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May 1999, Vol. 122, No. 5
Revising the Standard Occupational Classification system
Chester Levine, Laurie Salmon, and Daniel H. Weinberg
Although occupational data has been collected in the United States since the 1850 Census of Population, the modern Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system was not introduced until 1977. The SOC is intended to include all occupations for which work is performed for pay or profit. As with any new taxonomy, there were flaws and omissions in the original SOC, and the system was revised in 1980, in time to be used for tabulations from the 1980 decennial census.
Despite plans for frequent review, it was not until the mid-1990s that the validity and usefulness of the 1980 SOC for current needs was examined. To determine how accurately the 1980 SOC reflected the world of work 15 years later, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) chartered the Standard Occupational Classification Revision Policy Committee (SOC Committee).
This article provides a description of the SOC revision process. For background, it begins with a brief summary of the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) revision process and the work of the Economic Classification Policy Committee (ECP Committee), much of which was emulated by the SOC Committee. The article then details why the SOC was revised and describes its key characteristics.
This excerpt is from an article published in the May 1999 issue of the Monthly Labor Review. The full text of the article is available in Adobe Acrobat's Portable Document Format (PDF). See How to view a PDF file for more information.
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Related BLS programs
Occupational Employment Statistics
Standard Occupational Classification
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