Data Dictionary: ACS 2006 -- 2010 (5-Year Estimates)
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Data Source: U.S. Census Bureau
Table: B23004. Work Status In The Past 12 Months By Age By Employment Status For The Civilian Population 65 Years And Over [19]
Universe: Civilian population 65 years and over
Table Details
B23004. Work Status In The Past 12 Months By Age By Employment Status For The Civilian Population 65 Years And Over
Universe: Civilian population 65 years and over
Variable Label
B23004001
B23004002
B23004003
B23004004
B23004005
B23004006
B23004007
B23004008
B23004009
B23004010
B23004011
B23004012
B23004013
B23004014
B23004015
B23004016
B23004017
B23004018
B23004019
Relevant Documentation:
Excerpt from: Social Explorer; U.S. Census Bureau; American Community Survey 2006-2010 Summary File: Technical Documentation.
 
Work Status in the Past 12 Months
The data on work status in the past 12 months were derived from answers to Question 38. People 16 years old and over who worked 1 or more weeks according to the criteria described below are classified as "Worked in the past 12 months." All other people 16 years old and over are classified as "Did not work in the past 12 months."

Weeks Worked in the Past 12 Months
The data on weeks worked in the past 12 months were derived from responses to Question 39, which was asked of people 16 years old and over who indicated that they worked during the past 12 months.

The data pertain to the number of weeks during the past 12 months in which a person did any work for pay or profit (including paid vacation and paid sick leave) or worked without pay on a family farm or in a family business. Weeks of active service in the Armed Forces are also included.

Usual Hours Worked Per Week Worked in the Past 12 Months
The data on usual hours worked per week worked in the past 12 months were derived from answers to Question 40. This question was asked of people 16 years old and over who indicated that they worked during the past 12 months.

The data pertain to the number of hours a person usually worked during the weeks worked in the past 12 months. The respondent was to report the number of hours worked per week in the majority of the weeks he or she worked in the past 12 months. If the hours worked per week varied considerably during the past 12 months, the respondent was to report an approximate average of the hours worked per week.

People 16 years old and over who reported that they usually worked 35 or more hours each week during the weeks they worked are classified as "Usually worked full time;" people who reported that they usually worked 1 to 34 hours are classified as "Usually worked part time."


Aggregate Usual Hours Worked Per Week in the Past 12 Months
Aggregate usual hours worked is the sum of the values for usual hours worked each week of all the people in a particular universe. (For more information, see "Aggregate" under "Derived Measures.")

Mean Usual Hours Worked Per Week in the Past 12 Months
Mean usual hours worked is the number obtained by dividing the aggregate number of hours worked each week of a particular universe by the number of people in that universe. For example, mean usual hours worked for workers 16 to 64 years old is obtained by dividing the aggregate usual hours worked each week for workers 16 to 64 years old by the total number of workers 16 to 64 years old. Mean usual hours worked values are rounded to the nearest one-tenth of an hour. (For more information, see "Mean" under "Derived Measures.")


Full-Time, Year-Round Workers
All people 16 years old and over who usually worked 35 hours or more per week for 50 to 52 weeks in the past 12 months.

Number of Workers in Family in the Past 12 Months
The term "worker" as used for these data is defined based on the criteria for work status in the past 12 months.

Question/Concept History
Beginning in 2008, the weeks worked question was separated into 2 parts: part (a) asked whether the respondent worked 50 or more weeks in the past 12 months and part (b) asked respondents who answered 'no' to part (a) how many weeks they worked, even for a few hours.


Limitation of the Data
It is probable that the number of people who worked in the past 12 months and the number of weeks worked are understated since there is some tendency for respondents to forget intermittent or short periods of employment or to exclude weeks worked without pay. There may also be a tendency for people not to include weeks of paid vacation among their weeks worked; one result may be that the American Community Survey figures understate the number of people who worked "50 to 52 weeks."

The American Community Survey data refer to the 12 months preceding the date of interview. Since not all people in the American Community Survey were interviewed at the same time, the reference period for the American Community Survey data is neither fixed nor uniform.

Beginning in 2006, the population in group quarters (GQ) is included in the ACS. Some types of GQ populations may have work experience distributions that are different from the household population. The inclusion of the GQ population could therefore have a noticeable impact on the work experience distribution. This is particularly true for areas with a substantial GQ population.

The Census Bureau tested the changes introduced to the 2008 version of the weeks worked question in the 2006 ACS Content Test. The results of this testing show that the changes may introduce an inconsistency in the data produced for this question as observed from the years 2007 to 2008, see "2006 ACS Content Test Evaluation Report Covering Weeks Worked" on the ACS website.

