Employment and Unemployment Among Youth Technical Note
Last Modified Date: August 18, 2020
The estimates in this release were obtained from the Current Population Survey (CPS),
a national sample survey of about 60,000 eligible households conducted monthly for the
Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) by the U.S. Census Bureau. The data in this release
relate to the employment status of youth (16- to 24-year-olds) during the months of
April-July. This period was selected as being the most representative time frame in
which to measure the full summertime transition from school to work. July is the peak
summer month of youth employment.
Beginning in January of each year, data reflect revised population controls used in
the CPS. Additional information about population controls is available on 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 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.
More information on the reliability of data from the CPS and estimating standard errors
is available online at www.bls.gov/cps/documentation.htm#reliability.
The principal definitions used in this release are described briefly below.
Employed. Employed persons are all those who, during the survey reference week (which
is generally the week including the 12th day of the month), (a) did any work at all as
paid employees; (b) worked in their own business, profession, or on their own farm;
(c) worked 15 hours or more as unpaid workers in a family member's business. Persons who
were temporarily absent from their jobs because of illness, bad weather, vacation, labor
dispute, or another reason also are counted as employed.
Unemployed. The unemployed 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. Persons 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 unemployed. Looking for full-time work refers to 35 hours or more
per week; part-time work refers to fewer than 35 hours per week.
Civilian labor force. This group comprises all persons classified as employed or
Unemployment rate. The unemployment rate is the number of unemployed persons 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.
Not in the labor force. Included in this group are all persons in the civilian
noninstitutional population who are neither employed nor unemployed.
Industry and class of worker. This information applies to the job held during the
reference week. Persons with two or more jobs are classified in the job at which they
worked the greatest number of hours. Beginning with data for 2020, persons are classified
using the 2017 Census industry classification system. The class-of-worker breakdown
assigns workers to the following categories: Private and government wage and salary
workers, unincorporated self-employed workers, and unpaid family workers.
Wage and salary workers. Included in this group are persons who receive wages, salary,
commissions, tips, or pay in kind from a private employer or from a government entity.
Self-employed workers. Included in this group are those who work for profit or fees
in their own unincorporated business, profession, trade, or farm. Only unincorporated
self-employed are included in the self-employed category. Self-employed persons whose
businesses are incorporated are included with private wage and salary workers.
Unpaid family workers. Included in this group are persons working without pay for
15 hours a week or more on a farm or in a business operated by a family member in their