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  • Absence

    Time away from work due to own illness, injury, or medical reasons; childcare; other family or personal obligations; civic or military duty; or maternity or paternity leave.

    Note: In the Current Population Survey (CPS), absences are instances when people who usually work 35 or more hours per week (full time) worked less than 35 hours for one of the reasons stated in the definition.

  • Absence rate

    Ratio of workers with absences to total full-time wage and salary employment.

  • Access to a benefit plan

    Availability of a benefit plan to employees.

    Note: For example, if an employee is permitted to participate in a medical care plan offered by the employer, the employee is identified as having access whether or not he or she chooses to participate in the plan.

  • Accidental death or dismemberment

    Death or loss of a body part, or loss of eyesight, due to a non-work-related accident.

    Note: This term is used to describe a policy that pays additional benefits to the beneficiary in these cases. (The National Compensation Survey (NCS) no longer publishes statistics about accidental death or dismemberment plans.)

  • Accommodation

    Modification or adjustment to a job, or a change in the work environment, that enables a person with a disability or some other constraint to perform equally with someone without a disability or to carry out the occupational tasks of the job as generally performed by someone without a disability.

    Note: The Occupational Requirements Survey (ORS) collects data only on how work is performed without accommodations, because not all employers can offer the same accommodations.

  • Actuarial value

    Reduction formula applied to the amount of the normal retirement benefit on the basis of statistical assumptions so that, on average, the retiree receives a total lifetime payout that should be the same total amount regardless of retirement age.

  • Age-and-service requirement

    Required years of age and service as specified in a plan without incurring a reduction in benefits.

    Note: For example, an employee may receive full benefits as specified in his or her plan after 30 years of service and after reaching at least 55 years of age.

  • Age-plus-service requirement

    Criterion for receiving full benefits based on the sum of age and years of service.

    Note: For example, an employee may receive full benefits as specified in his or her plan, so long as the combination of age and years of service is equal to a predetermined number, such as 80.

  • Aggregate measure

    Any measure that is based on a combination of other measures.

  • Alternative measures of labor underutilization

    Range of measures encompassing concepts both broader and narrower than the definition of "unemployed."

    Note: The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) publishes a range of indicators that point to the extent to which labor resources are being utilized. Known as U–1, U–2, and U–4 through U–6 (U–3 is the official unemployment rate), these alternative measures of labor underutilization provide insight into a broad range of problems workers encounter in today’s labor market. Similar to the official unemployment rate, the alternative measures are presented as a percentage of the labor force (adjusted as necessary). U–1 shows the number of individuals unemployed 15 weeks or longer as a percentage of the labor force, while U–2 presents job losers and people who completed temporary jobs as a percentage of the labor force. U–4 through U–6 are broader than U–1, U–2, and U-3. In addition to the total unemployed, U–4 adds discouraged workers; U–5 adds all people marginally attached to the labor force (which includes discouraged workers); and U–6 adds all people marginally attached to the labor force, plus people employed part time for economic reasons.

  • Alternative work arrangement

    Work for a temporary-help agency, for a contract company, on an on-call basis, or as an independent contractor, whereby assignments are carried out for another company.

  • Annual average index

    Index whose value is the sum of the 12 data points of the corresponding monthly index over a calendar year, divided by 12.

    Note: An annual average index represents an average index for a given 12-month period, not a particular month.

  • Applicant

    Person who formally applies for a job.

  • Apprenticeship

    Formal relationship between a worker and a sponsor that consists of a combination of on-the-job training and related occupation-specific instruction in which the worker learns the practical and theoretical aspects of an occupation.

    Note: Apprenticeship programs are sponsored by individual employers, joint employer–labor groups, and employee associations. Apprenticeship programs usually provide at least 144 hours of occupation-specific technical instruction and 2,000 hours of on-the-job training a year over a 3- to-5-year period. Examples of occupations that use apprenticeships are electricians and structural iron and steel workers.

    See also on-the-job training.

  • Asset share in industry capital income

    Portion of the total income received by an industry attributed to a particular capital asset generally used by the industry.

    Note: For example, software manufacturers may receive a large portion of their income by using computers to build software.

  • Associate's degree

    Degree awarded usually for at least 2 years of full-time academic study beyond high school.

  • Attendance bonus

    Money paid to employees who achieve a specified attendance goal.

    Note: For example, all employees who take 2 or fewer days of sick leave within a given year are paid an attendance bonus of $500.

  • At work

    Arrangement, time, and condition under which someone is performing his or her job.

    Note: All individuals who, during the Current Population Survey (CPS) reference week, did any work at all (at least 1 hour) as paid employees, worked in their own business or profession or on their own farm, or worked 15 hours or more as unpaid workers in an enterprise operated by a member of their family are said to be “at work.” Data on employed individuals “at work” exclude people who were not working but had jobs or businesses from which they were temporarily absent because of, for example, vacation or illness.

  • Automatic enrollment

    Enrollment in a defined contribution plan whose coverage begins as soon as eligibility requirements are met.

    Note: As soon as eligibility requirements are met, employees become covered under a plan, but they have the right to decline coverage at any time. A minimum default employee contribution and default investment vehicles usually are set, but employees may choose to contribute a different percentage and change investments.

  • Automatic escalation

    Automatic increases in contributions to a defined contribution plan at a predetermined rate over time.

    Note: Automatic escalation is a feature in a defined contribution plan, such as a 401(k), that automatically increases an employee’s contribution after a certain time (e.g., a 2-percent increase after each year). Employees may choose to contribute a different percentage.

  • Average

    Quantity calculated by adding a set of numbers and dividing the resulting sum by the quantity of numbers summed.

    See also mean.

  • Average hourly earnings

    Total earnings or payroll, divided by the total number of hours for which employees received pay during the entire pay period. These hours include overtime; stand-by or reporting time; and hours not worked but for which employees received pay (such as holidays, vacations, and sick leave).

    Note: Computed on a gross basis, before taxes or other deductions.

    See the video, "The many ways we measure pay."

  • Average weekly earnings

    Average weekly hours estimates multiplied by average hourly earnings estimates.

    See the video, "The many ways we measure pay." 

  • Average weekly hours

    Total weekly hours divided by the number of employees paid for those hours.

    Note: The average number of hours per worker for which pay was received.

    See the video, "The many ways we measure pay."

  • Baby-boom generation

    Cohort of individuals born between 1946 and 1964, inclusive.

  • Bachelor's degree

    Degree awarded usually for at least 4 years of full-time academic study beyond high school.

  • Bargaining status

    Classification of workers that is based on whether they are or are not represented by a union.

    Note: Workers are classified as union workers when these conditions are met: (1) A labor organization is recognized as the bargaining agent for all workers in the occupation and (2) wage and salary rates are determined through collective bargaining or negotiations. Workers who do not meet these conditions are classified as nonunion workers.

  • Bargaining unit

    Classification of a worker who is represented by a labor union.

    Note: Workers are classified in the bargaining unit when these conditions are met: (1) A labor organization is recognized as the bargaining agent for all workers in the occupation and (2) wage and salary rates are determined through collective bargaining or negotiations. Workers who do not meet these conditions are classified as excluded from the bargaining unit.

  • Base period

    Period or point in time-used as a reference for comparison with some other period or point in time.

    See also base year.

  • Base year

    Year used as a reference for comparison with another year.

    Note: For example, 2016 is the base year for the 2016–26 employment projections. Employment in the base year is actual 2016 data, whereas employment in the target, or projection, year is projected.

  • Basic services (dental)

    Services routinely covered by dental plans.

    Note: These services may include fillings, dental surgery, periodontal care (treatment for gum disease), endodontics, and preventative and diagnostic services.

  • Bayesian hierarchical model

    Conditional probability model for parameters, given the data and assuming a prior distribution of the parameters written in multiple levels.

  • Behavior coding

    Systematic assignment of codes to the behaviors of an interviewer or respondent during survey interviews.

    Note: Common codes include codes for behaviors such as reading questions in the manner in which they are scripted. Studies including behavior coding typically aim to understand sources of measurement error.

  • Benchmark

    Comparison of estimates obtained from a sample with the measure of the full population at a specific point in time.

    Note: Benchmarking is a standard part of the estimation process and provides a point of reference by which the estimates can be compared. Benchmarking is needed because surveys are subject to sampling error. Some surveys are able to benchmark their estimates to censuses or other, more comprehensive, sets of data than the samples themselves.

  • Benefit incidence

    Measure expressing one of the following conditions: (1) the percentage of workers with access to a benefit, (2) the percentage of workers who participate in a benefit, or (3) the takeup rate of a benefit.

    Note: Access is defined as the percentage of workers in an occupation who are offered a benefit. For example, an employee may have access to an employer-sponsored fitness center, but may or may not use it. Employees in contributory plans are counted as participating in an insurance plan or a retirement plan if they have paid required contributions and met any applicable service requirements. Employees in noncontributory plans are counted as participating regardless of whether they have fulfilled their service requirements.

  • Benefit payment method

    Manner by which payments from a defined benefit plan are made.

    Note: Payments from defined benefit plans may be in the form of a straight-life annuity, a joint-and-survivor annuity, a percentage of the unreduced accrued benefit, or a lump sum.

  • Benefits

    Nonwage compensation provided to employees by their employer.

    Note: The National Compensation Survey (NCS) provides data on nonwage employer-provided compensation by grouping benefits into five categories: paid leave (vacations, holidays, sick leave); supplementary pay (premium pay for overtime and work on holidays and weekends, shift differentials, nonproduction bonuses); retirement (defined benefit and defined contribution plans); insurance (life insurance, health benefits, short-term disability, and long-term disability insurance); and legally required benefits (Social Security and Medicare, federal and state unemployment insurance taxes, and workers’ compensation).

  • Business cycle

    Timeline of periods of growth and decline in an economy.

    Note: The cycle has four stages: expansion, when the economy grows; peak, the high point of an expansion; contraction, when the economy slows down; and trough, the low point of a contraction.

  • Business sector

    Subset of the domestic economy in which businesses produce raw materials, carry out manufacturing, and provide sales and services for profit.

    Note: This sector excludes general government, private households, and nonprofit organizations serving individuals.

  • Cafeteria benefit plans

    Plans that, under Section 125 of the Internal Revenue Code, provide employees a choice between permissible benefits (including cash) and nontaxable benefits, such as life and health insurance, vacations, retirement plans, and childcare.

  • Capital composition

    Portion of the change in capital services that cannot be attributed to changes in capital stock.

  • Capital cost

    Cost of producing output of goods and services that is attributed to the use of capital.

  • Capital hours ratio

    Cost of producing output of goods and services that is attributed to the use of capital.

    Note: Increases in the capital-to-hours ratio reflect increases in the intensity of capital used in the production process.

    See also capital services.

  • Capital productivity

    Efficiency at which capital services are utilized in producing output of goods and services, measured as output produced per unit of capital services input.

    See also capital services.

  • Capital rental prices

    Amount of rent charged by the owner of one dollar's worth of capital stock for a given asset to cover the opportunity cost of forgoing the use of that asset.

    Note: Unlike the situation with labor services, which are rented explicitly with wages, the owner and user of capital services are usually the same. Capital goods are typically bought in one period and then used in future periods. Therefore, they must be measured implicitly.

    See also capital stock.

  • Capital services

    Services derived from physical assets and intellectual property that are used to produce output.

    Note: Physical assets include equipment, structures, inventories, land, etc.

  • Capital's share in costs

    Portion of the total costs required to produce output that can be attributed to capital services.

    Note: Also referred to as “capital cost share.”

  • Capital stock

    Measure of the volume or quantity of a business's assets, such as equipment, structures, land, and research and development.

  • Career earnings formula

    Retirement benefit formula determined by a combination of average annual earnings and years of service.

  • Case characteristics

    Elements describing the circumstances that led to an injury or illness involving one or more days away from work.

    Note: These elements include part of body, nature, event or exposure, and source.

  • Cash balance plan

    Defined benefit plan guaranteeing a benefit amount to covered employees on the basis of a known formula designed to provide a lump sum at retirement.

    Note: For each year worked, employees are credited with a specified contribution and a rate of interest on that contribution, which together will provide a lump sum at retirement. The lump sum may be converted to an annuity.

    See the article, "Cash balance pension plans: The new wave."

  • Cash profit sharing

    Method whereby employees are paid in recognition of their contribution to company profitability.

    Note: Payments may vary with length of service.

  • Census regions

    Four major parts of the United States: Northeast, Midwest, South, and West.

    Note: For information on Census regions, see the BLS interactive geographic regions map.

  • Certification

    Credential for demonstrating competency in a skill or set of skills, typically through the passage of an examination, work experience, training, or some combination of the three.

    Note: Some certification programs may require a certain level of educational achievement for eligibility.

  • Chained index

    Index such that its value in any given period is related to the value in the immediately preceding period.

    Note: The benefits of chaining over a fixed base include a better reflection of (1) changing economic conditions, (2) technological progress, and (3) spending patterns, as well as a suitable means for handling items that are not traded every month in which the index is calculated. For example, see the video on the chained Consumer Price Index (CPI).

    See the video, “Understanding the Chained Consumer Price Index.”

  • Childcare assistance

    Benefit providing either full or partial reimbursement for the cost of caring for an employee's child.

    Note: This benefit provides reimbursement for the care of employees’ eligible children in a nursery or daycare center or by a babysitter. Care can be provided in facilities either on or off the employer’s premises.

  • Civilian labor force

    People ages 16 years and older and classified as employed or unemployed.

    See also labor force.

  • Civilian noninstitutional population

    People ages 15 or 16 and older residing in the 50 states and the District of Columbia who do not live in institutions and who are not on Active Duty in the Armed Forces (starting age may vary by BLS program; see note).

    Note: American Time Use Survey (ATUS): 15 and older Current Population Survey (CPS): 16 and older.

  • Civilian workers

    Private industry workers and state and local government workers.

    Note: Federal government, military, and agricultural workers; self-employed workers; and workers in private households are not counted as civilian workers in the National Compensation Survey (NCS).

  • Class of worker

    Categorization of workers determined by the type of ownership of the employing organization.

    Note: The class-of-worker categories are private and government wage and salary workers, self-employed workers, and unpaid family workers.

  • Cliff vesting

    Provision which stipulates that participants in a retirement plan have no vesting rights to future benefits until a service requirement has been met, after which they are 100 percent vested.

    Note: The service requirement is usually based on years of service, such as 5 years.

  • Closings

    Establishments with positive third-month employment in the previous quarter, with no positive employment reported in the current quarter, or with positive third-month employment in the previous quarter followed by zero employment in the current quarter.

  • Cognitive and mental demands

    Requirements related to a worker's need to use judgment, make decisions, and adapt to changes on the job.

  • Cognitive interviewing

    Research method that elicits research participants' thought processes while they answer draft survey questions through "think aloud" protocols and interviewer probing.

    Note: These studies typically aim to revise the wording of questions in order to improve the respondent’s comprehension of survey questions. When conducted online without an interviewer present, this kind of study is often referred to as an “unmoderated cognitive interview.”

  • Coinsurance

    Predetermined percentage of medical costs paid by an individual after yearly deductible costs are met.

    Note: This form of medical cost sharing requires an insured person to pay a stated percentage of medical expenses after the deductible amount, if any, is paid. After any deductible amount and coinsurance are paid, the insurer is responsible for the rest of the reimbursement for covered benefits, up to the maximum allowed charges. The individual is responsible for any charges in excess of what the insurer determines to be “usual, customary, and reasonable.” Coinsurance rates may differ between services received from an approved provider and those received from providers not on the approved list.

  • Collection method

    Method by which respondents receive data requests and submit information.

  • Collective bargaining

    Method whereby representatives (unions) of employees and employers negotiate the conditions of employment, normally resulting in a written contract setting forth the wages, hours, and other conditions to be observed for a stipulated period.

    Note: This term also applies to negotiations that occur between management and the union during the term of the contract.

