Local Area Unemployment Statistics

Civilian Noninstitutional Population and Associated Rate and Ratio Measures for Model-Based Areas

The Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS) program of the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) publishes four data measures—labor force, employment, unemployment, and unemployment rate—on a monthly basis for approximately 7,400 subnational areas. (See labor force concepts.) Data for about one percent of the LAUS areas are model-based. These model-based areas include all census regions and divisions, the 50 states and the District of Columbia, the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, CA Metropolitan Division and New York city, NY, and a handful of other large metropolitan areas and metropolitan divisions and associated balance-of-state areas.

For the LAUS model-based areas, BLS obtains estimates of the civilian noninstitutional population ages 16 and older, which is the universe for labor force data, from the Census Bureau. These population estimates are used to adjust labor force level (that is, number-of-person) measures to be consistent with the Census Bureau’s most up-to-date information on the distribution of population across states. Labor force level measures for all LAUS areas are controlled to the Census Bureau’s statewide estimates of civilian noninstitutional population ages 16 and older through a process of additivity. (See the page on LAUS estimation methodology, and particularly the section on substate labor market areas, for more on additivity.) These Census Bureau population data also allow BLS to calculate labor force participation rates and employment-population ratios for the LAUS model-based areas.

The statewide data files below include monthly estimates of civilian noninstitutional population, labor force participation rates, and employment-population ratios for the 50 states and the District of Columbia from January 1976 forward. Data are presented on both seasonally-adjusted and not-seasonally-adjusted bases. Series for civilian noninstitutional population ages 16 and older are not available on a seasonally-adjusted basis. Thus, the statewide population estimates are the same in both sets of monthly data files. Differences between monthly seasonally-adjusted and not-seasonally-adjusted labor force participation rates and employment-population ratios are determined by the seasonal components of the LAUS labor force and employment levels, respectively. Similarly, the standard error measures associated with the labor force participation rates and employment-population ratios for the current month are determined by the standard errors on the corresponding LAUS level measures. Error measures for current unemployment rates, by contrast, reflect standard errors of the underlying employment and unemployment levels.

At the beginning of each year, the four LAUS measures are typically revised for the previous five years as updated inputs to the models become available. For the latest annual processing cycle, both smoothed-seasonally-adjusted data and not-seasonally-adjusted data for all model-based areas were revised back to January 2009 on February 28, 2014. The Census Bureau estimates of civilian noninstitutional population ages 16 and older are each year revised back to the base period for post-censal estimation, currently April 2010. Changes to not-seasonally-adjusted labor force participation rates and employment-population ratios from January 2009 forward reflect model-based reestimation of the underlying labor force and employment levels. Changes to smoothed-seasonally-adjusted labor force participation rates and employment-population ratios from January 2009 forward reflect model-based reestimation and re-seasonal adjustment of the underlying labor force and employment levels. Changes to both not-seasonally-adjusted and smoothed-seasonally-adjusted rates and ratios from April 2010 forward reflect, in addition, the updated estimates of civilian noninstitutional population ages 16 and older.

Labor Force Concepts

The civilian noninstitutional population consists of persons 16 years of age and older residing in the 50 States and the District of Columbia who are not inmates of institutions (for example, penal and mental facilities and homes for the aged) and who are not on active duty in the Armed Forces. California is the most populous State, with about 29.7 million persons in this category in 2013; Wyoming is the least populous State, with approximately 450,000 persons.

Employment consists of all persons who, during the reference week (the calendar week including the twelfth day of the month), (a) 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 the family, or (b) were not working but had jobs or businesses from which they were temporarily absent because of vacation, illness, bad weather, childcare problems, maternity or paternity leave, labor-management dispute, job training, or other family or personal reasons, whether or not they were paid for the time off or were seeking other jobs. Employment in 2013 ranged from 16.9 million in California down to 292,000 in Wyoming.

Unemployment consists of all persons who had no employment during the reference week, were available for work, except for temporary illness, and had made specific efforts to find employment some time during the 4-week period ending with the reference week. Persons who were waiting to be recalled to a job from which they had been laid off need not have been looking for work to be classified as unemployed. The extremes in 2013 were represented by California (1.7 million) and North Dakota (12,000).

The civilian labor force consists of all persons classified as employed or unemployed as described above. California (18.6 million) and Wyoming (306,000) had the largest and smallest labor force levels, respectively, in 2013.

The labor force participation rate represents the proportion of the civilian noninstitutional population that is in the labor force. This measure of labor force activity grew from about 60 percent nationally in 1970 to about 67 percent in 2000, with much of the increase resulting from increased participation by women. In 2013, the participation rates ranged across States from 72.0 percent in Nebraska to 53.5 percent in West Virginia.

The employment-population ratio represents the proportion of the civilian noninstitutional population that is employed. Some analysts prefer this measure over the unemployment rate as a measure of economic activity and the economy’s performance. North Dakota and West Virginia had the extreme employment-population ratios in 2013, 69.4 and 50.1 percent, respectively.

The unemployment rate is the number of unemployed as a percent of the civilian labor force. Unemployment rates move inversely with the business cycle, sometimes with a lag. In 2013, unemployment rates ranged from a low of 2.9 percent in North Dakota to a high of 9.8 percent in Nevada.

Statewide Data

Monthly Error Information

Last Modified Date: April 18, 2014

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