Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS)

Concepts and Methodology

This page offers non-technical explanations of terms and procedures used to develop local area employment and unemployment statistics at the national, state and local levels. In addition, general information is available on comparability of data, validation and available publications.


Concepts for all U.S. labor force estimates - national, state and local - are uniformly defined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), U.S. Department of Labor.

Place and time. Estimates pertain to the place in which employed or unemployed persons reside, not where they work, seek work, or file for unemployment benefits. The time reference week, to which each month's estimates pertain, is the calendar week which includes the 12th day of the month.

Civilian noninstitutional population. This represents all persons, 16 years of age and over, not members of the armed forces nor confined in institutions (also called "working-age population").

Civilian labor force. This is the sum of employment and unemployment. It comprises civilians 16 years of age and over who are working or seeking work. It excludes military personnel, persons in institutions, those studying or keeping house full-time, persons who are retired or unable to work, and volunteer workers.

Labor force participation rate. This is the civilian labor force as a percentage of the civilian noninstitutional population.

Employment. This represents all persons employed in the reference week, whether in agricultural or nonagricultural industries; whether part-time or full-time; and whether payroll workers, self-employed persons, unpaid workers in family enterprises, or domestics. Those temporarily absent from their jobs for reasons such as illness, vacation, or labor-management disputes are also counted as employed. Those who hold more than one job, however, are counted only once.

Unemployment. This represents persons who were not employed during the reference week, but who were actively seeking work, waiting to be called back to a job from which laid off, or waiting to report within 30 days to a new payroll job.

Unemployment rate. This is unemployment as a percentage of the civilian labor force.

Seasonal adjustment. Seasonal adjustment is used to remove fluctuations in unemployment and labor trends that normally occur with changes in the season. The removal of seasonal variation allows evaluation of the unemployment rates as an indicator of economic change.

Seasonal variation in the employment situation occurs for a variety of natural and institutional reasons. Examples include reduction of employment involving outdoor activities during winter, large changes in labor force and unemployment levels with the opening and closing of schools, and employment reductions during the automobile model change-over period. The overall impact of such events is a seasonal rise in unemployment rates during the winter months, usually peaking in January and February, and a drop in unemployment rates during the spring and late summer with May and September typically the low months.


National estimates. National labor force estimates are prepared monthly by BLS, based on data collected by the Bureau of the Census, U.S. Department of Commerce, in the Current Population Survey (CPS). The CPS is a monthly survey of a changing, representative sample of households, numbering about 60,000 as of July 1, 2001.

Statewide estimates. For the 50 states and the District of Columbia, monthly statewide estimates are prepared by the respective states using time-series models (regression based) to estimate employment and unemployment. In Ohio, the estimates are prepared by the Bureau of Labor Market Information of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. The time-series models, originally introduced in 1989 and improved in 1994 and 2005, rely heavily on monthly unpublished CPS data as well as current wage and salary employment and unemployment insurance statistics. Additional information on how the unemployment rate is calculated can be found here.

Additional information on the CPS may be found on the Current Population Survey home page.

Statement of Origin. The Bureau of Labor Market Information of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services produced this statement. Please contact Dolores Little, Chief of Local Area Unemployment Statistics & Current Employment Statistics, at 614-466-9909 with any technical questions.