  • Combination jobs

    Jobs that encompass two or more distinct sets of duties.

    Note: Documentation of combination jobs require a primary Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) code and the documentation of a secondary SOC code.

    For more information on how combination jobs are classified, see the Occupational Requirements Survey (ORS) collection manual.

  • Combined inputs

    All inputs that are used directly to produce output.

    Note: For private businesses and the private business sector, inputs include labor and capital only. For all other sectors and industries, inputs include labor, capital, and intermediate purchases. 

  • Combined inputs cost

    Total cost of all inputs used to produce output.

  • Commercially insured policy

    Insurance policy underwritten by an insurance carrier and paid for through monthly premiums by the employer.

    Note: The employer has a contractual arrangement to pay a premium to a third party, such as an insurance company, union, or association, in exchange for it assuming the risks and expenses of a benefit plan. For short-term disability, the actuarially determined premium is often specified as a rate per $10 of weekly benefit per month. In some cases, the employer contributes a specific amount (often a number of cents per hour worked for each employee) to a designated union or association fund that provides welfare benefits.

  • Common stock

    Security that represents ownership in a corporation.

  • Common stock fund

    Professionally managed fund invested in the common stock of a variety of companies.

    Note: A common stock fund is a mutual fund that invests in the common stock of numerous publicly traded companies. Common stock funds provide investment diversification and offer time savings over researching, buying, and selling individual stocks.

  • Communicating verbally

    Orally imparting information to clients, the public, or other workers accurately and quickly.

  • Company stock plan

    Defined contribution retirement plan in which employees receive equity in the company that sponsors the plan.

  • Compensation

    Employer costs for wages, salaries, and employee benefits.

    Note: "Total compensation” usually refers to the entire range of wages and benefits employees receive for their work.

    See the video, "What is the Employment Cost Index?"

  • Complete income reporters

    Respondents who provide information about major sources of income, such as wages and salaries, self employment income, and Social Security income.

    Note: In all consumer expenditure Survey tables before 2004, income data were for complete income reporters only. From 2004 onward, income data are for all consumer units. Even complete income reporters may not have provided a full accounting of all income from all sources. Before 2004 in the Consumer Expenditure Survey, across-the-board zero income reporting was designated as invalid and the consumer unit was categorized as an incomplete reporter. With the introduction of income imputation, all consumer units have missing income values imputed or are represented by valid zeroes.

  • Composition of consumer unit

    Classification of interview families according to (1) the relationship of other family members to the reference person, (2) the age of the children of the reference person, and (3) a combination of the relationship to the reference person and the age of the children.

    Note: Stepchildren and adopted children are included with the reference person’s own children.

  • Compound annual rate

    Increases and decreases in a measure over time, expressed as a constant rate of change.

    Note: Quarterly rates of change typically are expressed as a compound annual rate, which is an annualized rate—what the annual rate would be if the quarterly rate were maintained for the entire year.

  • Computer-assisted telephone interviewing (CATI)

    Use of interactive computer systems by interviewers during telephone contacts with survey respondents.

  • Confidentiality

    Principle of keeping data provided by a respondent private.

    Note: The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) collects data for statistical purposes only, and consequently, it cannot provide specific information.

  • Consolidated leave plan

    Leave plan whereby leave may be used for any stipulated purpose.

    Note: This type of plan replaces different types of leave, such as vacation, sick leave, and personal leave. In a consolidated leave plan, all types of leave are combined or used interchangeably within a single plan. Employees are allowed to use leave for any purpose that is stipulated by the plan. These plans are most often found at establishments such as hospitals, which must be open around the clock.

  • Consolidation

    Merger of two or more commercial interests or corporations.

  • Constant dollar

    Dollar valued according to its purchasing power at one particular time compared with another.

    Note: Setting amounts to constant-dollar values allows for meaningful comparison of values from different periods.

  • Consumer-driven health plan (CDHP)

    High-deductible catastrophic health plan paired with a tax-favored account for routine healthcare expenses.

    Note: This type of plan combines a high-deductible health policy that provides protection from catastrophic medical expenses with a tax-favored account that pays routine healthcare expenses, such as those for prescription medications and doctors’ visits. High-deductible plans tend to have lower monthly premiums.

  • Consumer unit

    (1) All members of a particular household who are related by blood, marriage, adoption, or some other legal arrangement; (2) a person living alone or sharing a household with others or living as a roomer in a private home or lodging house or in permanent living quarters in a hotel or motel, but who is financially independent; or (3) two or more people living together who pool their income to make joint expenditure decisions

    Note: Financial independence is determined by the three major expense categories: housing, food, and other living expenses. To be considered financially independent, a respondent must provide at least two of the three major expense categories.

  • Contact strategies

    Modes, patterns, and timeliness considerations for contacting respondents.

  • Contingent workers

    Workers who do not have an implicit or explicit contract for long-term or ongoing employment.

    Note: More information can be found on the Current Population Survey's Labor force characteristics page under the heading, "Contingent and alternative employment arrangements." 

    See the video, “What types of work are contingent or alternative employment arrangements?

  • Contract escalation

    Process of adjusting contracts or payments to account for changes in prices.

  • Contractions

    Establishments with positive employment in the third month in both the previous and current quarters and with a net decrease in employment over the period between those two quarters.

  • Contribution of all other capital services intensity

    Portion of labor productivity change attributed to capital services.

  • Contribution of capital intensity

    Portion of capital's contribution to labor productivity versus the contributions from labor and intermediate purchases.

    Note: Multiplying the change in capital intensity by capital’s share of combined inputs yields the contribution of capital intensity.

  • Contribution of information capital intensity

    Portion of labor productivity change attributed to information capital.

  • Contribution of intellectual property products

    Portion of labor productivity change attributed to intellectual property products.

  • Contribution of intermediate inputs

    Portion of labor productivity change attributed to intermediate inputs.

  • Contribution of intermediate purchases intensity

    Portion of labor productivity change attributed to purchased intermediate inputs.

  • Contribution of labor composition

    Portion of labor productivity change attributed to labor composition.

  • Contribution of research and development intensity

    Portion of labor productivity change attributed to research and development.

  • Controlling workflow

    Prioritizing work tasks or adjusting the amount of time it takes to complete them.

  • Copayment

    Fixed dollar amount that an insured person must pay when a service is received before any remaining charges are paid by the insurer.

    Note: Copayments are a feature of health insurance plans and generally apply to health services.

  • Cost-of-living index

    A conceptual measurement of changes over time in the amount that consumers need to spend to reach a certain standard of living.

    Note: For more information, see question 9 of the CPI FAQs.

    See the video, “Understanding the Chained Consumer Price Index.”

  • Cost per hour worked

    Total employer cost of wages and salaries, and benefits, divided by total hours worked.

    Note: Estimates include only all hours worked, or annual work schedule hours (plus overtime) minus leave hours.

  • County

    Primary legal subdivision of most states.

    Note: County is the primary local geographic area for an establishment in the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW). The county is determined by the physical location of the establishment. In Louisiana, the term “parish” is used instead of “county.”

    For example, see the QCEW state and county map of Florida.

  • Coverage error

    Nonsampling error that occurs in statistical estimates and arises from gaps between the sampling frame and the total population.

  • Crawling

    Moving on hands and knees or hands and feet.

  • Cumulative days idle

    Total number of working days lost, multiplied by the number of workers, over the entire span of a work stoppage.

    Note: A stoppage often occurs over a period of months.

    See also work stoppage.

  • Current dollar value

    Market value of an item in the period that's being measured.

  • Current Population Survey (CPS)

    National survey that samples approximately 60,000 households monthly and collects information on labor force characteristics of the U.S. civilian noninstitutional population.

    Note: The Current Population Survey (CPS) is conducted by the Census Bureau for the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The national unemployment rates are derived from information collected from the CPS.

  • Days-away-from-work (DAFW) cases

    Work-related injury or illness cases requiring at least 1 day away from work with or without days of job transfer or restriction.

    See the video, "Worker safety data."

  • Days idle

    Total number of working days lost during a work stoppage in a given month, multiplied by the number of workers participating in the work stoppage.

    See also work stoppage.

  • Days-of-restricted-work-activity-or-job-transfer (DART) cases

    Cases in which, as a result of a work-related injury or illness, an employer or healthcare professional keeps, or recommends keeping, an employee from doing the routine functions of his or her job or from working the full workday that the employee would have been scheduled to work before the injury or illness occurred.

    See the video, "Worker safety data."

  • Debriefing

    Set of questions designed to uncover possible sources of measurement error or other relevant feedback asked at the conclusion of a survey interview or research study.

  • Decile

    Division of a distribution of values into 10 equal segments.

  • Deductible

    Dollar amount that an insured person pays during the benefit period before the insurer starts to make payments for covered medical services.

    Note: The benefit period is usually a year.

  • Deferred disability retirement plan

    Type of disability retirement plan whereby service credits continue to accumulate and payments do not begin until the participant is eligible for normal retirement in the case of retirement before normal retirement age.

  • Defined benefit pension plan

    Pension plan providing an employee with guaranteed retirement benefits based on a predetermined formula.

  • Defined benefit plan

    Pension plan providing an employee with guaranteed retirement benefits based on a predetermined formula.

    Note: A participant’s retirement age, length of service, and preretirement earnings may affect the benefits received. Definitions, key provisions, and terms may be subject to change per benefit provider.

  • Defined contribution plan

    Retirement plan that specifies the level of employer and employee contributions and places those contributions into individual employee accounts.

    Note: Individual accounts are set up for participants, and benefits are based on the amounts credited to these accounts (through employer contributions and, if applicable, employee contributions) plus any investment earnings on the money in the account. Only employer contributions to the account are guaranteed, not the future benefits. In defined contribution plans, future benefits fluctuate on the basis of investment earnings. The most common type of defined contribution plan is a savings and thrift plan. Under this type of plan, the employee contributes a predetermined portion of his or her (usually pretax) earnings to an individual account, all or part of which is matched by the employer.

  • Deflator

    Factor that allows data to be measured over time in terms of some base period.

    Note: An interesting example is the use of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) as a deflator of the value of the consumer’s dollar to find its purchasing power. The purchasing power of the consumer’s dollar measures the change in the value to the consumer of goods and services that a dollar will buy at different dates. In other words, as prices increase, the purchasing power of the consumer’s dollar declines.

  • Dental care

    Services for restorative care and related treatment to the teeth and gums.

  • Dependent care reimbursement account

    Account whereby an employee allocates a declared pretax amount from his or her pay, up to a set limit, for out-of-pocket qualified dependent care expenses.

    Note: Dependent care reimbursement accounts can be part of a flexible benefit plan or may stand alone. Expenses include childcare, elder care, or services to a disabled dependent. Any money not used by the end of the plan year is forfeited.

  • Depreciation rate of wealth stock

    Rate at which the value of wealth stock declines.

    See also wealth stock.

  • Detoxification

    Supervised care by medical personnel that is designed to reduce or eliminate the symptoms of chemical dependency.

    Note: Treatment must occur on an inpatient basis.

  • Diffusion index of employment change

    Index that measures the percentage of industries with increasing employment plus one-half of the industries with unchanged employment.

    Note: To derive an index, each component area is assigned a value of 0, 50, or 100 percent, depending on whether its employment showed a decrease, no change, or an increase, respectively, over the timespan of interest. The average (mean) value is then calculated, and this percentage is the diffusion index number. Fifty percent indicates an equal balance between industries with increasing and decreasing employment.

  • Disability

    Physical, mental, or emotional condition that substantially limits an individual from one or more daily life activities.

    Note: The Current Population Survey (CPS) asks six questions that determine whether a person is classified as having a disability. For more information on the disability questions and the limitations of the CPS disability data, see "Frequently asked questions about disability data."

  • Disability benefits

    Benefits providing protection against loss of income due to non-work-related illness or injury.

    Note: For example, an employee who is injured in a car accident during work hours may be eligible for disability benefits.

  • Disability retirement

    Retirement resulting from a totally disabling injury or illness prior to eligibility for early or normal retirement.

    Note: Plans providing disability retirement benefits may have a service requirement, such as 10 years or longer.

  • Disclosure limitation

    Limitation on the release of data that can be used to identify a respondent through the application of statistical methods.

  • Disclosure risk

    Risk of linking respondents to their personal information.

    Note: Disclosure risk is associated with publishing data that should be kept confidential.

  • Discouraged workers

    People marginally attached to the labor force who are not currently looking for work specifically because they believe that no jobs are available for them (or that there are none for which they would qualify).

    Note: Discouraged workers are a subset of those who are marginally attached to the labor force. Discouraged workers include people who did not actively look for work in the prior 4 weeks for reasons such as “thinks no work available,” “could not find work,” “lacks schooling or training,” “employer thinks too young or old,” and other types of discrimination. (See table A-16 in “The Employment Situation” news release.)

    More information can be found on the Current Population Survey's Labor force characteristics page under the heading, "Discouraged workers." 

  • Displaced workers

    People 20 years and older who lost or left jobs because their plant or company closed or moved, there was insufficient work for them to do, or their position or shift was abolished.

    Note: Data on displaced workers are collected from a special supplemental survey conducted every 2 years.

  • Diversified investments

    Professionally managed funds that are invested in more than one type of equity or debt instrument.

  • Division, geographic or census

    One of nine geographic areas of the United States defined by the U.S. Census Bureau and widely used by bls for presenting regional data.

    Note: The Census Divisions are New England, Middle Atlantic, South Atlantic, East South Central, West South Central, East North Central, West North Central, Mountain, and Pacific. See the census regions and divisions map of the United States.

    For information on Census regions, see the BLS interactive geographic regions map.

  • Doctoral or professional degree

    Degree awarded usually for at least 3 years of full-time academic work beyond a bachelor's degree.

    Note: Some science and other occupations need a doctoral degree, and all lawyers, physicians, and dentists need a professional degree, for employment.

  • Duration of unemployment

    Length of time, in weeks, that people classified as unemployed have been looking for work.

    Note: For those on layoff who are counted as unemployed, the duration of unemployment represents the number of full weeks (through the reference week) that they have been on layoff. The data do not represent completed spells of unemployment.

    See also unemployed.

  • Duration scale

    Scale used to categorize the duration of either a physical demand being performed or exposure to an environmental condition.

    Note: The scale is as follows: Seldom (up to 2 percent of the workday), Occasionally (2 percent up to one-third of the workday), Frequently (one-third up to two-thirds of the workday), and Constantly (two-thirds or more of the workday).

  • Duties

    Major tasks or activities that employees in an occupation usually perform.

  • Early retirement plan

    Plan designating a specific age, length of service, or combination of both at which plan participants may retire and receive all accrued benefits, minus a reduction or penalty.

  • Earner

    Consumer unit member 14 years of age or older who reported having worked at least 1 week during the 12 months before the survey interview date.

  • Earnings

    Money received for work or services performed during a specific period.

  • Educational attainment

    Highest diploma or degree, or level of work toward a diploma or degree, that an individual has completed.

    Note: Educational attainment data classify people into the following categories: less than a high school diploma; high school graduates, no college; some college or associate’s degree; associate’s degree; bachelor’s degree only; bachelor’s degree and higher; advanced degree.

  • Education of reference person

    Number of years of formal education of the reference person, on the basis of the highest grade completed.

    Note: If the reference person is enrolled in school at the time of the interview, the interviewer records the current education grade. Those not reporting the extent of their education are classified as having “no school” or as “not reported.”

  • Electronically mediated employment

    Short jobs or tasks that workers find through mobile applications that both connect them with customers and arrange payment.

  • Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) center

    Facility located in Chicago that collects data files from the nation's largest employers for the Current Employment Statistics (CES) and Multiple Worksite Report (MWR) programs.

  • Eligible respondents

    Potential respondents who match the target population.

    Note: Not all eligible respondents choose to respond.

