The Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS) program does not conduct its own survey. Rather, it uses a hierarchy of non-survey methodologies for producing monthly labor force estimates for approximately 7,500 subnational areas. Four measures are produced for each geographic area: civilian labor force, employed people, unemployed people, and the unemployment rate. Employed and unemployed persons are independently estimated. Civilian labor force is then summed from the employed and unemployed, while the unemployment rate is calculated as the unemployed percent of the civilian labor force.
Estimates for states are derived from signal-plus-noise models that use the monthly employment and unemployment measures tabulated from the Current Population Survey (CPS) as the primary input. Payroll employment estimates from the Current Employment Statistics (CES) survey of establishments and unemployment insurance (UI) claims counts from the state workforce agencies are also used as model inputs to mitigate volatility in the employment and unemployment measures tabulated directly from the CPS. These models are controlled, or forced to sum, to the national not-seasonally-adjusted employment and unemployment estimates from the CPS. They furthermore serve as controls for substate areas, so that the monthly estimates are additive and comparable across geographic levels. LAUS data for counties (or cities and towns in the New England states) are developed through a building-block approach known as the Handbook method. In the Handbook method, each category of employed or unemployed persons is independently estimated, then added together to produce total Handbook employment and unemployment estimates. These Handbook-based estimates are controlled to the statewide model-based totals to produce the LAUS employment and unemployment estimates.
For multi-county areas, such as many of the metropolitan areas delineated by the Office of Management and Budget, LAUS estimates are summed from the Handbook-based data for their component counties (or component cities and towns in the New England states).
LAUS estimates for cities outside of New England are produced through a disaggregation technique using Census Bureau employment and population data and UI claims counts.
See the calculation section for further detail on the state and substate methodologies.