Michigan Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives

FAQs

Yes. To be counted as unemployed in the official statistics, a person must meet the following three conditions. 1) They must have no earnings due to employment for the survey week. 2) They must have taken active steps to find a job in the prior four weeks 3) They must be currently available to accept a job if offered. Since "discouraged workers" have stopped seeking work, they are not counted as unemployed.

However the Bureau of Labor Statistics does publish six alternative "labor underutilization rates" for states on a quarterly basis, and each one includes different types of workers. The official unemployment rate is one of these measures, and is referred to as the U-3 rate, or the "headline" rate. The U-3 is equal to the number of unemployed workers divided by those in the "labor force," or all those who are employed and currently looking for work. If a worker is "discouraged" and stops looking for work, they are not included in this headline unemployment rate.

However, the five other labor underutilization rates have different definitions of the labor force, and three of these rates include discouraged workers. For example, the U-4 includes discouraged workers in the labor force, along with those currently unemployed and those working. The U-5 rate adds marginally-attached workers, while the U-6 rate adds in part-time workers who want to work full-time.

So data users have access to multiple measures of "labor utilization" according to their needs. This information is available from the BLS website. http://www.bls.gov/lau/stalt.htm

Industry employment and wage data is collected through the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) program. The primary source for the QCEW are the reports submitted by employers to the Michigan Unemployment Insurance program. Employment data represents the number of workers on the payroll during the pay period including the 12th day of the month. Total wages include gross wages and salaries, bonuses, profit sharing, commissions, severance pay, and limited tips. Total wages are reported in quarter paid and not earned.
The Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) survey is a semiannual mail survey measuring occupational employment and wage rates for wage and salary workers in nonfarm establishments in the United States, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands are also surveyed, but their data are not included in this release. OEWS estimates are constructed from a sample of about 1.2 million establishments. Forms are mailed to approximately 200,000 establishments in May and November of each year for a 3-year period. OEWS is not a time series, it is a panel to panel series. Changes in the occupational, industrial, and geographical classification systems, the way data is collected, in the survey reference period, and changes in mean wage estimation methodology, as well as permanent features of the methodology, make it less useful for time comparisons.
Seasonal adjustment is a statistical technique that attempts to measure and remove the influences of predictable seasonal patterns to reveal how employment and unemployment change from month to month. Over the course of a year, the size of the labor force, the levels of employment and unemployment, and other measures of labor market activity undergo fluctuations due to seasonal events including changes in weather, harvests, major holidays, and school schedules. Because these seasonal events follow a more or less regular pattern each year, their influence on statistical trends can be eliminated by seasonally adjusting the statistics from month to month. These seasonal adjustments make it easier to observe the cyclical, underlying trend, and other nonseasonal movements in the series. As a general rule, the monthly employment and unemployment numbers reported in the news are seasonally adjusted data. Seasonally adjusted data are useful when comparing several months of data. Annual average estimates are calculated from the not seasonally adjusted data series.
The Consumer Price Index (CPI) is a measure of the average change in the prices paid by urban consumers for a fixed basket of goods and services. Through the Consumer Expenditure Survey, the U.S. Department of Labor surveys consumers to find out what consumers buy and what share of consumer incomes are spent on each item. This survey is used to create a basket of goods purchased by the average consumer. The price of the basket of goods becomes the base period cost. The U.S. Department of Labor then surveys stores to determine the price and quantity of goods sold to consumers. The monthly CPI indicates the increase in the price of the basket of goods since the base period. The price is indexed to make it easier to understand by setting the price in the base period equal to 100. Any price increases are represented as a percentage increase since the base period. A 3% price increase since the base period would result in an index of 103. There are different types of CPIs published. The most commonly used index is the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers, or the CPI-U. The CPI-U represents about 87 percent of the total U.S. population, but excludes consumers in rural areas, in the armed forces, and those living in institutions (such as prisons or mental institutions). The CPI-U can be broken down into the Energy Index, the Food Index, and the All Items Less Food and Energy Index (also referred to as core inflation). Each of these categories can be disaggregated further to more specific products. The Department of Labor also publishes another index that only includes consumers who are wage earners and clerical workers, called the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical workers (the CPI-W). Consumers that are earning a wage often purchase different items than consumers who are retired or earning a degree, so the CPI-W is slightly different than the CPI-U. The CPI-W represents about 32 percent of the U.S. population. The third price index published is the Chained Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (C-CPI-U). The C-CPI-U is exactly the same as the CPI-U, but it uses different mathematical techniques that better represent changes in what consumers buy, rather than measuring prices in the same basket of goods. More information on the Consumer Price Index can be found on the Bureau of Labor Statistics website at http://www.bls.gov/cpi/.
The Current Employment Statistics (CES) program provides a monthly count of persons on non-farm establishments payrolls (including employees on paid sick leave, paid holiday, or paid vacation) who work or receive pay for any part of the week that includes the 12th of the month. It is a count of jobs by place of work, not people. Individuals could be counted multiple times if they hold more than one job. Self-employed, unpaid volunteer or family workers, domestic workers in households, military personnel, and persons who are laid off, on leave without pay, or even on strike for the entire reference period are not included in the data.
The Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS) program provides a monthly estimate of an area's labor force, employment , unemployment, and unemployment rate. Data is taken from surveys and unemployment claims recorded during the monthly reference week, which is usually the week including the 12th day of each month. Statistics are an estimate of persons by place of residence, not jobs or where a person works. In order to be considered unemployed an individual must have had no employment during the reference week, been available for work, and have made an effort to find employment for four weeks leading up to the reference week.

Series codes are used specifically in CES data to identify industries. They are comprised of the industry's supersector code followed by the industry's NAICS code.

You may visit the BLS to learn more about these codes.

You can view the definitions for regional geographies such as Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs), Prosperity Regions, LAUS regions, and others on our geography definitions page.

You can visit our Public Sector Websites page to find a comprehensive listing of public resources for your job search or research into the labor market.

Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) are official urban regions designated the federal government and used by statistical agencies. A metropolitan area has an urban core with a population of at least 50,000 people, while a micropolitan area has a population between 10,000 and 50,000 people.  MSAs refer to the core urban area, plus the counties containing the core urban area and any adjacent counties that have a high level of social and economic integration with the urban core.