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A [top]

Absence rate
The ratio of workers with absences to total full-time wage and salary employment. Absences are defined as instances when persons who usually work 35 or more hours per week worked less than 35 hours during the reference week for one of the following reasons: own illness, injury, or medical problems; child-care problems; other family or personal obligations; civic or military duty; and maternity or paternity leave.
Accidental death and dismemberment
Policy that pays additional benefits to the beneficiary if the cause of death is found to be accidental. Fractional amounts of the policy will be paid out if the covered employee loses a bodily appendage or sight because of an accident.
Combining index relatives from one level to the next higher level. The procedure for the International Price Program begins with the aggregation of item level relatives to weight group relatives. The weight group relatives are then aggregated to the classification group relatives. The classification group relatives are then aggregated to the stratum lower relatives which in turn are aggregated up the tree of stratum upper relatives to the All Import or All Export index level.
All other occupational illnesses
Examples: Anthrax, brucellosis, infectious hepatitis, malignant and benign tumors, food poisoning, histoplasmosis, coccidioidomycosis.
B [top]

Base period
A point in time used as a reference point for comparison with some later period. For example, in the theory of price indices the Laspeyres price index uses the earlier of the two years over which prices are compared for purposes of weighting the relative price changes. This earlier year is then the base period and the price index is a base period weighted index.
Benefit incidence
A measure of the availability of a benefit. The National Compensation Survey presents data on the percent of workers with access to, and participate in employee benefits. Access is defined as the percent of workers in an occupation who are offered a benefit. For example, an employee may have access to an employer sponsored fitness center, but may or may not use it. Participation is defined as the percent of workers that actually participate in the benefit (meeting any service requirements, and if required, paying a share of the cost). The National Compensation Survey publishes participation data for Insurance and Retirement benefits.
Non-wage compensation provided to employees. The National Compensation Survey groups benefits into five categories: Paid leave (vacations, holidays, sick leave); supplementary pay (premium pay for overtime and work on holidays and weekends, shift differentials, nonproduction bonuses); retirement (defined benefit and defined contribution plans); insurance (life insurance, health benefits, short-term disability, and long-term disability insurance) and legally required benefits (Social Security and Medicare, Federal and State unemployment insurance taxes, and workers’ compensation).
Blue collar and service occupations (National Compensation Survey)
Includes precision production, craft, and repair occupations; machine operators and inspectors; transportation and moving occupations; handlers, equipment cleaners, helpers, and laborers; and service occupations.
C [top]

Civilian noninstitutional population
Included are persons 16 years of age and older residing in the 50 States and the District of Columbia who are not inmates of institutions (for example, penal and mental facilities, homes for the aged), and who are not on active duty in the Armed Forces.
Civilian workers (National Compensation Survey)
The National Compensation Survey defines Civilian Workers as the sum of all Private Industry and State and Local government workers. Federal Government, Military and agricultural workers are excluded.
Classification group
A detailed grouping of weight groups. Classification groups are used to map weight groups to higher levels of aggregation called strata. Classification groups are represented by (1) six, eight, or ten digit Harmonized numbers, (2) composites of six, eight, or ten digit Harmonized numbers, (3) hybrid groupings specifically requested by industry analysts, or (4) services groupings developed by service analysts.
A cohort in the Bureau of Labor Statistics' National Longitudinal Surveys (NLS) program is a group of people, defined by age, that make up a particular study. For example, the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 (NLSY79) cohort is made up of people born between January 1, 1957, and December 31, 1964.
Collective bargaining
Method whereby representatives of employees (unions) and employers determine the conditions of employment through direct negotiation, normally resulting in a written contract setting forth the wages, hours, and other conditions to be observed for a stipulated period (e.g., 3 years). Term also applies to union-management dealings during the term of the agreement.
Comparative advantage
When one nation's opportunity cost of producing an item is less than another nation's opportunity cost of producing that item. A good or service with which a nation has the largest absolute advantage (or smallest absolute disadvantage) is the item for which they have a comparative advantage.
Compensation (National Compensation Survey)
A term used to encompass the entire range of wages and benefits, both current and deferred, that workers receive out of their employment. In the Employment Cost Index compensation includes the employer's cost of wages and salaries, plus the cost of providing employee benefits (Also see Total Compensation).
Complete income reporters (Consumer Expenditures)
The distinction between complete and incomplete income reporters is based in general on whether the respondent provided values for major sources of income, such as wages and salaries, self-employment income, and Social Security income. Even complete income reporters may not have provided a full accounting of all income from all sources. In the current survey, across-the-board zero income reporting was designated as invalid, and the consumer unit was categorized as an incomplete reporter. In all tables, income data are for complete income reporters only.
Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI)
A structured system of microdata collection by telephone that speeds up the collection and editing of microdata and also permits the interviewer to "educate" the respondents on the importance of timely and accurate data
Consumer unit (Consumer Expenditures)
A consumer unit comprises either: (1) all members of a particular household who are related by blood, marriage, adoption, or other legal arrangements; (2) a person living alone or sharing a household with others or living as a roomer in a private home or lodging house or in permanent living quarters in a hotel or motel, but who is financially independent; or (3) two or more persons living together who pool their income to make joint expenditure decisions. Financial independence is determined by the three major expense categories: Housing, food, and other living expenses. To be considered financially independent, at least two of the three major expense categories have to be provided by the respondent.
Contingent workers (Current Population Survey)
Those workers who do not have an explicit or implicit contract for long-term employment.
Contract escalation
PPI data are commonly used in escalating purchase and sales contracts. These contracts typically specify dollar amounts to be paid at some point in the future. It is often desirable to include an escalation clause that accounts for changes in input prices. For example, a long-term contract for bread may be escalated for changes in wheat prices by applying the percent change in the PPI for wheat to the contracted price for bread.
Cost of Living
A Cost of Living Index measures differences in the price of goods and services, and allows for substitutions to other items as prices change. A Consumer Price Index measures a price change for a constant market basket of goods and services from one period to the next within the same city (or in the Nation). The CPI is not a true cost of living index and should not be used for place to place comparisons.
D [top]

