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E. H. Butler Library, Buffalo State, The State University of New York

Public Administration : Labor & Unemployment

Introduction to Labor & Unemployment

ornamental image of a worker using hands to measure and cut wood

This guide will help you maneuver through how the United States Government keeps labor statistics like unemployment and employment. Additionally Consumer Price Index and other stats can be retrieved from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Website. 

Labor & Unemployment Definitions 

Labor Force: The labor force consist of people who are either employed or unemployed. 

Employed: People with jobs (including part-time jobs).

Unemployed: People who are jobless, available to work (non-military, non-institutionalized, and 16 years of age or older), and looking for a job (this excludes stay at home parents/guardians, college students not looking for employment, retired persons, persons on disability, and children).

Not in Labor Force: Persons who are neither employed nor employed. 

Surveys & Statistical Sources 

Current Population Survey (CPS): The Current Population Survey (CPS), sponsored jointly by the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), is the primary source of labor force statistics for the population of the United States.

Current Employment Statistics (CES) Survey: a large monthly survey of approximately 147,000 businesses and government agencies that represent about 634,000 individual worksites. It is used to produce detailed industry estimates of employment, hours, and earnings for the nation, states, and metropolitan areas.

Bureau of Labor Statistics 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics is the federal agency responsible for keeping economic and financial statistics, including unemployment, Consumer Price Index (CPI), Occupational Outlook, Workplace Injuries, and other statistics. While this is not a comprehensive guide to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, it will explain some of the more relevant topics to public administration and policy. 

Bureau of Labor Statistics Topics

Employment & Unemployment

Inflation & Prices (Domestic, International, Import/Export) 

Pay & Benefits

BLS has 12 surveys or programs that provide information on pay and benefits. Choosing the data source that is right for your needs can be a challenge. We have an interactive tool to help you compare the features of each source.

BLS data on pay and benefits are available for occupations, industries, geographic areas, and the demographic characteristics of workers. See our short video about "The Many Ways We Measure Pay."

Bureau of Labor Statistics: The Many Ways We Measure Pay
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