary 
from one time period to the next. Information about population controls is 
available at

Disability questions and concepts

   The CPS uses a set of six questions to identify people with disabilities. 
In the CPS, people are classified as having a disability if there is a response 
of "yes" to any of these questions. The disability questions appear in the CPS 
in the following format:

   This month we want to learn about people who have physical, mental, or emotional
conditions that cause serious difficulty with their daily activities. Please answer
for household members who are 15 years old or over.

   --Is anyone deaf or does anyone have serious difficulty 

   --Is anyone blind or does anyone have serious difficulty
     seeing even when wearing glasses?

   --Because of a physical, mental, or emotional condition, does
     anyone have serious difficulty concentrating, remembering, or
     making decisions?

   --Does anyone have serious difficulty walking or climbing

   --Does anyone have difficulty dressing or bathing?

   --Because of a physical, mental, or emotional condition, does
     anyone have difficulty doing errands alone such as visiting a
     doctor's office or shopping?

   The CPS questions for identifying individuals with disabilities are only 
asked of household members who are age 15 and over. Each of the questions ask 
the respondent whether anyone in the household has the condition described, and 
if the respondent replies "yes," they are then asked to identify everyone in 
the household who has the condition. Labor force measures from the CPS are 
tabulated for people age 16 and over. More information on the disability 
questions and the limitations of the CPS disability data is available on the 
BLS website at

Other definitions

   Other definitions used in this release are described briefly below. 
Additional information on the concepts and methodology of the CPS is available 

   Employed.  Employed people are all those who, during the survey reference 
week, (a) did any work at all as paid employees; (b) worked in their own 
business, profession, or on their own farm; or (c) worked 15 hours or more as 
unpaid workers in a family member's business.  People who were temporarily 
absent from their jobs because of illness, bad weather, vacation, labor 
dispute, or another reason also are counted as employed.

   Unemployed.  Unemployed people are those who had no employment during the 
reference week, were available for work at that time, and had made specific 
efforts to find employment sometime during the 4-week period ending with the 
reference week. People who were waiting to be recalled to a job from which they 
had been laid off need not have been looking for work to be classified as 

   Civilian labor force.  The civilian labor force comprises all people
classified as employed or unemployed.

   Unemployment rate.  The unemployment rate is the number unemployed as a 
percent of the labor force.

   Not in the labor force.  People not in the labor force include all those who 
are not classified as employed or unemployed. Information is collected on their 
desire for and availability to take a job at the time of the CPS interview, job 
search activity in the prior year, and reason for not looking in the 4-week 
period ending with the reference week. This group includes individuals marginally 
attached to the labor force, defined as people not in the labor force who want 
and are available for a job and who have looked for work sometime in the past 12 
months (or since the end of their last job if they held one within the past 12 
months). They are not counted as unemployed because they had not actively searched 
for work in the prior 4 weeks. Within the marginally attached group are discouraged 
workers--people who are not currently looking for work because they believe there 
are no jobs available or there are none for which they would qualify. The other 
persons marginally attached to the labor force group includes people who want 
a job but had not looked for work in the past 4 weeks for reasons such as family 
responsibilities or transportation problems.

   Part time for economic reasons.  People classified as at work part time for 
economic reasons, a measure sometimes referred to as involuntary part time, are 
those who gave an economic reason for working 1 to 34 hours during the reference 
week. Economic reasons include slack work or unfavorable business conditions, 
inability to find full-time work, and seasonal declines in demand. Those who 
usually work part time must also indicate that they want and are available for 
full-time work to be classified as part time for economic reasons.

   Occupation, industry, and class of worker.  The occupation, industry, and 
class of worker classifications for the employed relate to the job held in the 
survey reference week. People with two or more jobs are classified in the job 
at which they worked the greatest number of hours. People are classified using 
the 2018 Census occupational and 2017 Census industry classification systems. 
The class-of-worker breakdown assigns workers to the following categories: 
private and government wage and salary workers, self-employed workers, and 
unpaid family workers. Wage and salary workers receive wages, salary, 
commissions, tips, or pay in kind from a private employer or from a government 
unit. Self-employed people are those who work for profit or fees in their own 
business, profession, trade, or farm. Only the unincorporated self-employed are 
included in the self-employed category. Self-employed people who respond that 
their businesses are incorporated are included among wage and salary workers. 
Unpaid family workers are people working without pay for 15 hours a week or 
more on a farm or in a business operated by a family member in their household.

Last Modified Date: February 22, 2024