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

Harley Frazis and Jay Stewart

in Labor in the New Economy

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print November 2010 | ISBN: 9780226001432
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226001463 | DOI:
Why Do BLS Hours Series Tell Different Stories about Trends in Hours Worked?

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This chapter focuses on the Bureau of Labor Statistics differences in work hours. The number of hours that people work for pay is an important economic measure for labor utilization and it is also the denominator of other key economic indicators such as productivity and hourly earnings. Thus, differences in measured hours between surveys can lead to substantial differences in measured productivity and wages. The chapter mentions that the different trends in hours measures account for nearly all of the divergence between hourly wages from the National Income and Product Accounts, which use hours derived from the establishment-based Current Employment Statistics program (CES), and estimates from the household-based Current Population Survey (CPS). It tries to reconcile the differences between the CPS and CES hours series, and simulates the CES sample using CPS data to show how differences in the two surveys contribute to divergence in average weekly hours.

Keywords: work hours; economic indicators; Labor Statistics; national income accounts; Current Employment Statistics; Current Population Survey

Chapter.  12706 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Microeconomics

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