IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/iza/izadps/dp4704.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Why Do BLS Hours Series Tell Different Stories About Trends in Hours Worked?

Author

Listed:
  • Frazis, Harley

    () (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

  • Stewart, Jay

    () (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Abstract

Hours 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.

Suggested Citation

  • 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).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp4704
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://ftp.iza.org/dp4704.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. Daniel S. Hamermesh, 1990. "Shirking or Productive Schmoozing: Wages and the Allocation of Time at Work," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 43(3), pages 121-1-133-, April.
    4. 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.
    5. 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.
    6. 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.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Champagne, Julien & Kurmann, André & Stewart, Jay, 2017. "Reconciling the divergence in aggregate U.S. wage series," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 27-41.
    2. Michael C. Burda & Daniel S. Hamermesh & Jay Stewart, 2013. "Cyclical Variation in Labor Hours and Productivity Using the ATUS," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(3), pages 99-104, May.
    3. 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.
    4. Jay Stewart, 2014. "The importance and challenges of measuring work hours," IZA World of Labor, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA), pages 1-95, November.
    5. Harley Frazis & Jay Stewart, 2009. "Comparing Hours per Job in the CPS and the ATUS," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 93(1), pages 191-195, August.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    comparison of household and establishment surveys; hours of work;

    JEL classification:

    • 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

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp4704. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Mark Fallak). General contact details of provider: http://www.iza.org .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.