Labor force characteristics
This page contains information on the labor force data on characteristics of employed and unemployed persons and persons not in the labor force. Data on hours of work, earnings, and demographic characteristics also are available.
On This Page
Absences from work of employed full-time wage and salary workers.
Annual labor market summary
Each year a summary of the labor market is published in the Monthly Labor Review.
Class of worker
Computer and Internet use
These data on computer and Internet use at work come from a special supplemental survey last conducted in October 2003.
Contingent and alternative employment arrangements
Contingent workers are persons who do not expect their jobs to last or who reported that their jobs are temporary. They do not have an implicit or explicit contract for ongoing employment. Alternative employment arrangements include persons employed as independent contractors, on-call workers, temporary help agency workers, and workers provided by contract firms.
Discouraged workers are a subset of persons marginally attached to the labor force. The marginally attached are those persons not in the labor force who want and are available for work, and who have looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months, but were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey. Among the marginally attached, discouraged workers were not currently looking for work specifically because they believed no jobs were available for them or there were none for which they would qualify. See also: Not in the labor force.
Data on displaced workers are collected from a special supplementary survey conducted every 2 years. Displaced workers are defined as persons 20 years of age and older 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.
Employed persons consist of: persons who did any work for pay or profit during the survey reference week; persons who did at least 15 hours of unpaid work in a family-operated enterprise; and persons who were temporarily absent from their regular jobs because of illness, vacation, bad weather, industrial dispute, or various personal reasons. The employment-population ratio represents the proportion of the civilian noninstitutional population that is employed. Data are also available for Demographics, Earnings, Hours of work, and other employment characteristics. See also Labor force and Unemployment.
Full- or part-time status
Full time is 35 hours or more per week; part time is 1 to 34 hours per week.
Part time for economic reasons (involuntary part time)
This category includes persons who indicated that they would like to work full time but were working part time (1 to 34 hours) because of an economic reason, such as their hours were cut back or they were unable to find full-time jobs.
Flexible and shift schedules
See Work schedules.
Hours of work
Data measure average hours at work per week and distributions of employed persons by hours at work. See also Full- or part-time status.
The labor force is the sum of employed and unemployed persons. The labor force participation rate is the labor force as a percent of the civilian noninstitutional population. Labor force data also are available by demographic characteristics. See also Not in the labor force.
Labor force status flows
Marginally attached to the labor force
See: Discouraged workers.
Data on employed persons with more than one job.
Not in the labor force
Persons who are neither employed nor unemployed are not in the labor force. This category includes retired persons, students, those taking care of children or other family members and others who are neither working or seeking work. Information is collected on their desire for and availability for work, job search activity in the prior year, and reasons for not currently searching. See also Labor force and Discouraged workers.
Occupation and industry
Employed persons are classified by occupation (what kind of work they do) and industry (what kind of work their employer or business does). Unemployed persons are classified according to their last job. See also: Earnings by occupation and industry.
Self-employed persons (class of worker)
Employed persons are categorized by class of worker based on their relationship to their employer. The class-of-worker categories include private and government wage and salary workers, self-employed workers, and unpaid family workers.
See Work schedules.
Information on the April to July labor force participation of youth 16 to 24 years old is published each August. See also: Youth.
Data on employee tenure measure how long workers had been with their current employer at the time they were surveyed.
Persons are classified as unemployed if they do not have a job, have actively looked for work in the prior 4 weeks, and are currently available for work. Persons who were not working and were waiting to be recalled to a job from which they had been temporarily laid off are also included as unemployed. The unemployment rate represents the number unemployed as a percent of the labor force. Unemployment data also are available by demographic characteristics. See also Labor force and Employment.
Alternative measures of labor underutilization
Range of measures encompasses concepts both broader and narrower than the definition of unemployment.
Data measure union membership and representation of employed wage and salary workers.
Work at home
Data measure persons who work at home as part of their job.
Data measure employment and unemployment experience throughout the calendar year.
Work schedules (flexible and shift schedules)
Data measure flexible schedules and shift work among full-time wage and salary workers.
BLS has not produced worklife estimates since February 1986. This report contains 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.
Last Modified Date: July 9, 2008
Please help us improve our website by participating in the survey that begins below!
Our Pledge of Privacy
The answers you provide on this survey will be used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to improve the website. Please note:
Click on the yes button below to take the survey after you have finished visiting our website. The survey will be available in the taskbar at the bottom of your screen when you are ready to take it.