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Notes on Current Labor Statistics.

This section of the Review presents the principal statistical series collected and calculated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics: series on labor force; employment; unemployment; labor compensation; consumer, producer, and international prices; productivity; international comparisons; and injury and illness statistics. In the notes that follow, the data in each group of tables are briefly described; key definitions are given; notes on the data are set forth; and sources of additional information are cited.

General notes

The following notes apply to several tables in this section:

Seasonal adjustment. Certain monthly and quarterly data are adjusted to eliminate the effect on the data of such factors as climatic conditions, industry production schedules, opening and closing of schools, holiday buying periods, and vacation practices, which might prevent short-term evaluation of the statistical series. Tables containing data that have been adjusted are identified as "seasonally adjusted." (All other data are not seasonally adjusted.) Seasonal effects are estimated on the basis of past experience. When new seasonal factors are computed each year, revisions may affect seasonally adjusted data for several preceding years.

Seasonally adjusted data appear in tables 1-14, 16-17, 39, and 43. Seasonally adjusted labor force data in tables 1 and 4-9 were revised in the February 1998 issue of the Review. Seasonally adjusted establishment survey data shown in tables 1, 12-14 and 16-17 were revised in the July 1998 Review and reflect the experience through March 1998. A brief explanation of the seasonal adjustment methodology appears in "Notes on the data."

Revisions in the productivity data in table 45 are usually introduced in the September issue. Seasonally adjusted indexes and percent changes from month-to-month and quarter-to-quarter are published for numerous Consumer and Producer Price Index series. However, seasonally adjusted indexes are not published for the U.S. average All-Items CPI. Only seasonally adjusted percent changes are available for this series.

Adjustments for price changes. Some data--such as the "real" earnings shown in table 14--are adjusted to eliminate the effect of changes in price. These adjustments are made by dividing current-dollar values by the Consumer Price Index or the appropriate component of the index, then multiplying by 100. For example, given a current hourly wage rate of $3 and a current price index number of 150, where 1982 = 100, the hourly rate expressed in 1982 dollars is $2 ($3/150 x 100 = $2). The $2 (or any other resulting values) are described as "real," "constant," or "1982" dollars.

Sources of information

Data that supplement the tables in this section are published by the Bureau in a variety of sources. Definitions of each series and notes on the data are contained in later sections of these Notes describing each set of data. For detailed descriptions of each data series, see BLS Handbook of Methods, Bulletin 2490. Users also may wish to consult Major Programs of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Report 919. News releases provide the latest statistical information published by the Bureau; the major recurring releases are published according to the schedule appearing on the back cover of this issue.

More information about labor force, employment, and unemployment data and the household and establishment surveys underlying the data are available in the Bureau's monthly publication, Employment and Earnings. Historical unadjusted and seasonally adjusted data from the household survey are available on the Internet:

Historically comparable unadjusted and seasonally adjusted data from the establishment survey also are available on the Internet:

Additional information on labor force data for sub-States are provided in the BLS annual report, Geographic Profile of Employment and Unemployment.

For a comprehensive discussion of the Employment Cost Index, see Employment Cost Indexes and Levels, 1975-95, BLS Bulletin 2466. The most recent data from the Employee Benefits Survey appear in the following Bureau of Labor Statistics bulletins: Employee Benefits in Medium and Large Firms; Employee Benefits in Small Private Establishments; and Employee Benefits in State and Local Governments.

More detailed data on consumer and producer prices are published in the monthly periodicals, The CPI Detailed Report and Producer Price Indexes. For an overview of the 1998 revision of the CPI, see the December 1996 issue of the Monthly Labor Review. Additional data on international prices appear in monthly news releases.

For a listing of available industry productivity indexes and their components, see Productivity Measures for Selected Industries, BLS Bulletin 2491.

For additional information on international comparisons data, see International Comparisons of Unemployment, BLS Bulletin 1979.

Detailed data on the occupational injury and illness series are published in Occupational Injuries and Illnesses in the United States, by Industry, a BLS annual bulletin.

Finally, the Monthly Labor Review carries analytical articles on annual and longer term developments in labor force, employment, and unemployment; employee compensation and collective bargaining; prices; productivity; international comparisons; and injury and illness data.


n.e.c. = not elsewhere classified.

n.e.s. = not elsewhere specified.

p = preliminary. To increase the timeliness of some series, preliminary figures are issued based on representative but incomplete returns.

r = revised. Generally, this revision reflects the availability of later data, but also may reflect other adjustments.

Comparative Indicators

(Tables 1-3)

Comparative indicators tables provide an overview and comparison of major BLS statistical series. Consequently, although many of the included series are available monthly, all measures in these comparative tables are presented quarterly and annually.

Labor market indicators include employment measures from two major surveys and information on rates of change in compensation provided by the Employment Cost Index (ECI) program. The labor force participation rate, the employment-to-population ratio, and unemployment rates for major demographic groups based on the Current Population ("household") Survey are presented, while measures of employment and average weekly hours by major industry sector are given using nonfarm payroll data. The Employment Cost Index (compensation), by major sector and by bargaining status, is chosen from a variety of BLS compensation and wage measures because it provides a comprehensive measure of employer costs for hiring labor, not just outlays for wages, and it is not affected by employment shifts among occupations and industries.

Data on changes in compensation, prices, and productivity are presented in table 2. Measures of rates of change of compensation and wages from the Employment Cost Index program are provided for all civilian nonfarm workers (excluding Federal and household workers) and for all private nonfarm workers. Measures of changes in consumer prices for all urban consumers; producer prices by stage of processing; overall prices by stage of processing; and overall export and import price indexes are given. Measures of productivity (output per hour of all persons) are provided for major sectors.

Alternative measures of wage and compensation rates of change, which reflect the overall trend in labor costs, are summarized in table 3. Differences in concepts and scope, related to the specific purposes of the series, contribute to the variation in changes among the individual measures.

Notes on the data

Definitions of each series and notes on the data are contained in later sections of these notes describing each set of data.