Comparability
For information on Work Experience data comparability, please see the comparability section for Employment Status.



Excerpt from: Social Explorer; U.S. Census Bureau; American Community Survey 2006-2010 Summary File: Technical Documentation.
 
Employment Status
The data on employment status were derived from Questions 29 and 35 to 37 in the 2010 American Community Survey. (In the 1999-2002 American Community Survey, data were derived from Questions 22 and 28 to 30; in the 1996-1998 American Community Survey, data were derived from Questions 21 and 28 to 30.) The questions were asked of all people 15 years old and over. The series of questions on employment status was designed to identify, in this sequence: (1) people who worked at any time during the reference week; (2) people on temporary layoff who were available for work; (3) people who did not work during the reference week but who had jobs or businesses from which they were temporarily absent (excluding layoff); (4) people who did not work during the reference week, but who were looking for work during the last four weeks and were available for work during the reference week; and (5) people not in the labor force. (For more information, see the discussion under "Reference Week.")

The employment status data shown in American Community Survey tabulations relate to people 16 years old and over.

Employment status is key to understanding work and unemployment patterns and the availability of workers. Based on labor market areas and unemployment levels, the U.S. Department of Labor identifies service delivery areas and determines amounts to be allocated to each for job training. The impact of immigration on the economy and job markets is determined partially by labor force data, and this information is included in required reports to Congress. The Office of Management and Budget, under the Paperwork Reduction Act, uses data about employed workers as part of the criteria for defining metropolitan areas. The Bureau of Economic Analysis uses this information, in conjunction with other data, to develop its state per capita income estimates used in the allocation formulas and eligibility criteria for many federal programs such as Medicaid.

Employed
This category includes all civilians 16 years old and over who either (1) were "at work," that is, those who did any work at all during the reference week as paid employees, worked in their own business or profession, worked on their own farm, or worked 15 hours or more as unpaid workers on a family farm or in a family business; or (2) were "with a job but not at work," that is, those who did not work during the reference week but had jobs or businesses from which they were temporarily absent due to illness, bad weather, industrial dispute, vacation, or other personal reasons. Excluded from the employed are people whose only activity consisted of work around the house or unpaid volunteer work for religious, charitable, and similar organizations; also excluded are all institutionalized people and people on active duty in the United States Armed Forces.

Civilian Employed
This term is defined exactly the same as the term "employed" above.

Unemployed
All civilians 16 years old and over are classified as unemployed if they (1) were neither "at work" nor "with a job but not at work" during the reference week, and (2) were actively looking for work during the last 4 weeks, and (3) were available to start a job. Also included as unemployed are civilians who did not work at all during the reference week, were waiting to be called back to a job from which they had been laid off, and were available for work except for temporary illness. Examples of job seeking activities are:
  • Registering at a public or private employment office
  • Meeting with prospective employers
  • Investigating possibilities for starting a professional practice or opening a business
  • Placing or answering advertisements
  • Writing letters of application
  • Being on a union or professional register


Civilian Labor Force
Consists of people classified as employed or unemployed in accordance with the criteria described above.

Unemployment Rate
The unemployment rate represents the number of unemployed people as a percentage of the civilian labor force. For example, if the civilian labor force equals 100 people and 7 people are unemployed, then the unemployment rate would be 7 percent.

Labor Force
All people classified in the civilian labor force plus members of the U.S. Armed Forces (people on active duty with the United States Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard).

Labor Force Participation Rate
The labor force participation rate represents the proportion of the population that is in the labor force. For example, if there are 100 people in the population 16 years and over, and 64 of them are in the labor force, then the labor force participation rate for the population 16 years and over would be 64 percent.

Not in Labor Force
All people 16 years old and over who are not classified as members of the labor force. This category consists mainly of students, homemakers, retired workers, seasonal workers interviewed in an off season who were not looking for work, institutionalized people, and people doing only incidental unpaid family work (less than 15 hours during the reference week).

Worker
This term appears in connection with several subjects: employment status, journey-to-work questions, class of worker, weeks worked in the past 12 months, and number of workers in family in the past 12 months. The meaning varies and, therefore, should be determined in each case by referring to the definition of the subject in which it appears. When used in the concepts "workers in family" and "full-time, year-round workers," the term "worker" relates to the meaning of work defined for the "work experience" subject.

Question/Concept History
Worked Last Week (Question 29): From 1999-2007, an italicized instruction was added to the question to help respondents determine what to count as work. Starting in 2008, the instruction was removed and the question was separated into two parts in an effort to give respondents - particularly people with irregular kinds of work arrangements - two opportunities to grasp and respond to the correct intent of the question.

