Employment Characteristics of Families Technical Note

Technical Note

   The estimates in this release are based on annual average data 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.

   The data presented in this release are not strictly comparable with data for
earlier years due to the introduction of updated population estimates, or controls,
used in the CPS. The population controls are updated each year in January to reflect
the latest information about population change. Additional information is available
from the BLS website at www.bls.gov/cps/documentation.htm#pop. 

   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
exact difference, or sampling error, varies depending on the particular sample
selected, and this 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 www.bls.gov/cps/documentation.htm#reliability.


   Definitions of the principal terms used in this release are presented below.

   Householder. The householder is the family reference person. This is the person
(or one of the persons) in whose name the housing unit is owned or rented. The
relationship of other individuals in the household is defined in terms of their
relationship to the householder. The race or ethnicity of the family is determined
by that of the householder.

   Family. A family is a group of two or more persons residing together who are related
by birth, marriage, or adoption. The count of families is for "primary" families only,
that is, the householder and all other persons related to and residing with the
householder. Families include those without children as well as those with children 
under 18 years and are defined as follows:

   --Married-couple families refer to opposite-sex married couples only.

   --Families maintained by women or men are made up of householders residing with
     one or more family members, but not an opposite-sex spouse. The household may
     or may not include a same-sex spouse or an unmarried domestic partner (of
     either sex).

   This release presents data for two marital status categories, defined below. Marital
status is based on a person's status at the time of the survey.

   Married, spouse present. Married, spouse present,  includes persons in opposite-sex
marriages living together in the same household, even though one may be temporarily
absent on business, on vacation, on a visit, in a hospital, or for other reasons.

   Other marital status. Other marital status includes persons who are never married;
widowed; divorced; separated; married, spouse absent; as well as persons in same-sex
marriages. Separated includes persons with legal separations, those living apart with
intentions of obtaining a divorce, and other persons permanently or temporarily 
separated because of marital discord. Married, spouse absent, includes opposite-sex
married persons living apart because either the husband or wife was employed and living
at a considerable distance from home, was serving away from home in the Armed Forces,
had moved to another area, or had a different place of residence for any other reason
except separation as defined above.

   Children. Data on children refer to own children under age 18 that live in the
household. Included are sons, daughters, step-children, and adopted children of the
husband, wife, or person maintaining the family. Not included are nieces, nephews,
grandchildren, other related children, and all unrelated children living in the

   Employed. Employed persons 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; (c) or worked 15 hours or more as unpaid workers in an enterprise
operated by a member of the family. Persons who were temporarily absent from their jobs
because of illness, vacation, labor disputes, or another reason also are counted as

   Unemployed. The unemployed are persons 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. Persons
who were waiting to be recalled to a job from which they had been laid off need not be
looking for work to be classified as unemployed.

   Civilian labor force. The civilian labor force comprises all persons classified as
employed or unemployed. Unemployment rate.

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

   Labor force participation rate. The labor force participation rate is the labor
force as a percent of the population.

   Employment-population ratio. The employment-population ratio is the employed as a
percent of the population.

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Last Modified Date: April 20, 2017