Each month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) analyzes and publishes statistics on the labor force, employment, and unemployment, classified by a variety of demographic, social, and economic characteristics. These statistics are derived from the Current Population Survey (CPS), which is conducted by the Census Bureau for BLS. This monthly survey of the population uses a sample of households that is designed to represent the civilian noninstitutional population of the United States.
A set of precise concepts was developed in the late 1930s to address these various criticisms. The classification of an individual depended principally upon his or her actual activity within a designated period, that is, was the individual working, looking for work, or engaged in other activities? These concepts were adopted for the national sample survey of households, called the Monthly Report of Unemployment, initiated in 1940 by the Works Progress Administration.
The household survey was transferred to the Census Bureau in late 1942, and its name was changed to the Monthly Report on the Labor Force. The name was changed once more, in 1948, to the present Current Population Survey in order to reflect the survey's expanding role as a source for data on a wide variety of demographic, social, and economic characteristics of the population. In 1959, responsibility for analyzing and publishing the CPS labor force data was transferred to BLS; the Census Bureau continues to collect the data.
Last Modified Date: April 17, 2003