Defined benefit pension plan
A retirement plan that uses a specific predetermined formula to calculate the amount of an employee’s future benefit. In the private sector, defined benefit plans are typically funded exclusively by employer contributions. In the public sector, defined benefit plans often require employee contributions.
Defined contribution plan
A defined contribution plan is a type of retirement plan in which the amount of the employer's annual contribution is specified. Individual accounts are set up for participants and benefits are based on the amounts credited to these accounts (through employer contributions and, if applicable, employee contributions), plus any investment earnings on the money in the account.
A value that allows data to be measured over time in terms of some base period, or, in more obscure terms, an implicit or explicit price index used to distinguish between those changes in the money value of gross national product which result from a change in prices and those which result from a change in physical output. The import and export price indexes produced by the International Price Program are used as deflators in the U.S. national accounts. For example, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) consists of Consumption Expenditures+ Net Investment + Government Expenditures + Exports - Imports. Various price indexes are used to "deflate" each component of the GDP in order to make the GDP figures comparable over time. Import price indexes are used to deflate the Import component (i.e. Import Volume is divided by the Import Price index) and the Export price indexes are used to deflate the Export component (i.e. Export Volume is divided by the Export Price index).
Demand for additional workers (Employment Projections)
Job openings resulting from employment growth and the need to replace workers who leave an occupation.
Demand for workers
The number of employed persons.
Disability insurance
Includes paid sick leave, short-term disability, and long-term disability.
Discharge (JOLTS)
A separation of an employee from an establishment that is initiated by the employer; an involuntary separation
Discouraged workers (Current Population Survey)
Persons not in the labor force who want and are available for a job and who have looked for work sometime in the past 12 months (or since the end of their last job if they held one within the past 12 months), but who are not currently looking because they believe there are no jobs available or there are none for which they would qualify.
Displaced workers (Current Population Survey)
Persons 20 years and over who lost or left jobs because their plant or company closed or moved, there was insufficient work for them to do, or their position or shift was abolished.
Division, Geographic or Census
One of 10 geographic areas of the United States defined by the Bureau of the Census and widely used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics for presenting regional data. Division, Geographic or Census
Duration of unemployment (Current Population Survey)
The length of time in weeks (through the current reference week) that persons classified as unemployed had been looking for work. For persons on layoff who are counted as unemployed (see definition of Unemployed below), duration of unemployment represents the number of full weeks they had been on layoff. The data do not represent completed spells of unemployment.
E [top]