  • Employed

    People who, during the reference week, did any work for pay or profit; did at least 15 hours of unpaid work in a family-operated enterprise; or were temporarily absent from their regular job(s) because of illness, vacation, bad weather, an industrial dispute, or various personal reasons.

    Note: Each employed person is counted only once, even if he or she holds more than one job. (The employment–population ratio represents the proportion of the civilian noninstitutional population that is employed.) The scope of the employed in the Current Population Survey (CPS) is smaller than that in American Time Use Survey (ATUS), because the CPS counts people 16 years and older, whereas ATUS counts people 15 years and older. (The reference period in ATUS is the last 7 days prior to the interview.)

  • Employee assistance program (EAP)

    Program that provides referral or counseling services designed to aid employees.

    Note: Examples include counseling services pertaining to health and mental wellness, childcare, moving, and bereavement, etc.

  • Employee recognition bonus

    Payment to employees that rewards their performance or significant accomplishments.

    Note: For example, an employee-of-the-month award.

  • Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP)

    Defined contribution plan in which the employer contributes to a fund that invests primarily in company stock and makes distributions to employees in stock or cash.

    Note: The employer pays a designated amount, often borrowed, into a fund that is then invested, primarily in company stock. Any debt incurred in the purchase of the stock is repaid by the company. Stock is then distributed to employees according to a formula. (ESOPs are available in private industry only.)

    See also company stock plan.

  • Employer

    Person or business employing one or more people for wages or a salary.

    Note: The employer is the legal entity responsible for payment of quarterly unemployment insurance taxes or for reimbursing the state fund for unemployment insurance benefits costs in lieu of paying the quarterly taxes.

  • Employer costs for employee compensation

    Employer costs per hour worked for wages and salaries and for individual benefits.

    Note: Cost data are presented both in dollar amounts and as percentages of compensation.

  • Employment

    Filled jobs, whether full- or part-time, and whether temporary or permanent, by place of work.

    Note: The scope of who is counted as employed varies among Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) programs.

  • Employment cost index (ECI)

    Measure of change in the cost of labor over time, free from the influence of employment shifts among occupations and industries.

    Note: The Employment Cost Index (ECI) measures changes in compensation costs (wages and salaries and employer costs for employee benefits).

    See the video, "What is the Employment Cost Index?"

  • Employment-population ratio

    Proportion of the civilian noninstitutional population that is employed.

  • End-of-year bonus

    Payment to employees near the end of the year to recognize their accomplishments throughout the year.

  • Energy input

    Amount of fuel, electricity, and other forms of energy used to produce output.

    Note: Energy input is one of three inputs that make up “intermediate purchases,” the other two being materials input and services input.

  • Environmental conditions

    Various tangible hazards or difficulties that are in the vicinity where a job is performed.

    Note: For more information about individual environmental elements, see the ORS Visual Overview for Environmental Conditions Data Elements.

  • Establishment

    Economic unit that produces goods or services, usually at a single physical location, and that is engaged in one or predominantly one type of economic activity.

    Note: A single establishment generally produces a single good or provides a single service. An enterprise (a private firm, government agency, or nonprofit organization) can consist of a single establishment or multiple establishments. All establishments in an enterprise may be classified into one industry (e.g., a chain); into different industries (e.g., a conglomerate); or into an economic unit that produces goods or services, usually at a single physical location, and that is engaged in one or predominantly one activity (e.g., a factory, a mine, a store, or an office). In the National Compensation Survey, for sampled private industries, the establishment usually is at a single physical location, such as a mine, a factory, an office, or a store, that produces goods or provides services. If a sampled establishment is owned by a larger entity with many locations, only the employment and characteristics of the establishment selected for the sample are considered for the survey. For state and local government, an establishment can include more than one physical location, such as a school district, a police department, a fire department, a health or social service operation, a highway maintenance operation, an urban transit operation, or some other governmental unit. Each establishment is assigned a six-digit North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code to reflect its primary economic activity.

  • Establishment count

    Number of establishments that meet some specified criteria.

    Note: The criteria may include geographic area, industry, and/or ownership status (i.e., private or public).

  • Establishment size

    Number of employees reported at an establishment.

    Note: Establishment size is usually presented in categories representing a range of employees (e.g., 100–249 employees).

  • Event or exposure

    Occurrence that leads to occupational injury or illness.

    Note: The event or exposure describes what happened to cause an injury or illness—for example, overexertion while lifting an object or a fall from a ladder. This categorization differs from the nature of the incident, which describes the result of the incident, such as a torn muscle (from overexertion) or a broken ankle (caused by, say, a fall from a ladder). The categorization also differs from the source, or what contributed to the injury or illness—for example, a heavy object (what is lifted) or the floor (after a fall).

  • Exclusive provider organization (EPO) plan

    More restrictive type of preferred provider organization plan under which employees must use providers from the specified network of physicians and hospitals to receive coverage; there is no coverage for care received from a non-network provider, except in an emergency.

  • Exertion

    Physical effort that a worker uses to complete a task.

  • Expansions

    Establishments with positive employment in the third month in both the previous and current quarters, and with a net increase in employment over the period between those two quarters.

  • Expenditure

    Transaction cost (including excise and sales taxes) of goods or services acquired.

    Note: Expenditure estimates include expenditures for gifts, but exclude purchases or portions of purchases directly assignable to business purposes, and periodic credit or installment payments on goods or services already acquired. The full cost of each purchase is recorded, even though full payment may not have been made at the date of purchase. Expenditure categories include food, alcoholic beverages, housing, apparel and services, transportation, healthcare, entertainment, personal care products and services, reading, education, tobacco products and smoking supplies, cash contributions, personal insurance and pensions, and miscellaneous.

  • Expenditure shares

    Proportions of total expenditures (as percentages) allotted to each expenditure category.

    Note: Expenditure shares include food, housing, transportation, etc.

  • Experience

    Amount of previous work history relevant to a worker's current job or to the job a candidate is applying for.

  • Experiment

    Procedure in which survey respondents are randomly assigned to receive some treatment (or none) and the effect of that treatment is measured to test a hypothesis.

    Note: Elements of the survey or the survey protocols may be manipulated.

  • Expert review

    Review in which staff trained and experienced in design best practices identify potential problems with drafts of work products (e.g., questionnaires, websites, advance materials, data table design) and recommend solutions.

  • Extended benefits (unemployment insurance)

    Employee benefits that are available to workers who have exhausted their regular unemployment_insurance benefits during periods of high unemployment.

  • Extreme cold

    40 degrees or below for a worker who is exposed constantly (greater than or equal to two-thirds of the day), and 32 degrees or below for a worker who is exposed frequently or less (less than two-thirds of the day).

    Note: Extreme cold in this context pertains to indoor and job-related exposure only.

  • Extreme heat

    Above 85 degrees with humidity, and above 90 degrees in a dry atmosphere.

    Note: Extreme heat in this context pertains to indoor and job-related exposure only.

  • Eye tracking

    Research method that uses infrared light reflected off of the retina to measure where and for how long people look at a screen or paper instrument.

    Note: These studies typically aim to improve the usability of a system under review.

  • Family

    Group of two or more people residing together who are related by birth, marriage, or adoption.

    Note: Families are classified either as married-couple families or as families maintained by women or men without spouses. A family maintained by a woman or a man is one in which the householder is either single, widowed, divorced, or married with spouse absent.

  • Family leave (paid); paid family leave

    Paid leave granted to an employee to care for a family member.

    Note: This type of leave includes paid maternity and paternity leave. The leave may be available for the care of a newborn child, an adopted child, a sick child, or a sick adult relative. Paid family leave is given in addition to any sick leave, vacation, personal leave, or short-term disability leave that is available to the employee.

  • Family leave (unpaid); unpaid family leave

    Unpaid leave granted to an employee to care for a family member.

    Note: This type of leave may be used to care for a newborn child, an adopted child, a sick child, or a sick adult relative. A typical family leave plan extends leave without pay to an employee for a period of several months while the employee cares for the family member. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993 is a federal law providing unpaid job-protected leave to eligible workers for the care of their families or themselves for specified family and medical conditions. The FMLA provides eligible workers with up to 12 workweeks of unpaid leave per year for the birth, adoption, or foster care placement of a child; the care of a spouse, son, daughter, or parent with a serious health condition; and the employee’s own serious health condition resulting in an inability to work.

  • Far visual acuity

    Clarity of vision at 20 feet or more.

    Note: Far visual acuity is not just the ability to see a person but the ability to recognize their features.

  • Field

    (1) staff who oversee or conduct data collection; (2) setting in which data are collected, such as a call center, a household, or an establishment.

    Note: The first definition can also be referred to as “field staff.”

  • Field test

    Study conducted to evaluate the feasibility of a system or project prior to its becoming operational.

    Note: Field tests are typically larger than pilot tests and are set exclusively in the field, using trained interviewers and respondents from the target survey population.

    See also pilot test.

  • Final closing

    Last opportunity to report data for a given reference period.

    Note: The additional data collected through final closing may be used to revise preliminary estimates.

  • Final demand core index

    Special aggregate price index that excludes the relatively volatile categories of foods, energy, and trade services.

    Note: Because prices for food and energy, and margins for trade services, tend to be erratic, some economists have come to focus attention on indexes that measure price changes for final demand to the exclusion of food, energy, and trade components as clearer measures of what is sometimes referred to as the underlying rate of inflation. This index is typically referred to as the Producer Price Index (PPI) for final demand less foods, energy, and trade services.

    See also inflation.

    See the Producer Price Index video.

  • Financial planning services

    Services provided to employees to aid them in decisions regarding savings, borrowing, investing, home purchases, education expenses, and retirement income.

  • Fine manipulation

    Picking, pinching, or otherwise working primarily with the fingers rather than the whole hand or arm (as in gross manipulation).

  • Firm

    Business that consists of one or more establishments such that each establishment may participate in a different predominant economic activity.

    See also establishment.

  • First closing

    First deadline to report data for a given reference period.

  • Fisher index

    Index that adjusts for quality changes over time.

    Note: The Fisher index is used to adjust output measures when quality changes occur over time—for example, when automobiles have improved options and safety features. The Fisher index uses a combination of Laspeyres and Paasche indexes.

  • Fixed-interest securities

    Securities that pay set interest rates over predetermined periods.

    Note: A security is an intangible investment. Examples of fixed-interest securities include bonds and other nonfederal instruments.

  • Fixed-multiple-of-earnings benefit plans

    Plans that link the benefit amount to employee earnings and that allow for the level of coverage to increase automatically as income rises.

    Note: Employee earnings are usually rounded to a stated dollar amount.

  • Fixed-percentage-of-profits formula

    Calculation method in deferred profit-sharing plans in which the employer contributes a fixed percentage of its total annual profits to the plan.

    Note: For example, no matter what the level of profits, 5 percent is contributed to the plan. Profits may include those for the entire company or just those in a specific business unit. In a variation of this formula, employers set aside a reserve amount of profits (e.g., $1 million) and pay only a fixed percentage of any profits above this amount into the employees’ defined contribution plan.

  • Flat-dollar-amount benefit plans

    Plans that provide a fixed life insurance benefit amount.

    Note: Common plans include insurance amounts ranging from $10,000 to $25,000.

  • Flat-percentage-per-year plans

    Plans specifying a reduction in the benefit amount to be received upon retirement for each year by which early retirement precedes normal retirement.

    Note: In specific cases, flat-percentage-per-year reductions may approximate actuarial reductions, such as early retirement at age 55 with a reduction of 6 percent per year between age 55 and the plan’s normal retirement age of 62.

  • Flexible benefit plans

    Plans that, under Section 125 of the Internal Revenue Code, provide employees a choice between permissible benefits (including cash) and nontaxable benefits, such as life and health insurance, vacations, retirement plans, and childcare.

    Note: The code permits companies providing flexible benefit plans to offer employees the following options: accident and health insurance plans, including healthcare spending accounts; group term life insurance and dependent coverage; disability benefits and accidental death and dismemberment plans; employee contributions to 401(k) plans or other thrift or savings plans (either pretax or after tax); dependent care assistance plans, including spending accounts; vacation days; and group legal services. Flexible benefit plans may be funded solely by the employer or through joint employer–employee contributions. Employers usually grant each employee credits to purchase benefits covered by the plan. Many plans include a core group of benefits (e.g., life insurance coverage of $25,000) and allow employees to purchase additional levels of the core benefit, as well as benefits not included in the core group. An example is the employer’s offering an additional $20,000 in life insurance coverage.

  • Flexible spending accounts

    Accounts that permit the participant to set aside funds (before taxes) for future eligible healthcare cost reimbursements (e.g., prescription costs, copays).

    Note: Employees may designate the amount of funds allocated per year for themselves and their dependents. Flexible spending accounts are also referred to as health savings accounts and healthcare reimbursement accounts.

  • Flexible workplace

    Employee benefit that permits workers to work at home or at some other approved location.

    Note: Teleworking is an example of a flexible workplace benefit.

  • Focus group

    Group whose members report qualitative data about their experiences and thoughts on a topic collected through facilitated discussions that use carefully developed questions.

  • Food at home

    Food purchased at grocery stores or other food stores.

    Note: Food at home also includes food prepared by the consumer unit on trips.

  • Food away from home

    All meals (breakfast and brunch, lunch, dinner and snacks, and nonalcoholic beverages), including tips where applicable, at fast-food restaurants, for takeout, for delivery, and at concession stands, buffets and cafeterias, and full-service restaurants, as well as at vending machines and mobile vendors.

    Note: Also included are board (including at school); meals as pay; special catered affairs, such as weddings, bar mitzvahs, and confirmations; school lunches; and meals away from home on trips.

  • Foot/leg control

    Use of one or both feet or legs to move controls on machinery or equipment.

    Note: Foot/leg control includes, but is not limited to, pedals, buttons, levers, and cranks.

  • Foreign born

    People residing in the United States who were not U.S. citizens at birth.

    Note: For example, individuals born outside of the United States or its outlying areas, such as Puerto Rico or Guam, to parents, neither of whom was a U.S. citizen. The foreign-born population includes legally admitted immigrants, refugees, temporary residents such as students and temporary workers, and undocumented immigrants. The survey data, however, do not separately identify the number of people in these categories.

  • Formulary drug

    Generic or brand-name drug that is approved by a healthcare provider.

    Note: Drugs not approved by the healthcare provider are nonformulary drugs, for which enrollees receive less generous benefits, such as a higher copayment per prescription.

  • Frozen retirement plan

    Plan that is closed to new enrollees and that limits future accruals of benefits for some or all active participants.

    Note: Some plans may no longer allow participants to accrue additional benefits. Others may change the plan’s prospective benefit formula in such a way as to limit or cease future benefit accruals for some active participants. The length of time is calculated on the basis of the year the plan was modified.

  • Full-time or part-time status

    Classification of workers that is based on whether they work full time or part time.

    Note: For the Current Population Survey (CPS), full-time workers are those who usually work 35 hours or more per week at their sole or principal job; part-time workers usually work 1 to 34 hours of work per week. For the ECEC, full-time and part-time statuses are not determined by the number of hours worked but are based on the employer’s definition of those terms.

  • Funeral leave (paid); paid funeral leave

    Leave provided because of a death in the family.

    Note: The period of absence is usually limited to a few days (e.g., 3 paid days of leave for immediate family members and 1 paid day for other relatives).

  • GDP (gross domestic product)

    Market value of all goods and services produced within a country in a given period.

    Note: The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) produces estimates of GDP; GDP is the most commonly used measure of the size of the overall economy.

  • Generic drug

    Generic counterpart of a brand-name drug such that the generic drug has exactly the same pharmacological effects as the brand-name drug.

    Note: Once a drug’s patent has expired, some plans provide more generous coverage for same-formula generic drugs than for brand-name drugs; the practice is adopted as a cost containment measure.

  • Geocode

    Set of longitudinal and latitudinal coordinates identifying the location of an establishment.