On Layoff (Question 35a): Starting in 1999, the "Yes, on temporary layoff from most recent job" and "Yes, permanently laid off from most recent job" response categories were condensed into a single "Yes" category. An additional question (Q35b) was added to determine the temporary/permanent layoff distinction.

Temporarily Absent (Question 35b): Starting in 2008, the temporarily absent question included a revised list of examples of work absences.

Recalled to Work (Question 35c): This question was added in the 1999 American Community Survey to determine if a respondent who reported being on layoff from a job had been informed that he or she would be recalled to work within 6 months or been given a date to return to work.

Looking for Work (Question 36): Starting in 2008, the actively looking for work question was modified to emphasize 'active' job-searching activities.

Available to Work (Question 37): Starting in 1999, the "Yes, if a job had been offered" and "Yes, if recalled from layoff' response categories were condensed into one category, "Yes, could have gone to work." Starting in 2008, the actively looking for work question was modified to emphasize 'active' job-searching activities.

Limitation of the Data
The data may understate the number of employed people because people who have irregular, casual, or unstructured jobs sometimes report themselves as not working. The number of employed people "at work" is probably overstated in the data (and conversely, the number of employed "with a job, but not at work" is understated) since some people on vacation or sick leave erroneously reported themselves as working. This problem has no effect on the total number of employed people. The reference week for the employment data is not the same for all people. Since people can change their employment status from one week to another, the lack of a uniform reference week may mean that the employment data do not reflect the reality of the employment situation of any given week. (For more information, see the discussion under "Reference Week.")

Beginning in 2006, the population in group quarters (GQ) is included in the ACS. Some types of GQ populations have employment status distributions that are different from the household population. All institutionalized people are placed in the "not in labor force category." The inclusion of the GQ population could therefore have a noticeable impact on the employment status distribution. This is particularly true for areas with a substantial GQ population. For example, in areas having a large state prison population, the employment rate would be expected to decrease because the base of the percentage, which now includes the population in correctional institutions, is larger.

The Census Bureau tested the changes introduced to the 2008 version of the employment status questions in the 2006 ACS Content Test. The results of this testing show that the changes may introduce an inconsistency in the data produced for these questions as observed from the years 2007 to 2008, see "2006 ACS Content Test Evaluation Report Covering Employment Status" on the ACS website.

Along with the 2008 ACS release, the Census Bureau produced a research note comparing 2007 and 2008 ACS employment estimates to 2007 and 2008 Current Population Survey (CPS)/Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS) estimates. The research note shows that the changes to the employment status series of questions in the 2008 ACS will make ACS labor force data more consistent with benchmark data from the CPS and LAUS program. For more information, see "Changes to the American Community Survey between 2007 and 2008 and the Effects on the Estimates of Employment and Unemployment" (http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/laborfor/researchnote092209.html).

Comparability
Since employment data from the American Community Survey are obtained from respondents in households, they differ from statistics based on reports from individual business establishments, farm enterprises, and certain government programs. People employed at more than one job are counted only once in the American Community Survey and are classified according to the job at which they worked the greatest number of hours during the reference week. In statistics based on reports from business and farm establishments, people who work for more than one establishment may be counted more than once. Moreover, some tabulations may exclude private household workers, unpaid family workers, and self-employed people, but may include workers less than 16 years of age.

An additional difference in the data arises from the fact that people who had a job but were not at work are included with the employed in the American Community Survey statistics, whereas many of these people are likely to be excluded from employment figures based on establishment payroll reports. Furthermore, the employment status data in tabulations include people on the basis of place of residence regardless of where they work, whereas establishment data report people at their place of work regardless of where they live. This latter consideration is particularly significant when comparing data for workers who commute between areas.

For several reasons, the unemployment figures of the Census Bureau are not comparable with published figures on unemployment compensation claims. For example, figures on unemployment compensation claims exclude people who have exhausted their benefit rights, new workers who have not earned rights to unemployment insurance, and people losing jobs not covered by unemployment insurance systems (including some workers in agriculture, domestic services, and religious organizations, and self-employed and unpaid family workers). In addition, the qualifications for drawing unemployment compensation differ from the definition of unemployment used by the Census Bureau. People working only a few hours during the week and people with a job but not at work are sometimes eligible for unemployment compensation but are classified as "Employed" in the American Community Survey. Differences in the geographical distribution of unemployment data arise because the place where claims are filed may not necessarily be the same as the place of residence of the unemployed worker.

For guidance on differences in employment and unemployment estimates from different sources, go to http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/laborfor/laborguidance082504.html.