Remuneration (pay, wages) of a worker or group of workers for services performed during a specific period of time. The term invariably carries a defining word or a combination; e.g., straight-time average hourly earnings. Since a statistical concept is usually involved in the term and its variations, the producers and users of earnings data have an obligation to define them. In the absence of such definition, the following may serve as rough guides:
  • Hourly, daily, weekly, annual--Period of time to which earnings figures, as stated or computed, relate. The context in which annual earnings (sometimes weekly earnings) are used may indicate whether the reference includes earnings from one employer only or from all employment plus other sources of income;
  • average--usually the arithmetic mean; that is, total earnings (as defined) of a group of workers (as identified) divided by the number of workers in the group;
  • gross--usually total earnings, before any deductions (such as tax withholding) including, where applicable, overtime payments, shift differentials, production bonuses, cost-of-living allowances, commissions, etc.;
  • straight-time--usually gross earnings excluding overtime payments and (with variations at this point) shift differentials and other monetary payments (Also see Wages and Salaries).
Educational attainment
The highest diploma or degree, or level of work towards a diploma or degree, an individual has completed.
Employed persons (Current Population Survey)
Persons 16 years and over in the civilian noninstitutional population who, during the reference week, (a) did any work at all (at least 1 hour) as paid employees, worked in their own business, profession, or on their own farm, or worked 15 hours or more as unpaid workers in an enterprise operated by a member of the family, and (b) all those who were not working but who had jobs or businesses 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. Excluded are persons whose only activity consisted of work around their own house (painting, repairing, or own home housework) or volunteer work for religious, charitable, and other organizations.
Employer (202)
A person or business that employees one or more people for wages or salary; the legal entity responsible for payment of quarterly unemployment insurance taxes or for reimbursing the state fund for unemployment insurance benefits costs in lieu of paying the quarterly taxes
Employment costs (Employment Cost Index)
Often referred to as total compensation cost (see Total Compensation). The National Compensation Survey program publishes data on trends in employment costs, including quarterly and annual percent changes in labor cost (Employment Cost Index) and employer costs per hour worked for each component of compensation (Employer Cost for Employee Compensation).
Employment-population ratio (Current Population Survey)
The proportion of the civilian noninstitutional population 16 years and over that is employed
The physical location of a certain economic activity, for example, a factory, mine, store, or office. Generally a single establishment produces a single good or provides a single service. An enterprise (a private firm, government, or non-profit organization) could consist of a single establishment or multiple establishments. A multi-establishment enterprise could have all its establishments in one industry (i.e., a chain), or could have various establishments in different industries (i.e., a conglomerate).
Event or exposure (Safety and Health)
Signifies the manner in which the injury or illness was produced or inflicted, for example, overexertion while lifting or fall from ladder.
Expenditure shares Consumer Expenditures)
Expenditure shares tables show the portions of total expenditures (as percentages) allotted to each expenditure category. Tables organized by various demographic characteristics are available.
Expenditures (Consumer Expenditures)
Expenditures consist of the transaction costs, including excise and sales taxes, of goods and services acquired during the interview or recordkeeping period. Expenditure estimates include expenditures for gifts, but exclude purchases or portions of purchases directly assignable to business purposes. Also excluded are periodic credit or installment payments on goods or services already acquired. The full cost of each purchase is recorded even though full payment may not have been made at the date of purchase. Expenditure categories include: Food, alcoholic beverages, housing, apparel and services, transportation, health care, entertainment, personal care products and services, reading, education, tobacco products and smoking supplies, miscellaneous, cash contributions, and personal insurance and pensions).
A domestic good or service that is sold (export sale) abroad. Exports include government and non-government goods and services; however they exclude goods and services to the U.S. military, diplomatic, and consular institutions abroad. Exports do include goods and services that were previously imported.
Export sale (Import Export Program)
A sale is the price paid for the good or service, free alongside ship, as well as the inland freight, insurance, and other charges to transport the good or service to the carrier leaving the U.S. The sale price does not include the costs incurred after the good or service leaves the U.S. A sale, therefore, does not include personal and household movements of travelers and in-transit shipments.
Extended mass layoff
A situation in which the employer has separated at least 50 workers for more than 30 days.
F [top]

Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS)
Standards for information processing issued by the National Bureau of Standards in the U.S. Department of Commerce; includes a numeric designation for geographic areas such as States, counties, and metropolitan areas
Flexible benefits
This type of plan provides employees a choice about their level of coverage among a number of different kinds of benefits, or gives employees pretax reimbursements for certain expenses related to employee benefits.
Full-time employees (National Compensation Survey)
Employees are classified as full time or part time in accordance with the practices of their establishments. Usually a full-time employee worked a 40-hour week.
Full-time employees (Current Population Survey)
Employees who usually work more than 35 hours per week (at all jobs within an establishment) regardless of the number of hours worked in the reference week.
Full-time worker (Current Population Survey)
A full-time worker is one who usually works 35 hours or more per week.
G [top]

Goods producing industries (SIC)
Includes manufacturing, mining, and construction.
H [top]

Health insurance
Insurance plans that include coverage for medical care, dental care, and vision care.
Hire (JOLTS)
Any addition to an establishment's payroll, including newly hired and rehired employees
Hires rate (JOLTS)
The number of hires during the month divided by the number of employees who worked during or received pay for the pay period that includes the 12th of the month
Hispanic origin
This refers to persons who identified themselves in the enumeration process as Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Central or South American, or of other Hispanic origin or descent. Persons of Hispanic origin may be of any race; thus, they are included in both the white and black population groups.
Hourly compensation costs
Hourly compensation costs, as measured in the BLS international comparison series, are defined as (1) all payments made directly to workers--pay for time worked (basic time and piece rates plus overtime premiums, shift differentials, other premiums and bonuses paid regularly each pay period, and cost-of-living adjustments), pay for time not worked (such as for vacations and holidays), seasonal or irregular bonuses and other special payments, selected social allowances, and the cost of payments in kind--before payroll deductions of any kind, and (2) employer expenditures for legally required insurance programs and contractual and private benefit plans (such as retirement plans, health insurance, unemployment insurance, and family allowances). In addition, for some countries, compensation is adjusted for other taxes on payrolls or employment (or reduced to reflect subsidies), even if they do not finance programs that directly benefit workers, because such taxes are regarded as labor costs. The BLS definition of hourly compensation costs used in its international comparisons series is based on the International Labour Office standard definition of total labor costs. However, it does not include all items of total labor costs; the items excluded are the costs of recruitment, employee training, and plant facilities and services, such as cafeterias and medical clinics. Hourly compensation costs include all the items of compensation covered in the BLS series Employer Costs for Employee Compensation, the Employment Cost Index, and index of hourly compensation (published with the index of labor productivity); hourly compensation costs also include the costs of payments in kind and other taxes and subsidies, which are not included in the other BLS compensation series. The classification of the compensation items and the terminology used in the definitions differ among the series.
Hours worked
There are two different concepts measured in the hours series of questions in the CPS, usual hours and actual hours.
I [top]