Employment and Unemployment Data

(Tables 1; 4-20)

Household survey data

Description of the series

Employment data in this section are obtained from the Current Population Survey, a program of personal interviews conducted monthly by the Bureau of the Census for the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The sample consists of about 50,000 households selected to represent the U.S. population 16 years of age and older. Households are interviewed on a rotating basis, so that three-fourths of the sample is the same for any 2 consecutive months.


Employed persons include (1) all those who worked for pay any time during the week which includes the 12th day of the month or who worked unpaid for 15 hours or more in a family-operated enterprise and (2) those who were temporarily absent from their regular jobs because of illness, vacation, industrial dispute, or similar reasons. A person working at more than one job is counted only in the job at which he or she worked the greatest number of hours.

Unemployed persons are those who did not work during the survey week, but were available for work except for temporary illness and had looked for jobs within the preceding 4 weeks. Persons who did not look for work because they were on layoff are also counted among the unemployed. The unemployment rate represents the number unemployed as a percent of the civilian labor force.

The civilian labor force consists of all employed or unemployed persons in the civilian noninstitutional population. Persons not in the labor force are those not classified as employed or unemployed. This group includes discouraged workers, defined as persons who want and are available for a job and who have looked for work sometime in the the past 12 months (or since the end of their last job if they held one within the past 12 months), but are not currently looking, because they believe there are no jobs available or there are none for which they would qualify. The civilian noninstitutional population comprises all persons 16 years of age and older who are not inmates of penal or mental institutions, sanitariums, or homes for the aged, infirm, or needy. The civilian labor force participation rate is the proportion of the civilian noninstitutional population that is in the labor force. The employment-population ratio is employment as a percent of the civilian noninstitutional population.

Notes on the data

From time to time, and especially after a decennial census, adjustments are made in the Current Population Survey figures to correct for estimating errors during the intercensal years. These adjustments affect the comparability of historical data. A description of these adjustments and their effect on the various data series appears in the Explanatory Notes of Employment and Earnings.

Labor force data in tables 1 and 4-9 are seasonally adjusted. Since January 1980, national labor force data have been seasonally adjusted with a procedure called X-11 ARIMA which was developed at Statistics Canada as an extension of the standard X-11 method previously used by BLS. A detailed description of the procedure appears in the X-11 ARIMA Seasonal Adjustment Method, by Estela Bee Dagum (Statistics Canada, Catalogue No. 12-564E, January 1983).

At the end of each calendar year, historical seasonally adjusted data usually are revised, and projected seasonal adjustment factors are calculated for use during the January-June period. Because of the redesign of the survey, seasonally adjusted data back to 1994 usually are revised. In July, new seasonal adjustment factors, which incorporate the experience through June, are produced for the July-December period, but no revisions are made in the historical data.

For additional information on national household survey data, contact the Division of Labor Force Statistics: (202) 606-6378.

Establishment survey data

Description of the series

Employment, hours, and earnings data in this section are compiled from payroll records reported monthly on a voluntary basis to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and its cooperating State agencies by about 390,000 establishments representing all industries except agriculture. Industries are classified in accordance with the 1987 Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) Manual. In most industries, the sampling probabilities are based on the size of the establishment; most large establishments are therefore in the sample. (An establishment is not necessarily a firm; it may be a branch plant, for example, or warehouse.) Self-employed persons and others not on a regular civilian payroll are outside the scope of the survey because they are excluded from establishment records. This largely accounts for the difference in employment figures between the household and establishment surveys.


An establishment is an economic unit which produces goods or services (such as a factory or store) at a single location and is engaged in one type of economic activity.

Employed persons are all persons who received pay (including holiday and sick pay) for any part of the payroll period including the 12th day of the month. Persons holding more than one job (about 5 percent of all persons in the labor force) are counted in each establishment which reports them.

Production workers in manufacturing include working supervisors and nonsupervisory workers closely associated with production operations. Those workers mentioned in tables 11-16 include production workers in manufacturing and mining; construction workers in construction; and nonsupervisory workers in the following industries: transportation and public utilities; wholesale and retail trade; finance, insurance, and real estate; and services. These groups account for about four-fifths of the total employment on private nonagricultural payrolls.

Earnings are the payments production or nonsupervisory workers receive during the survey period, including premium pay for overtime or late-shift work but excluding irregular bonuses and other special payments. Real earnings are earnings adjusted to reflect the effects of changes in consumer prices. The deflator for this series is derived from the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W).

Hours represent the average weekly hours of production or nonsupervisory workers for which pay was received, and are different from standard or scheduled hours. Overtime hours represent the portion of average weekly hours which was in excess of regular hours and for which overtime premiums were paid.

The Diffusion Index represents the percent of industries in which employment was rising over the indicated period, plus one-half of the industries with unchanged employment; 50 percent indicates an equal balance between industries with increasing and decreasing employment. In line with Bureau practice, data for the 1-, 3-, and 6-month spans are seasonally adjusted, while those for the 12-month span are unadjusted. Data are centered within the span. Table 17 provides an index on private nonfarm employment based on 356 industries, and a manufacturing index based on 139 industries. These indexes are useful for measuring the dispersion of economic gains or losses and are also economic indicators.

Notes on the data

Establishment survey data are annually adjusted to comprehensive counts of employment (called "benchmarks"). The latest adjustment, which incorporated March 1997 benchmarks, was made with the release of May 1998 data, published in the July 1998 issue of the Review. Coincident with the benchmark adjustment, historical seasonally adjusted data were revised to reflect updated seasonal factors and refinement in the seasonal adjustment procedures. Unadjusted data from April 1997 forward and seasonally adjusted data from January 1994 forward are subject to revision in future benchmarks.

Revisions in State data (table 11) occurred with the publication of January 1998 data.

Beginning in June 1996, the BLS uses the X-12 ARIMA methodology to seasonally adjust establishment survey data. This procedure, developed by the Bureau of the Census, controls for the effect of varying survey intervals (also known as the 4- versus 5-week effect), thereby providing improved measurement of over-the-month changes and underlying economic trends. Revisions of data, usually for the most recent 5-year period, are made once a year coincident with the benchmark revisions.

