Department of Labor Logo United States Department of Labor
Dot gov

The .gov means it's official.
Federal government websites often end in .gov or .mil. Before sharing sensitive information, make sure you're on a federal government site.


The site is secure.
The https:// ensures that you are connecting to the official website and that any information you provide is encrypted and transmitted securely.

Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey : Design

The Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) sample design is a probability-based stratified random sample. The basic sample unit is an establishment at a single physical location. Most sampled establishments remain in the survey for 36 months and, after completing time in sample, are not sampled again for at least 3 years. The sample of establishments is stratified by ownership (private or public), census region (Northeast, Midwest, South, and West), industry sector, and size class. Establishment level industry codes are assigned using the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). The private sector is stratified into the following subsectors: mining and logging; construction; durable goods manufacturing; nondurable goods manufacturing; wholesale trade; retail trade; transportation, warehousing, and utilities; information; finance and insurance; real estate and rental and leasing; professional and business services; educational services; health care and social assistance; arts, entertainment, and recreation; accommodation and food services; and other services. The government sector is subdivided into federal government, state and local government education, and state and local government excluding education. There are six employment size classes: 1–9; 10–49; 50–249; 250–999; 1,000–4,999; and 5,000 or more. All establishments with 5,000 or more employees are included in the sample with virtual certainty and remain in the sample as long the employment count remains at or above 5,000 employees.

The sample is divided into a single certainty panel and 24 noncertainty panels. Each month, a new noncertainty panel is rolled into the sample while an old noncertainty panel is rolled out of the sample. This approach maintains 24 active noncertainty panels plus the certainty panel. Noncertainty sample units are requested to provide data for 24 months.

JOLTS sample units (noncertainties) are allocated to the various strata using a standard Neyman allocation formula:


 is the number of units assigned to stratum h

 is the number of sample units to be allocated

 is the number of population elements in stratum h

 is the standard deviation of the population in stratum h

This formula assigns sample units to each stratum based on the number of frame units in each stratum and the standard deviation within the stratum relative to other strata. The standard deviation of the population is approximated based on the frame employment of the strata. That is, strata with larger or larger standard deviation get more sample relative to those with smaller  or.

Each year, a new 12-panel sample is selected. At the time of the annual sample selection, not all of the panels from previously selected samples have rolled out of the sample. Therefore, there are panels from multiple samples active in the current sample at any given time. Each year, the older panels are updated with respect to current strata characteristics (industry, size, and region); updating also includes the removal of establishments that go out of business. The sampling weights of establishments to be used in the survey are recomputed to reflect the current sample population, and post-stratification is done to represent the updated age structure of the frame. In other words, each sample unit is reweighted.

To ensure that newly opened establishments (also called births) are represented in the sample as soon as possible, a sample of birth units is selected from the updated frame every quarter. Quarterly birth samples were first implemented in April 2009. The birth units are selected from establishments that first reported positive employment during the current quarter and belong to JOLTS size class 1–9, 10–49, or 50–249. The birth units are sampled from strata defined by age, industry, and size.

Each stratum’s birth sample size is calculated by dividing the number of births in the stratum by the stratum reweight. If the stratum has three or fewer birth units, then all the birth units in the stratum are selected. Weights are assigned to the birth sample units by dividing the number of total birth units in the sample strata by the actual number of birth units selected for that strata. All the sampled birth units are then distributed evenly into three sample panels that are rolled into the sample over the quarter.

Last Modified Date: July 13, 2020