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Mar 22 -- The Bureau of Labor Statistics, Department of Labor, invites comments by May 21, 2024 regarding the Work Schedules Supplement (WSS) to the Current Population Survey (CPS).

The purpose of this request for review is for the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to obtain clearance for the Work Schedule Supplement (WSS or the supplement) to the Current Population Survey (CPS), scheduled to be conducted in September 2024. This supplement was last conducted with the May 2004 CPS.

The results of this supplement will increase our understanding of work schedules (including shift work) and work at home for the employed by various demographic characteristics, occupations, and industries. The data will expand our understanding of current workplace arrangements and how those arrangements have changed over time. Policy makers also can use these data to inform the design of regulations for different types of workers.

Since the supplement was last collected in 2004, work patterns and policies have changed. The disruption of the coronavirus (COVID–19) pandemic has had lasting impacts on work at home and increased the demand for information about work at home. The Work Schedules Supplement provides information on the number and characteristics of people who work at home, including people who operate businesses from their homes. It includes items about the frequency of work at home and makes it easier to identify people who work entirely at home, a topic of interest for researchers and policy makers. For those who work entirely at home, there are new questions about whether they have a worksite they could go to and why they don't work there.

As work at home is more common than in the past, there is a need to have more information about the nature of this work, including identifying people who work entirely at home and quantifying how much people work at home. Policy makers lack information about hybrid work (combining at-home and on-site work) from a large-scale comprehensive labor force survey. For people who work at home some of the time, the supplement asks about hours and days of the week worked at home, including days worked exclusively at home. These items will shed light on the intensity of work at home. There are also questions about work at home on second jobs.

In terms of work schedules, the supplement includes questions to identify shift workers and the reason people work a non-daytime shift. Other questions ask whether people can vary their work hours (the time they start and end work), days worked, or shift worked. Other questions ask about how many and which days of the week people work (including items about second jobs). The 2024 supplement also includes a question about how far in advance workers know their work schedule. Researchers and policy makers can use these data to identify people who lack advance notice of their work schedule or may have unstable work schedules.

Because this supplement is part of the Current Population Survey, in which detailed demographic data are collected, estimates can be produced for a variety of population groups. Given sufficient sample size, comparisons will be possible across demographic characteristics such as sex, age, race, Hispanic or Latino ethnicity, and educational attainment. Comparisons by class of worker, industry, and occupation will also be possible.

This supplement will gather information on work schedules and work at home of the employed. Information will be collected to broadly categorize work schedules, including identifying shift workers and workers with flexible schedules, and people who work at home, including those who work entirely at home. The 2024 WSS will allow researchers and policy makers to evaluate how the number and characteristics of shift workers and people who work at home has evolved. Policy makers also can use these data to inform the design of regulations for different types of workers.

Because this supplement is part of the CPS, in which detailed demographic data are collected, estimates can be produced for a variety of population groups. Given sufficient sample size, comparisons will be possible across demographic characteristics such as sex, age, race, Hispanic or Latino ethnicity, and educational attainment. Comparisons by class of worker, industry, and occupation will also be possible.

BLS has conducted supplements on work schedules since the 1970s. The first supplement to collect data on home-based work was conducted in 1985. Work schedules supplements with questions about home-based work were again conducted in May 1991, 1997, 2001, and 2004, although changes to the questionnaire mean results from the initial supplements generally were not comparable with results from later supplemental surveys. An important purpose of the September 2024 supplement is to provide updated information that will be useful in gauging the growth and nature of work at home and changes in work schedules over time.   

The Work Schedules Supplement should be repeated in September 2024 to provide more current information on work schedules and on work at home and to provide a point of comparison with the data from May 2004. The disruption of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has had lasting impacts on work at home and increased the demand for information about work at home. Monthly questions from the CPS provide some information about telework, but lack comprehensive information on the frequency of work at home, hybrid schedules, and other characteristics of work at home. This supplement will provide the data to allow us to answer the many questions that surround work at home, as well as data used to track changing work schedule patterns, including shift work. This information—in combination with information collected in the monthly CPS, such as demographic and labor force characteristics—will help guide law makers to determine if new policies or regulations are needed for people who work at home.

CPS: https://www.bls.gov/cps/
Draft data collection instrument and supporting statement: https://www.dropbox.com/scl/fo/j2014ef3on15xswzhrv9l/h?rlkey=po3fcxsominlgzdmnmdc855b3&dl=0
FRN: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2024-06054

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