  • Government employment

    Public sector employment broken into three types: federal, state, and local.

    Note: State employment includes counts of workers employed by state agencies. Local government represents those working for county or municipal organizations. Both state and local employment are covered by state unemployment insurance programs. Employment at all federal agencies for any given month is based on the number of people who worked during or received pay for the pay period that included the 12th of the month. Employment data reported for federal civilian employees are a byproduct of the operations of state workforce agencies in administering the provisions of Title XV of the Social Security Act the Unemployment Compensation for Federal Employees (UCFE) program. Federal employment data are based on reports of monthly employment and reports of quarterly wages, both submitted quarterly to state agencies. Reports are submitted for all federal installations with employees covered by the act, except for certain national security agencies, which are excluded for security reasons. Some Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) programs do not have data for all types of public sector employment.

  • Government enterprise

    Legal entity created by the government in order to participate in commercial activities on the government's behalf.

    Note: Examples of government enterprises are the Postal Service, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.

  • Graded (or graduated) vesting

    Employee entitlement whereby the employee's share of nonforfeitable retirement benefits is increased, as determined by years of service with the employer, prior to reaching full vesting.

    Note: An example would be 50 percent vested after 3 years of service, 75 percent vested after 4 years of service, and 100 percent vested after 5 years of service.

  • Green jobs

    Jobs in businesses that produce goods or provide services that benefit the environment or conserve natural resources, or jobs in which workers' duties involve making their establishment's production processes more environmentally friendly or use fewer natural resources.

    Note: Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) developed a definition of green jobs for use in data collection. Since 2011, BLS has not produced data on green jobs. For information on green jobs, see Measuring green jobs.

  • Gross manipulation

    Seizing, holding, grasping, turning, or otherwise working with the hand(s).

    Note: In gross manipulation, the fingers are involved only to the extent that they are an extension of the hand.

  • Gross output

    Total output produced by an industry or a sector.

    Note: Gross output is measured as the industry or sector’s sales or receipts plus commodity taxes and changes in inventories, which can include sales to final users in the economy (GDP) or sales to other industries (intermediate inputs).

  • Growth rate

    Percent change in the value of a measure over a given period.

    Note: For example, in the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Employment Projections program, growth rate adjectives used in the Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) are defined by the following percent changes for the 2016–26 employment projections: much faster than the average = 15 percent or more, faster than the average = 10 percent to 14 percent, as fast as the average = 5 percent to 9 percent, slower than the average = 2 percent to 4 percent, little or no change = –1 percent to 1 percent, and decline = –2 percent or more.

    See the video Understanding BLS employment.

  • Hardship withdrawals

    Money withdrawals from an employee's retirement account that are due to financial hardship.

    Note: Hardship withdrawals usually are obtained at a lower interest rate than if the employee were to borrow from a financial institution. Although most early withdrawals incur tax penalties, hardship withdrawals do not.

  • Hazardous contaminants

    Contaminants such that exposure to them harms the respiratory system, eyes, skin, or other living tissue via inhalation, ingestion or contact.

  • Healthcare benefits

    Benefits in the form of preventive and protective medical, dental, vision, or prescription drug coverage to employees and dependents.

  • Healthcare reimbursement accounts (HRAs)

    Accounts allocate a declared pretax amount of earnings to an account used to pay out-of-pocket healthcare expenses not covered by their health insurance.

    Note: Money from these accounts can be used to pay deductibles, copayments, coinsurance, and other qualified expenses. Any money not used by the end of the plan year is forfeited.

  • Health maintenance organization (HMO)

    Health plan provider that assumes both the financial risks associated with offering comprehensive medical services and the responsibility for delivering healthcare in a particular geographic area, usually in return for a fixed, prepaid fee from members.

    Note: HMOs emphasize preventive care and cover most types of care in full or subject to a copayment. Traditional HMOs provides no benefits for services obtained outside the network. Open-access HMOs allow enrollees to receive services from a non-network provider at a higher cost than the enrollee would pay at a network provider.

  • Health savings account (HSA)

    Employee-owned portable account that uses tax-exempt contributions to pay for medical expenses. HSAs are used in combination with employer-provided high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) that have annual maximum limits on out-of-pocket and deductible expenses.

    Note: Other features include the rollover of unused contributions from year to year and tax-free interest.

  • Hearing loss

    Regressive change in hearing threshold relative to the baseline audiogram.

    Note: The baseline audiogram is an average of 10 decibels (dB) or more in either ear at 2,000, 3,000, and 4,000 hertz, and the total hearing level is 25 dB or more above the audiometric zero (also averaged at 2,000, 3,000, and 4,000 hertz) in the same ear(s).

  • Heavy vibration

    Vibration of one or more shaking objects or surfaces such that exposure to the vibration causes a strain on the body or the extremities.

    Note: Some examples of jobs in which heavy vibration is an issue include operating a jackhammer, a bulldozer, or a printing press.

    For more information on heavy vibration, see the ORS collection manual.

  • Hedonic model

    Regression model designed to isolate and measure the influence on price of economically meaningful product characteristics.

    Note: For instance, a computer can be disaggregated into characteristics such as speed of processor, hard drive capacity, amount of memory, and many other defining features that influence the computer’s price. These product characteristics enter a regression as independent (explanatory) variables, and the product’s selling price is entered as the dependent variable. The independent (explanatory) variables are “regressed” against the dependent variable, yielding implicit prices (regression coefficients) for each of the independent variables.

  • High-deductible health plan (HDHP)

    Health plan that typically features a higher deductible and lower insurance premiums than traditional health plans.

    Note: See Internal Revenue Service (IRS) minimum deductible amounts for coverage amounts. HDHPs include catastrophic coverage to protect against large medical expenses, but the insured are responsible for routine out-of-pocket expenses until they meet the plan deductible.

  • High school diploma or equivalent

    Award for the completion of high school or an equivalent program.

  • Hiring bonus

    Payment offered by an employer to attract candidates to persuade them to take a job with the company.

  • Hispanic or Latino ethnicity

    Ethnicity of individuals who identify themselves in the Current Population Survey (CPS) questionnaire as being Spanish, Hispanic, or Latino.

    Note: People whose ethnicity is identified as Hispanic or Latino may be of any race.

  • Holiday bonus

    Additional payment to employees made on a holiday as a sign of appreciation for their work.

  • Holidays (paid); paid holidays

    Days of special religious, cultural, social, or patriotic significance on which work and business ordinarily cease and for which employees receive full or partial pay.

    Note: Employees usually have these days off from work.

  • Home healthcare

    Skilled-nursing and therapeutic services for patients in their own homes.

  • Hospice care

    Nursing care and psychological support for terminally ill patients and their families, either on an inpatient basis or in the patient's home.

  • Hourly earnings

    Hourly rate of pay earned by a worker.

    Note: Data pertain to wage and salary workers who are paid by the hour and refer to a person’s sole or principal job. Hourly earnings for hourly paid workers do not include overtime pay, commissions, or tips received.

  • Hours of work

    Actual and usual hours of work.

    Note: For example, people who normally work 40 hours a week but were off on a holiday would be reported as having worked 32 hours even though they were paid for the holiday on which they did not work. Published data on hours of work relate to the actual number of hours spent “at work” during the reference week. For those working in more than one job, the published figures relate to the number of hours worked at all jobs during the reference week. Data on people “at work” exclude those employed who were absent from their jobs during the entire reference week for reasons such as vacation, illness, or an industrial dispute. Data also are available on usual hours worked by all those employed, including those who were absent from their jobs during the reference week.

  • Hours worked

    Total number of hours worked by wage and salary workers, unincorporated self-employed workers, and unpaid family workers to produce output.

    Note: Also known as hours, hours of all workers or number of hours.

  • Household; housing

    All people-related family members and unrelated people-who occupy a housing unit and have no other usual address.

    Note: The housing unit may be a house, an apartment, a group of rooms, or a single room, as long as it is occupied or intended for occupancy as separate living quarters.

    See household data taken from Employment and earnings, February 2006.

  • Housing tenure

    Tenancy arrangement of a family's principal place of residence during the Consumer Expenditure survey.

    Note: “Owner” includes families living in their own homes, cooperatives or condominium apartments, or townhouses. “Renter” includes families paying rent, as well as families living rent free in lieu of wages.

  • Immediate disability retirement benefits

    Benefits available upon the onset of disability or after a specified waiting period.

    Note: Early retirement reductions do not apply to immediate disability benefits; participants’ service credits cease to accumulate once immediate disability benefits begin.

  • Implicit combined inputs deflator

    Index of the change over time in the cost to produce output, relative to a base period.

  • Implicit price deflator

    Index of the change over time in the value of output, relative to a base period.

  • Imputation

    Process of filling in missing data in a survey by using statistical methods.

    Note: Most Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) surveys collect multiple kinds of data from respondents. When respondents’ information is missing, not collected, or incomplete, BLS uses models to fill in missing items of data.

  • Incentive-based pay

    Pay such as production bonuses or commissions, or pay based on piece rates or incentives such as production, sales, or output.

    Note: Nonproduction bonuses or those not tied to individual production or output are considered as part of benefits.

  • Incidence rate (injuries and illnesses)

    Number of injuries and/or illnesses per 100 full-time workers over a specified time.

    Note: The Survey of Injuries and Illnesses (SOII) calculates the incidence rate as (N/EH) X 200,000, where N = number of injuries and/or illnesses, EH = total hours worked by all employees during the calendar year, and 200,000 = base for 100 full-time equivalent workers (working 40 hours per week, 50 weeks per year).

  • Income

    Total money earnings and selected money receipts, including wages and salaries, self_employment earnings, Social Security, retirement benefits, total money earnings and selected money receipts, rental and property money received, unemployment and workers' compensation and veterans' benefits, public assistance, supplemental security benefits, food stamps, regular contributions for support (e.g., alimony and child support payments), money from care of foster children, cash scholarships, fellowships, stipends not based on working, and meals and rent as pay.

    Note: For the Consumer Expenditure survey, income includes all consumer unit members (14 years of age or older) during the 12 months preceding the interview. Income and earnings are two distinct concepts, although there are some similarities between them.

    For more information about income and personal taxes, see the Consumer Expenditure Surveys glossary: Personal income and taxes.

    See also the Comparison matrix of BLS compensation data sources.

    See also earnings.

  • Independent contractor

    Individual who identifies as an independent contractor, a consultant, or a freelance worker in the CPS Contingent Worker supplement, regardless of whether the individual identified as a wage and salary worker or self-employed worker in response to the basic CPS labor force status questions.

    Note: Workers identified as self-employed (incorporated and unincorporated) in the basic Current Population Survey (CPS) are asked, “Are you self-employed as an independent contractor, independent consultant, or something else (such as a shop or restaurant owner)?” to distinguish those who consider themselves to be independent contractors, consultants, or freelance workers from those who are business operators such as shop owners or restaurateurs. Those identified as wage and salary workers in the basic CPS are asked, “Last week, were you working as an independent contractor, an independent consultant, or a freelance worker? That is, someone who obtains customers on his or her own to provide a product or service.”

  • Index

    Measure of change in some quantity over time.

    Note: Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) uses several indexes to gauge certain economic trends. Examples include the Consumer Price Index (CPI), Producer Price Index (PPI), and Employer Cost Index (ECI).

    See also base period.

  • Industry

    Group of establishments performing the same or similar economic activities.

    Note: Establishments are classified by industry with the use of an industrial classification system such as the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS).

    See also NAICS.

  • Industry group

    Group of organizations that produce similar products or services.

    Note: For example, all establishments that manufacture automobiles are in the same industry. A given industry, or even a particular establishment in that industry, might have employees in dozens of occupations.

  • Industry input index

    Measure of the average change in prices for domestic inputs consumed by a specific industry or industry sector, excluding capital investment and labor.

  • Inflation

    Rising prices of goods and services over time.

    Note: When inflation occurs, the purchasing power of money declines. For example, if the inflation rate is 2 percent annually, then, theoretically, a $1 basket of apples will cost $1.02 in a year.

    See contract escalation.

  • Information capital

    Information that has intrinsic value and that can be shared and leveraged within and among organizations.

  • Initiation

    Data collectors' attempt both to get an establishment to agree to participate in a survey and to educate the establishment on the methods involved.

  • Injury/illness incidence rate

    Number of injuries and/or illnesses per a predetermined number of full-time workers.

    Note: Calculated as (N/EH) X 200,000, where N = number of injuries and/or illnesses, EH = total hours worked by all employees during the calendar year, and 200,000 = base for 100 full-time equivalent workers (working 40 hours per week, 50 weeks per year).

    See the video, "Worker safety data."

  • Injury or Illness

    Condition or significantly aggravated preexisting condition caused by or attributable to the work environment.

    Note: An injury or illness is considered by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to be work related if the criteria stated in the definition are met.

    See the video, "Worker safety data."

  • Inpatient care

    Treatment in a hospital or specialized facility.

  • Input

    Materials, services, and construction products purchased by producers for use in the production of a good or service.

  • Input-output price ratio

    Ratio of the aggregate price of capital services and labor hours to the price of the output.

    Note: The input–output price ratio is the ratio of the rate of rent paid for capital services to the price of the output.

  • Input price

    Cost of producing goods and services.

  • Insured plan

    Employer contract with another organization to assume financial responsibility for the costs of enrollees' medical claims.

  • Integration with Social Security

    Process whereby the employer's contribution to taxes falling under the Social Security Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) is taken into account when a retirement plan's benefits are computed.

    Note: Defined benefit plans may integrate retirement benefits with Social Security benefits. Integration may be accomplished by an offset or a step-rate method.

  • Intermediate demand

    Portion of the Final Demand-Intermediate Demand (FD-ID) system that tracks price changes, from a producer's perspective, of goods, services, and construction products sold to businesses as inputs to production, excluding capital investment.

    Note: The FD-ID system includes two parallel treatments of intermediate demand. The first treatment organizes intermediate demand commodities by type and is composed of three main price indexes: processed and unprocessed goods for intermediate demand, services for intermediate demand, and intermediate demand construction. The second treatment organizes intermediate demand commodities into production stages, with the explicit goal of developing a forward-flow model of production and price change.

    See the video, “Introduction to the Producer Price Index.

  • Intermediate inputs

    Goods and services used in the production process to produce other goods or services, rather than for final consumption.

    Note: Examples include energy, raw materials, semifinished goods, and services that are purchased from all sources.

  • Intermediate purchases

    Value of goods and services produced that are used as energy, materials, and purchased services in an industry's or sector's production process.

  • Intermediate purchases costs

    Monetary payments made for intermediate purchases that are used to produce output.

    Note: Examples include energy, materials, and purchased services.

  • Intermediate purchases cost share

    Proportion of the total cost of producing output that is attributed to the cost of consumed intermediate purchases.

  • Intermediate purchases productivity

    Efficiency at which intermediate purchases are utilized in producing output of goods and services.

    Note: Intermediate purchases productivity is measured as output produced per unit of intermediate purchases.

  • Intermediate purchases-to-hours ratio

    Change in the amount of intermediate purchases used relative to the change in the amount of labor used to produce output.

  • Internal limits

    Limits that apply to individual categories of medical care.

    Note: For example, a $250-per-procedure deductible for inpatient surgery.

  • Internal Revenue Code (IRC) limit

    Dollar limitation on benefits and contributions under qualified defined contribution plans.

    Note: Section 415 of the IRC provides for dollar limitations on benefits and contributions under qualified defined contribution plans. In 2016, the contribution limit was $18,000 per year.

  • Investment price deflator

    Change in the cost of a unit of capital services over time.

  • Item nonresponse

    Nonresponse in which a survey respondent answers some, but not all, questions or provides incomplete information in answering questions.

    Note: Item nonresponse is a source of nonsampling error.

    See imputation.

  • Item specification

    Description of an item (a good or service) that includes price-determining characteristics and any other information necessary to distinguish the item from all others.

