The estimates in this release are based on annual average data obtained from
the Current Population Survey (CPS). The CPS, which is conducted by the U.S.
Census Bureau for the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), is a monthly survey of
about 60,000 eligible households that provides information on the labor force
status, demographics, and other characteristics of the nation's civilian
noninstitutional population age 16 and over.
Questions were added to the CPS in June 2008 to identify persons with a
disability in the civilian noninstitutional population age 16 and older. The
addition of these questions allowed the BLS to begin releasing monthly labor
force data from the CPS for persons with a disability. The collection of these
data is sponsored by the Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment
Information in this release will be made available to sensory-impaired
individuals upon request. Voice phone: (202) 691-5200; Federal Relay Service:
Reliability of the estimates
Statistics based on the CPS are subject to both sampling and nonsampling
error. When a sample, rather than the entire population, is surveyed, there is
a chance that the sample estimates may differ from the true population values
they represent. The component of this difference that occurs because samples
differ by chance is known as sampling error, and its variability is measured
by the standard error of the estimate. There is about a 90-percent chance, or
level of confidence, that an estimate based on a sample will differ by no more
than 1.6 standard errors from the true population value because of sampling
error. BLS analyses are generally conducted at the 90-percent level of
The CPS data also are affected by nonsampling error. Nonsampling error can
occur for many reasons, including the failure to sample a segment of the
population, inability to obtain information for all respondents in the sample,
inability or unwillingness of respondents to provide correct information, and
errors made in the collection or processing of the data.
Additional information about the reliability of data from the CPS and
estimating standard errors is available on the BLS website at
CPS estimates are controlled to population totals that are available by
age, sex, race, and Hispanic ethnicity. These controls are developed by the
Census Bureau and are based on complete population counts obtained in the
decennial census. In the years between decennial censuses, they incorporate
the latest information about population change (births, deaths, and net
international migration). As part of its annual update of population estimates,
the Census Bureau introduces adjustments to the total population controls. The
updated controls typically have a negligible impact on unemployment rates and
other ratios. The estimates of the population of persons with a disability are
not controlled to independent population totals of persons with a disability
because such data are not available. Without independent population totals,
sample-based estimates are more apt to vary from one time period to the next.
Information about population controls is available at
Disability questions and concepts
The CPS uses a set of six questions to identify persons with disabilities.
In the CPS, persons are classified as having a disability if there is a response
of "yes" to any of these questions. The disability questions appear in the CPS
in the following format:
This month we want to learn about people who have physical, mental, or emotional
conditions that cause serious difficulty with their daily activities. Please answer
for household members who are 15 years and older.
--Is anyone deaf or does anyone have serious difficulty
--Is anyone blind or does anyone have serious difficulty
seeing even when wearing glasses?
--Because of a physical, mental, or emotional condition, does
anyone have serious difficulty concentrating, remembering, or
--Does anyone have serious difficulty walking or climbing
--Does anyone have difficulty dressing or bathing?
--Because of a physical, mental, or emotional condition, does
anyone have difficulty doing errands alone such as visiting a
doctor's office or shopping?
The CPS questions for identifying individuals with disabilities are only
asked of household members who are age 15 and older. Each of the questions ask
the respondent whether anyone in the household has the condition described, and
if the respondent replies "yes," they are then asked to identify everyone in
the household who has the condition. Labor force measures from the CPS are
tabulated for persons age 16 and older. More information on the disability
questions and the limitations of the CPS disability data is available on the
BLS Web site at www.bls.gov/cps/cpsdisability_faq.htm.
Other definitions used in this release are described briefly below.
Additional information on the concepts and methodology of the CPS is available
Employed. Employed persons are all those who, during the survey reference
week, (a) did any work at all as paid employees; (b) worked in their own
business, profession, or on their own farm; (c) worked 15 hours or more as
unpaid workers in a family member's business. Persons who were temporarily
absent from their jobs because of illness, bad weather, vacation, labor
dispute, or another reason also are counted as employed.
Unemployed. Unemployed persons are those who had no employment during the
reference week, were available for work at that time, and had made specific
efforts to find employment sometime during the 4-week period ending with the
reference week. Persons who were waiting to be recalled to a job from which they
had been laid off need not have been looking for work to be classified as
Civilian labor force. The civilian labor force comprises all persons
classified as employed or unemployed.
Unemployment rate. The unemployment rate represents the number of
unemployed persons as a percent of the civilian labor force.
Not in the labor force. Persons not in the labor force include all those who
are not classified as employed or unemployed. Information is collected on their
desire for and availability to take a job at the time of the CPS interview, job
search activity in the prior year, and reason for not looking in the 4-week
period ending with the reference week. This group includes individuals
marginally attached to the labor force, defined as persons not in the labor
force who want and are available for a job and who have looked for work sometime
in the past 12 months (or since the end of their last job if they held one
within the past 12 months). They are not counted as unemployed because they had
not actively searched for work in the prior 4 weeks. Within the marginally
attached group are discouraged workers--persons who are not currently looking for
work because they believe there are no jobs available or there are none for
which they would qualify. The other persons marginally attached to the labor
force group includes persons who want a job but had not looked for work in the
past 4 weeks for reasons such as family responsibilities or transportation
Part time for economic reasons. Persons classified as at work part time for
economic reasons, a measure sometimes referred to as involuntary part time, are
those who gave an economic reason for working 1 to 34 hours during the reference
week. Economic reasons include slack work or unfavorable business conditions,
inability to find full-time work, and seasonal declines in demand. Those who
usually work part time must also indicate that they want and are available for
Occupation, industry, and class of worker. The occupation, industry, and
class of worker classifications for the employed relate to the job held in the
survey reference week. Persons with two or more jobs are classified in the job
at which they worked the greatest number of hours. Persons are classified using
the 2010 Census occupational and 2007 Census industry classification systems.
The class-of-worker breakdown assigns workers to the following categories:
Private and government wage and salary workers, self-employed workers, and
unpaid family workers. Wage and salary workers receive wages, salary,
commissions, tips, or pay in kind from a private employer or from a government
unit. Self-employed persons are those who work for profit or fees in their own
business, profession, trade, or farm. Only the unincorporated self-employed are
included in the self-employed category. Self-employed persons who respond that
their businesses are incorporated are included among wage and salary workers.
Unpaid family workers are persons working without pay for 15 hours a week or
more on a farm or in a business operated by a family member in their household.