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Labor Force Status

Description: 

The American Community Survey (ACS) has been conducted on an ongoing basis for the entire country since 2005. Annually, calendar-year ACS results are released for areas with a population of at least 65,000. Due to the small sample size, single-year estimates are not available for less-populous areas. Combined estimates for three years of data are available annually for areas with a population of at least 20,000; five years of data are combined for less populous areas. The substantial sampling error present in the ACS is discussed in the data quality comments section below.

The ACS questionnaire asks respondents to supply various information regarding the employment of each person. From this information, the Census Bureau determines the labor force status of each person: in the Armed Forces, employed in the civilian labor force, in the civilian labor force but unemployed, and not in the labor force. On Arizona Indicators, the labor-force status is provided for all people age 16 or older and for those between 25 and 64 years of age. The unemployment rate also is calculated. Annual data since 2005 are presented for the United States and Arizona, but data for each of the 15 Arizona counties are limited to a five-year average due to the substantial sampling error.

Data Source: 

U. S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/nav/jsf/pages/index.xhtml. Annual ACS estimates are released in September; five-year averages are available in December.

Data Quality Comments: 

The Census Bureau publishes the ACS sampling error with every estimate, expressed as the margin of error with 90 percent confidence. The following is an example:

The estimate of the poverty rate in Maricopa County in 2009 was 15.2 percent, with a margin of error of + or – 0.6 percentage points. The interpretation is that there is a 90 percent likelihood that the actual poverty rate was within the confidence interval of 14.6 percent to 15.8 percent. A one-in-ten chance exists that the real rate was outside this range.

For the nation and other very populous areas, the annual ACS estimates are highly accurate. For moderately populous areas such as Arizona, sampling error is moderately large, so caution is urged in using the annual ACS data for the state. The sampling error for less populous areas, such as most of Arizona’s counties, is quite large, even when using five-year averages. Thus, considerable caution is urged in using the five-year ACS data for counties other than Maricopa and Pima.

The published margin of error should be taken into consideration when deciding whether to use a result from the ACS. Whether the reported sampling error is too large depends on the user’s purpose for accessing the data and on the volatility of the measure over time and across geographic areas.

iconLabor Force Status of Those 16 or Older, 2011

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Visualization Notes:

Compared to the U.S. average, a lesser share of Arizonans age 16 or older are part of the labor force. In 2011, the unemployment rate of those in the civilian labor force was nearly 1 percentage point higher in Arizona than the national average.

iconLabor Force Participation Rate of Those 16 or Older

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Visualization Notes:

The labor force participation rate of those 16 or older was consistently lower in Arizona than the national average between 2005 and 2011. The participation rate fell between 2008 and 2011, by more in Arizona than the national average, as job opportunities were scarce during a weak economy.

iconPercentage of Those 16 or Older Employed in Civilian Labor Force

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Visualization Notes:

The percentage of those 16 or older who were employed in the civilian labor force was only about 1.5 points below the U.S. average in Arizona in 2005 and 2006. However, the differential increased after that, to 3.7 percentage points in 2011, as the employment rate dropped more in Arizona than nationally between 2008 and 2011.

iconUnemployment Rate of Those 16 or Older

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Visualization Notes:

The unemployment rate in the civilian labor force rose substantially in 2009 and remained high in 2010 and 2011. The unemployment rate in Arizona was less than the national average prior to 2009, but was higher from 2009 through 2011.

iconLabor Force Status of Those 25-to-64 Years Old, 2011

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Visualization Notes:

Focusing on those 25-to-64 years old excludes young adults who may be still in school and not be fully engaged in the labor market as well as those of retirement age. Even excluding these groups, the labor force participation rate was lower than the national average in Arizona in 2011. The unemployment rate in Arizona was higher, with more than 9 percent of civilian labor force participants out of work in 2011.

iconLabor Force Participation Rate of Those 25-to-64 Years Old

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Visualization Notes:

The labor force participation rate of those 25-to-64 years old was lower than the U.S. average in Arizona in each year from 2005 through 2011. The differential between Arizona and the national average increased from 1.6 percentage points in 2005 to 3.2 percentage points in 2011. Presumably, the deeper and longer recession in Arizona caused more Arizonans to stop looking for work, causing them to not be counted as workforce participants.

iconPercentage of Those 25-to-64 Years Old Employed in Civilian Labor Force

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Visualization Notes:

Large declines in the percentage of those 25-to-64 years old who were employed occurred in 2009 and 2010, with the decreases larger in Arizona than the national average. Arizona’s civilian employment rate was 3.2 percentage points less than the national average in 2011.

iconUnemployment Rate of Those 25-to-64 Years Old

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Visualization Notes:

The unemployment rate of those 25-to-64 years old in Arizona was lower than the U.S. average from 2005 through 2008, but was higher than average from 2009 through 2011. The unemployment rate began to decline in 2011 as the economy began to recover from a long and deep recession.

iconLabor Force Participation Rate of Those 25-to-64 Years Old, 2007-to-2011 Average

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Visualization Notes:

On average between 2007 and 2011, the labor force participation rate of those 25-to-64 years old was about equal to the national average in Coconino and Maricopa counties and below average in the other 13 counties. In eight counties, the participation rate was at least 10 percentage points below the U.S. average of 78.2 percent.

iconUnemployment Rate of Those 25-to-64 Years Old, 2007-to-2011 Average

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Visualization Notes:

The average unemployment rate between 2007 and 2011 was considerably better than the national average in Coconino County. In five Arizona counties — including each of the three most populous counties — the rate was similar to the national average, but the rate was at least 3 percentage points higher than average in six counties.

Data Source

U. S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/nav/jsf/pages/index.xhtml. Annual ACS estimates are released in September; five-year averages are available in December.