A good or service that is sold (import sale) to a person residing in the U.S. from a person residing abroad. Imports include government and non-government goods and services; however they exclude goods and services to the U.S. military, diplomatic, and consular institutions abroad. Imports do include goods and services that were previously exported.
Import sale (Import Export Program)
A sale is the price paid for the good or service, free on board. This does not include the duty, insurance, and other charges to transport the good or service from abroad to the U.S. A sale, therefore, does not include personal and household movements of travelers and in-transit shipments.
Incidence rates (Safety and Health)
Represent the number of injuries and/or illnesses per 100 full-time workers and were calculated as: (N/EH) X 200,000 where: N = number of injuries and/or illnesses; EH = total hours worked by all employees during the calendar year; 200,000 = base for 100 full-time equivalent workers (working 40 hours per week, 50 weeks per year).
Income before taxes (Consumer Expenditures)
Income before taxes is the total money earnings and selected money receipts of all consumer unit members 14 years of age or over during the 12 months prior to the interview date . It includes the following components: Wages and salaries; self-employment income; Social Security, private and government retirement; interest, dividends, rental income, and other property income; unemployment, workers’ compensation and veteran’s benefits; public assistance, supplemental security income, and food stamps; regular contributions for support (including alimony and child support); other income (including cash scholarships, fellowships or stipends not based on working, and meals and rent as pay).
A group of establishments that produce similar products or provide similar services. For example, all establishments that manufacture automobiles are in the same industry. A given industry, or even a particular establishment in that industry, might have employees in dozens of occupations. The Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) system groups similar establishments into industries.
Inflation has been defined as a process of continuously rising prices, or equivalently, of a continuously falling value of money.
Initial claimant
A person who files any notice of unemployment to initiate a request either for a determination of entitlement to and eligibility for compensation, or for a subsequent period of unemployment within a benefit year or period of eligibility
Item specification
The description of a good or service that includes all price determining characteristics and any other information necessary to distinguish the item from all others.
J [top]

Job leavers (Current Population Survey)
Unemployed persons who quit or otherwise terminated their employment voluntarily and immediately began looking for work.
Job losers (Current Population Survey)
Unemployed persons who lost their last job or who had completed a temporary job. This includes persons who were on temporary layoff and counted as unemployed as well as persons not on temporary layoff. (See definition of Unemployed below.) Among those not on temporary lay were Permanent job losers (see definition below) and those whose temporary jobs had ended.
Job opening (JOLTS)
A specific position of employment at an establishment; conditions include that there is work available for that position, the job could start within 30 days, and the employer is actively recruiting for the position
Job openings rate (JOLTS)
The number of job openings on the last business day of the month divided by the sum of the number of employees who worked during or received pay for the pay period that includes the 12th of the month and the number of job openings on the last business day of the month
Job tenure (Current Population Survey)
The length of time an employee has worked for his or her current employer. The data do not represent completed spells of tenure.
L [top]

Labor force (Current Population Survey)
The labor force includes all persons classified as employed or unemployed in accordance with the definitions contained in this glossary
Labor force participation rate
The labor force as a percent of the civilian noninstitutional population.
Labor productivity
Labor productivity refers to the relationship between output and the labor time used in generating that output. It is the ratio of output per hour.
Laspeyres index
Sum(p2q1)/Sum(p1q1)--A weighted aggregative index showing the ratio of expenditures in the current period (p2q1: where p2 is the current period price and q1 is the base period quantity) to the expenditure in the base period (p1q1: where p1 is the current period price and q1 is the base period quantity) to purchase the identical market basket of items. It answers the question "How much more or less does it cost now to purchase the same items as in the base period?". The main shortcoming of the Laspeyres index is in that it does not track actual expenditures because consumers adjust their buying in response to changes in relative price, changing the composition of the market basket. This invalid assumption that consumer demand is totally price inelastic causes the index to overstate the actual effect on consumers when there is a change in prices.
Layoff (JOLTS)
A separation of an employee from an establishment that is initiated by the employer; an involuntary separation; a period of forced unemployment
Life insurance
A contract that pays the beneficiary a set sum of money upon the death of the policyholder. These plans pay benefits as a lump sum.
Locality of origin indexes (Import Export Program)
U.S. import price indexes based on an individual country's or region's export prices to the United States. More:
Long term disability insurance
Provides a monthly benefit to employees who, due to injury or illness, are unable to perform the duties of their normal occupation or any other, for periods of time extending beyond their short-term disability and/or sickness and accident insurance.
Longitudinal data (panel data)
Data in which many units are observed over multiple time periods. The Bureau of Labor Statistics' National Longitudinal Surveys (NLS) program collects data from a particular age group of people over many years on an annual or biennial basis. The panel data track the same sample of individuals over many time periods.
Lost workday cases (Safety and Health)
Cases which involve days away from work, or days of restricted work activity, or both.
Lost workday cases involving days away from work (Safety and Health)
Those cases which result in days away from work, or a combination of days away from work and days of restricted work activity.
Lost workday cases involving restricted work activity (Safaety and Health)
Those cases which result in restricted work activity only.
Lost worktime rate (Safety and Health)
Hours absent as a percent of hours usually worked. Absences are defined as instances when persons who usually work 35 or more hours per week worked less than 35 hours during the reference week for one of the following reasons: own illness, injury, or medical problems; child-care problems; other family or personal obligations; civic or military duty; and maternity or paternity leave.
Lump-sum payments (National Compensation Survey)
These are made to employees in lieu of a general wage rate increases. The payment may be a fixed amount as set forth in a labor agreement or an amount determined by a formula. For example, 2.5 percent of an employee’s earnings (wages, cost-of-living allowance payments, shift differential payments) during the prior year. Lump-sum payments are not incorporated into an employee’s base pay rate or salary.
M [top]

