January 2014

Examination of state-level labor turnover survey data


SESAs used accession rates to compare the number of employees placed through the agency with total number of hires reported by employers by area. This comparison allowed the SESAs to gauge their effectiveness and “measure the number of job placements by local office relative to the potential for placement in the local job market.”6 Employers used quit rates to compare against plant performance, e.g., low quit rates indicated efficient operations and effective labor management relations within a plant.7

Survey description

The LTS collected data from sampled establishments in the manufacturing, mining, and telephone communication sectors.8 States collected data via the form DL-1219, Monthly Report on Labor Turnover. The process used was referred to as a shuttle procedure in which the state collection agency returned the form to the respondent each month so that the next month’s data could be entered. Accessions and separations by type for the calendar month were entered on the form as well as the total employment during the pay period that included the 12th of the month.9

The LTS determined the principal product or activity for an establishment by annual sales volume. Establishments were then classified by industry on the basis of the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) system. Labor turnover data were stratified by industry only, and sample design utilized sampling proportionate to average size of establishment. Labor turnover statistics at the basic cell level were computed by dividing the number of a particular action (e.g., quits) in reporting establishments by the total employment in those firms. The result was multiplied by 100. The data were then aggregated to the industry level by calculating the average, weighted by employment, of the rates for the component cells.10


The LTS defined labor turnover as the “gross movement of wage and salary workers into and out of employed status with respect to individual establishments.” The LTS defined accessions as “the total number of permanent and temporary additions to the employment roll, including both new and rehired employees.”11 Accessions included the following:

· New hires—temporary or permanent additions to the employment roll of persons who had never before been employed in the establishment (except employees transferring from another establishment of the same company) or of former employees not recalled by the employer

· Other accessions—all additions to the employment roll that are not classified as new hires, including transfers from another establishment of the company. Other accessions were not published separately but were included in total accessions.

· Separations were defined as terminations of employment during the calendar month and were classified according to cause:

· Quits—terminations of employment initiated by employees, failure to report after being hired, and unauthorized absences if on the last day of the month the person had been absent more than 7 calendar days

· Layoffs—suspensions without pay lasting or expected to last more than 7 consecutive calendar days, initiated by the employer without prejudice to the worker


6 Utter, “Labor turnover in manufacturing,” p. 16,

7 BLS Handbook of Methods for Surveys and Studies, Bulletin 1910, “Labor Turnover” (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1976), Chapter 4, p. 48,

8 Employment and Earnings 29, no. 1 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, January 1982), p. 216, Note: Mining and communications were categorized as nonmanufacturing industries. These data were not published at the state level but at the topside level by industry.

9 Ibid., p. 212–213.

10 Ibid., p. 214–215.

11 Ibid., p. 214.

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About the Author

Katherine Bauer

Katherine Bauer is an economist in the Office of Employment and Unemployment Statistics, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.