In the establishment survey, estimates for the most recent 2 months are based on incomplete returns and are published as preliminary in the tables (12-17 in the Review). When all returns have been received, the estimates are revised and published as "final" (prior to any benchmark revisions) in the third month of their appearance. Thus, December data are published as preliminary in January and February and as final in March. For the same reasons, quarterly establishment data (table 1) are preliminary for the first 2 months of publication and final in the third month. Thus, fourth-quarter data are published as preliminary in January and February and as final in March.

A comprehensive discussion of the differences between household and establishment data on employment appears in Gloria P. Green, "Comparing employment estimates from household and payroll surveys," Monthly Labor Review, December 1969, pp. 9-20.

For additional information on establishment survey data, contact the Division of Monthly Industry Employment Statistics:(202) 606-6555.

Unemployment data by State

Description of the series

Data presented in this section are obtained from the Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS) program, which is conducted in cooperation with State employment security agencies.

Monthly estimates of the labor force, employment, and unemployment for States and sub-State areas are a key indicator of local economic conditions, and form the basis for determining the eligibility of an area for benefits under Federal economic assistance programs such as the Job Training Partnership Act. Seasonally adjusted unemployment rates are presented in table 10. Insofar as possible, the concepts and definitions underlying these data are those used in the national estimates obtained from the CPS.

Notes on the data

Data refer to State of residence. Monthly data for all States and the District of Columbia are derived using standardized procedures established by BLS. Once a year, estimates are revised to new population controls, usually with publication of January estimates, and benchmarked to annual average CPS levels.

For additional information on data in this series, call (202) 606-6392 (table 10) or (202) 606-6559 (table 11).

Compensation and Wage Data

(Tables 1-3; 21-27)

Compensation and wage data are gathered by the Bureau from business establishments, State and local governments, labor unions, collective bargaining agreements on file with the Bureau, and secondary sources.

Employment Cost Index

Description of the series

The Employment Cost Index (ECI) is a quarterly measure of the rate of change in compensation per hour worked and includes wages, salaries, and employer costs of employee benefits. It uses a fixed market basket of labor--similar in concept to the Consumer Price Index's fixed market basket of goods and services--to measure change over time in employer costs of employing labor.

Statistical series on total compensation costs, on wages and salaries, and on benefit costs are available for private nonfarm workers excluding proprietors, the self-employed, and household workers. The total compensation costs and wages and salaries series are also available for State and local government workers and for the civilian nonfarm economy, which consists of private industry and State and local government workers combined. Federal workers are excluded.

The Employment Cost Index probability sample consists of about 4,400 private nonfarm establishments providing about 23,000 occupational observations and 1,000 State and local government establishments providing 6,000 occupational observations selected to represent total employment in each sector. On average, each reporting unit provides wage and compensation information on five well-specified occupations. Data are collected each quarter for the pay period including the 12th day of March, June, September, and December.

Beginning with June 1986 data, fixed employment weights from the 1980 Census of Population are used each quarter to calculate the civilian and private indexes and the index for State and local governments. (Prior to June 1986, the employment weights are from the 1970 Census of Population.) These fixed weights, also used to derive all of the industry and occupation series indexes, ensure that changes in these indexes reflect only changes in compensation, not employment shifts among industries or occupations with different levels of wages and compensation. For the bargaining status, region, and metropolitan/nonmetropolitan area series, however, employment data by industry and occupation are not available from the census. Instead, the 1980 employment weights are reallocated within these series each quarter based on the current sample. Therefore, these indexes are not strictly comparable to those for the aggregate, industry, and occupation series.


Total compensation costs include wages, salaries, and the employer's costs for employee benefits.

Wages and salaries consist of earnings before payroll deductions, including production bonuses, incentive earnings, commissions, and cost-of-living adjustments.

Benefits include the cost to employers for paid leave, supplemental pay (including nonproduction bonuses), insurance, retirement and savings plans, and legally required benefits (such as Social Security, workers' compensation, and unemployment insurance).

Excluded from wages and salaries and employee benefits are such items as payment-in-kind, free room and board, and tips.

Notes on the data

The Employment Cost Index for changes in wages and salaries in the private nonfarm economy was published beginning in 1975. Changes in total compensation cost--wages and salaries and benefits combined--were published beginning in 1980. The series of changes in wages and salaries and for total compensation in the State and local government sector and in the civilian nonfarm economy (excluding Federal employees) were published beginning in 1981. Historical indexes (June 1981=100) are available on the Internet:

For additional information on the Employment Cost Index, contact the Office of Compensation Levels and Trends: (202) 606-6199.

Employee Benefits Survey

Description of the series

Employee benefits data are obtained from the Employee Benefits Survey, an annual survey of the incidence and provisions of selected benefits provided by employers. The survey collects data from a sample of approximately 6,000 private sector and State and local government establishments. The data are presented as a percentage of employees who participate in a certain benefit, or as an average benefit provision (for example, the average number of paid holidays provided to employees per year). Selected data from the survey are presented in table 25 for medium and large private establishments and in table 26 for small private establishments and State and local government.

The survey covers paid leave benefits such as lunch and rest periods, holidays and vacations, and personal, funeral, jury duty, military, parental, and sick leave; sickness and accident, long-term disability, and life insurance; medical, dental, and vision care plans; defined benefit and defined contribution plans; flexible benefits plans; reimbursement accounts; and unpaid parental leave.

Also, data are tabulated on the incidence of several other benefits, such as severance pay, child-care assistance, wellness programs, and employee assistance programs.


Employer-provided benefits are benefits that are financed either wholly or partly by the employer. They may be sponsored by a union or other third party, as long as there is some employer financing. However, some benefits that are fully paid for by the employee also are included. For example, long-term care insurance and postretirement life insurance paid entirely by the employee are included because the guarantee of insurability and availability at group premium rates are considered a benefit.

Participants are workers who are covered by a benefit, whether or not they use that benefit. If the benefit plan is financed wholly by employers and requires employees to complete a minimum length of service for eligibility, the workers are considered participants whether or not they have met the requirement. If workers are required to contribute towards the cost of a plan, they are considered participants only if they elect the plan and agree to make the required contributions.

