Displaced Workers Technical Note
Last Modified Date: August 27, 2020
The data presented in this release were collected through a supplement to the January 2020
Current Population Survey (CPS), the monthly survey of about 60,000 eligible households
that provides basic data on employment and unemployment for the nation. The CPS is conducted
by the U.S. Census Bureau for the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The purpose of this
supplement was to obtain information on the number and characteristics of persons who had
been displaced (as defined below) from their jobs over the prior 3 calendar years. The
collection of these data is sponsored by the Department of Labor's Chief Evaluation Office.
Additional information, reports, and archived news releases are available at
Data presented in this release are based on Census 2010 population controls that are updated
annually in January. Additional information, reports, and archived news release are available
Information in this release will be made available to sensory impaired individuals upon request.
Voice phone: (202) 691-5200; Federal Relay Service: (800) 877-8339.
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 confidence.
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.
Information about the reliability of data from the CPS and guidance on estimating standard errors
is available at https://www.bls.gov/cps/documentation.htm#reliability.
Concepts and questions
Displaced workers are wage and salary workers 20 years of age and over who lost or left jobs
because their plant or company closed or moved, there was insufficient work for them to do,
or their position or shift was abolished. Data are often presented for long-tenured displaced
workers--those who had worked for their employer for 3 or more years at the time of displacement.
Wage and salary workers receive wages, salaries, commissions, tips, payment in kind, or piece
rates. The group includes employees in both the private and public sectors but excludes all
self-employed persons, both those with incorporated businesses as well as those with unincorporated
Data discussed in this release on displaced workers were obtained from the following
(This question was asked of all persons 20 years and over.) During the last 3 calendar
years, that is, January 2017 through December 2019, did (you/name) lose a job or leave one
because: (your/his/her) plant or company closed or moved, (your/his/her) position or shift
was abolished, insufficient work, or another similar reason?
(If the respondent answered "yes" to the above question on job loss, the following question
was then asked.) Which of these specific reasons describes why (name/you) (is/are) no longer
working at that job?
Plant or company closed down or moved
Plant or company operating but lost or left job because of:
Position or shift abolished
Seasonal job completed
Self-operated business failed
Some other reason
Respondents who provided one of the first three reasons--plant or company closed or moved,
insufficient work, or position or shift abolished--were classified as displaced and asked additional
questions about the lost job, including how many years they had worked for their employer; the year
the job was lost; the earnings, industry, and occupation of the lost job; and whether health
insurance had been provided. Other questions were asked to determine what occurred before and after
the job loss, such as: Was the respondent notified of the upcoming dismissal? How long did he/she
go without work? Did he/she receive unemployment benefits? And, if so, were the benefits used up?
Did the person move to another location after the job loss to take or look for another job? Information
also was collected about current health insurance coverage (other than Medicare and Medicaid) and
current earnings for those employed at the time of the survey.