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Employment Development Department
Employment Development Department

Description of Hours & Earnings Data

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Each month, the Employment Development Department cooperates with the Bureau of Labor Statistics in conducting a survey of employers to collect data on employment, payrolls, and paid hours. In general, data refer to people who worked during, or received pay for, any part of the pay period that includes the 12th of the month. The employers extract the requested data from their payroll records, which must be maintained for a variety of tax and accounting purposes. All firms with 1,000 employees or more are asked to participate in the survey, as well as a sample of smaller firms. Despite the voluntary nature of the survey, numerous establishments have reported regularly for many years.

Which Employees are Included:
The hours and earnings data are based on reports of gross payrolls and the corresponding paid hours for production workers in the Manufacturing industries and nonsupervisory employees in the Motion picture and sound recording industries, which are submitted by a sample of employers on a monthly basis.

Aggregate payrolls include pay before deductions for Social Security, unemployment insurance, group insurance, withholding tax, salary reduction plans, bonds, and union dues. The payroll figures also include pay for overtime, shift premiums, holidays, vacations, and sick leave paid directly by the employer to employees for the pay period reported. The payroll figures exclude bonuses, commissions, and other lump-sum payments (unless earned and paid regularly each pay period or month), or other pay not earned in the pay period concerned (e.g., retroactive pay). Tips and the value of free rent, fuel, meals, or other payments in kind are not included.

Average hourly earnings, derived by dividing gross payrolls by total hours (see "Hours" below), reflect the actual earnings of workers, including premium pay (additional pay authorized for overtime, night shift differential, holiday worked, Sunday work, standby duty, or availability duty). They differ from wage rates, which are the amounts stipulated for a given unit of work or time. Average hourly earnings do not represent total labor costs per hour for the employer, because they exclude retroactive payments and irregular bonuses, employee benefits, and the employer's share of payroll taxes. Earnings for those employees not covered under the production worker and nonsupervisory categories are not reflected in the estimates.

Total hours during the pay period include all hours worked (including overtime hours), hours paid for standby or reporting time, and equivalent hours for which employees received pay directly from the employer for sick leave, holidays, vacations, and other leave. Overtime or other premium pay hours are not converted to straight-time equivalent hours. The concept of total hours differs from scheduled hours or hours worked. The average weekly hours derived from the total hours are also affected by factors such as unpaid absenteeism, labor turnover, part-time work, and strikes, as well as fluctuations in work schedules.

Overtime hours are hours worked for which premiums were paid because they were in excess of the number of hours of either the straight-time workday or workweek. Saturday and Sunday hours (or 6th- and 7th-day hours) are included as overtime only if overtime premiums were paid. Holiday hours worked as overtime are not included unless they are paid for at more than the straight-time rate. Hours for which only shift differential, hazard, incentive, or similar types of premiums were paid are excluded from overtime hours. Overtime hours data are collected only from establishments in manufacturing industries.

Average Weekly Earnings:
These earnings are derived by multiplying the average hourly earnings by the average weekly hours.

Geographic Areas:
Hours and Earnings data are provided for the State of California.

File Formats:
The Hours and Earnings monthly data are available for 2001 through the current month. The California data are provided in one file per year for each data series: average weekly hours, average hourly earnings, and average weekly earnings. The files are Microsoft Excel spreadsheets which can be viewed online or be downloaded to the user's computer.