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Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey

Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey Overview

The Current Population Survey (CPS) is a monthly survey of U.S. households conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau for the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The CPS provides a wide range of information about employment, unemployment, hours of work, earnings, and people not in the labor force.

Frequently requested information

Forms of publication

Latest news releases

Annual reports

Data available

Following is a sample of key data produced from the Current Population Survey.

  • Number of employed, unemployed, and labor force participation and unemployment rates by:
    • age
    • sex
    • race and Hispanic or Latino ethnicity
    • educational attainment
    • veteran status
    • disability status
    • foreign born and native born
  • Employed people by occupation, industry, self employment, hours of work, full- or part-time status, including involuntary part time
  • Unemployed people by duration of unemployment and general reason for unemployment (job losers, job leavers, and entrants to the labor force)
  • Discouraged workers and others not in the labor force
  • Multiple jobholders by full- or part-time status of their jobs
  • Median weekly earnings by demographic characteristics, occupation, full- and part-time employment status, union and non-union status
  • Number of hourly-paid workers with earnings at and below the federal minimum wage
  • Number of union and non-union members by demographic characteristics, industry, and occupation
  • Special topics such as displaced workers, employee tenure, school enrollment, and professional certifications and licenses

Source of data

  • The Current Population Survey (CPS), also referred to as the household survey, is a monthly sample survey of 60,000 eligible households conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau for the Bureau of Labor Statistics

    The survey is conducted using a combination of live telephone and in-person interviews with household respondents.

    The basic monthly survey gathers demographic characteristics of people in the household and information to determine whether they are employed, unemployed, or not in the labor force.

    Information on special topics such worker displacement, employee tenure, and military veterans with service-connected disabilities is gathered in periodic supplements to the basic monthly survey.


  • The civilian noninstitutional population age 16 and older in the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

    Active duty members of the Armed Forces are excluded.
    Also excluded are people residing in any type of institution such as correctional institutions or long-term care facilities.

Reference period

  • Generally, the calendar week (Sunday through Saturday) that includes the 12th day of the month.

    The November and December reference periods are sometimes moved a week earlier so that survey interviewers are not contacting households during major holiday periods.


  • Public policy planning
    • National labor force participation rate, employment-population ratio, and unemployment rate are key indicators of labor market and economic health
    • Number of discouraged workers who have given up searching for work
    • Estimates of hourly-paid workers with earnings at and near the federal minimum wage
    • Employment and unemployment status of veterans of the Armed Forces, including by period of service
    • Employment and unemployment status of persons with disabilities
  • General economic research
    • Primary source of demographic characteristics of the labor force, occupations, and industries, such as age, sex, race and Hispanic ethnicity
    • Most comprehensive measure of national employment (includes the agricultural sector, the self employed, and unpaid workers in family businesses)
    • Earnings by demographic characteristics, in particular, sex, race, Hispanic ethnicity, and educational attainment



Last Modified Date: March 24, 2020