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Oct 11 -- The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Department of Labor, invites comments to OMB by November 10, 2023 regarding revisions in the Current Population Survey (CPS) Basic Labor Force.

The CPS has been the principal source of the official Government statistics on employment and unemployment for over 75 years. The BLS and the Census Bureau share the responsibility for this survey and submit two separate clearance requests that reflect the way in which the two agencies divide the responsibilities for the analysis and dissemination of the data from the survey. The Census Bureau will be submitting a request for clearance for the collection of the basic demographic information on the population being sampled. BLS is requesting a renewal of Office of Management and Budget (OMB) clearance for the collection of the labor force information that it analyzes and publishes monthly.  

BLS is seeking approval to remove two questions that collected information about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on where people worked. These questions, which ask about telework or work at home in February 2020, have been included on the CPS since October 2022 to measure the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the labor force. BLS feels that enough time has passed since the onset of the pandemic and its impact on how people work. These questions shown in Attachment F would not provide meaningful data going forward and BLS plans to remove them starting during the December collection period.

The labor force information gathered through the survey is of paramount importance in keeping track of the economic health of the Nation. The survey is the official source of monthly data on total employment and unemployment, and the monthly Employment Situation news release is designated as a Principal Federal Economic Indicator (PFEI). The CPS data are used monthly, in conjunction with data from other sources, to analyze the extent to which the various components of the American population are participating in the economic life of the Nation.

The labor force data gathered through the CPS are provided to users in the greatest detail possible, consistent with the demographic information obtained in the survey. In brief, the labor force data can be broken down by sex, age, race, ethnicity, marital status, family composition, educational level, certification and licensing status, disability status, veteran status, and various other characteristics. Through such breakdowns, one can focus on the employment situation of specific population groups as well as on the general trends in employment and unemployment. Moreover, the survey yields data on the characteristics of people who have stopped looking for work because they believe no jobs are available, also referred to as discouraged workers. Information of this type can be obtained only through demographically-oriented surveys such as the CPS.

In addition to being a source of much detailed data at the national level, the CPS provides information that is crucial for examining the employment situation at the sub-national level. For 48 states, the District of Columbia, Los Angeles County and the balance of California, and New York city and the balance of New York state, monthly data are produced using time-series models, which combine current and historical data from the CPS with data from other survey and administrative sources.

The basic CPS data are also used as an important platform on which to base the data derived from the various supplemental questions administered in conjunction with the survey. By coupling the basic data from the monthly survey with the special data from supplements, one can gain valuable insights on the behavior of American workers and on the social and economic health of their families. For example, recent supplements have produced data on poverty, health insurance, income, displaced workers, and veterans with service-connected disabilities.

Labor Force Statistics from the CPS: https://www.bls.gov/cps/
BLS submission to OMB: https://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAViewICR?ref_nbr=202305-1220-004 Click on IC List for questionnaire, View Supporting Statement for technical documentation. Submit comments through this site.
FR notice inviting public comment: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2023-22435
For AEA members wishing to submit comments, "A Primer on How to Respond to Calls for Comment on Federal Data Collections" is available at https://www.aeaweb.org/content/file?id=5806

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