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An expanded look at employment

  • Agricultural Science
  • Economics
  • Political Science


An Expanded Look at Employment March 2008 NationalEconomicTrends Views expressed do not necessarily reflect official positions of the Federal Reserve System. On the first Friday of each month, the Bureau of LaborStatistics (BLS) releases its closely scrutinized monthlyemployment report. Data in this report are derived from two surveys: the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey, also known as the household survey; and the Current Employ - ment Statistics survey (CES), which is a survey of nonagricul- tural business establishments (including government offices).1 One of the limitations of the CES is that data for average weekly hours and average hourly earnings are reported for only a subset of workers: currently, production, construction, and non-supervisory workers. The production classification is used in the goods-producing sector, while the non-supervisory clas- sification is used in the service-producing industries. Workers in these two categories account for about 80 percent of private nonagricultural employment. According to the BLS, this classification system has become increasingly archaic. Many employers do not classify workers by these two categories, which has led to relatively high non - response rates.2 Looking to the future, the BLS began publish- ing an experimental series in April 2006 that measures average hourly earnings and average weekly hours of all nonfarm private- sector employees. The BLS also began publishing an experi- mental gross monthly earnings series that includes both wages and salaries and benefits such as bonuses, stock options, and employer contributions to 401(k) plans. The existing BLS aver- age hourly earnings series excludes these kinds of benefits. These experimental data are relatively new and so are not seasonally adjusted, as the existing data are. Moreover, these data are published with a two-month lag. (For example, if the official data are available for January 2008, the experimental series are available only through November

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