The data on employment status were derived from answers to questionnaire items 21, 25, and 26, which were asked of a sample of persons. The series of questions on employment status was asked of all persons 15 years old and over and was designed to identify, in this sequence: (1) persons who worked at any time during the reference week; (2) persons who did not work during the reference week but who had jobs or businesses from which they were temporarily absent (excluding layoff); (3) persons on layoff; and (4) persons 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. (For more information, see the discussion under "Reference Week.")
The employment status data shown in this and other 1990 census tabulations relate to persons 16 years old and over. Some tabulations showing employment status, however, include persons 15 years old. By definition, these persons are classified as "Not in Labor Force.". In the 1940, 1950, and 1960 censuses, employment status data were presented for persons 14 years old and over. The change in the universe was made in 1970 to agree with the official measurement of the labor force as revised in January 1967 by the U.S. Department of Labor. The 1970 census was the last to show employment data for persons 14 and 15 years old.
All civilians 16 years old and over who were either (1) "at work"--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"--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 persons whose only activity consisted of work around the house or unpaid volunteer work for religious, charitable, and similar organizations; also excluded are persons on active duty in the United States Armed Forces.
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 looking for work during the last 4 weeks, and (3) were available to accept a job. Also included as unemployed are civilians who did not work at all during the reference week and were waiting to be called back to a job from which they had been laid off. 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
Consists of persons classified as employed or unemployed in accordance with the criteria described above.
These are unemployed persons who have worked at any time in the past.
Experienced Civilian Labor Force
Consists of the employed and the experienced unemployed.
All persons classified in the civilian labor force plus members of the U.S. Armed Forces (persons on active duty with the United States Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard).
All persons 16 years old and over who are not classified as members of the labor force. This category consists mainly of students, housewives, retired workers, seasonal workers enumerated in an off season who were not looking for work, institutionalized persons, and persons doing only incidental unpaid family work (less than 15 hours during the reference week).
This term appears in connection with several subjects: journey-to work items, class of worker, weeks worked in 1989, and number of workers in family in 1989. Its meaning varies and, therefore, should be determined in each case by referring to the definition of the subject in which it appears.
Actual Hours Worked Last Week
All persons who reported working during the reference week were asked to report in questionnaire item 21b the number of hours that they worked. The statistics on hours worked pertain to the number of hours actually worked at all jobs, and do not necessarily reflect the number of hours typically or usually worked or the scheduled number of hours. The concept of "actual hours" differs from that of "usual hours" described below. The number of persons who worked only a small number of hours is probably understated since such persons sometimes consider themselves as not working. Respondents were asked to include overtime or extra hours worked, but to exclude lunch hours, sick leave, and vacation leave.
The census may understate the number of employed persons because persons who have irregular, casual, or unstructured jobs sometimes report themselves as not working. The number of employed persons "at work" is probably overstated in the census (and conversely, the number of employed "with a job, but not at work" is understated) since some persons on vacation or sick leave erroneously reported themselves as working. This problem has no effect on the total number of employed persons. The reference week for the employment data is not the same for all persons. Since persons 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.")
The questionnaire items and employment status concepts for the 1990 census are essentially the same as those used in the 1980 and 1970 censuses. However, these concepts differ in many respects from those associated with the 1950 and 1960 censuses.
Since employment data from the census are obtained from respondents in households, they differ from statistics based on reports from individual business establishments, farm enterprises, and certain government programs. Persons employed at more than one job are counted only once in the census 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, persons 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 persons, but may include workers less than 16 years of age.
An additional difference in the data arises from the fact that persons who had a job but were not at work are included with the employed in the census statistics, whereas many of these persons are likely to be excluded from employment figures based on establishment payroll reports. Furthermore, the employment status data in census tabulations include persons on the basis of place of residence regardless of where they work, whereas establishment data report persons 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.
Census data on actual hours worked during the reference week may differ from data from other sources. The census measures hours actually worked, whereas some surveys measure hours paid for by employers. Comparability of census actual hours worked data may also be affected by the nature of the reference week (see "Reference Week").
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 persons who have exhausted their benefit rights, new workers who have not earned rights to unemployment insurance, and persons 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. Persons working only a few hours during the week and persons with a job but not at work are sometimes eligible for unemployment compensation but are classified as "Employed" in the census. 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.
The figures on employment status from the decennial census are generally comparable with similar data collected in the Current Population Survey. However, some difference may exist because of variations in enumeration and processing techniques.