Marginally attached workers (Current Population Survey)
Individuals who want, and are available for work, and who have looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months (or since the end of their last job if they held one within the past 12 months), but were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the four weeks preceding the survey. Discouraged workers are a subset of the marginally attached. (See definition of Discouraged workers above.)
Market basket (Consumer Price Index)
The marketbasket is package of goods and services that consumers purchase for day to day living. The weight of each item is based on the amount of expenditure reported by a sample of households.
Mass layoff
A situation that involves at least 50 persons at the same establishment, each of whom has filed an initial claim for unemployment insurance benefits during a consecutive 5-week period.
Mean wage
An average wage. An occupational mean wage estimate is calculated by summing the wages of all the employees in a given occupation and then dividing the total wages by the number of employees.
Median days away from work (Safety and Health)
Is the measure used to summarize the varying lengths of absences from work among the cases with days away from work. Half the cases involved more days and half involved less days than a specified median.
Median wage
A boundary. An occupational median wage estimate is the boundary between the highest paid 50% and the lowest paid 50% of workers in that occupation. Half of the workers in a given occupation earn more than the median wage, and half the workers earn less than the median wage.
Medical care coverage
Type of insurance coverage that provides for the payment of benefits as a result of sickness or injury. Medical care coverage can be provided in a hospital or a doctor's office. The three major types of medical care plans are: fee-for-service (FFS), preferred provided organization (PPO), and health maintenance organization (HMO).
Medium and large private establishments (Employee Benefits Survey)
Establishments employing 100 workers or more.
Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs)
The general concept of an MSA and an SMSA is one of a large population nucleus, together with adjacent communities which have a high degree of economic and social integration with that nucleus. These are defined by the Office of Management and Budget as a standard for Federal agencies in the preparation and publication of statistics relating to metropolitan areas.
Multifactor productivity
In multifactor productivity measures, output is related to combined inputs of labor, capital and intermediate purchases. Labor is measured by the number of hours of labor expended in the production of output. Capital includes equipment, structures, land and inventories. Intermediate purchases are composed of materials, fuels, electricity, and purchased services.
Multiple jobholders (Current Population Survey)
Employed persons who, during the reference week, either had two or more jobs as a wage and salary worker, were self-employed and also held a wage and salary job, or worked as an unpaid family worker and also held a wage and salary job. Excluded are self-employed persons with multiple businesses and persons with multiple jobs as unpaid family workers.
N [top]

Nature of injury or illness
Names the principal physical characteristic of a disabling condition, such as sprain/strain, cut/laceration, or carpal tunnel syndrome.
New entrants (Current Population Survey)
Unemployed persons who never worked before and who are entering the labor force for the first time.
North American Industry Classification System (NAICS)
The successor to the SIC system; this system of classifying business establishments will be used by the United States, Canada, and Mexico
Not in the labor force (Current Population Survey)
Includes persons 16 years and over in the civilian noninstitutional population who are neither employed nor unemployed in accordance with the definitions contained in this glossary.
Not seasonally adjusted
This term is used to describe data series not subject to the seasonal adjustment process. In other words, the effects of regular, or seasonal, patterns have not been removed from these series.
O [top]

A set of activities or tasks that employees are paid to perform. Employees that perform essentially the same tasks are in the same occupation, whether or not they are in the same industry. Some occupations are concentrated in a few particular industries, other occupations are found in the majority of industries.
Occupational education and training requirements categories
Occupations are classified into 1 of 11 categories that describe the education or training needed by most workers to become fully qualified. The categories are: first professional degree, doctoral degree, master's degree, work experience in an occupation requiring a bachelor's or higher degree, bachelor's degree, associate degree, postsecondary vocational training, work experience in a related occupation, long-term on-the-job training, moderate-term on-the-job training, and short-term on-the-job training.
Occupational groups
Defined occupations selected for study classified in one of the following groups: Professional, technical, and related, Clerical and sales, and Blue-collar and service.
Occupational illness
Any abnormal condition or disorder, other than one resulting from an occupational injury, caused by exposure to factors associated with employment. It includes acute and chronic illnesses or disease which may be caused by inhalation, absorption, ingestion, or direct contact.
Occupational injury
Any injury such as a cut, fracture, sprain, amputation, etc., which results from a work-related event or from a single instantaneous exposure in the work environment.
P [top]