Defined benefit pension plans use predetermined formulas to calculate a retirement benefit, and obligate the employer to provide those benefits. Benefits are generally based on salary, years of service, or both.

Defined contribution plans generally specify the level of employer and employee contributions to a plan, but not the formula for determining eventual benefits. Instead, individual accounts are set up for participants, and benefits are based on amounts credited to these accounts.

Tax-deferred savings plans are a type of defined contribution plan that allow participants to contribute a portion of their salary to an employer-sponsored plan and defer income taxes until withdrawal.

Flexible benefit plans allow employees to choose among several benefits, such as life insurance, medical care, and vacation days, and among several levels of care within a given benefit.

Notes on the data

Surveys of employees in medium and large establishments conducted over the 1979-86 period included establishments that employed at least 50, 100, or 250 workers, depending on the industry (most service industries were excluded). The survey conducted in 1987 covered only State and local governments with 50 or more employees. The surveys conducted in 1988 and 1989 included medium and large establishments with 100 workers or more in private industries. All surveys conducted over the 1979-89 period excluded establishments in Alaska and Hawaii, as well as part-time employees.

Beginning in 1990, surveys of State and local governments and small establishments are conducted in even-numbered years and surveys of medium and large establishments are conducted in odd-numbered years. The small establishment survey includes all private nonfarm establishments with fewer than 100 workers, while the State and local government survey includes all governments, regardless of the number of workers. All three surveys include full- and part-time workers, and workers in all 50 States and the District of Columbia.

For additional information on the Employee Benefits Survey, contact the Office of Compensation Levels and Trends (202) 606-6222 or the Internet:

Work stoppages

Description of the series

Data on work stoppages measure the number and duration of major strikes or lockouts (involving 1,000 workers or more) occurring during the month (or year), the number of workers involved, and the amount of time lost because of stoppage. These data are presented in table 27.

Data are largely from newspaper accounts and cover only establishments directly involved in a stoppage. They do not measure the indirect or secondary effect of stoppages on other establishments whose employees are idle owing to material shortages or lack of service.


Number of stoppages: The number of strikes and lockouts involving 1,000 workers or more and lasting a full shift or longer.

Workers involved: The number of workers directly involved in the stoppage.

Number of days idle: The aggregate number of workdays lost by workers involved in the stoppages.

Days of idleness as a percent of estimated working time: Aggregate workdays lost as a percent of the aggregate number of standard workdays in the period multiplied by total employment in the period.

Notes on the data

This series is not comparable with the one terminated in 1981 that covered strikes involving six workers or more.

For additional information on work stoppages data, contact the Office of Compensation Levels and Trends: (202) 6066282, or the Interact:

Price Data

(Tables 2; 28-38)

Price data are gathered by the Bureau of Labor Statistics from retail and primary markets in the United States. Price indexes are given in relation to a base period--1982 = 100 for many Producer Price Indexes, 1982-84 = 100 for many Consumer Price Indexes (unless otherwise noted), and 1990 -- 100 for International Price Indexes.

Consumer Price Indexes

Description of the series

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) is a measure of the average change in the prices paid by urban consumers for a fixed market basket of goods and services. The CPI is calculated monthly for two population groups, one consisting only of urban households whose primary source of income is derived from the employment of wage earners and clerical workers, and the other consisting of all urban households. The wage earner index (CPI-W) is a continuation of the historic index that was introduced well over a half-century ago for use in wage negotiations. As new uses were developed for the CPI in recent years, the need for a broader and more representative index became apparent. The all-urban consumer index (CPI-U), introduced in 1978, is representative of the 1993-95 buying habits of about 87 percent of the noninstitutional population of the United States at that time, compared with 32 percent represented in the CPI-W. In addition to wage earners and clerical workers, the CPI-U covers professional, managerial, and technical workers, the self-employed, short-term workers, the unemployed, retirees, and others not in the labor force.

The CPI is based on prices of food, clothing, shelter, fuel, drugs, transportation fares, doctors' and dentists' fees, and other goods and services that people buy for day-to-day living. The quantity and quality of these items are kept essentially unchanged between major revisions so that only price changes will be measured. All taxes directly associated with the purchase and use of items are included in the index.

Data collected from more than 23,000 retail establishments and 5,800 housing units in 87 urban areas across the country are used to develop the "U.S. city average." Separate estimates for 14 major urban centers are presented in table 29. The areas listed are as indicated in footnote 1 to the table. The area indexes measure only the average change in prices for each area since the base period, and do not indicate differences in the level of prices among cities.

Notes on the data

In January 1983, the Bureau changed the way in which homeownership costs are meaured for the CPI-U. A rental equivalence method replaced the asset-price approach to homeownership costs for that series. In January 1985, the same change was made in the CPI-W. The central purpose of the change was to separate shelter costs from the investment component of home-ownership so that the index would reflect only the cost of shelter services provided by owner-occupied homes. An updated CPI-U and CPI-W were introduced with release of the January 1987 data.

For additional information on consumer prices, contact the Division of Consumer Prices and Price Indexes: (202) 606-7000.

Producer Price Indexes

Description of the series

Producer Price Indexes (PPI) measure average changes in prices received by domestic producers of commodities in all stages of processing. The sample used for calculating these indexes currently contains about 3,200 commodities and about 80,000 quotations per month, selected to represent the movement of prices of all commodities produced in the manufacturing; agriculture, forestry, and fishing; mining; and gas and electricity and public utilities sectors. The stage-of-processing structure of PPI organizes products by class of buyer and degree of fabrication (that is, finished goods, intermediate goods, and crude materials). The traditional commodity structure of PPI organizes products by similarity of end use or material composition. The industry and product structure of PPI organizes data in accordance with the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) and the product code extension of the SIC developed by the U.S. Bureau of the Census.

To the extent possible, prices used in calculating Producer Price Indexes apply to the first significant commercial transaction in the United States from the production or central marketing point. Price data are generally collected monthly, primarily by mail questionnaire. Most prices are obtained directly from producing companies on a voluntary and confidential basis. Prices generally are reported for the Tuesday of the week containing the 13th day of the month.

