Why Do BLS Hours Series Tell Different Stories About Trends in Hours Worked?
AbstractHours worked is an important economic indicator. In addition to being a measure of labor utilization, average weekly hours are inputs into measures of productivity and hourly wages, which are two key economic indicators. However, the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ two hours series tell very different stories. Between 1973 and 2007 average weekly hours estimated from the BLS’s household survey (the Current Population Survey or CPS) indicate that average weekly hours of nonagricultural wage and salary workers decreased slightly from 39.5 to 39.3. In contrast, average hours estimated from the establishment survey (the Current Employment Statistics survey or CES) indicate that hours fell from 36.9 to 33.8 hours per week. Thus the discrepancy between the two surveys increased from about two-and-a-half hours per week to about five-and-a-half hours. Our goal in the current study is to reconcile the differences between the CPS and CES estimates of hours worked and to better understand what these surveys are measuring. We examine a number of possible explanations for the divergence of the two series: differences in workers covered, multiple jobholding, differences in the hours concept (hours worked vs. hours paid), possible overreporting of hours in CPS, and changes in the length of CES pay periods. We can explain most of the difference in levels, but cannot explain the divergent trends.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in its series Working Papers with number 433.
Length: 27 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2010
Date of revision:
Contact details of provider:
Postal: 2 Massachusetts Avenue, N.E. Room 2860, Washington, D. C. 20212
Phone: (202) 606-5900
Fax: (202) 606-7890
Web page: http://www.bls.gov
More information through EDIRC
of work; Comparison of household and establishment surveys;
Other versions of this item:
- Harley Frazis & Jay Stewart, 2010. "Why Do BLS Hours Series Tell Different Stories About Trends in Hours Worked?," NBER Chapters, in: Labor in the New Economy, pages 343-372 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Frazis, Harley & Stewart, Jay, 2010. "Why Do BLS Hours Series Tell Different Stories About Trends in Hours Worked?," IZA Discussion Papers 4704, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
- C81 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs - - - Methodology for Collecting, Estimating, and Organizing Microeconomic Data; Data Access
- J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2010-04-17 (All new papers)
- NEP-BEC-2010-04-17 (Business Economics)
- NEP-LAB-2010-04-17 (Labour Economics)
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Peter Kuhn & Fernando Lozano, 2005.
"The Expanding Workweek? Understanding Trends in Long Work Hours Among U.S. Men, 1979-2004,"
NBER Working Papers
11895, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Kuhn, Peter J. & Lozano, Fernando A., 2006. "The Expanding Workweek? Understanding Trends in Long Work Hours Among U.S. Men, 1979-2004," IZA Discussion Papers 1924, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
- Harley Frazis & Jay Stewart, 2007. "Where Does the Time Go? Concepts and Measurement in the American Time Use Survey," NBER Chapters, in: Hard-to-Measure Goods and Services: Essays in Honor of Zvi Griliches, pages 73-97 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Katharine G. Abraham & James R. Spletzer & Jay C. Stewart, 1998. "Divergent Trends in Alternative Wage Series," NBER Chapters, in: Labor Statistics Measurement Issues, pages 293-325 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- James R. Spletzer & Katharine G. Abraham & Jay C. Stewart, 1999. "Why Do Different Wage Series Tell Different Stories?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(2), pages 34-39, May.
- Daniel S. Hamermesh & Harley Frazis & Jay Stewart, 2005. "Data Watch: The American Time Use Survey," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(1), pages 221-232, Winter.
- Daniel S. Hamermesh, 1990.
"Shirking or productive schmoozing: Wages and the allocation of time at work,"
Industrial and Labor Relations Review,
ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 43(3), pages 121-133, February.
- Daniel S. Hamermesh, 1990. "Shirking or Productive Schmoozing: Wages and the Allocation of Time at Work," NBER Working Papers 2800, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Harley Frazis & Jay Stewart, 2009. "Comparing Hours per Job in the CPS and the ATUS," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 93(1), pages 191-195, August.
- Loukas Karabarbounis, 2014.
"The Labor Wedge: MRS vs. MPN,"
Review of Economic Dynamics,
Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 17(2), pages 206-223, April.
- Loukas Karabarbounis, 2013. "The Labor Wedge: MRS vs. MPN," NBER Working Papers 19015, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Loukas Karabarbounis, 2013. "Code and data files for "The Labor Wedge: MRS vs. MPN"," Computer Codes 13-63, Review of Economic Dynamics.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Gregory Kurtzon).
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.