BLS Information

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Question: What types of hours and earnings data are available from the Current Employment Statistics (CES) survey?

Answer: National estimates of average weekly hours and average hourly earnings are made for the private sector, with detail for about 500 private industries as well as for overtime hours in manufacturing.

Hours and earnings are derived from reports of gross payrolls and corresponding paid hours for production workers, construction workers, or nonsupervisory workers in the service sector. The payroll for workers covered by the Current Employment Statistics (CES) survey is reported before deductions of any kind, e.g. for old-age and unemployment insurance, withholding tax, union dues or retirement plans. Included in the payroll reports is pay for overtime, vacations, holidays and sick leave paid directly by the firm. Bonuses, commissions, and other types of non-wage cash payments are excluded unless they are earned and paid regularly (at least once a month). Employee benefits paid by the employer, as well as tips and payments in kind, are excluded.

Total hours during the pay period include all hours worked (including overtime hours), and hours paid for holidays, vacations, and sick leave. Total hours differ from the concept of scheduled hours worked. The average weekly hours reflects effects of numerous factors such as unpaid absenteeism, labor turnover, part-time work, strikes, and fluctuations in work schedules for economic reasons. Overtime hours in manufacturing are collected where overtime premiums were paid if hours were in excess of the number of straight time hours in a workday or workweek.

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