Since January 1992, price changes for the various commodities have been averaged together with implicit quantity weights representing their importance in the total net selling value of all commodities as of 1987. The detailed data are aggregated to obtain indexes for stage-of-processing groupings, commodity groupings, durability-of-product groupings, and a number of special composite groups. All Producer Price Index data are subject to revision 4 months after original publication.

For additional information on producer prices, contact the Division of Industrial Prices and Price Indexes: (202) 606-7705.

International Price Indexes

Description of the series

The International Price Program produces monthly and quarterly export and import price indexes for nonmilitary goods traded between the United States and the rest of the world. The export price index provides a measure of price change for all products sold by U.S. residents to foreign buyers. ("Residents" is defined as in the national income accounts; it includes corporations, businesses, and individuals, but does not require the organizations to be U.S. owned nor the individuals to have U.S. citizenship.) The import price index provides a measure of price change for goods purchased from other countries by U.S. residents.

The product universe for both the import and export indexes includes raw materials, agricultural products, semifinished manufactures, and finished manufactures, including both capital and consumer goods. Price data for these items are collected primarily by mail questionnaire. In nearly all cases, the data are collected directly from the exporter or importer, although in a few cases, prices are obtained from other sources.

To the extent possible, the data gathered refer to prices at the U.S. border for exports and at either the foreign border or the U.S. border for imports. For nearly all products, the prices refer to transactions completed during the first week of the month. Survey respondents are asked to indicate all discounts, allowances, and rebates applicable to the reported prices, so that the price used in the calculation of the indexes is the actual price for which the product was bought or sold.

In addition to general indexes of prices for U.S. exports and imports, indexes are also published for detailed product categories of exports and imports. These categories are defined according to the five-digit level of detail for the Bureau of Economic Analysis End-use Classification (SITC), and the four-digit level of detail for the Harmonized System. Aggregate import indexes by country or region of origin are also available.

BLS publishes indexes for selected categories of internationally traded services, calculated on an international basis and on a balance-of-payments basis.

Notes on the data

The export and import price indexes are weighted indexes of the Laspeyres type. Price relatives are assigned equal importance within each harmonized group and are then aggregated to the higher level. The values assigned to each weight category are based on trade value figures compiled by the Bureau of the Census. The trade weights currently used to compute both indexes relate to 1990.

Because a price index depends on the same items being priced from period to period, it is necessary to recognize when a product's specifications or terms of transaction have been modified. For this reason, the Bureau's questionnaire requests detailed descriptions of the physical and functional characteristics of the products being priced, as well as information on the number of units bought or sold, discounts, credit terms, packaging, class of buyer or seller, and so forth. When there are changes in either the specifications or terms of transaction of a product, the dollar value of each change is deleted from the total price change to obtain the "pure" change. Once this value is determined, a linking procedure is employed which allows for the continued repricing of the item.

For the export price indexes, the preferred pricing is f.a.s. (free alongside ship) U.S. port of exportation. When firms report export prices f.o.b. (free on board), production point information is collected which enables the Bureau to calculate a shipment cost to the port of exportation. An attempt is made to collect two prices for imports. The first is the import price f.o.b. at the foreign port of exportation, which is consistent with the basis for valuation of imports in the national accounts. The second is the import price c.i.f.(costs, insurance, and freight) at the U.S. port of importation, which also includes the other costs associated with bringing the product to the U.S. border. It does not, however, include duty charges. For a given product, only one price basis series is used in the construction of an index.

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION on international prices, contact the Division of International Prices: (202) 606-7155.

Productivity Data

(Tables 2; 39-42)

Business sector and major sectors

Description of the series

The productivity measures relate real output to real input. As such, they encompass a family of measures which include single-factor input measures, such as output per unit of labor input (output per hour) or output per unit of capital input, as well as measures of multifactor productivity (output per unit of combined labor and capital inputs). The Bureau indexes show the change in output relative to changes in the various inputs. The measures cover the business, nonfarm business, manufacturing, and nonfinancial corporate sectors.

Corresponding indexes of hourly compensation, unit labor costs, unit nonlabor payments, and prices are also provided.


Output per hour of all persons (labor productivity) is the quantity of goods and services produced per hour of labor input. Output per unit of capital services (capital productivity) is the quantity of goods and services produced per unit of capital services input. Multifactor productivity is the quantity of goods and services produced per combined unit of labor and capital inputs.

Compensation per hour is total compensation divided by hours at work. Total compensation equals the wages and salaries of employees plus employers' contributions for social insurance and private benefit plans, plus an estimate of these payments for the self-employed (except for nonfinancial corporations in which there are no self-employed). Real compensation per hour is compensation per hour deflated by the change in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers.

Unit labor costs are the labor compensation costs expended in the production of a unit of output and are derived by dividing compensation by output. Unit nonlabor payments include profits, depreciation, interest, and indirect taxes per unit of output. They are computed by subtracting compensation of all persons from current-dollar value of output and dividing by output.

Unit nonlabor costs contain all the components of unit nonlabor payments except unit profits.

Unit profits include corporate profits with inventory valuation and capital consumption adjustments per unit of output.

Hours of all persons are the total hours at work of payroll workers, self-employed persons, and unpaid family workers.

Labor inputs are hours of all persons adjusted for the effects of changes in the education and experience of the labor force.

Capital services are the flow of services from the capital stock used in production. It is developed from measures of the net stock of physical assets--equipment, structures, land, and inventories--weighted by rental prices for each type of asset.

Combined units of labor and capital inputs are derived by combining changes in labor and capital input with weights which represent each component's share of total output. The indexes for capital services, labor inputs, and combined units of labor and capital are based on changing weights which are averages of the shares in the current and preceding year (the Tornquist index-number formula).

