Metropolitan Area Employment and Unemployment Technical Note

Technical Note
   This release presents civilian labor force and unemployment data from the
Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS) program (tables 1 and 2) for 388
metropolitan statistical areas and metropolitan New England City and Town Areas
(NECTAs), plus 7 areas in Puerto Rico. Estimates for 38 metropolitan and NECTA
divisions also are presented. Nonfarm payroll employment estimates from the
Current Employment Statistics (CES) program (tables 3 and 4) are provided for
the same areas. State estimates were previously published in the news release
State Employment and Unemployment, and are republished in this release for
ease of reference. The LAUS and CES programs are both federal-state cooperative

Civilian labor force and unemployment--from the LAUS program

   Definitions. The civilian labor force and unemployment data are based on the
same concepts and definitions as those used for the official national estimates
obtained from the Current Population Survey (CPS), a sample survey of households
that is conducted for the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) by the U.S. Census
Bureau. The LAUS program measures employed persons and unemployed persons on a
place-of-residence basis.  The universe for each is the civilian noninstitutional
population 16 years of age and older. Employed persons are those who did any work
at all for pay or profit in the reference week (typically the week including the
12th of the month) or worked 15 hours or more without pay in a family business or
farm, plus those not working who had a job from which they were temporarily absent,
whether or not paid, for such reasons as labor-management dispute, illness, or
vacation. Unemployed persons are those who were not employed during the reference
week (based on the definition above), had actively looked for a job sometime in the
4-week period ending with the reference week, and were currently available for work;
persons on layoff expecting recall need not be looking for work to be counted as
unemployed. The civilian labor force is the sum of employed and unemployed persons.
The unemployment rate is the number of unemployed as a percent of the civilian labor

   Method of estimation. Estimates for states, the District of Columbia, the Los
Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale metropolitan division, and New York City are produced
using time-series models with real-time benchmarking to national CPS totals. Model-
based estimates are also produced for the following areas and their respective
balances: the Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights, IL Metropolitan Division;
Cleveland-Elyria, OH Metropolitan Statistical Area; Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI
Metropolitan Statistical Area; Miami-Miami Beach-Kendall, FL Metropolitan Division;
and Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, WA Metropolitan Division. Modeling improves the
statistical basis of the estimation for these areas and provides important tools
for analysis, such as measures of errors and seasonally adjusted series. For all
other substate areas in this release, estimates are prepared through indirect
estimation procedures using a building-block approach.  Estimates of employed
persons, which are based largely on “place of work” estimates from the CES program,
are adjusted to refer to place of residence as used in the CPS. Unemployment
estimates are aggregates of persons previously employed in industries covered by
state unemployment insurance (UI) laws and entrants to the labor force from the
CPS. The substate estimates of employment and unemployment, which geographically
exhaust the entire state, are adjusted proportionally to ensure that they add to
the independently estimated model-based area totals. A detailed description of the
estimation procedures is available from BLS upon request.

   Annual revisions. Civilian labor force and unemployment data shown for the prior
year reflect adjustments made at the beginning of each year, usually implemented with
the issuance of January estimates. The adjusted model-based estimates typically reflect
updated population data from the U.S. Census Bureau, any revisions in other input
data sources, and model re-estimation. All substate estimates then are re-estimated
using updated inputs and adjusted to add to the revised model-based totals.  In early
2015, a new generation of time-series models was implemented, resulting in the
replacement of data back to the series beginnings. At the same time, enhancements were
made to the substate estimation methodology, and more timely inputs from the American
Community Survey were incorporated.

Employment--from the CES program 

   Definitions. Employment data refer to persons on establishment payrolls who receive
pay for any part of the pay period that includes the 12th of the month. Persons are
counted at their place of work rather than at their place of residence; those appearing
on more than one payroll are counted on each payroll. Industries are classified on the
basis of their principal activity in accordance with the 2012 version of the North
American Industry Classification System.

   Method of estimation. CES State and Area employment data are produced using several
estimation procedures. Where possible these data are produced using a "weighted link
relative" estimation technique in which a ratio of current-month weighted employment
to that of the previous-month weighted employment is computed from a sample of
establishments reporting for both months. The estimates of employment for the current
month are then obtained by multiplying these ratios by the previous month's employment
estimates. The weighted link relative technique is utilized for data series where the
sample size meets certain statistical criteria.

   For some employment series, the sample of establishments is very small or highly
variable. In these cases, a model-based approach is used in estimation. These models
use the direct sample estimates (described above), combined with forecasts of historical
(benchmarked) data to decrease volatility in estimation. Two different models
(Fay-Herriot Model and Small Domain Model) are used depending on the industry level
being estimated. For more detailed information about each model, refer to the BLS
Handbook of Methods.

   Annual revisions.  Employment estimates are adjusted annually to a complete count
of jobs, called benchmarks, derived principally from tax reports that are submitted by
employers who are covered under state unemployment insurance (UI) laws. The benchmark
information is used to adjust the monthly estimates between the new benchmark and the
preceding one and also to establish the level of employment for the new benchmark month.
Thus, the benchmarking process establishes the level of employment, and the sample is used
to measure the month-to-month changes in the level for the subsequent months.

   Seasonal adjustment. Payroll employment data are seasonally adjusted for states,
metropolitan areas, and metropolitan divisions at the total nonfarm level. For states,
data are seasonally adjusted at the supersector level as well. Revisions to historical
data for the most recent 5 years are made once a year, coincident with annual benchmark

Reliability of the estimates

   The estimates presented in this release are based on sample surveys, administrative data,
and modeling and, thus, are subject to sampling and other types of errors. Sampling error
is a measure of sampling variability—that is, variation that occurs by chance because a
sample rather than the entire population is surveyed. Survey data also are subject to
nonsampling errors, such as those which can be introduced into the data collection and
processing operations. Estimates not directly derived from sample surveys are subject to
additional errors resulting from the specific estimation processes used. The sums of
individual items may not always equal the totals shown in the same tables because of

   Civilian labor force and unemployment estimates. Measures of sampling error are not
available for metropolitan areas or metropolitan divisions. Model-based error measures for
states are available on the BLS website at Measures of
nonsampling error are not available for the areas contained in this release. Information
on recent data revisions for states and local areas is available online at

   Employment estimates. Measures of sampling error for the total private employment series
are available for metropolitan areas and metropolitan divisions at
Measures of sampling error for more detailed series at the area and division level are available
upon request. Measures of sampling error for states down to the supersector level are available
on the BLS website at Measures of nonsampling error are not
available for the areas contained in this release. Information on recent benchmark revisions
is available online at

Area definitions

   The substate area data published in this release reflect the delineations issued by the
U.S. Office of Management and Budget on July 15, 2015. Data reflect New England City and
Town Area (NECTA) definitions, rather than county-based definitions, in the six New England
States. A detailed list of the geographic definitions is available online at

Additional information

   Estimates of unadjusted and seasonally adjusted civilian labor force and unemployment
data for states and seven substate areas are available in the news release State Employment
and Unemployment. Estimates of civilian labor force and unemployment for all states,
metropolitan areas, counties, cities with a population of 25,000 or more, and other areas
used in the administration of various federal economic assistance programs are available
on the Internet at Employment data from the CES program are available on
the BLS website at

   Information in this release will be made available to sensory impaired individuals
upon request. Voice phone: (202) 691-5200; Federal Relay Service: (800) 877-8339. 

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Last Modified Date: June 28, 2017