  • Job

    Specific instance of employment.

  • Job leavers

    People who quit or otherwise voluntarily terminated their employment and began looking for work.

  • Job losers

    People unemployed as a result of involuntary job loss.

    Note: This group is composed of two components: (1) people on temporary layoff from a job to which they expect to be recalled and (2) permanent job losers, whose employment ended involuntarily and who began looking for work.

  • Job opening

    Job that remained unfilled on the last business day of the month.

    Note: Information on job openings is collected for the last business day of the reference month. Conditions are that (a) there is work available for the position, (b) the job could start within 30 days, and (c) the employer is actively recruiting for the position. Also knows as “vacancy.”

  • job openings rate

    Portion of all jobs (filled and unfilled) that remained unfilled on the last business day of the month.

    See also vacancy rate.

  • Job tenure

    Length of time an employee has worked for his or her current employer.

    Note: Data do not represent completed spells of tenure.

  • Joint-and-survivor annuity

    Immediate annuity for the life of the participant, and a survivor annuity for the life of the participant's spouse.

    Note: The amount of the survivor annuity may not be less than 50 percent, or more than 100 percent, of the amount payable during the time the participant and spouse are both alive. The annuity payable for the life of the participant is lower than that for a straight-life annuity; to account for the increased length of time over which payments will be made, this reduction may be a percentage of the straight-life benefit, such as 10 percent, or may be based on the life expectancy of the participant and spouse (an actuarial reduction).

  • jury-duty-leave-paid

    Leave providing a paid absence from work when one is summoned to serve as a juror.

    Note: Employer payments commonly make up the difference between the employee’s regular pay and the court’s jury allowance.


    Acronym for "capital, labor, energy, materials, and services."

    Note: Capital, labor, energy, materials, and services are the basic inputs into the production process. At the industry level, KLEMS multifactor productivity is the portion of sectoral output growth that cannot be explained by the growth in these inputs.

    See the video, "Ingredients for multifactor productivity."

  • Labor compensation

    Compensation to or on behalf of individuals for the labor services they use to produce output.

    Note: Also called labor compensation costs and compensation. Compensation may include salaries, wages, bonuses, contributions to benefits plans, and other forms of payment. 

  • Labor composition

    Age, education, and gender distribution of the workforce.

    Note: In constructing multifactor productivity, the labor composition is used to adjust labor hours for changes in the composition of the labor force.

  • labor force

    People ages 16 years and older and classified as employed or unemployed.

  • Labor force participation rate

    Proportion of the age-eligible population that is in the labor force.

  • Labor input

    Weighted aggregate of time worked by people of different age groups, genders, or levels of education in order to produce output.

  • Labor-management dispute

    Conflict between employees (typically represented by a union) and management or the employer.

    Note: Generally covers all types of conflicts, from a grievance to a strike or a lockout. Labor–management disputes are more common during collective bargaining or union contract negotiations.

  • Labor productivity

    Relationship between output and the labor time used in generating that output.

    Note: Measured as output per hour of labor, output per hour, or output per hour of all people.

    See the video, "What is productivity?"

  • Labor's share in costs

    Proportion of the total costs of producing output that is attributed to the cost of labor.

  • Labor union

    An organized association of workers, often in a trade or profession, formed to protect and further their rights and interests.

  • Laspeyres index

    Index that measures the change in some aspect of a group of items over time, using weights based on values in some base year.

    Note: For example, a Laspeyres index uses fixed-weight reference period quantities to aggregate prices. It answers the question, “How much more or less does it cost now to purchase the same items as in the base period?”

  • Layoffs and discharges

    Number of employees who were laid off or fired from a job during the month.

    Note: Includes layoffs comprising involuntary layoffs with no intent to rehire and formal layoffs lasting or expected to last more than 7 days. Also includes mergers, downsizings, or closings; firings or other separations for cause; terminations of permanent or short-term employees; and terminations of seasonal employees.

  • Leisure leave

    Paid vacation, paid holidays, and paid personal leave.

  • Life-cycle fund

    Self-balancing plan that shifts investments on the basis of risk over time.

    Note: Funds typically have a targeted retirement date, whereas initial investments are generally higher risk and are rebalanced into lower risk investments throughout the investment period.

  • Life insurance benefit

    Lump-sum payment to a designated beneficiary or beneficiaries of a deceased employee.

    Note: Companies may provide a basic amount of life insurance benefits, which may vary with an employee’s age, income, and occupation. Companies also may allow employees to pay for additional amounts of coverage.

  • Limitations on coverage

    Limitations specifying the maximum amount payable by the insurer for covered expenses incurred by the insured and covered dependents enrolled in a plan.

    Note: Plans can have a yearly or a lifetime maximum dollar limit. The most typical maximum limit is a lifetime amount of $1 million per individual. Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), as of September 23, 2010, employers with 50 or more employees were required to eliminate lifetime maximums on eligible medical care.

  • Linear interpolation

    Method of imputation executed by drawing a linear connection from the closest data point before a missing value to the closest data point after a missing value.

    See also imputation.

  • List price

    (1) manufacturer's suggested retail price of a good or service or (2) initial asking price of a good or service before any discounts or negotiations.

    Note: List prices can vary from actual transaction prices, especially when discounts are involved. Taxes and surcharges are typically excluded from list prices.

  • Loans (defined contribution plans)

    Funds borrowed with interest from a defined contribution plan.

    Note: Loan amounts often are limited to a portion of the account balance. They usually have to be repaid within 5 years, but longer payment periods may apply for home purchase or renovation loans.

  • Lockout

    Temporary withholding or denial of employment by management.

    Note: A lockout typically occurs during a labor dispute.

  • Longevity bonus

    Lump-sum payment paid to employees on the basis of their length of service.

    Note: For example, a government savings bond or an add-on to severance pay.

  • Long-term care insurance plan

    Health plan that provides long-term (more than 1 year) custodial care, home care, and nursing home care.

    Note: Coverage may be extended to active employees, retirees, parents of active employees, and dependents of active employees and retirees. Premiums are generally, though not necessarily, paid by employees. These plans are separate from coverage for extended-care facilities and home healthcare found in health insurance plans that provide posthospitalization benefits for a limited period.

  • Long-term disability plan

    Plan that provides a monthly benefit to eligible employees who, because of a non-work-related illness or injury, are unable to work for an extended period.

    Note: Benefits usually are paid as a fixed percentage of predictable earnings, up to a set limit. Most participants have a waiting period of 3 to 6 months, or until sick leave or short-term disability benefits end, before long-term disability benefits begin. Long-term disability benefits generally continue until retirement or a specified age, or for a period that varies with the employee’s age at the time of the disability.

  • Long-term unemployed

    Individuals who, at the time of the Current Population Survey (CPS) interview, had been jobless for 27 weeks or more.

  • Lost workdays

    Number of days (Monday through Friday, excluding federal holidays) that workers involved in a strike or lockout are off the job.

  • Lost-worktime rate

    Hours absent as a percentage of hours usually worked.

    Note: For example, people who usually work 35 or more hours per week may work less than 35 hours during the reference week for one of the following reasons: own illness, injury, or medical problems; childcare problems; other family or personal obligations; civic or military duty; maternity or paternity leave. 

  • Lump-sum payment

    Amount of benefits paid in one installment.

    Note: The participant may opt for a full lump sum, with no further benefits received from the plan. If a plan provides for a partial lump-sum payment, the participant receives a reduced annuity as well.

  • Major sector

    One of six broad categories of industries: business, nonfarm business, nonfinancial corporations, total manufacturing, durable goods manufacturing, and nondurable goods manufacturing.

    Note: Common major sectors are classified and defined within the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) National Income and Product Accounts (NIPA).

  • Major services (dental)

    Dental services that include procedures such as installing crowns and inserting prostheses (replacing missing teeth with bridgework or dentures).

  • Management incentive bonus

    Payment to managers or supervisors as a reward for their ability to direct the performance of a group of employees in their charge in the attainment of a specified goal.

    Note: For example, a manager may receive a bonus for having the highest sales.

  • Marginally attached to the labor force

    People not in the labor force who want and are available for work, and who have looked for a job sometime in the previous 12 months (or since the end of their last job if they held one within the previous 12 months), but were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey.

    Note: Discouraged workers are a subset of the marginally attached.

  • Marital status

    Status of individuals who are currently married or had ever been married, classified as either "married, spouse present" or "other marital status."

    Note: Terms used to define the marital status of individuals at the time of the Current Population Survey (CPS) interview are as follows: (1) “Married, spouse present” applies to husband and wife if both were living in the same household, even though one may be temporarily absent on business, on vacation, on a visit, in a hospital, etc. (2) “Other marital status” applies to people who are married with spouse absent (relates to people who are separated because of marital problems, as well as to husbands and wives who are living apart because one or the other was employed elsewhere or was on duty with the Armed Forces or who are living apart for any other reasons); widowed; or divorced.

  • Materials input

    Amount of commodities, in the form of intermediate materials, used to produce output.

  • Maximum out-of-pocket expense

    Maximum dollar amount a plan participant is required to pay out of pocket during a year, in addition to the plan deductible.

    Note: Until the maximum out-of-pocket expense is met, the plan and the member share in the cost of covered expenses. After the maximum is reached, the insurer pays all covered expenses.

  • Mean

    Mathematical average of a set of numbers, calculated by adding the numbers and dividing the total by the number of numbers summed.

    See also average.

  • Measurement error

    Extent to which a respondent's reported value differs from the true value.

    Note: "Text taken from D. Kasprzyk, “Chapter IX – Measurement error in household surveys: sources and measurement” in Household Sample Surveys in Developing and Transition Countries - • Questionnaire: the effect of the questionnaire design, its visual layout, the topics it covers, and the wording of the questions. • Data-collection method: the effect of how the questionnaire is administered to the respondent (for example, mail, in person, or diary). Respondents may answer Household Sample Surveys in Developing and Transition Countries 174 question+D317s differently in the presence of an interviewer, by themselves, or by using a diary. • Interviewer: the effect that the interviewer has on the response to a question. The interviewer may introduce error in survey responses by not reading the items as intended, by probing inappropriately when handing an inadequate response, or by adding other information that may confuse or mislead the respondent. • Respondent: the effect of the fact that respondents, because of their different experiences, knowledge and attitudes, may interpret the meaning of questionnaire items differently."

  • Median days away from work

    Median number of days of missed work due to injury or illness.

    Note: Median days away from work is the measure used to summarize the varying lengths of absences from work among the cases with days away from work. Half the cases involved more days, and half involved fewer days, than a specified median.

  • Metadata

    Information describing some object or resource.

    Note: Such objects or resources can include data, variables, datasets, questions and questionnaires, processes, etc.

  • Metropolitan and NECTA divisions

    Subareas of a Metropolitan Statistical Area or NECTA for which independent estimates can be derived.

    Note: Eleven Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) and New England City and Town Areas (NECTAs) are large enough to be subdivided into metropolitan divisions. MSAs and NECTAs are identified by five-digit codes in which the fifth digit is zero. The metropolitan divisions are also identified by five-digit codes—codes for metropolitan divisions all end in 4, so they can be easily distinguished from MSAs and NECTAs. For example, the Dallas–Plano–Irving, TX, Metropolitan Division (code 19124) and the Fort Worth–Arlington, TX, Metropolitan Division (23104) make up the Dallas–Fort Worth–Arlington Metropolitan Statistical Area (19100).

    See metropolitan statistical area and NECTAs.

  • Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA)

    Large population center, together with adjacent communities, that have a high degree of economic and social integration.

    Note: These communities are defined by the Office of Management and Budget as a standard for federal agencies in the preparation and publication of statistics relating to metropolitan areas. Consistent use of counties in delineating metropolitan and metropolitan statistical areas makes it possible to have comparable areas across the nation for preparing and disseminating federal statistics.

    See metropolitan and NECTA divisions and NECTAs.

  • Midwest

    Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.

    Note: See also census regions.

    For information on Census regions, see the BLS interactive geographic regions map.

  • Military leave (paid); paid military leave

    Paid leave from work when one is called to fulfill military commitments.

    Note: Pay may be either regular pay or the difference between employees’ regular earnings and the amount they receive from the military.

  • Minimum-wage workers

    Hourly paid workers with earnings at or below the prevailing federal minimum wage.

    Note: See the Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division webpage for information on minimum wage: and BLS Reports, “Characteristics of minimum wage workers.

  • Mitigation

    Full or partial elimination of hazardous conditions or exposures in the workplace by means of the installation of relevant devices or other equipment or through requiring the use of personal protective equipment.

  • Mode of collection

    Method or instrument used to obtain data from survey respondents.

    Note: Examples of methods used to contact respondents or obtain data are face-to-face interviews, phone interviews, the Internet, and mail.

  • Money purchase pension plans

    Pension plans that provide for fixed employer contributions, typically calculated as a percentage of employee earnings and allocated to individual employee accounts each year.

    Note: Employers also may make profit-sharing contributions to these plans at their discretion.

  • Multifactor productivity

    Efficiency at which combined inputs are used to produce goods and services.

    Note: Combined inputs include capital and labor (for major sectors) and capital, labor, and intermediate inputs (for industries). Multifactor productivity is measured as output per unit of combined input.

  • Multiple jobholders

    Employed people who, during the reference week, had either two or more jobs as wage and salary workers, were self-employed and also held one or more wage and salary jobs, or worked as unpaid family workers and also held one or more wage and salary jobs.

    Note: A person employed only in private households (a cleaner, gardener, babysitter, etc.) who worked for two or more employers during the reference week is not counted as a multiple jobholder, because working for several employers is considered an inherent characteristic of private household work. Also excluded are self-employed people with multiple unincorporated businesses and people with multiple jobs as unpaid family workers.

  • Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs)

    Injuries and illnesses affecting the muscles, bones, and connective tissues of the body.

    Note: MSDs include cases of injury or illness such as pinched nerves, herniated discs, sprains, strains, tears, carpal tunnel syndrome, and other connective tissue diseases and disorders.

    See also Occupational safety and health definitions.


    North American Industry Classification System; industrial classification system used by bls to group establishments into categories on the basis of the activity in which the establishments are primarily engaged.

    Note: NAICS was developed in cooperation with Canada and Mexico, and groups establishments on the basis of the raw materials, capital equipment, and type of labor they utilize. In other words, establishments that do similar things in similar ways are classified together.

    See also North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) at BLS.

  • Native born

    People who were born in the United States or in one of its outlying areas, such as Puerto Rico or Guam, or who were born abroad of at least one parent who was a U.S. citizen.

  • nature-of-injury-or-illness

    Physical characteristic of a disabling condition, including a broken bone, sprain/strain, cut/laceration, and poisoning.

    Note: The result of an incident is captured by its nature.

    See the video, "Worker safety data."

  • Near visual acuity

    Clarity of vision at approximately 20 inches or less, including the use of computers.

  • NECTAs

    New England City and Town Areas; geographic areas that are delineated by the Office of Management and Budget, using cities and towns in the six New England states.

    Note: For more information, visit State and Metro Area Employment, Hours, & Earnings.

  • Net change in assets

    Increase or decrease in the value of assets.

    Note: Asset changes include changes in savings and checking accounts; purchases of securities (stocks, bonds, or mutual funds) in the year in which they were held to the end of the year; sales of securities that were purchased in a previous year; changes in the balances of money owed to the consumer unit; sales and purchases of, and repairs and improvements to, own dwelling occupied by the consumer unit, a vacation home, recreational property, unimproved land, and other property owned by the consumer unit; changes in investments in unincorporated family businesses and farms; amounts received or reimbursements from the sale of vehicles; principal amounts of trust held on own dwelling, vacation home, and other properties owned by the consumer unit; and surrender of insurance policies.

  • net-change-in-liabilities

    Increase or decrease in monetary obligations.

