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Handbook of Methods Local Area Unemployment Statistics Concepts

Local Area Unemployment Statistics: Concepts

The Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS) program produces monthly labor force estimates for a variety of geographic areas using the concepts and definitions of the Current Population Survey (CPS).

Labor force concepts

The concepts and definitions used by the LAUS program are the same as those used in the CPS for the national labor force data:

  • The civilian labor force is made up of all people in the civilian noninstitutional population ages 16 and older classified as either employed or unemployed. (See the definitions below.)
  • Employed people are all those who, during the reference week (the week including the 12⁠th day of the month), (a) did any work as paid employees, worked in their own business or on their own farm, or worked 15 hours or more as unpaid workers in an enterprise operated by a member of their family, or (b) were not working but who had jobs from which they were temporarily absent because of vacation, illness, bad weather, childcare problems, maternity or paternity leave, labor-management dispute, job training, or other family or personal reasons, whether or not they were paid for the time off or were seeking other jobs. Each employed person is counted only once, even if he or she holds more than one job.
  • Unemployed people are all people who were not employed during the reference week, were available for work, except for temporary illness, and had made specific efforts to find employment some time during the 4-week period ending with the reference week. People 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.

The unemployment rate is the unemployed percent of the civilian labor force:     formula.

See the CPS Concepts and Definitions documentation for additional detail on the labor force definitions.

Geographic concepts

The LAUS program provides estimates for the following geographic areas:

  • Census regions and divisions
  • States, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico
  • Federal statistical areas—metropolitan areas, metropolitan divisions, micropolitan areas, and combined areas
  • Small labor market areas
  • Counties and county equivalents
  • Cities of 25,000 population or more
  • All cities and towns in New England, regardless of population
  • Parts of cities that cross county boundaries

For more detail on the geographic definitions used by the LAUS program, see the Geographic Concepts documentation. 

Last Modified Date: January 09, 2018