How are we improving ORS?

The Occupational Requirements Survey (ORS) was developed collaboratively by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the Social Security Administration (SSA). The BLS is comprised primarily of economists and the SSA is comprised primarily of disability adjudication and policy experts. At the onset of the collaboration, efforts were made to develop estimates for work in the modern US economy that closely mirrored the select data elements found in the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT), which SSA currently uses in adjudication. However, very little information exists about the DOT’s methodology. Initially, BLS and SSA agreed to define the scope of collection as how work is “generally performed” in each establishment. This meant BLS would collect requirements related to all aspects of work, including job functions that were incidental or not specific to one job and were unrelated to the primary hiring and pay factors of jobs.

Historically, SSA relied upon information from the DOT and its companion the Selected Characteristics of Occupations (SCO). The data from these publications appears to show a narrower scope for data collection. DOT data appears to show that analysts only rated work requirements that pertained to the hiring and pay factors of jobs.

The BLS has taken steps to revise current procedures to align more closely with a narrower scope of work that pertains to the hiring and pay factors of the job. The revised scope of work is limited to only tasks that are related to the “critical job function” (i.e., the reason the job exists). These tasks must be expected and usual, now defined as “critical.” In addition, after reviewing the duration data in the first published results which included point estimates, respondent-determined ranges, and SSA-defined ranges the BLS determined collection of duration data only in the SSA-defined ranges would more accurately reflect duration of job demands. By adjusting the parameters of what work is included to only that of the critical functions of jobs and specifying duration ranges, the BLS expects to more accurately capture job requirements while still identifying changes in the way work is performed in the modern economy.


Last Modified Date: September 28, 2017