    Note: Liability changes include changes in mortgage principal on own dwelling occupied by the consumer unit, vacation home, recreational property, unimproved land, and other property owned by the consumer unit; payments of mortgage interest due before either the survey year or the survey period; money owed on purchases of cars, trucks, and other vehicles; and money owed to other creditors, such as department stores, banks, credit unions, finance companies, insurance companies, doctors, dentists, and other medical practitioners.

  • New entrants

    Unemployed people who have never previously worked.

    Note: Before 1994, new entrants were defined as jobseekers who had never worked at a full-time job lasting 2 weeks or longer, and reentrants were defined as jobseekers who had held a full-time job for at least 2 weeks and had then spent some time out of the labor force before their most recent period of job search. These definitions have been modified to encompass any type of job, not just a full-time job, of at least 2 weeks’ duration. Thus, new entrants are now defined as jobseekers who have never worked at all, whereas reentrants are defined as jobseekers who have worked before, but not immediately before their job search.

  • NIPA

    Acronym for National Income and Product Accounts.

    Note: Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) economic account showing the value and composition of national output and the distribution of incomes generated in its production.

  • Nominal output

    Value of goods and services produced, expressed in current dollars.

  • Noncommercially insured retirement plan

    Plan requiring an employer to have liquid assets corresponding to the projected liability.

    Note: These plans must be registered with the Department of Labor and are guaranteed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). The employer assumes all risks and expenses of providing the benefit. Liquid assets include cash and assets that are easily convertible to cash.

  • Nondurable goods

    Products that are able to be used only for a relatively short time (life expectancy of less than 3 years) before deteriorating.

    Note: Nondurable goods include textiles, food, clothing, petroleum, and chemical products.

    See the video, "Introduction to the Producer Price Index."

  • Nonfinancial corporations

    Major sector that excludes unincorporated businesses and those corporations classified as holding companies or offices in the finance and insurance sector.

  • Nonlabor payments

    Value of output less the cost for labor services.

  • Nonproduction bonuses

    Payments to employees that are not directly related to their productivity.

    Note: Types of nonproduction bonuses include employee recognition bonuses, end-of-year bonuses, holiday bonuses, referral bonuses, and so on.

  • Nonprofit institutions

    Establishments operated on a not-for-profit basis as defined by U.S. tax law.

    Note: For more information, see research data on the nonprofit sector

  • Nonresponse bias

    Error in estimates that results from missing data.

    Note: Nonresponse bias can distort the outcome of a survey because respondents may differ from nonrespondents in meaningful ways.

  • Nonresponse error

    Error in estimates that results from missing data.

    Note: See nonresponse bias.

  • Nonunion workers

    Workers who are neither members of a union nor represented by a union at their job.

  • Northeast

    Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

    Note: See census regions.

    For information on Census regions, see the BLS interactive geographic regions map.

  • Not in the labor force

    All individuals who are neither employed nor unemployed.

    Note: Discouraged workers are included.

  • Not seasonally adjusted

    Not subjected to the process by which a data series is adjusted to account for seasonal economic factors.

  • Number of workers involved

    Number of workers who are idled for at least one full shift in establishments directly involved in a stoppage.

  • Observational studies

    Studies in which staff observe interviews being administered in a field setting.

    Note: These studies typically aim to identify problems in interviewer training protocols, instrument design, and questionnaire design.

  • Occupation

    Category of jobs that are similar with respect to the work performed and the skills possessed by workers.

    Note: "Employees who perform essentially the same tasks are in the same occupation, whether or not they are in the same industry. Some occupations are concentrated in a few industries, whereas other occupations are found in the majority of industries. In the Consumer Expenditure survey, occupation refers to the occupation in which the reference person received the most earnings during the survey period. "

    See also job.

    See the video, "A look at occupational employment in the United States."

  • Occupational group

    Group of related occupations that are based on duties performed.

  • Occupational illness

    See Injury or illness.

    Note: See the video, "Worker safety data."

  • Occupational injury

    See Injury or illness.

    Note: See the video, "Worker safety data."

  • Offset

    Portion of a participant's Social Security benefit that is subtracted from the plan benefit otherwise payable.

  • On-call workers

    Employees who are not permanent but are called into work as needed, often on short notice (although they can be scheduled to work for several days or weeks in a row).

    Note: This category includes workers who answer affirmatively to the question, “Some people are in a pool of workers who are ONLY called to work as needed, although they can be scheduled to work for several days or weeks in a row, for example, substitute teachers and construction workers supplied by a union hiring hall. These people are sometimes referred to as ON-CALL workers. Were you an ON-CALL worker last week?” People with regularly scheduled work that might include periods of being “on call” to perform work at unusual hours, such as medical residents, are not included in this category.

  • Open-access HMO

    HMO that allows enrollees to receive services from a non-network provider at a higher cost than the enrollee would pay at a network provider.

    Note: Added cost may be in the form of higher deductibles, higher copayments, or higher coinsurance.

  • Openings

    Establishments with positive third-month employment for the first time in the current quarter, with no links to the previous quarter, or with positive third-month employment in the current quarter following zero employment in the previous quarter.

  • Orthodontia services

    Dental work performed to correct malpositioned teeth.

  • Outlier

    Observation that is well outside of the expected range of values in a dataset.

    Note: The detection of outliers is a complicated task, and there is no single approach for dealing with them.

  • Outpatient care

    Medical or surgical care that does not include an overnight stay in a medical facility.

    Note: Outpatient care includes treatment in one or more of the following: residential treatment center, organized outpatient clinic, day–night treatment center, doctor’s office, and outpatient department of a hospital.

  • Output

    Amount of goods and services produced.

  • Output per employee

    Amount of goods or services an employee can produce over an interval of time, such as a year, regardless of the actual number of hours worked.

  • Output per unit of energy

    Efficiency at which energy inputs are utilized in producing output of goods and services.

  • Output per unit of materials

    Efficiency at which materials are utilized in producing output of goods and services.

  • Output per unit of purchased services

    Efficiency at which purchased services are utilized in producing output of goods and services.

  • Overall limits

    Restrictions that apply to all or most benefits under a plan, as opposed to selected individual benefits.

    Note: An example of an overall limit is a $300-per-year deductible that must be paid before medical expenses become eligible for reimbursement.

  • Owned dwellings (expenditures)

    Amount paid in interest on mortgages, interest on home equity loans and lines of credit, property taxes and insurance, refinancing and prepayment charges, ground rent, expenses for property management and security, homeowners' insurance, fire insurance and extended coverage, expenses for repairs and maintenance contracted out, and expenses of materials for owner-performed repairs and maintenance for dwellings used or maintained by the consumer unit.

    Note: Mortgage principal repayments are payments of loans and are shown in “Other financial information.”

  • Owner-occupied housing

    Form of housing such that the occupant owns the home in which he or she lives, rather than paying rent.

  • Paid absence from work when an employee is unable to work because of a non-work-related illness or injury.

    Note: The employer usually provides all or part of an employee’s earnings. Employees commonly receive their regular pay for a specified number of days off per year. Sick leave is provided on a per-year basis, usually expressed in days.

  • Paid time away from work (or pay in lieu of time off) provided on an annual basis and normally taken in blocks of days or weeks.

    Note: Paid vacations commonly are granted to employees only after they meet specified service requirements. The amount of vacation leave received each year usually varies with the length of service. Vacation time off normally is paid at full pay or partial pay, or it may be a percentage of employee earnings.

  • Paradata

    Data captured as part of the process of producing a survey statistic.

    Note: Paradata can include process data, such as data on the timing of a question or survey, user log-ins for online surveys, or errors triggered in the survey instrument; or observational data, such as interviewer evaluations of respondents’ concerns, neighborhood conditions, and interview data quality.

  • Participation in a benefit plan

    Fulfillment of applicable service and contribution requirements for eligible workers in an insurance or retirement plan.

    Note: Employees in noncontributory plans are counted as participating regardless of whether they have fulfilled the service requirements.

  • Part of body

    Area of the body affected by an injury or illness.

    Note: Area that is directly linked to the nature of the injury or illness cited—for example, back sprain, finger cut, or wrist and carpal tunnel syndrome.

  • Part time

    Less than 35 hours of work per week.

  • Part time for economic reasons

    People who usually work part time and were at work 1 to 34 hours during the reference week for an economic reason.

    Note: People classified as at work part time for economic reasons are sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers. Economic reasons are slack work or unfavorable business conditions, inability to find full-time work, and seasonal declines in demand. Those who usually work part time must also indicate that they want and are available for full-time work to be classified as part time for economic reasons.

  • Part time for noneconomic reasons

    People who usually work part_time and were at work 1 to 34 hours during the reference week for a noneconomic reason.

    Note: Noneconomic reasons are illness or other medical limitation, childcare problems or other family or personal obligations, school or training, retirement or Social Security limits on earnings, and being in a job in which full-time work is less than 35 hours. The group also includes those who gave an economic reason for usually working 1 to 34 hours but said that they did not want to work full time or were unavailable for such work.

  • Payment in lieu of benefit

    Payment to employees instead of the employer providing a benefit.

    Note: In some cases, the employer offers cash to employees who waive employer-sponsored benefits, such as sick leave or healthcare. When the employee accepts the offer, the employer passes the savings from the waived benefit to the employee.

  • Payroll deduction individual retirement account (IRA)

    Retirement savings account established by the employer on behalf of the employee, with no employer contributions and with the employee authorizing a payroll deduction by the employer.

    Note: The employee can open either a traditional (tax-deductible) or Roth (contributions are made after taxes but accumulate tax free until retirement) account with a financial institution. As long as the employer’s involvement is minimal, the account is not treated as an employer-sponsored retirement account and is not subject to the legal requirements of such accounts.

  • Pension equity plan

    Retirement savings plan based on each year worked, for which employees receive a percentage applied to their final average earnings.

    Note: Benefits generally are distributed as a lump sum but may be converted to an annuity.

  • Percentage of unreduced accrued benefit

    Method in which the participant's pension is not reduced to adjust for survivor benefits.

    Note: The participant will receive an amount equal to the straight-life annuity, and the spouse will receive a proportion of that amount, often 50 percent, should the participant die.

  • Percent change (in an index)

    Quantity calculated as [(index period 2 minus index period 1) divided by index period 1] multiplied by 100, or, mathematically [(index period 2 - index period 1)/index period 1] * 100.

    Note: Price change is usually expressed in percentage terms.

  • Performance-based stock option

    Stock option offered to employees only if certain company performance criteria are met.

    Note: Earnings-per-share targets are an example of performance criteria.

  • Permanent job losers

    Unemployed individuals whose employment ended involuntarily and who began looking for work.

  • Personal leave (paid); paid personal leave

    General-purpose paid time off not provided by other specified forms of leave.

    Note: Some employers place restrictions on the purposes for which personal leave may be used.

  • Personal protective equipment (PPE)

    Equipment used or worn to minimize exposure to serious workplace injuries and illnesses.

  • Personas

    Representations of a product's target audience(s) based on data, presented as specific details about individuals rather than general descriptions of whole groups, and used to guide design and ensure that users' needs are met.

  • Physical demands

    Levels and/or durations of physical exertion generally required for a worker to perform occupational tasks.

    Note: For more information on individual demands, see the ORS Visual Overview for Physical Demands Data Element.

    See also Occupational Requirements Survey: Visual overview for physical demands data elements.

  • Pilot test

    Small-scale preliminary study conducted to evaluate the feasibility of a system or project prior to its becoming operational.

  • Place of residence

    Location where a respondent resides.

    Note: This term refers to labor force data that are based on the location where a respondent resides. The data are typically from household surveys.

  • Place of work

    Usual geographic location at which workers carried out their occupational activities during the employment status reference week.

    Note: The terms “worksite,” “workplace,” and “place of work” are interchangeable.

  • Point-of-service (POS) plan

    Medical benefit plan that provides services through a network of participating healthcare providers.

    Note: Services received within the network or through select medical facilities generally provide more generous benefits than services received outside the network.

  • Poisoning

    Ingestion or absorption of toxic substances into the body, as evidenced by abnormal concentrations of such substances in blood, other bodily fluids, other tissues, or the breath.

    Note: Examples include poisoning by lead, mercury, cadmium, arsenic, or other metals; poisoning by carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulfide, or other gases; poisoning by benzene, benzol, carbon tetrachloride, or other organic solvents; poisoning by insecticide sprays such as parathion or lead arsenate; and poisoning by other chemicals, such as formaldehyde.

  • Population control adjustments

    Independent estimates of a population that are used to weight sample results to reflect population totals.

    Note: Developed by the U.S Census Bureau, CPS population controls are based on decennial census population counts, supplemented with birth and death data and estimates of net international migration. The population estimation methodology is available on the Census Bureau’s website. The Census Bureau adjusts the CPS population controls each year to include the latest information about population change and to incorporate any improvements in the estimation methodology. BLS introduces the annual population control adjustments into the CPS estimates with data for January. The adjustments may increase or decrease the estimated population level, depending on whether the latest information indicates that the population estimates had trended high or low. Conceptually, the effects of the annual population control adjustments represent cumulative over- or underestimation of the population since the last decennial census point.

  • Population inference

    Process of deducing characteristics of an underlying distribution from observed data.

  • Portability of assets

    Participant's ability to withdraw his or her accumulated retirement plan assets or transfer them to another retirement arrangement.

  • Portability of benefits

    Participant's ability to maintain and transfer accumulated benefits when changing jobs.

    Note: Portability provisions in defined benefit plans may cover portability of assets, portability of credited service, or both.

  • Portability of credited service

    Ability to receive credit for years of service with a previous employer when determining benefits with the current employer.

    Note: For example, an employee with military service may receive federal government credit for that service.

  • Posttax contributions

    Funds that employees establish as part or all of their retirement plan contributions after taxes have been deducted from pay.

    Note: Posttax contributions and their earnings are not subject to income tax upon distribution. This approach is similar to the way a Roth IRA plan works.

  • Preferred provider organization (PPO)

    Health plan provider that contracts with medical personnel to create a healthcare network that accepts a negotiated rate for services provided to members of the plan.

    Note: Participants may seek services from healthcare providers outside the network, but generally the costs are higher. The additional costs may be in the form of higher deductibles, higher coinsurance rates, or both, or in the form of nondiscounted charges from providers.

  • Premium (insurance)

    Charge for coverage of an insurance benefit for a defined period.

    Note: Premiums can be paid by employers, unions, or employees or can be shared by the enrollee and the plan sponsor.

  • Preretirement survivor annuity

    Lifetime payment provided to the spouse of a worker who died before retirement or prior to eligibility for retirement benefits.

    Note: At the time of death of the participant, the benefits become fully vested. The amount of the annuity is based on the benefit the participant would have been eligible for if retirement had occurred on the date of death.

  • Prescription drug plan

    Plan that provides coverage for outpatient prescription drugs.

    Note: Prescription drugs dispensed during a hospital stay are considered hospital miscellaneous charges.

  • Pretax contributions

    Funds that employees establish as part or as all of their benefit plan contributions before taxes have been deducted from pay.

    Note: Pretax contributions may include contributions to retirement plans and/or healthcare plans. Pretax contributions in a retirement plan are subject to income tax upon distribution.

  • Pretesting

    Administration of a set of methods for improving the validity and reliability of survey questions, tools, forms, or websites.

    Note: Pretesting can include the administration of methods such as cognitive interviews, focus groups, usability tests, and field tests.

  • Preventive services

    Healthcare services covered under an insurance plan that are designed to help keep people well rather than to treat existing conditions.

    Note: Preventive services include wellness visits, cleanings, and x rays.

  • Price deflator

    Factor used to adjust the value of currency over time.

    Note: A price deflator can be used to convert current-dollar values to constant-dollar values.

  • Private household workers

    Workers employed by private households to perform tasks related primarily to the operation of the household or about the premises of the household.

    Note: Private household workers include, cooks, maids, butlers, and outside workers, such as gardeners, caretakers, and other maintenance workers.

