The data on employment status (referred to as labor force status in previous censuses), were derived from answers to long-form questionnaire Items 21and 25, which were asked of a sample of the population 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 who did not work during the reference week, but who had jobs or businesses from which they were temporarily absent (excluding people on layoff); (3) people on temporary layoff who expected to be recalled to work within the next 6 months or who had been given a date to return to work, and who were available for work during the reference week; and (4) people who did not work during the reference week, who had looked for work during the reference week or the three previous weeks, and who were available for work during the reference week. (For more information, see "Reference Week.")
The employment status data shown in Census 2000 tabulations relate to people 16 years old and over. In the 1940, 1950, and 1960 censuses, employment status data were presented for people 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 people 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 who had jobs or businesses from which they were temporarily absent because of illness, bad weather, industrial dispute, vacation, or other personal reasons. Excluded from the employed are people whose only activity consisted of work around their own house (painting, repairing, or own home housework) 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.
This term is defined exactly the same as the term "employed" above.
All civilians 16 years old and over were classified as unemployed if they were neither "at work" nor "with a job but not at work" during the reference week, were looking for work during the last 4 weeks, and were available to start a job. Also included as unemployed were civilians 16 years old and over who: did not work at all during the reference week, were on temporary layoff from a job, had been informed that they would be recalled to work within the next 6 months or had been given a date to return to work, and were available to return to work during the reference week, except for temporary illness. Examples of job seeking activities were:
- 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 people classified as employed or unemployed in accordance with the criteria described above.
All people classified in the civilian labor force (i.e., "employed" and "unemployed" people), 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).
All people 16 years old and over who are not classified as members of the labor force. This category consists mainly of students, individuals taking care of home or family, retired workers, seasonal workers enumerated in an off-season who were not looking for work, institutionalized people (all institutionalized people are placed in this category regardless of any work activities they may have done in the reference week), and people doing only incidental unpaid family work (fewer than 15 hours during the reference week).
The terms "worker" and "work" appear in connection with several subjects: employment status, journey-to-work, class of worker, and work status in 1999. Their meaning varies and, therefore, should be determined by referring to the definition of the subject in which they appear.
When used in the concepts "Workers in Family," "Workers in Family in 1999," and "Full-Time,< Year-Round Workers," the term "worker" relates to the meaning of work defined for the "Work Status in 1999" subject.
Full-time, year-round workers
See "Work status in 1999."
The census 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 census (and conversely, the number of employed "with a job, but not at work" is understated) since some people who were 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 calendar week for all people. Since people can change their employment status from 1 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 "Reference Week.")
Note: The Census Bureau is aware there may be a problem or problems in the employment-status data of Census 2000 Summary File 3 (including tables P38, P43-P46, P149A-I, P150A-I, PCT35, PCT69A-I, and PCT70A-I). The labor force data for some places where colleges are located appear to overstate the number in the labor force, the number unemployed, and the percent unemployed, probably because of reporting or processing error. The exact cause is unknown, but the Census Bureau will continue to research the problem.
The questionnaire items and employment status concepts for Census 2000 are essentially the same as those used in the 1970 to 1990 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. People 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, people who work for more than one establishment may be counted more than once. Moreover, some establishment-based tabulations may exclude private household workers, unpaid family workers, and self-employed people, but may include workers less than 16 years old. Census tabulations count people who had a job but were not at work among the employed, but these people may be excluded from employment figures based on establishment payroll reports. Furthermore, census employment 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 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, which is the official source of the monthly national unemployment rate. However, some differences may exist because of variations between the two data sources in enumeration and processing techniques.