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Local Area Unemployment Statistics: Collections & Data Sources

The Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS) program is a federal–state cooperative program. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) develops concepts, definitions, and technical procedures and then works with state workforce agencies, which prepare labor force and unemployment estimates. Unlike most other programs at BLS, LAUS does not conduct its own survey. Rather, estimates are produced using data from a variety of survey and administrative sources.

Estimates for census regions and divisions, states, the District of Columbia, and seven substate areas are produced using time-series models. The monthly Current Population Survey (CPS) estimate is the primary input to the employment and unemployment models. The CPS is a monthly survey of approximately 60,000 households that is used to produce monthly labor force estimates for the nation as a whole. The monthly Current Employment Statistics (CES) payroll employment estimate, derived from a survey of business establishments, serves as an input to the employment models. Counts of continued claims without earnings from the state unemployment insurance (UI) systems serve as an input to the unemployment models.

The Handbook method is used for substate estimation. This method uses available information to create area employment and unemployment estimates that are comparable to what would be produced by surveying a representative sample of households in that area, but without the expense of conducting a large labor force survey like the CPS. The method presents a series of estimating building blocks, for which categories of employed and unemployed workers are estimated and then summed. Data sources for the handbook method include the CES, Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW), CPS, American Community Survey (ACS), UI claims counts, and population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau.

See the calculation section for more detail on the methodology for producing state and area estimates.

Last Modified Date: January 09, 2018