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Current Employment Statistics: New Hours and Earnings Series BEA Data Users Conference April 13, 2007 Pat Getz, BLS

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Bureau of Labor Statistics

Current Employment Statistics:New Hours and Earnings SeriesBEA Data Users ConferenceApril 13, 2007Pat Getz, BLS


The BLS Current Employment Statistics (CES) program historically has published average hours and earnings series for production workers in the goods-producing industries, and nonsupervisory workers in the service-providing industries

CES also publishes state and metropolitan area hours and earnings series, but publication is limited almost exclusively to manufacturing industries


Production and nonsupervisory workers represent about 80 percent of nonfarm wage and salary employees and provide an incomplete picture of average hours and earnings

BLS tested collection of all employee hours and earnings data with CES respondents and found the data readily available from payroll records of most employers

Reasons for new series

CES constantly strives to improve its relevance to the needs of data users

New all employee definition will provide more comprehensive information than the present series for analyzing economic trends

New data will provide improved input for other major economic indicators


personal income

Reasons for new series-continued

Current concept of ‘production workers’ (PW) has been difficult for sample members and users to comprehend

The PW concept is inconsistent across industries (production, nonsupervisory, construction)

Sample for PW data has degraded over time

individual employers record keeping often does not allow identification of production and nonsupervisory workers as defined by CES

Many employers use payroll processing firms or pre-packaged payroll software; production and nonsupervisory identification generally not available

New series begin publication in April 2007

Experimental all employees series of average weekly hours (AWH), average hourly earnings (AHE), average overtime hours in manufacturing (AOT), and gross monthly earnings (GME) at the National level

Average hours and earnings series for production workers and for all employees are designed to measure the regular earnings for workers

They EXCLUDE bonuses and other irregular payments received by employees from their employers

Regular hours and earnings are reported for the pay period that includes the 12th of the month

For both all-employee and production-worker series

New series

The GME series INCLUDES irregular payments, providing an additional and more comprehensive measure of earnings for the whole month

This series is expected to improve the accuracy of preliminary estimates of personal income in the national income accounts

GME will be published with a one-month lag as compared with all other CES series. For example January GME estimates will be published in March.

New series

The gross monthly earnings series are not strictly comparable with other earnings series:


Measurement: comprehensive: regular earnings regular earnings

regular plus irregular


Published: 1-month lag same month same month as employment as employment

(3rd closing)

Calendar pay period that pay period that

representation: entire month includes the 12th includes the 12th


Coverage: 100 % all nonfarm 100 % all nonfarm PW jobs~

wage and salary jobs wage and salary jobs 80 %

New series

The hours series are strictly comparable with other hours series:


Measurement: Total hours paid Total hours overtime Total hours paid Total hours overtime

including overtime pay was received including overtime pay was received

Published: same month same month same month same month as employment* as employment* as employment* as employment*

Calendar pay period that pay period that pay period that pay period that

representation: includes the 12th includes the 12th includes the 12th includes the 12th


Coverage: 100 % all Private 100 % Manufacturing PW jobs~ Manufacturing PW Nonfarm wage 80 %

and salary jobs

*1st, 2nd or 3rd closing depending upon industry detail

Expectations for AE earnings and GME series:

AHE for All workers would generally be higher than for production workers (due to inclusion of supervisory earnings)

GME would be equal to or higher than All-employee aggregate payrolls (due to possible inclusion of bonuses, irregular payments, to timing, etc.)

AEPP data collection began in September 2005

New forms mailed out in August/September 2005 and again in January 2006

Adding new data items made form more complicated and increased respondent burden

AEPP data collection

First month data collection was hindered by hurricanes Rita and Katrina occurring in the same month (September 2005)

AE payroll response is currently somewhat higher than response of PW payroll

If firms were providing PW payroll, then almost all added AE payroll

Some firms which did not provide PW payroll now report AE payroll

GME response runs lower that AE payroll in general

AEPP data collection-continued

Rotation of new sample units into sample (~20 percent each year) improves AEPP response as new units have higher item response

Meanwhile, BLS will continue to:

Explain new data items to respondents

Selectively re-contact key reporters

GME estimators

CES is testing 2 estimators for calculating GME

Both National and State GME estimates are being tested using the estimators

CES will make a final decision prior to releasing the official series

GME estimators

Weighted Difference Link and Taper (LT) Estimator

Similar to the estimator currently used for all hours and earnings series

Ratio Estimator (R1)

Similar to the weighted link relative estimator for all employees

Phase 1: Experimental

Limited data available online in text format only

Potential for methodology changes

Continued research and evaluation of estimators

Continued effort to improve sample response and to reduce response error

Solicitation of user comments

Phase 2: Official

Full release of published estimates with more industry detail

Inclusion in Employment Situation, Commissioners Statement, State and Area releases, and available on LABSTAT

Publication of seasonally adjusted data

Completed documentation available to users

  • Publication timeline
  • The publication timeline has been divided into 2 phases: Experimental and Official
National publication timeline

Experimental series released with January 2007 estimates in April 2007. Series start date is March 2006

Official series with January 2010 estimates in February 2010; will include seasonally adjusted data

State and Area publication timeline

Experimental series released in March 2008 with January benchmarked data

Official series released in 2010

Start date dependent upon sufficient sample and non-disclosure review

Series start date will begin no earlier than January 2007

National level publication detail

Experimental—Total private and expanded supersector detail

Official—Similar to series published for PW hours and earnings

Initial release—hours for all 3-digit industries in Manufacturing and 2-digits in all other industries; earnings for all 2-digits and higher

Second release—same as initial release plus all series that pass non-disclosure rules

State and Area level publication detail


Statewide—Total private and supersector detail for hours and earnings series; gross earnings for total private

MSA—Total private detail for hours and earnings; no gross earnings

Official—same as experimental with possible additional industry detail, depending on sample adequacy in individual States and MSAs

The CES all employee hours and earnings experimental series are now available on the BLS website at:

BLS welcomes users review and feedback on these series