The following terms are commonly used in connection with employment and labor market information. To find the definition of a particular term from the list below, select the first letter of the term.
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A set of activities or tasks that employees perform.
Employees that perform the same tasks are in the same
occupation, whether or not they are in the same industry.
- Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Program
A Federal/State cooperative program produces employment and wage
estimates for over 800 occupations. (www.bls.gov/oes/home.htm)
- Occupational Information
Specific information about a particular occupation (e.g., wages,
skills required, benefits, entrance requirements, etc.)
- Occupational Information Network (O*NET)
O*NET is a comprehensive database of worker attributes and job
On-the-Job Training involves supervised, real-life practice in the
current job usually at the worksite.
An expectation for the future.
- Part-Time Employment
An individual employed less than 35 hours per week.
Total wages paid by a business to its employees for work performed
during the pay period (weekly, monthly, etc.)
- Pay Period
Frequency with which workerâ€™s wages are calculated and paid;
usually weekly, biweekly, semimonthly, or monthly.
Work paid for at a fixed rate (piece-rate) per piece of work done.
The total number of inhabitants occupying an area.
- Primary Metropolitan Statistical Area (PMSA)
If a metropolitan area (MA) has more than 1 million inhabitants it
may be defined as a Primary Metropolitan Statistical Area (PMSA).
PMSAs consist of a large urbanized county or cluster of
counties that demonstrates very strong internal economic and social
links, but are also linked to other portions of the larger area.
A prediction or estimate of an actual value in a future time
period. For employment it is based on a time series or for a
situation it is based on a cross-section of data. Forecast,
prediction and projection are typically used interchangeably.
Projections of employment are based on historical employment
and economic indicators input into mathematical models with
national, state and local trends factored into the overall model.
The value of the boundary of the 25th, 50th, or 75th percentile of
a frequency distribution divided into 4 parts, each containing a
quarter of the population.
Comparing different data sources to establish accuracy.
Individuals who are re-entering the labor force after an absence.
Replacement openings occur as workers either switch occupations,
retire, return to school, quit for health reasons or to assume
household responsibilities. For occupations like cashiers,
replacement openings will far surpass openings related to economic
growth. While individuals already in the workforce will fill
most replacement openings, some jobs will remain open when
employees leave the workforce. Openings not filled by
currently employed workers are net replacement openings.
Usually separations and replacements are interchangeable
terms. However, when employment declines in an occupation,
replacement needs are less than separations because some workers
leaving the occupation are not replaced. In these cases,
separations are reduced by the decline in an occupation's
Fixed compensation paid for labor or services. Most salaries
are paid for a fixed periods of working hours.
A finite part of a statistical population whose properties are
studied to gain information about the whole.
- Seasonal Adjustment
A process whereby normal seasonal changes are removed or
discounted. In doing so, the underlying trends are easier to
- Seasonal Factors
Seasonal factors are events that cause normal fluctuations in
business activity within individual or combinations of industries.
Seasonal factors include, but are not limited to, such events
as: weather conditions, holidays, and school schedules.
- Seasonal Unemployment
A condition resulting from jobs being available for only a portion
of the year. For example, migrant workers who follow the
harvest of various crops, but have little chance of working when
that crop is completed, are seasonally unemployed.
- Seasonally Adjusted
Seasonal changes have been removed or discounted.
Individuals who work for profit or fees in their own business,
profession or trade, or who operate a farm.
To count oneself.
- Short Term Unemployment
Individuals who have been jobless for fewer than five weeks.
- Shortage of Workers
There are too few applicants with the required experience and
abilities to fill openings within a reasonable amount of time.
- Standard Industrial Classification (SIC)
SIC ia an obsolete industry classification system, which defined
all establishments to a specific industry based on their primary
output or product. (www.osha.gov/cgi-bin/sic/sicser5)
- Staffing Pattern
Each business employs workers with different types of skills to
produce a good or provide a service. A staffing pattern
summarizes this array of workers for an industry. The costs
of labor and equipment in a local area will largely determine the
mix of workers that a business will employ to remain competitive.
Industry staffing patterns are often used to determine the
ability of a local area to support economic development by being
able to provide a skilled workforce.
- Standard Occupational Classification (SOC)
A numerical coding system that classifies occupational data for the
purpose of collecting, calculating, or disseminating data.
All workers are classified into one of over 820 occupations
according to their occupational definition. To facilitate
classification, occupations are combined to form 23 major groups,
96 minor groups, and 449 broad occupations. Each broad
occupation includes detailed occupation(s) requiring similar
skills, education, or experience. (www.bls.gov/soc/)
- Static Labor Market
Unchanging labor market conditions resulting from the development
of few openings coupled with a correspondingly low number of
- Structural Unemployment
This type of unemployment occurs when the basic nature of the
economy changes over time; when employers no longer demand skills
that unemployed workers possess. Structural unemployment is
involuntary unemployment and typically requires retraining or
education of displaced workers to bring their skills in line with
In labor market information this term usually refers to the supply
of workers in relationship to the demand for workers.
- Surplus of Workers
More applicants ready and willing to work than there are job
A study of all or a portion of the whole, conducted for purposes of
making generalized statements about the whole.