Panel data (longitudinal data)
Data in which many units are observed over multiple time periods. The Bureau of Labor Statistics' National Longitudinal Surveys (NLS) program collects data from a particular age group of people over many years on an annual or biennial basis. The panel data track the same sample of individuals over many time periods.
Part of body affected (Safety and Health)
Is directly linked to the nature of injury or illness cited, for example, back sprain, finger cut, or wrist and carpal tunnel syndrome.
Part-time employees (Current Population Survey)
Employees who usually work between 1 and 34 hours per week (at all jobs within an establishment) regardless of the number of hours worked in the reference week
Pay period that includes the 12th of the month
Standard measurement period for all Federal agencies collecting employment data from business establishments; time unit that employers use to pay employees that overlaps the 12th of the month; length of the pay period does not matter, as long as the 12th of the month is included in the pay period; for establishments with a Monday through Friday pay period, if the 12th of the month falls on a Saturday, it should be taken as the last day of the requested pay period, and if the 12th of the month falls on a Sunday, it should be taken as the first day of the requested pay period
Percentile wage estimate
Shows what percentage of workers in an occupation earn less than a given wage and what percentage earn more. For example, a 25th percentile wage of $15.00 indicates that 25% of workers (in a given occupation in a given area) earn less than $15.00; therefore 75% of workers earn more than $15.00.
Permanent job losers (Current Population Survey)
Unemployed persons whose employment ended involuntarily and who began looking for work.
Price Index
A price index is a tool that simplifies the measurement of movements in a numerical series. Movements are measured with respect to the base period, when the index is set to 100.
Producer Price Index/PPI
The Producer Price Index (PPI) is a family of indexes that measures the average change over time in selling prices received by domestic producers of goods and services. PPIs measure price change from the perspective of the seller. This contrasts with other measures, such as the Consumer Price Index (CPI), that measure price change from the purchaser's perspective. Sellers' and purchasers' prices may differ due to government subsidies, sales and excise taxes, and distribution costs.
Productivity is a measure of economic efficiency which shows how effectively economic inputs are converted into output. Productivity is measured by comparing the amount of goods and services produced with the inputs which were used in production.
Professional Employer Organization (PEO)
A business that supplies management and administrative services with regard to human resource responsibilities for employers; serves as the co-employer of the client’s employees for payroll, benefits, and related purposes; referred to as employee leasing companies in the SIC manual
Professional, technical, and related occupations
Includes professional, technical, executive, administrative, managerial, and related occupations.
Projection error
Difference between the projected number and the actual number.
Public Data Query (PDQ)
There is a new, simplified version of Selective Access called Public Data Query, which requires a Java-enabled browser. You make your choices regarding which timeseries data you want on a single screen.
Q [top]

Quit (JOLTS)
A separation of an employee from an establishment that is initiated by the employee; a voluntary separation; a resignation from a job or position
R [top]

Race is determined by the household respondent. The CPS collects data for 4 race groups, white, black, Asian and Pacific Islander, and American Indian and Alaskan Natives. Only data for Whites and blacks are currently published because the sample size for the other races is not large enough to produce statistically reliable estimates. The CPS program plans to introduce revised race categories beginning in 2003.
Recordable injuries and illnesses (Safety and Health)
Occupational deaths, regardless of the time between injury and death, or the length of the illness; or
Reentrants (Current Population Survey)
Unemployed persons who previously worked but were out of the labor force prior to beginning their job search.
Reference person (Consumer Expenditures)
The first member mentioned by the respondent when asked to "Start with the name of the person or one of the persons who owns or rents the home." It is with respect to this person that the relationship of the other consumer unit members is determined.
Region -- Midwest
Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.
Region -- Northeast
Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
Region -- South
Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.
Region -- West
Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.
Data are presented for four major regions: Northeast, Midwest, South, and West.
Relative importance (Consumer Price Index)
BLS publishes what is called a relative importance for each commodity and commodity grouping. The relative importance of an item represents its basic value weight, including any imputations, multiplied by the relative of price change from the weight date to the date of the relative importance calculation, expressed as a percentage of the total value weight for the all commodities category.
Relative projection error or percentage error
Projection error divided by the actual value.
Represented by unions (Current Population Survey)
Data refer to union members, as well as workers who reported no union affiliation but whose jobs are covered by a union or an employee association contract.
Respiratory condition due to toxic agents (Safety and Health)
Examples: Pneumonitis, pharyngitis, rhinitis or acute congestion due to chemicals, dusts, gases, or fumes; farmer's lung.
Retirement plans (National Compensation Survey, Employee Benefits Survey)
Includes defined benefit pension plans and defined contribution retirement plans.
S [top]

