Last Updated on October 7, 2023 by Robert C. Hoopes
Title: Strikes Influence US Employment Data According to Cornell University Study
Subtitle: Impact of Labor Disputes Seen in September Jobs Report as Thousands Participate in Strikes
According to Cornell University’s Labor Action Tracker, more than 450,000 workers in the United States have been involved in 312 strikes so far this year. The data reveals an increasing trend of labor disputes, which have an impact on the country’s employment figures.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is responsible for producing the monthly jobs report, which is based on two surveys. The first survey asks employers about their total workforce, while the second survey queries individuals about their employment status during a specific week.
It is noteworthy that striking workers are still classified as employed in the jobs report, as long as they received any form of compensation during the reference period, even if it was just for an hour. For instance, United Auto Workers members who were on strike during the reference week in September were counted as employed in that month’s jobs report. However, if the strike continues, they may not be counted in the October report.
The influence of labor disputes, such as the recent SAG-AFTRA strike, can be observed in the data included in the September jobs report. This exemplifies the potential impact that strikes can have on employment statistics.
On the other hand, strikes led by contract workers or freelancers, like the recent Writers Guild of America strike, might not be easily visible in industry hiring data sourced from payroll records. Nevertheless, these strikes would still impact the overall employment data since the survey used to calculate the unemployment rate captures almost all types of working arrangements.
The BLS categorizes an individual as unemployed if they have actively sought work in the four weeks preceding the survey, irrespective of whether they are part of a striking union. Therefore, if someone participating in a strike earned money from an alternative job, they would still be counted as employed.
To clarify, Cody Parkinson, an economist at the BLS, affirmed that a worker who participated in a strike for the entire reference period and did not hold another job would be categorized as employed but not at work due to a labor dispute.
The findings from Cornell University’s Labor Action Tracker shed light on the significant impact that strikes have on employment data in the United States. As labor disputes continue to occur across various industries, it is crucial to consider these factors while analyzing the country’s job market trends.
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