- Survey Week
The week including the 12th of the month.
- Temporary Workers
Those workers who have no long-term attachment to an employer.
They may work for several days, or several months, and often
work for temporary help agencies.
- Time Series
A variable in which the values are successive observations over
time. A key characteristic of a time series is that any 2
points in a time series can be compared.
- Total Job Openings
The total of job openings produced by industry growth plus the job
openings created when a worker changes occupations or leaves the
An individual hired for a job, which may or may not require
previous experience or education. A trainee could start in an
entry-level, apprenticeship level, or internship level position.
The persistent underlying movement that takes place over a period
of time. It is the basic growth or decline that would occur
if no variations in activity existed.
Separation of an employee from an establishment (voluntary,
involuntary, or other).
- Turnover Rate
The number of total separations during the month divided by the
number of employees who worked during or received pay for the pay
period that includes the 12th of the month (monthly turnover); the
number of total separations for the year divided by average monthly
employment for the year (annual turnover).
A condition which exists when the full potential of labor is not
being utilized. Measures of under-employment are not readily
Individuals, aged 16 years or older, who are not working but are able
to work, available for work, and seeking either full-time or
Comprises all civilians 16 years and over who did not work during
the survey week, who made specific efforts to find a job within the
past four weeks, and who were available for work (except for
temporary illness) during the survey week. Also included as
unemployed are those who did not work at all, but were available
for work, and (a) were waiting to be recalled to a job from which
they had been laid off for a specific time; or (b) had a new job to
go to within thirty days.
The count of those who are drawing unemployment is only a small factor into calculating unemployment statistics. These statistics (labor force data) are mainly produced using the results of a monthly household survey called the Current Population Survey (CPS) which is conducted by the Bureau of the Census. Some of the questions asked of the household respondents are whether they are currently employed, and if not, are they able to work, available for work, and are they seeking full-time or part-time work. If the latter is true, they are counted as “unemployed” and are part of the labor force. If they are not working and not seeking work, they are not part of the labor force. Most high school and college students are not part of the labor force because they are not working or looking for work. Once they graduate and begin looking for work, they are counted as part of the labor force (as new entrants) and are factored into the unemployment rate calculations.
- Unemployment Insurance (UI) Program
A national program administered by the U.S. Department of Labor
under the Social Security Act. Provides temporary weekly
payments to workers who lose their jobs through no fault of their
own. The payments are financed by contributions from
employers on the wages of their covered workers. Eligibility
for benefits requires that the claimant be able to work, be seeking
work and be willing to accept a suitable job. (www.edd.ca.gov/Unemployment/Filing_a_Claim.htm)
- Unemployment Rate
The unemployment rate is derived by dividing the number of
unemployed by the labor force. The result is expressed as a
- U.S. Census Bureau
Part of the U.S. Department of Commerce. This agency conducts
the censuses of population and housing every 10 years and of
agriculture, business, governments, manufacturers, mineral
industries, and transportation at 5-year intervals. The
Census Bureau also conducts the monthly Current Population Survey
(CPS) in cooperation with the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Data from this survey are the source of unemployment
- U.S. Department of Labor
Cabinet-level U.S. agency that enforces laws protecting workers,
promotes labor-management cooperation, sponsors employment and
training placement services, oversees the unemployment insurance
system, and produces statistics on the labor force and living
Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
Part of the U.S. Department of Labor. This Federal agency is the principal data-gathering agency of the Federal government in the field of economics. The BLS collects, processes, analyzes, and disseminates data relating to employment, unemployment, the labor force, productivity, prices, family expenditures, wages, industrial relations, and occupational safety and health. Well known data released by the BLS include: the Consumer Price Index, the Producer Price Index, the unemployment rate, and nonagricultural employment levels. (www.bls.gov/home.htm)
- Wage and Salary Employment
Full-time and part-time workers who receive wages, salaries,
commissions, tips, payment in kind, or piece rates. The group
includes employees in both the private and public sectors.
This is a count of the number of jobs, and is available by
A payment, usually of money, for labor or services performed.
- Workforce Development
All programs that prepare people for work, including educational
segments and special programs, and job training and employment
programs, whether operated by public, private or non-profit
entities. This term is used interchangeably with workforce
- Workforce Investment Act (WIA)
This 1998 Act provides the framework for a unique national
workforce preparation and employment system designed to meet both
the needs of the nation's businesses and the needs of the job
seekers and those who want to further their careers. The most
important aspect of the Act is its focus on meeting the needs of
businesses for skilled workers and the training, education, and
employment needs of individuals. Key components of the Act
will enable customers to easily access information and services
they need through the "One-Stop" system; empower adults
to obtain the training they find most appropriate through
Individual Training Accounts, and ensure that all State and local
programs meet customer expectations. (www.doleta.gov/usworkforce/wia/act.cfm)
- Workforce Preparation
All job training and employment programs. This term is used
interchangeably with "Workforce Development".
- Working Age Population
- All individuals 16 years or older in the United States. The lower limit of 16 years reflects the age at which most students can leave school voluntarily in most states. There is no upper age limit.
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