A Closer Look at LAUS
The Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS) program provides timely monthly labor force estimates for numerous substate areas. LAUS estimates have several uses. The federal government uses the data to allocate billions of dollars in funds for various socioeconomic programs, while states use the data for planning and budgetary purposes and to determine the need for local employment and training services.
Each state, in cooperation with the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), produces labor force estimates through the LAUS program. In Wyoming, the Research & Planning (R&P) section of the Wyoming Department of Employment is the state entity responsible for production, analysis, and distribution of the data to local customers. The data include estimates of the civilian labor force, employment, unemployment, and the unemployment rate by place of residence. R&P publishes these data monthly in the Wyoming Labor Force Trends publication and on the R&P website (http://doe.state.wy.us/LMI/news.htm).
The LAUS program provides timely monthly labor force estimates for numerous substate areas. Estimates are produced for states, metropolitan areas, micropolitan areas, counties, and cities of 25,000 people or more. Nationally, estimates are produced for more than 7,200 areas, while estimates are produced for 28 areas in Wyoming 23 counties and 5 regions (see "Wyoming County Unemployment Rates"). BLS provides funding, concepts, definitions, and methodology for the program.
LAUS data are based on place of residence and the labor force concepts and definitions from the Current Population Survey (CPS). The CPS is a nationwide survey of approximately 60,000 households that is used to determine the number of people who are employed, unemployed, or not in the labor force. The CPS estimates the labor force status of an individual based on place of residence during the reference week (usually the week including the 12th of the month). The following basic definitions from the CPS program are used in LAUS:
Civilian Labor Force: All persons 16 years and older who are classified either as employed or unemployed.
Employed: All persons who, during the reference week, did any work as paid employees, worked in their own business or profession or on their own farm, worked 15 hours or more as unpaid workers in an enterprise operated by a family member, or did not work but had jobs from which they were temporarily absent.
Unemployed: All persons who had no employment during the reference week, but were available for work and had made specific efforts to find employment at some time during the four-week period ending with the reference week.
Unemployment Rate: The share of the civilian labor force that is unemployed, expressed as a percentage.
Labor force estimates at the state level use data from the CPS, the Current Employment Statistics (CES) program, and state unemployment insurance (UI). The CES program also estimates employment, but surveys businesses and government agencies rather than households and counts jobs instead of people. The BLS provides an online document, http://www.bls.gov/web/ces_cps_trends.pdf, that explains the differences between CES and CPS employment measures. The state model estimates are controlled to sum to national monthly labor force estimates from the CPS. Estimates for the substate areas use a model named the handbook method. The handbook method uses data from CPS, CES, the UI system, the decennial census, the railroad UI system, and the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages.
LAUS estimates have several uses. The federal government uses the data to allocate billions of dollars in funds for various socioeconomic programs. States use the data for planning and budgetary purposes and to determine the need for local employment and training services. Private industry uses the estimates as an indicator of local economic conditions and labor market developments.References
Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2006). Glossary. Retrieved November 29, 2007, from http://www.bls.gov/bls/glossary.htm
Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2006). Local Area Unemployment Statistics. Retrieved November 29, 2007, from http://www.bls.gov/lau/home.htm