Notes on the data

Business sector output is an annually-weighted index constructed by excluding from real gross domestic product (GDP) the following outputs: general government, nonprofit institutions, paid employees of private households, and the rental value of owner-occupied dwellings. Nonfarm business also excludes fanning. Private business and private nonfarm business further exclude government enterprises. The measures are supplied by the U.S. Department of Commerce's Bureau of Economic Analysis. Annual estimates of manufacturing sectoral output are produced by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Quarterly manufacturing output indexes from the Federal Reserve Board are adjusted to these annual output measures by the BLS. Compensation data are developed from data of the Bureau of Economic Analysis and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Hours data are developed from dam of the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The productivity and associated cost measures in tables 39-42 describe the relationship between output in real terms and the labor and capital inputs involved in its production. They show the changes from period to period in the amount of goods and services produced per unit of input.

Although these measures relate output to hours and capital services, they do not measure the contributions of labor, capital, or any other specific factor of production. Rather, they reflect the joint effect of many influences, including changes in technology; shifts in the composition of the labor force; capital investment; level of output; changes in the utilization of capacity, energy, material, and research and development; the organization of production; managerial skill; and characteristics and efforts of the work force.

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION on this productivity series, contact the Division of Productivity Research: (202) 606-5606.

Industry productivity measures

Description of the series

The BLS industry productivity data supplement the measures for the business economy and major sectors with annual measures of labor productivity for selected industries at the three- and four-digit levels of the Standard Industrial Classification system. The industry measures differ in methodology and data sources from the productivity measures for the major sectors because the industry measures are developed independently of the National Income and Product Accounts framework used for the major sector measures.


Output per employee hour is derived by dividing an index of industry output by an index of aggregate hours of all employees. Output indexes are based on quantifiable units of products or services, or both, combined with value-share weights. Whenever possible, physical quantities are used as the unit of measurement for output. If quantity data are not available for a given industry, data on the constant-dollar value of production are used.

The labor input series consist of the hours of all employees (production and nonproduction workers), the hours of all persons (paid employees, partners, proprietors, and unpaid family workers), or the number of employees, depending upon the industry.

Notes on the data

The industry measures are compiled from data produced by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Departments of Commerce, Interior, and Agriculture, the Federal Reserve Board, regulatory agencies, trade associations, and other sources.

For most industries, the productivity indexes refer to the output per hour of all employees. For some transportation industries, only indexes of output per employee are prepared. For some trade and service industries, indexes of output per hour of all persons (including self-employed) are constructed.

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION on this series, contact the Division of Industry Productivity Studies: (202) 606-5618.

International Comparisons

(Tables 43-45)

Labor force and unemployment

Description of the series

Tables 43 and 44 present comparative measures of the labor force, employment, and unemployment--approximating U.S. concepts--for the United States, Canada, Australia, Japan, and several European countries. The unemployment statistics (and, to a lesser extent, employment statistics) published by other industrial countries are not, in most cases, comparable to U.S. unemployment statistics. Therefore, the Bureau adjusts the figures for selected countries, where necessary, for all known major definitional differences. Although precise comparability may not be achieved, these adjusted figures provide a better basis for international comparisons than the figures regularly published by each country.


For the principal U.S. definitions of the labor force, employment, and unemployment, see the Notes section on Employment and Unemployment Data: Household survey data.

Notes on the data

The adjusted statistics have been adapted to the age at which compulsory schooling ends in each country, rather than to the U.S. standard of 16 years of age and older. Therefore, the adjusted statistics relate to the population aged 16 and older in France, Sweden, and the United Kingdom; 15 and older in Canada, Australia, Japan, Germany, Italy from 1993 onward, and the Netherlands; and 14 and older in Italy prior to 1993. The institutional population is included in the denominator of the labor force participation rates and employment-population ratios for Japan and Germany; it is excluded for the United States and the other countries.

In the U.S. labor force survey, persons on layoff who are awaiting recall to their jobs are classified as unemployed. European and Japanese layoff practices are quite different in nature from those in the United States; therefore, strict application of the U.S. definition has not been made on this point. For further information, see Monthly Labor Review, December 1981, pp. 8-11.

The figures for one or more recent years for France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom are calculated using adjustment factors based on labor force surveys for earlier years and are considered preliminary. The recent-year measures for these countries, therefore, are subject to revision whenever data from more current tabor force surveys become available.

There are breaks in the data series for the United States (1990, 1994), France (1992), Italy (1991, 1993), the Netherlands (1988), and Sweden (1987).

For the United States, the break in series reflects a major redesign of the labor force survey questionnaire and collection methodology introduced in January 1994. Revised population estimates based on the 1990 census, adjusted for the estimated undercount, also were incorporated. In 1996, previously published data for the 1990-93 period were revised to reflect the 1990 census-based population controls, adjusted for the undercount. Therefore, data for 1994 onward are not directly comparable with data for 1993 and earlier years because of the redesign, and data for 1990 onward are not directly comparable with data for 1989 and earlier years because of the introduction of the 1990 census-based population controls, adjusted for the undercount. See the Notes section on Employment and Unemployment Data of this Review.

For France, the 1992 break reflects the substitution of standardized European Union Statistical Office (EUROSTAT) unemployment statistics for the unemployment data estimated according to the International Labor Office (ILO) definition and published in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) annual yearbook and quarterly update. This change was made because the EUROSTAT data are more up-to-date than the OECD figures. Also, since 1992, the EUROSTAT definitions are closer to the U.S. definitions than they were in prior years. The impact of this revision was to lower the unemployment rate by 0.1 percentage point in 1992 and 1993, by 0.4 percentage point in 1994, and 0.6 percentage point in 1995.

For Italy, the 1991 break reflects a revision in the method of weighting sample data. The impact was to increase the unemployment rate by approximately 0.3 percentage point, from 6.6 to 6.9 percent in 1991.

In October 1992, the survey methodology was revised and the definition of unemployment was changed to include only those who were actively looking for a job within the 30 days preceding the survey and who were available for work. In addition, the lower age limit for the labor force was raised from 14 to 15 years. (Prior to these changes, BLS adjusted Italy's published unemployment rate downward by excluding from the unemployed those persons who had not actively sought work in the past 30 days.) The break in the series also reflects the incorporation of the 1991 population census results. The impact of these changes was to raise Italy's adjusted unemployment rate by approximately 1.2 percentage points, from 8.3 to 9.5 percent in fourth-quarter 1992. These changes did not affect employment significantly, except in 1993. Estimates by the Italian Statistical Office indicate that employment declined by about 3 percent in 1993, rather than the nearly 4 percent indicated by the data shown in table 44. This difference is attributable mainly to the incorporation of the 1991 population benchmarks in the 1993 data. Data for earlier years have not been adjusted to incorporate the 1991 census results.

