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.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 4704.
Length: 49 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2010
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Katharine G. Abraham, Michael J. Harper, and James R. Spletzer (eds.), Labor in the New Economy, NBER Studies in Income and Wealth, University of Chicago Press, 2010, 343-372
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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.
- Harley Frazis & Jay Stewart, 2010. "Why Do BLS Hours Series Tell Different Stories About Trends in Hours Worked?," Working Papers 433, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- 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-2010-02-13 (All new papers)
- NEP-BEC-2010-02-13 (Business Economics)
- NEP-LAB-2010-02-13 (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.:
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