A listing of all units in the universe, from which a sample can be drawn
Sample frame
A subset of a universe; usually selected to be representative of the universe
Seasonally adjusted
Seasonal adjustment removes the effects of events that follow a more or less regular pattern each year. These adjustments make it easier to observe the cyclical and other non-seasonal movements in a data series.
Selective access
A form-based query application which allows you to obtain BLS timeseries data based on choices you make.
Self-employed persons (Current Population Survey)
Include those who worked in their own business, profession, or on their own farm. Since 1967, published data exclude those who operate their own incorporated business or farm. Estimates for such workers are published separately.
See turnover.
Separation rate
See turnover rate.
Series report
A form-based application which uses BLS timeseries identifiers as input in extracting data from each survey-specific database according to a specified set of date ranges and output options.
Services producing industries (SIC)
Includes transportation, communications, electric, gas, and sanitary services; wholesale trade; retail trade; finance insurance, and real estate; and services.
Short term disability insurance
Provides income protection to employees who are unable to work due to a non-work related accident or illness.
Shortage (as in shortage of workers)
Shortages occur in a market economy when the demand for workers for a particular occupation is greater than the supply of workers who are qualified, available, and willing to do that job.
Sickness and accident insurance (Employee Benefits Survey)
Provides payments at less than full pay for a fixed period of time to workers who lose time from work due to a non-occupational accident or sickness. Often, this insurance provides benefits in the period after sick leave runs out and long-term disability begins.
Small private establishments (Employee Benefits Survey)
Establishments employing fewer than 100 workers.
Source of injury or illness (Safety and Health)
Is the object, substance, exposure, or bodily motion that directly produced or inflicted the disabling condition cited. Examples are a heavy box, a toxic substance, fire/flame, and bodily motion of injured/ill worker.
Stage of processing indexes (Producer Price Index)
Stage-of-processing (SOP) price indexes regroup commodities at the subproduct class (6-digit) level according to the class of buyer and the amount of physical processing or assembling the products have undergone. The PPI publishes aggregate price indexes organized by commodity-based processing stage. The three stages of processing include Finished Goods; Intermediate Materials, Supplies, and Components; and Crude Materials for Further Processing.
Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) system
The SIC system is used throughout the federal government to group establishments into industries. The SIC Division Structure makes it possible to collect and calculate establishment data by broad industrial divisions (labeled A through K), industrial groups (the 2-and 3-digit SIC levels), and specific industries (the 4-digit level). See the Standard Industrial Classification Manual, 1987 (Executive Office of the President, Office of Management and Budget), available in many libraries.
Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system
This system will be used by all Federal statistical agencies to classify workers into occupational categories for the purpose of collecting, calculating, or disseminating data. All workers are classified into one of over 820 occupations according to their occupational definition. To facilitate classification, occupations are combined to form 23 major groups, 96 minor groups, and 449 broad occupations. Each broad occupation includes detailed occupation(s) requiring similar job duties, skills, education, or experience
Standard tables (Consumer Expenditures)
Standard tables contain annual expenditure data organized by various demographic characteristics. The standard tables available are: Age of reference person; Composition of consumer unit; Education of reference person; Housing tenure, type of area, race of reference person, and Hispanic origin of reference person; Income before taxes; Number of earners in consumer unit; Occupation of reference person; Origin of reference person; Quintiles of income before taxes; Region of residence; Size of consumer unit; Selected age of reference person.
Stratum (Import Export Program)
A category at a level of aggregation above the classification group. The International Price Program publishes its export and import price indexes at the stratum level. Product strata are classified according to the SITC (Rev.3), BEA End Use, and Harmonized Schemes. Services strata have been developed by services analysts.
Supply of workers
Is likely to refer to the labor force (q.v.). The concept focuses on worker characteristics, especially their education and training, but also characteristics such as experience (often considered to be correlated with age), physical strength (often considered to be inversely correlated with age), ability to work in teams, etc. Some demographic characteristics are not to be considered in hiring and promotion decisions, but which are studied include gender, race, ethnicity, parental and marital statuses. See also http://www.bls.gov/opub/ils/pdf/opbils38.pdf
Survey reference week (Current Population Survey)
The CPS labor force questions ask about labor market activities that occurred during a specific week each month. That week, called the survey reference week, is defined as the 7-day period, Sunday through Saturday, that includes the 12th of the month. See also Pay Period.
Survivor benefits
A series of payments to the dependents of deceased employees. Survivor benefits come in two types: first, the "transition" type pays the named beneficiary a monthly amount for a short period (usually 24 months). Transition benefits may be followed by "bridge benefits" that are a series of payments thats last until a specific date, usually the surviving spouse's 62nd birthday.
T [top]

