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Economic News Release
CPS CPS Program Links

Work Experience Technical Note

Technical Note
    The data presented in this release were collected in the Annual Social and Economic Supplement (ASEC)
to the Current Population Survey (CPS). The CPS is a monthly sample survey of about 60,000 eligible households,
conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau for the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Data from the CPS are
used to obtain the monthly estimates of the nation's employment and unemployment levels. The ASEC, conducted
in the months of February through April, includes questions about work activity during the prior calendar year.
For instance, data collected in 2023 refer to the 2022 calendar year. Because the reference period is a full 
year, the number of persons with some employment or unemployment greatly exceeds the average levels for any
given month, which are based on a 1-week reference period, and the corresponding annual average of the monthly
estimates. As shown below, for example, the number experiencing any unemployment was about twice the number
unemployed in an average month during the year.

                	Employed	Unemployed
2022 estimates (in thousands)
Annual average of
monthly estimates	158,291	        5,996
Annual supplement data	169,767	        12,977

    In addition, estimates from the supplement differ from those obtained in the basic CPS because the
supplement uses different questions to classify workers as either employed or unemployed, and there are
fewer supplement questions on work and job search activity. Regarding unemployment, the supplement has no
questions on the type of job search activity or on the respondent's availability to workódefining 
characteristics of unemployment in the basic CPS estimates. Also, individuals can be counted as both employed
and unemployed in the work experience supplement data because it includes all work experience over a calendar
year, whereas, for a specific monthly reference week, each person is only counted in one category and employment
activity takes precedence over job search activity.
    The data presented in this release are not strictly comparable with data for earlier years due to the
introduction of updated population 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 at 

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.
    A full discussion of the reliability of data from the CPS and information on estimating standard errors is
available at 

    Concepts and definitions

    The principal terms used in this release are described briefly below. 

    Persons who worked. In the 2023 supplement, persons are considered to have worked if they responded "yes" to
either the question "Did you work at a job or business at any time during 2022?" or "Did you do any temporary,
part-time, or seasonal work even for a few days during 2022?"

    Unemployed persons. Persons who worked during the year but not in every week are counted as unemployed if they
also reported looking for work or being on layoff from a job during the year. Those who reported no work activity
during the year are considered unemployed if they responded "yes" to the question "Even though you did not work
in 2022, did you spend any time trying to find a job or on layoff?"

    Work-experience unemployment rate. The number of persons unemployed at some time during the year as a proportion
of the number of persons who worked or looked for work during the year.

    Labor force participants. Persons who either worked or were unemployed during the year.

    Usual full- and part-time employment. These data refer to the number of hours a worker typically works during
most weeks of the year. Workers are classified as full time if they usually worked 35 hours or more in a week;
part-time employment refers to workers whose typical workweek was between 1 and 34 hours.

    Year-round and part-year employment. Workers are classified as year round if they worked 50 to 52 weeks. 
Part-year employment refers to workers who worked fewer than 50 weeks.

    Other information

    If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or have a speech disability, please dial 7-1-1 to access telecommunications
relay services.

Last Modified Date: December 19, 2023