  • private industry employment

    Employment in businesses owned by individuals or groups of individuals.

    Note: Private industry employees include most corporate officials, all executives, all supervisory personnel, all professionals, all clerical workers, many farmworkers, all wage earners, all pieceworkers, and all part-time workers. Workers on paid sick leave, paid holiday, paid vacation, and the like also are covered. Workers on the payroll of more than one firm during the period are counted by each employer that is subject to unemployment insurance (UI), as long as those workers satisfy the preceding definition of employment.

    See also employment.

  • Productive capital stock

    Implicit amount of new investment that would be required to produce the same present-day services as the existing level of capital assets.

  • Productivity

    Measure of economic efficiency that shows how effectively economic inputs are converted into goods and services.

  • Professional employer organization (PEO)

    Business that provides a service under which an employer can outsource management tasks (e.g., employee benefits, payroll and workers' measure of economic efficiency that shows how effectively economic inputs are converted into goods and services compensation, recruiting, training and development).

    Note: The professional employer organization serves as the coemployer of the client’s employees for payroll, benefits, and related purposes.

  • Profits

    Portion of total income from the sale of goods and services that exceeds the total cost of producing those goods and services.

  • Provider network

    Group of healthcare providers with whom a plan has contracted to provide medical care to its members.

    Note: There are two categories of network provider groups: “in-network” providers and “out-of-network” providers.

  • Publishability

    Quality of data that meet all the criteria required for their publication.

    Note: The criteria may include confidentiality, statistical quality, and timeliness.

  • Purchased services

    Amount of outside contract work used to produce output.

  • Quality adjustment

    Method of adjusting prices whenever the characteristics of a good or service change because of innovation or the introduction of a completely new good or service.

    Note: For example, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) program uses quality adjustment.

    For an example of quality adjustment, see Quality adjustment in the CPI

  • Quality-of-life benefits

    Family and environmentally friendly work arrangements that are intended to improve the lives of employees.

  • Quartile

    Division of a distribution of values into four equal segments.

    Note: The lowest quartile ranges from the lowest value to the 25th percentile; the second quartile ranges from the 25th percentile to the 50th percentile; the third quartile ranges from the 50th percentile to the 75th percentile; the fourth quartile ranges from the 75th percentile to the highest value.

  • Questionnaire design

    Iterative process by which trained staff develop questions and instruments, focusing on issues such as the wording and order of questions, in order to reduce measurement error.

    Note: The process often includes multiple pretesting methods.

  • Quintile

    Division of a distribution of values into five equal segments.

    Note: The lowest quintile ranges from the lowest value to the 20th percentile; the second quintile ranges from the 20th percentile to the 40th percentile; the third quintile ranges from the 40th percentile to the 60th percentile; the fourth quintile ranges from the 60th percentile to the 80th percentile; and the final quintile ranges from the 80th percentile to the highest value.

  • Race

    Concept of dividing people into populations or groups based on various sets of physical characteristics that usually result from genetic ancestry.

    Note: BLS publishes data on the following race groups: White, Black or African American, Asian, Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander, American Indian or Alaska Native, and Two or More Races.

  • Random-digit dialing (RDD)

    Method of selecting survey participants by randomly generating a phone number, rather than drawing from a source, such as a phone directory.

  • Rate of change

    Ratio between a change in one variable relative to a corresponding change in another variable.

    Note: The denominator to calculate the rate of change is often time.

  • Real hourly compensation

    Average monetary payments made to individuals for an hour of labor service, adjusted for inflation.

  • Real output

    Value of receipts or sales, adjusted for inflation.

  • Real value-added output

    Difference between the output of goods and services and the intermediate inputs consumed to produce that output, adjusted for inflation.

  • Recent high school graduates

    People who completed high school in the calendar year of the survey (January through October).

  • Recordable cases

    Severe-to-fatal work-related injuries and illnesses that result in time away from work and are diagnosed by a physician or other licensed healthcare professional.

    Note: These cases include any work-related case involving cancer, chronic irreversible disease, a fractured or cracked bone, or a punctured eardrum. Additional criteria that can result in a recordable case include any needlestick injury or cut from a sharp object that is contaminated with another person’s blood or other potentially infectious material, any case requiring an employee to be medically removed under the requirements of an OSHA health standard, and a tuberculosis infection as evidenced by a positive skin test or diagnosis by a physician or other licensed healthcare professional after exposure to a known case of active tuberculosis.

  • Reentrants

    Unemployed people who previously worked but were out of the labor force before beginning their job search.

  • Reference person

    Person with respect to whom the relationship of the other consumer unit or household members is determined.

    Note: As a participant in the Consumer Expenditure survey, the reference person is the first member mentioned by the respondent when asked to “Start with the name of the person or one of the persons who owns or rents the home.”

  • Reference week (CPS)

    Seven-day period (Sunday through Saturday) in which CPS labor force questions ask about labor market activities.

    Note: "The CPS reference week is the specific week of the month used to determine the employment status of survey respondents, and the last week of the 4-week job search period used to determine unemployment status. The reference week usually is the 7-day calendar week (Sunday–Saturday) that includes the 12th of the month, with occasional exceptions."

  • Referral bonus

    Bonus given to an employee for recommending a qualified applicant who is hired by the organization.

  • Regular contacts

    People with whom a worker has an established working relationship.

  • Rehabilitation

    Therapy intended to restore someone to health or a normal life after imprisonment, addiction, injury, or illness.

    Note: Services can be provided on an inpatient or outpatient basis. Services include physical therapy, occupational therapy, and psychotherapy.

  • Reliability of estimates

    Extent to which an experiment, test, or measuring procedure yields the same results on repeated trials.

    Note: When a sample rather than the entire population is surveyed, there is a chance that the sample estimates may differ from the “true” population values they represent. CPS data are subject to both sampling and nonsampling error. The exact difference, or sampling error, varies with the particular sample selected, and this variability is measured by the standard error of the estimate. There is about a 90-percent chance, or level of confidence, that an estimate based on a sample will differ by no more than 1.6 standard errors from the true population value because of sampling error. BLS analyses are generally conducted at the 90-percent level of confidence. More information about the reliability of data from the CPS can be found at Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey, Reliability of estimates from the CPS.

  • Rented dwellings (expenditures)

    Rent paid for dwellings, and rent received as pay, parking fees, maintenance, and other expenses associated with rented dwellings.

  • Repricing

    Process of collecting and providing updated price data for selected items.

  • Research and development

    Set of activities directed toward the innovation, introduction, and improvement of products (goods and services) and processes.

  • Research participant

    Individual who voluntarily participates in a pretesting study, either in person or online.

    Note: Individual research participants may share one or more characteristics with the target survey population, but small samples of research participants are rarely considered representative.

  • Respiratory conditions

    Illnesses associated with breathing hazardous substances at work.

    Note: Substances include biological agents, chemicals, dust, gases, vapors, and fumes. Examples include silicosis, asbestosis, pneumonitis, pharyngitis, rhinitis or acute congestion, farmer’s lung, beryllium disease, tuberculosis, occupational asthma, reactive airways dysfunction syndrome (RADS), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), hypersensitivity pneumonitis, toxic inhalation injury such as metal fume fever, chronic obstructive bronchitis, and other pneumoconioses.

  • Respondent burden

    Actual or perceived effort or costs incurred by a respondent in the process of responding to a survey.

    Note: Respondent burden may be expressed as an amount of time used.

  • Response rate

    Proportion of sample units providing data.

  • Retention bonus

    Payment given by an employer to a current employee to retain that individual within the organization.

    Note: "A retention bonus is normally a one-time payment that is offered as an incentive to keep a key employee on the job during a particularly crucial event, such as a merger or an acquisition, or during a crucial production period."

  • Retiree healthcare plan

    Plan providing healthcare coverage to retired individuals beyond what is mandated by law.

    Note: Coverage typically includes provisions found in a medical plan, such as hospitalization and doctor’s care. The retiree plan does not have to be the same plan provided to active employees, nor does it matter whether the retiree pays the entire premium. Plans that cover only dental, vision, or prescription drugs are not included.

  • Retirement benefits

    Benefits an individual receives after retiring.

    Note: Retirement benefits apply to defined benefit pension plans and defined contribution retirement plans.

  • Reweighting

    Process by which specifications and weights are adjusted to reflect changes in the representativeness of a sample.

  • Rural population

    All people living outside a Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) and within an area with a population of less than 2,500.

  • Safety bonus

    Bonus given to employees for maintaining a high level of safety in the workplace, usually in a high-risk-injury work environment.

    Note: For example, warehouse workers may receive a bonus for experiencing no injury days during a quarter.

  • Salary

    See Earnings.

  • Sample

    Subset of a population, usually selected randomly and considered representative of the population.

    Note: For example, the Current Population Survey (CPS) monthly sample size is approximately 60,000 households.

  • Sample frame

    Listing of all units in the population from which a sample can be drawn.

    Note: See sample.

  • Sampling

    Process of selecting a representative subset of units from some population with the aim of making estimates about that population.

  • Sampling error

    Error in estimation arising from using a sample rather than the full population.

    Note: Sampling error can result even when no mistakes of any kind are made. To reduce the error, increase the sample size.

  • Savings and thrift plan

    Investment plan allowing employees to contribute a portion of their (usually pretax) earnings-all or part of which the employer matches-to an individual account.

  • Savings incentive match plan for employees (SIMPLE)

    Retirement plan limited to employers with fewer than 100 employees.

    Note: A SIMPLE can be either part of a 401(k) plan or established as an IRA. Employers must either make matching contributions of up to 3 percent of compensation or make a 2-percent nonelective contribution to all eligible employees. The employee is always 100 percent vested.

  • Savings plan with no employer contributions

    Cash or deferred arrangement plan used to fund savings and retirement plans authorized by the Internal Revenue service (IRS) Code.

    Note: This type of plan is authorized by section 401(k), 403(b), or 457 of the IRS code. Employees’ contributions can be pre- and/or posttax. Plans of this type are generally outside the scope of what is reported by the NCS.

  • School enrollment

    Attendance at a regular school–that is, an elementary school, a junior or senior high school, or a college or university.

    Note: Respondents are asked whether they were currently enrolled in a regular school, including day or night school in any type of public, parochial, or other private school. Regular schooling is that which may advance a person toward a high school diploma or a college, university, or professional degree. Other schooling, including trade schools, on-the-job training, and courses that do not require one’s physical presence in school, such as correspondence courses or other courses of independent study, is included only if the credits granted count toward promotion in regular schools.

  • Seasonal adjustment

    Statistical modification designed to remove the influences of predictable patterns over a year in order to allow more consistent comparison across periods, including months and quarters.

    Note: Some economic data exhibit 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. Seasonal adjustments make it easier to observe the cyclical, underlying trend and other, nonseasonal movements in the series.

  • Sector

    Group of industries engaged in similar economic activities.

    Note: In NAICS, the first two digits designate the economic sector, the third digit designates the subsector, the fourth digit designates the industry group, the fifth digit designates the NAICS industry, and the sixth digit designates the national industry.

  • Sectorally adjusted gross output

    Difference between the total of output that has been adjusted for changes in inventory (gross output) and the subtotal of goods and services shipped among related industry establishments.

    Note: Referred to as intra-industry and intrasectoral shipments.

  • Self-insured healthcare plan

    Healthcare plan whereby employers directly assume the major cost of health insurance for their employees.

    Note: Employers pay for employees’ medical claims, instead of paying premiums to insurance carriers. Self-insured plans can insure against large claims through the purchase of stop-loss coverage. Self-insured plans can also contract with insurance carriers or third-party administrators for claims processing and other administrative services.

  • Separations rate

    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, multiplied by 100.

    Note: See Total separations rate.

  • services sector

    Group of industries that includes wholesale and retail trade; transportation and warehousing; information; finance and insurance; real estate brokering, rental, and leasing; professional, scientific, and technical services; administrative, support, and waste management services; healthcare and social assistance; and accommodation (NAICS sectors 42 through 92).

  • Short-term disability plan

    Plan that provides benefits for non-work-related illnesses or accidents on a per-disability basis.

    Note: Benefits are typically for a 6- to 12-month period. Benefits are paid as a percentage of employee earnings or as a flat dollar amount. Short-term disability benefits vary with the amount of predisability earnings, the length of service with the establishment, or the length of the disability.

  • Signing bonus stock option

    Stock option offered to employees to encourage them to join a firm by giving them a chance to make a significant capital gain.

  • Simplified employee pension (SEP) plan

    Individual retirement account established by employers for eligible employees that allows employees to direct their investments and be immediately vested in employer contributions.

    Note: A SEP is a pension plan that provides business owners with a simplified method to contribute toward their employees’ retirement as well as their own retirement savings; contributions are made to an Individual Retirement Account or Annuity (IRA) set up for each plan participant (a SEP-IRA).

  • Size of the consumer unit

    Number of people whose usual place of residence at the time of the interview is in the sample unit.

  • Skilled-nursing facility

    Institution that provides rehabilitation and recovery services, as well as skilled nursing care, to patients who require less intensive treatment than that provided in a hospital.

  • Skin diseases or disorders

    Illnesses associated with the worker's skin that are caused by exposure to chemicals, plants, or other substances at work.

    Note: Examples include contact dermatitis, eczema, or rash caused by primary irritants and sensitizers or poisonous plants; oil acne; friction blisters; chrome ulcers; and inflammation of the skin.

  • Source of injury or illness

    Object, substance, exposure, or bodily motion that directly produced or inflicted an injury or illness.

    Note: "The source can be primary or secondary. For example, if a person is hit at work by a tool accidentally thrown by a frustrated worker, the frustrated worker is the secondary source of the injury and the tool is the primary source. "

  • South

    Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.

    Note: See also census regions.

    For information on census regions, see the BLS interactive geographic regions map.

  • Specific vocational preparation (SVP)

    Education, training, and experience necessary for a typical worker to learn the techniques, acquire the information, and develop the ability needed for average performance in a specific job in support of the job's critical tasks and functions.

  • Specified matching percentage

    Benefit whereby the employer matches a specified percentage of employee contributions to retirement plans.

    Note: This benefit is commonly used in savings and thrift plans. The matching percentage can vary by length of service, amount of employee contribution, and other factors.

  • Stage of processing (SOP)

    Former bls price analysis system that provided an index at three major stages of processing: crude materials for further processing; intermediate materials, supplies, and components; and finished goods.

    Note: The SOP aggregation system that the Producer Price Index (PPI) program used from 1978 until 2014 was replaced by the Final Demand–Intermediate Demand (FD-ID) aggregation system.

  • Standard

    Any document, established by consensus and approved by a recognized body, that provides for common and repeated use, and that contains rules, guidelines, or characteristics for activities or their results.

  • Standard Industrial Classification (SIC)

    System for classifying industries by a four-digit code (no longer used by BLS).

    Note: In the United States, the SIC was supplanted by the six-digit North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) in 1997.

  • Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system

    System used by federal statistical agencies to classify workers into occupational categories for the purpose of collecting, calculating, or disseminating data.

    Note: All workers are classified into 1 of more than 800 occupations according to their occupational definition. For facilitating classification, occupations are combined to form 23 major groups, 96 minor groups, and 449 broad occupations. Each broad occupation includes detailed occupations requiring similar job duties, skills, education, or experience.

    For more information about the Standard Classification system, see the Standard Occupational Classification homepage.  

  • State temporary disability plan

    State-required disability plan providing temporary income for a limited period to workers who are unable to work because of non-work-related accidents or illnesses.

    Note: California, Rhode Island, Hawaii, New Jersey, and New York require temporary disability insurance (TDI) coverage. California and Rhode Island mandated plans do not require employer contributions; Hawaii, New Jersey, and New York require employer contributions to disability plans.

  • Statistical computing

    Use of computer science to solve statistical problems.

    Note: Statistical computing is also known as computational statistics.

  • Statistical model

    Mathematical description that accounts for randomness in a real-world phenomenon.