Temporary help agency
Establishment primarily engaged in supplying workers to clients' businesses for limited periods of time to supplement the work force of the client; the individuals provided are employees of the temporary help service establishment, but these establishments do not provide direct supervision of their employees
Terms of trade
Allocation of inputs into two or more economies that take advantage of differences in comparative advantages and, through specialization, improve the production of the economies. Note that a change in the terms of trade should cause all domestic production to change (i.e. re-allocates all inputs), rather than just imports.
Time off benefit
Provides paid or unpaid leave for specific uses, such as lunch periods, holidays and vacations, and maternity and paternity leave.
Time/Index series
An index series is simply a way of expressing, in percentage terms, the change in some variable from a given point in time to another point in time. For example, let's say that output increased by 10 percent from an initial year (1987) to a subsequent year (1988). The index for our arbitrarily chosen base year of 1987 would be 100.0 while the index for 1988 would be 110.0. Conversely, if output had declined in 1988 by 10 percent, the 1988 index value would be 90.0
Total compensation (Employment Cost Index)
All types of employee compensation: wages and salaries, non-wage cash payments and fringe benefits. Total compensation in the Employment Cost Index is defined as the employer's cost of wages and salaries and employee benefits. (Also see Compensation)
Touchtone Data Entry (TDE)
An automated method of collecting data in which respondents call a toll-free number and enter their data using a touchtone telephone
Transaction price
The market sale price of a good or input shows what has to be given in exchange in order to obtain a good or service. It is usually denoted in money terms although payment need not be in a monetary form. The relative price is expressed in terms of the quantity of some other good which has to be given in exchange for the original good. Thus, if all prices increase at the same rate, absolute prices will rise but relative prices will remain unchanged.
Separation of an employee from an establishment (voluntary, involuntary, or other)
Turnover rate
The number of total separations during the month divided by the number of employees who worked during or received pay for the pay period that includes the 12th of the month (monthly turnover); the number of total separations for the year divided by average monthly employment for the year (annual turnover)
U [top]

Unemployed persons
Persons 16 years and over who had no employment during the reference week, were available for work, except for temporary illness, and had made specific efforts to find employment sometime during the 4-week period ending with the reference week. Persons 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.
Unemployment rate
The unemployment rate represents the number unemployed as a percent of the labor force.
Union membership (statistics)
Data refer to wage and salary workers who report they are members of a labor union or an employee association similar to a union.
Unit labor costs
Unit labor costs are calculated by dividing total labor compensation by real output or, equivalently, by dividing hourly compensation by productivity.
Unit value indexes
Unit value indexes are calculated by dividing the total value of goods in a commodity area by the total quantity of goods in that commodity area.
Unpaid family workers
Persons who work in a family business or farm without pay for 15 hours a week or more.
Usual hours (Current Population Survey)
First, the respondent is asked the number of hours (s)he usually works per week. This provides a measure of the usual full-time/part-time status of employed persons. All employed persons, both those who were at work and those who were absent from work, are asked about the number of hours they usually work.
Usual weekly earnings (Current Population Survey)
Data represent wage and salary earnings before taxes and other deductions, and include any overtime pay, commissions, or tips usually received (at the main job, in the case of multiple jobholders). Earnings reported on a basis other than weekly (for example, annual, monthly, hourly) are converted to weekly. The term "usual" is as perceived by the respondent. If the respondent asks for a definition of usual, interviewers are instructed to define the term as more than half the weeks worked during the past 4 or 5 months. Data refer to wage and salary workers only, excluding all self-employed persons regardless of whether their businesses were incorporated and all unpaid family workers.
W [top]

Wage and salary workers
Workers who receive wages, salaries, commissions, tips, payment in kind, or piece rates. The group includes employees in both the private and public sectors.
Wages and salaries
Hourly straight-time wage rate or, for workers not paid on an hourly basis, straight-time earnings divided by the corresponding hours. Straight-time wage and salary rates are total earnings before payroll deductions, excluding premium pay for overtime and for work on weekends and holidays, shift differentials, and nonproduction bonuses such as lump-sum payments provided in lieu of wage increases (Also see Earnings).
Weekly hours
Usually, the expected or actual period of employment for the week, usually expressed in number of hours. Some uses of the term may relate to the outside dimensions of a week (e.g. 7 consecutive days).
Wholesale Price Index/WPI
The Wholesale Price Index (WPI) was the original name of the Producer Price Index (PPI) program from its inception in 1902 until 1978, when it was renamed (PPI). At the same time, emphasis was shifted from one index encompassing the whole economy, to three main indexes covering the stages of production in the economy. By changing emphasis, BLS eliminated the double counting phenomenon inherent in aggregate commodity-based indexes.
Work levels (National Compensation Survey)
The National Compensation Survey produces levels of work within an occupation. The duties and responsibilities of a job are evaluated using 9 factors (such as knowledge, supervision received and complexity of the work) in determining a work level. Levels vary by occupation, ranging from 1-15. For example, a level 1 may represent an entry level, while a level 15 demonstrates mastery.
Worklife estimates
Estimates of the number of years individuals would spend in the labor force based on mortality conditions, labor force entry and exit rates, and demographic characteristics. Worklife estimates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics were last updated in February 1986.


Last modified: April 1, 2003


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