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Data Dictionary: ACS 2011 (1-Year Estimates)
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Data Source: U.S. Census Bureau
Universe: Universe: Families
Variable Details
B23007. Presence of Own Children Under 18 Years by Family Type by Employment Status
Universe: Universe: Families
B23007031 No Children Under 18 Years
Aggregation method:
Relevant Documentation:
Own Child
A never-married child under 18 years who is a son or daughter by birth, a stepchild, or an adopted child of the householder. In certain tabulations, own children are further classified as living with two parents or with one parent only. Own children of the householder living with two parents are by definition found only in married-couple families. (Note: When used in "EMPLOYMENT STATUS" tabulations, own child refers to a never married child under the age of 18 in a family or a subfamily who is a son or daughter, by birth, marriage, or adoption, of a member of the householder's family, but not necessarily of the householder.)
Excerpt from: Social Explorer; U.S. Census Bureau; American Community Survey 2011 Summary File: Technical Documentation.
Employment Status
The data on employment status were derived from Questions 29 and 35 to 37 in the 2011 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.

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.
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).

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" (

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