January 10, 2005
Commissioner Kathleen P. Utgoff
Bureau of Labor Statistics
Postal Square Building
2 Massachusetts Ave., NE
Washington, DC 20212-0001
Dear Commissioner Utgoff:
I am writing to express my concern about the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ recently announced decision to discontinue data collection on women workers in the Current Employment Statistics (CES) survey after July 2005.
As you know, the CES survey of payroll records covers over 300,000 businesses and provides detailed industry data on employment, hours, and earnings of non-farm workers on a monthly basis. As such, it represents a critical, ongoing source of employment information for policymakers and researchers. With a gender breakdown, the payroll survey is capable of painting a reliable picture of where women are working across industries and business cycles. Without a gender breakdown, that picture becomes far more difficult to obtain. This picture is very important for unions and other organizations concerned with the conditions and rights of women in the work force.
We do not believe the Current Population Survey (CPS) is an adequate substitute for the CES. While the CPS is valuable for other types of information, its smaller sampling size produces a greater margin for error than the CES survey, as the Bureau itself has noted. In addition, the CPS’ reliance on household interviews introduces the possibility of subjective reporting bias that does not exist with the payroll survey.
The Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO is an umbrella organization for 25 national unions representing more than four million professional, technical and administrative support employees. The overwhelming majority of these are women. While we appreciate the Bureau’s interest in continuously evaluating and improving the data it collects, as well as reducing respondent burden, we believe the compilation of women worker data in the CES survey represents a critical component of the Bureau’s work. Therefore, we respectfully request that you reconsider this decision and continue publishing women worker information in the CES after July 2005.
Thank you for your consideration of this request.
Paul E. Almeida