For the Netherlands, a new survey questionnaire was introduced in 1992 that allowed for a closer application of ILO guidelines. EUROSTAT has revised the Dutch series back to 1988 based on the 1992 changes. The 1988 revised unemployment rate is 7.6 percent; the previous estimate for the same year was 9.3 percent.

There have been two breaks in series in the Swedish labor force survey, in 1987 and 1993. Adjustments have been made for the 1993 break back to 1987. In 1987, a new questionnaire was introduced. Questions regarding current availability were added and the period of active workseeking was reduced from 60 days to 4 weeks. These changes lowered Sweden's 1987 unemployment rate by 0.4 percentage point, from 2.3 to 1.9 percent. In 1993, the measurement period for the labor force survey was changed to represent all 52 weeks of the year rather than one week each month and a new adjustment for population totals was introduced. The impact was to raise the unemployment rate by approximately 0.5 percentage point, from 7.6 to 8.1 percent. Statistics Sweden revised its labor force survey data for 198792 to take into account the break in 1993. The adjustment raised the Swedish unemployment rate by 0.2 percentage point in 1987 and gradually rose to 0.5 percentage point in 1992.

Beginning with 1987, Bus has adjusted the Swedish data to classify students who also sought work as unemployed. The impact of this change was to increase the adjusted unemployment rate by 0.1 percentage point in 1987 and by 1.8 percentage points in 1994, when unemployment was higher. By 1994, the adjusted unemployment rate had risen from 7.8 to 9.6 percent due to the adjustment to include students.

The net effect of the 1987 and 1993 changes and the BLS adjustment for students seeking work lowered Sweden's 1987 unemployment rate from 2.3 to 2.2 percent.

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION on this series, contact the Division of Foreign Labor Statistics: (202) 606-5654.

Manufacturing productivity and labor costs

Description of the series

Table 45 presents comparative indexes of manufacturing labor productivity (output per hour), output, total hours, compensation per hour, and unit labor costs for the United States, Canada, Japan, and nine European countries. These measures are trend comparisons--that is, series that measure changes over time--rather than level comparisons. There are greater technical problems in comparing the levels of manufacturing output among countries.

BLS constructs the comparative indexes from three basic aggregate measures--output, total labor hours, and total compensation. The hours and compensation measures refer to all employed persons (wage and salary earners plus self-employed persons and unpaid family workers) in the United States, Canada, Japan, France, Germany, Norway, and Sweden, and to all employees (wage and salary earners)in the other countries.


Output, in general, refers to value added in manufacturing from the national accounts of each country. However, the output series for Japan prior to 1970 is an index of industrial production, and the national accounts measures for the United Kingdom are essentially identical to their indexes of industrial production. While methods of deriving national accounts measures differ from country to country, BLS has reviewed these methods and determined that the series are sufficiently comparable for measuring comparative trends in productivity and unit labor costs.

The 1977-94 output data for the United States are the gross product originating (value added) measures prepared by the Bureau of Economic Analysis of the U.S. Department of Commerce Comparable manufacturing output data currently are not available prior to 1977. The 1994-95 percent changes in manufacturing output are based on the trend shown by the industrial production index published by the U.S. Federal Reserve Board for the manufacturing sector.

U.S. gross product originating is a chain-type annual-weighted series. (For more information on the U.S. measure, see Robert E. Yuskavage, "Improved Estimates of Gross Product by Industry, 1959-94," Survey of Current Business, August 1996, pp. 133-55.) The Japanese value added series is based upon one set of fixed price weights for the years 1970 through 1996. Output series for the other foreign economies also employ fixed price weights, but the weights are updated periodically (for example, every 5 or 10 years).

To preserve the comparability of the U.S. measures with those for other economies, BUS uses gross product originating in manufacturing for the United States for these comparative measures. The gross product originating series differs from the manufacturing output series that BLS publishes in its news releases on quarterly measures of U.S. productivity and costs (and that underlies the measures that appear in tables 39 and 41 in this section). The quarterly measures are on a "sectoral output" basis, rather than a value-added basis. Sectoral output is gross output less intrasector transactions.

Total labor hours refers to hours worked in all countries. The measures are developed from statistics of manufacturing employment and average hours. The series used for France (from 1970 forward), Norway, and Sweden are official series published with the national accounts. Where official total hours series are not available, the measures are developed by BLS using employment figures published with the national accounts, or other comprehensive employment series, and estimates of annual hours worked. For Germany, BLS uses estimates of average hours worked developed by a research institute connected to the Ministry of Labor for use with the national accounts employment figures. For the other countries, BLS constructs its own estimates of average hours.

Denmark has not published estimates of average hours for 1994-96; therefore, the BLS measure of labor input for Denmark ends in 1993.

Total compensation (labor cost) includes all payments in cash or in-kind made directly to employees plus employer expenditures for legally required insurance programs and contractual and private benefit plans. The measures are from the national accounts of each country, except those for Belgium, which are developed by BLS using statistics on employment, average hours, and hourly compensation. For France and Sweden, compensation is increased to account for other significant taxes on payroll or employment. For the United Kingdom, compensation is reduced between 1967 and 1991 to account for employment-related subsidies. Self-employed workers are included in the all-employed-persons measures by assuming that their hourly compensation is equal to the average for wage and salary employees.

Notes on the data

In general, the measures relate to total manufacturing as defined by the International Standard Industrial Classification. However, the measures for France (for all years) and Italy (beginning 1970) refer to mining and manufacturing less energy-related products, and the measures for Denmark include mining and exclude manufacturing handicrafts from 1960 to 1966.