  • Stock bonus plan

    Benefit plan in which the employer pays into a trust fund that invests in securities, including those of the employing company.

    Note: Upon the employee’s retirement or separation from the company, proceeds from the trust fund are paid out in the form of company stock or cash. This type of plan is financed by the employer or jointly by the employer and employee.

  • Stock option plan

    Contract between a company and its employees giving the employees the right to buy a specific number of company shares at a fixed price within a certain timeframe.

    Note: "Stock options are available only to employees of for-profit private industry establishments." See U.S. Security and Exchange Commission, Employee Stock Option Plans.

  • Stooping

    Bending the body forward and down by bending the spine at the waist and leaning down toward an object or the ground.

    Note: Stooping can occur in a seated position, although it occurs most often while standing.

    For more information, please see the Occupational Requirements Survey: Visual overview for physical demands data elements.

  • Straight-life annuity

    Periodic benefit payment that is made for the life of the retiree, with no additional payments to survivors.

  • Strength

    Capacity for exertion or endurance, determined by the amount of weight lifted or carried, the duration of lifting or carrying that weight, and how long a worker sits or stands/walks per day.

  • Strike

    Temporary stoppage of work by a group of employees to express a grievance, enforce a demand, or protest the terms, conditions, or provisions of a contract.

  • Suggestion bonus

    Payment to employees whose innovative suggestions to create better work processes and improve efficiency in the establishment have been considered or implemented.

  • Takeup rate

    Percentage of workers with access to a benefit plan who participate in the plan.

    Note: The takeup rate is one of three measures used to examine the incidence of benefits. The other two measures are access and participation.

    See also benefit incidence.

  • Target date fund

    Self-balancing plan that shifts investments on the basis of risk over time.

  • Task

    Distinct activity assigned to or performed by workers in an occupation such that the activity results in a meaningful outcome.

  • Taxonomy

    Classification into ordered categories.

  • Temporary-help agency workers

    Workers who are paid by a temporary-help agency.

    Note: This category includes workers who say their job is temporary and answer affirmatively to the question, “Are you paid by a temporary-help agency?” Also included are workers who say their job is not temporary and answer affirmatively to the question, “Even though you told me your job is not temporary, are you paid by a temporary-help agency?” To the extent that permanent staff of temporary-help agencies indicate that they are paid by their agencies, the estimate of the number of workers whose employment is mediated by temporary-help agencies can be overstated.

  • Text analysis

    Parsing of texts in order to extract machine-readable facts for the purpose of creating structured data.

  • Time-based pay

    Wages and salaries that are based solely on a unit of time, such as an hourly rate or an annual salary.

    Note: "Wages and salaries are tied to either an hourly rate or a weekly, monthly, or annual salary. Wages and salaries are not tied directly to production or output. Salaried earnings may be exempt or nonexempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)." See the Handbook of Methods for National Compensation Measures for more.

  • Time series

    Set of periodic measurements designed to be compared over time.

    Note: Examples of a time series include measures of labor productivity for a group of industry workers and measures of capital services for an industry’s capital assets.

  • Törnqvist index

    Index calculated by using a weighted geometric mean of growth rates.

  • Total compensation

    Employer costs for wages, salaries, and employee benefits.

  • Total separations

    Sum of quits, layoffs and discharges, and other separations initiated by the employer or the employee.

    Note: Other separations include retirements, transfers to other locations, deaths, and employee disability.

  • Total separations rate

    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, multiplied by 100.

  • Total unit costs

    Total payments (costs) for each unit of output produced.

    Note: Unit costs are measured as total income less profits.

  • Township

    Secondary local geographic area (used primarily in the New England states and New Jersey).

  • Traditional defined benefit formula

    Retirement benefit formula determined by a combination of average annual earnings and years of service.

  • Traditional fee-for-service plan

    Health benefit plan financing but not delivering healthcare services and allowing participants the choice of any provider without affecting reimbursement.

    Note: Employers pay premiums to a private insurance carrier to provide a specific package of health benefits. Some employers may choose to self-fund a fee-for-service plan, in which case the employer, as opposed to an insurance company, assumes responsibility for payment of all eligible benefits.

  • Transfers or rollovers

    Direct payments of plan benefits from a defined contribution plan into an IRA or another employer's plan.

    Note: In a direct transfer or rollover, the employee is not taxed on the payment until it is withdrawn or distributed later.

  • Turnover

    Sum of quits, layoffs and discharges, and other separations initiated by the employer or the employee.

    Note: See Total separations.

  • Turnover rate

    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, multiplied by 100.

    Note: See Total separations rate.

  • Unemployed

    People who had no employment during the reference week, were available for work at that time, and had made specific efforts to find employment sometime during the 4-week period ending with the reference week.

    Note: People who were waiting to be recalled to a job from which they had been laid off need not be looking for work to be classified as unemployed.

    See also alternative measures of labor underutilization.

  • unemployment_insurance

    Insurance that provides unemployment benefits to eligible workers who become unemployed through no fault of their own and who meet certain other eligibility requirements.

    Note: The state and federal Unemployment Insurance (UI) programs provide these benefits. Classification as unemployed in no way depends upon a person’s eligibility for, or receipt of, unemployment insurance benefits. For additional information, see the Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey page: How the Government Measures Unemployment: What do the unemployment insurance (UI) figures measure?


  • Unemployment rate

    Number unemployed as a percentage of the labor force.

  • Union membership rate

    Proportion of total wage and salary workers who are union members.

  • Unit capital income

    Amount of value-added revenue, for each unit of output produced, that is attributed to the use of capital.

  • Unit labor costs

    Compensation for labor services used to produce each unit of goods and services.

  • Unit nonlabor payments

    Costs for each unit of goods and services produced, excluding labor costs.

  • Unit nonresponse

    Lack of response to a survey.

  • Unit profits

    Corporate profits before taxes, with inventory valuation and capital consumption adjustments.

    Note: Total unit costs less labor costs are profits.

  • Universe

    Total number of units (e.g., individuals, households, or businesses) in the population of interest.

  • Unmarried domestic partner benefits

    Benefits extended to an employee's domestic partner.

    Note: To qualify for benefits, an employee may need to demonstrate that a partner meets certain criteria set by the employer. Domestic partner benefits can be available for both same-sex and opposite-sex partners.

  • Unpaid family worker

    Person who works without pay for 15 hours a week or more on a farm or in a business operated by a family of the household to whom he or she is related by birth or marriage.

  • Urban population

    All people living in a territory encompassing at least 2,500 people, 1,500 of whom reside outside institutional group quarters.

    Note: For the 2010 census, the Census Bureau redefined the classification of urban areas to “a densely settled core of census tracts and/or census blocks that meet minimum population density requirements, along with adjacent territory containing nonresidential urban land uses as well as territory with low population density included to link outlying densely settled territory with the densely settled core.”

    See also rural population.

    For an example of quality adjustment, see Quality adjustment in the CPI.

  • Usability

    Extent to which a product can be used by specified users to achieve specified goals with effectiveness, efficiency, and satisfaction in a specified context of use.

  • Usability test

    Experiment to observe typical users perform common tasks to uncover potential problems with using a system and to identify possible solutions.

  • User research

    Process of learning about the goals and needs of target user groups in order to provide helpful information about users that is needed throughout the development of a product or process.

    Note: User research is intended to be done primarily before development begins on the product or process in question.

  • User/stakeholder survey

    Survey sent to users, stakeholders, or customers to collect feedback on current products, programs, or other materials.

  • Usual hours

    Usual number of hours an individual works.

    Note: Usual number of hours determines a worker’s full- or part-time status.

  • Usual weekly earnings

    Wage and salary earnings before taxes and other deductions.

    Note: Usual weekly earnings include any overtime pay, commissions, and tips usually received (at the main job in the case of multiple jobholders). Earnings reported on a basis other than weekly (e.g., annual, monthly, hourly) are converted to weekly. Data refer to wage and salary workers only, excluding all self-employed people (regardless of whether their businesses were incorporated) and all unpaid family workers. Before 1994, respondents were asked how much they usually earned per week. Since January 1994, respondents have been asked to identify the easiest way for them to report their earnings (hourly, weekly, biweekly, twice monthly, monthly, annually, other) and how much they usually earn in the period reported. Earnings reported on a basis other than weekly are converted to a weekly equivalent. The term “usual” is as perceived by the respondent. If the respondent asks for a definition of “usual,” interviewers are instructed to define the term as more than half of the weeks worked during the past 4 or 5 months.

  • Vacancy

    Job that remained unfilled on the last business day of the month.

    Note: See Job opening.

  • Vacancy rate

    Portion of all jobs (filled and unfilled) that remained unfilled on the last business day of the month.

    Note: See job openings rate.

  • Value-added output

    Compensation of employees, plus taxes on production and imports, less subsidies and gross operating surplus.

    Note: Value-added output does not include intermediate inputs.

  • Value of production

    Output of an industry or sector, at a given level of aggregation, that reflects only deliveries outside of that industry or sector.

  • Variable benefit reduction

    Reduction for early retirement based on age and time necessary to normal retirement benefits.

    Note: For example, benefits may be reduced by 3 percent for each year an employee is between age 60 and the age of a plan’s normal retirement, as well as by 6 percent for each year that retirement precedes age 60.

  • Variable-dollar-amount benefit plan

    Benefit plan providing a dollar amount that varies with an employee's earnings and length of service.

    Note: For example, employees with 20 years’ length of service receive a benefit of $100,000, whereas those with less than 15 years’ length of service receive a benefit of $50,000.

  • Variable-multiple-of-earnings benefit plan

    A life insurance plan in which benefits are calculated by using multiples that are based on employee earnings.

    Note: Variable-multiple-of-earnings benefits is a method of calculating life insurance benefits that is based on thresholds for age, salary, and length of service. For example, employees earning up to $50,000 per year might receive a benefit equal to their annual earnings, whereas employees earning more than $50,000 per year might receive twice their annual earnings.

  • Variance estimate

    Estimate of the uncertainty caused by the use of a sample instead of the population.

  • Veterans

    People who have served on Active Duty in the U.S. Armed Forces and who were not on Active Duty at the time of the survey.

    Note: Nonveterans never served on Active Duty in the U.S. Armed Forces. Veterans could have served anywhere in the world during the following periods of service: Gulf war era II (September 2001–present), Gulf war era I (August 1990–August 2001), Vietnam era (August 1964–April 1975), Korean war (July 1950–January 1955), World War II (December 1941–December 1946), and other service periods (all other periods). Veterans who served in more than one wartime period are classified into only the most recent one. Veterans who served during one of the selected wartime periods and another period are classified into only the wartime period.

  • Vision care plan

    Plan providing coverage for the improvement of eyesight, including coverage for eyeglasses and contact lenses.

    Note: Coverage typically is limited and is subject to applicable copayments or scheduled cash allowances.

  • Wage and salary workers

    People ages 16 and older who receive wages, salaries, commissions, tips, payment in kind, or piece rates.

    Note: Wage and salary workers include employees in both the private and public sector. Union membership data and earnings data exclude all self-employed workers, both those with incorporated businesses as well as those with unincorporated businesses. “Wage and salary” is the worker’s hourly straight-time wage rate or, for workers not paid on an hourly basis, straight-time earnings divided by the corresponding hours worked. Straight-time wage and salary rates are total earnings before payroll deductions, excluding premium pay for overtime and for work on weekends and holidays, shift differentials, and nonproduction bonuses such as lump-sum payments provided in lieu of wage increases.

    To find information on pay and benefits, see the "Comparison matrix of BLS compensation data sources."

  • Wages (OES survey)

    Straight-time gross pay, exclusive of premium pay.

    Note: The employee’s base rate; cost-of-living allowances; guaranteed pay; hazardous-duty pay; incentive pay, including commissions and production bonuses; and tips are included. Excluded are overtime pay, severance pay, shift differentials, nonproduction bonuses, employer costs for supplementary benefits, and tuition reimbursements. See Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics, Frequently Asked Questions (section D, question 3).

    To find information on pay and benefits, see the "Comparison matrix of BLS compensation data sources."

  • Wages (QCEW)

    Total compensation paid, including bonuses, stock options, severance pay, profit distributions, the cash value of meals and lodging, tips and other gratuities, and, in some states, employer contributions to certain deferred compensation plans (such as 401(k) plans), during the calendar quarter, regardless of when the services were performed.

    Note: To find information on pay and benefits, see the "Comparison matrix of BLS compensation data sources."

  • Wages and salaries

    Regular payments from the employer to the employee as compensation for straight-time hourly work or salaried work.

    Note: "Straight-time wage and salary rates are total earnings before payroll deductions, excluding premium pay for overtime and for work on weekends and holidays, shift differentials, and nonproduction bonuses such as lump-sum payments provided in lieu of wage increases. However, the NCS does include production bonuses and commissions in wages and salaries.

    See the National Compensation Measures Handbook of Methods concepts section for additional information on wages and salaries.

  • Wealth stock

    Value represented by all existing assets.

    Note: Wealth stock is used to estimate depreciation, which is used in computing rental prices.

  • Weight

    Factor applied to sampled units or aggregates and used to make estimates of a population.

    Note: For example, sample weights are applied to Consumer Expenditure microdata to estimate total expenditures for an entire year.

    See also reweighting.

  • Well-baby care plan

    Plan providing coverage for preventive care for children 2 years of age and younger.

    Note: The benefit includes preventive pediatric care, routine pediatric care, and routine pediatric immunizations. Care immediately after the birth of the child is not included.

  • Wellness program

    Program providing a structured plan, independent from health insurance, that offers employees two or more benefits.

    Note: Employers may offer two or more of the following benefits: smoking cessation clinics, exercise/physical fitness programs, weight control programs, nutrition education, hypertension tests, periodic physical examinations, stress management courses, back care courses, or lifestyle assessment tests.

  • West

    Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.

    Note: See also Census regions.

    For information on Census regions, see the BLS interactive geographic regions map.

  • Withdrawal

    Removal of all or a portion of funds in a defined contribution account prior to normal payout.

    Note: Normal payout usually occurs after retirement.

  • Workday

    Weekdays Monday through Friday, excluding federal holidays.

  • Workers paid by the hour

    Wage and salary workers who report that they are paid an hourly rate on their job.

    Note: Historically, workers paid an hourly wage have made up approximately three-fifths of all wage and salary workers. Estimates of workers paid by the hour include both full- and part-time workers unless otherwise specified.

  • Workers provided by contract firms

    Individuals who were identified as working for a contract company and who usually work for only one customer, usually at the customer's worksite.

    Note: The requirements of usually working for only one customer and usually working at the customer’s worksite are imposed to focus on workers whose employment appears to be very closely tied to the firm for which they are performing the work, rather than including all workers employed by firms that provide services. The category of workers provided by contract firms includes workers who answer affirmatively to the question, “Some companies provide employees or their services to others under contract. A few examples of services that can be contracted out include security, landscaping, and computer programming. Did you work for a company that contracts out you or your services last week?” but who respond negatively to the question, “Are you usually assigned to more than one customer?” and affirmatively to the question, “Do you usually work at the customer’s worksite?”

  • Workers represented by unions

    Union members, as well as workers who report no union affiliation but whose jobs are covered by a union or an employee association contract.

  • Work level

    Measure of duties and responsibilities that apply to occupations, using an evaluation system based on four factors.

    Note: The NCS produces earnings data by levels of work within an occupation. The duties and responsibilities of a job are evaluated with the use of four factors (knowledge, job control and complexity, contacts, physical environment in which the job is performed) to determine a work level. Levels vary by occupation, ranging from 1 to 15. For example, level 1 may represent an entry level, while level 15 may represent master-level skills.

  • Work location

    Physical site where a worker performs the typical duties of his or her occupation.

  • Work schedule

    Number of hours a day, days a week, and weeks a year that employees are scheduled to work.

  • Work stoppage

    Strike or a lockout.