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

   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.

   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 are classified either as married-couple families or as families maintained by
women or men without spouses. Families include those without children as well as those with
children under 18.

   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 relationship to the householder. The
race or ethnicity of the family is determined by that of the householder. 

   Married, spouse present; other marital status. These terms denote the marital status of
individuals at the time of interview. Married, spouse present, refers to husbands and wives
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 includes
persons who are never-married; married, spouse absent; separated; widowed; or divorced. 
Separated includes persons with legal separations, those living apart with intentions of 
obtaining a divorce, and other people permanently or temporarily separated because of marital
discord. Married, spouse absent, includes married people 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 household.

   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 employed.

   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. 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 22, 2016