The measures for recent years may be based on current indicators of manufacturing output (such as industrial production indexes), employment, average hours, and hourly compensation until national accounts and other statistics used for the long-term measures become available.

For additional information on this series, contact the Division of Foreign Labor Statistics: (202) 606-5654.

Occupational Injury and Illness Data

(Table 46-47)

Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses

Description of the series

The Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses collects data from employers about their workers' job-related nonfatal injuries and illnesses. The information that employers provide is based on records that they maintain under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. Self-employed individuals, farms with fewest than 11 employees, employers regulated by other Federal safety and health laws, and Federal, State, and local government agencies are excluded from the survey.

The survey is a Federal-State cooperative program with an independent sample selected for each participating State. A stratified random sample with a Neyman allocation is selected to represent all private industries in the State. The survey is stratified by Standard Industrial Classification and size of employment.


Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act, employers maintain records of nonfatal work-related injuries and illnesses that involve one or more of the following: loss of consciousness, restriction of work or motion, transfer to another job, or medical treatment other than first aid.

Occupational injury is any injury such as a cut, fracture, sprain, or amputation that results from a work-related event or a single, instantaneous exposure in the work environment.

Occupational illness is an abnormal condition or disorder, other than one resulting from an occupational injury, caused by exposure to factors associated with employment. It includes acute and chronic illnesses or disease which may be caused by inhalation, absorption, ingestion, or direct contact.

Lost workday injuries and illnesses are cases that involve days away from work, or days of restricted work activity, or both.

Lost workdays include the number of workdays (consecutive or not) on which the employee was either away from work or at work in some restricted capacity, or both, because of an occupational injury or illness. BLS measures of the number and incidence rate of lost workdays were discontinued beginning with the 1993 survey. The number of days away from work or days of restricted work activity does not include the day of injury or onset of illness or any days on which the employee would not have worked, such as a Federal holiday, even though able to work.

Incidence rates are computed as the number of injuries and/or illnesses or lost work days per 100 full-time workers.

Notes on the data

The definitions of occupational injuries and illnesses are from Recordkeeping Guidelines for Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, September 1986).

Estimates are made for industries and employment size classes for total recordable cases, lost workday cases, days away from work cases, and nonfatal cases without lost workdays. These data also are shown separately for injuries. Illness data are available for seven categories: occupational skin diseases or disorders, dust diseases of the lungs, respiratory conditions due to toxic agents, poisoning (systemic effects of toxic agents), disorders due to physical agents (other than toxic materials), disorders associated with repeated trauma, and all other occupational illnesses.

The survey continues to measure the number of new work-related illness cases which are recognized, diagnosed, and reported during the year. Some conditions, for example, long-term latent illnesses caused by exposure to carcinogens, often are difficult to relate to the workplace and are not adequately recognized and reported. These long-term latent illnesses are believed to be understated in the survey's illness measure. In contrast, the overwhelming majority of the reported new illnesses are those which are easier to directly relate to workplace activity (for example, contact dermatitis and carpal tunnel syndrome).

Most of the estimates are in the form of incidence rates, defined as the number of injuries and illnesses per 100 equivalent full-time workers. For this purpose, 200,000 employee hours represent 100 employee years (2,000 hours per employee). Full detail on the available measures is presented in the annual bulletin, Occupational Injuries and Illnesses: Counts, Rates, and Characteristics.

Comparable data for more than 40 States and territories are available from the BLS Office of Safety, Health and Working Conditions. Many of these States publish data on State and local government employees in addition to private industry data.

Mining and railroad data are furnished to BLS by the Mine Safety and Health Administration and the Federal Railroad Administration. Data from these organizations are included in both the national and State data published annually.

With the 1992 survey, BLS began publishing details on serious, nonfatal incidents resulting in days away from work. Included are some major characteristics of the injured and ill workers, such as occupation, age, gender, race, and length of service, as well as the circumstances of their injuries and illnesses (nature of the disabling condition, part of body affected, event and exposure, and the source directly producing the condition). In general, these data are available nationwide for detailed industries and for individual States at more aggregated industry levels.

For additional information on occupational injuries and illnesses, contact the Office of Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions at (202) 606-6180, or access the Internet at:

Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries

The Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries compiles a complete roster of fatal job-related injuries, including detailed data about the fatally injured workers and the fatal events. The program collects and cross checks fatality information from multiple sources, including death certificates, State and Federal workers' compensation reports, Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Mine Safety and Health Administration records, medical examiner and autopsy reports, media accounts, State motor vehicle fatality records, and follow-up questionnaires to employers.

In addition to private wage and salary workers, the self-employed, family members, and Federal, State, and local government workers are covered by the program. Institutionalized persons, such as prison inmates, are excluded. To be included in the fatality census, the decedent must have been employed (that is working for pay, compensation, or profit) at the time of the event, engaged in a legal work activity, or present at the site of the incident as a requirement of his or her job.


A fatal work injury is any intentional or unintentional wound or damage to the body resulting in death from acute exposure to energy, such as heat or electricity or kinetic energy from a crash, or from the absence of such essentials as heat or oxygen caused by a specific event or incident or series of events within a single workday or shift. Fatalities that occur during a person's commute to or from work are excluded from the census, as well as work-related illnesses, which can be difficult to identify due to long latency periods.

Notes on the data

Twenty-eight data elements are collected, coded, and tabulated in the fatality program, including information about the fatally injured worker, the fatal incident, and the machinery or equipment involved. Summary worker demographic data and event characteristics are included in a national news release that is available about 8 months after the end of the reference year. The Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries was initiated in 1992 as a joint Federal-State effort. Most States issue summary information at the time of the national news release.

For additional information on the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries contact the BLS Office of Safety, Health, and Working Conditions at (202) 606-6175, or the Internet at:

RELATED ARTICLE: Revisions to household data

Data beginning in 1998 are not strictly comparable with data for 1997 and earlier years because of the introduction of new composite estimation procedures and updated population controls. Additional information on these revisions appears in the February 1998 issue of Employment and Earnings.
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Publication:Monthly Labor Review
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 1998
Previous Article:Southern Labor in Transition, 1940-1995.
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