Labor Department to Delete Gender from Employment Surveys

If the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has its way, after July 2005 employers will no longer be required to provide data on female and male employees in their monthly payroll reports. The BLS cited a lack of demand for the information and not wanting to overburden employers as their reasons for the change to the Current Employment Statistics (CES) program. The current payroll survey provides detailed data, by gender, on employment, hours and wages of over 300,000 non-farm workers on a monthly basis. The agency will continue to publish other information on women’s employment trends collected in census surveys, reports Washington Post.

A letter requesting a reconsideration of the decision to discontinue publishing information on women workers after July 2005 is being circulated in Congress by Representatives Rosa L. DeLauro (D-NY), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Co-Chairs of the Congressional Caucus on Women’s Issues Shelly Moore Capitol (R-WV) and Louise Slaughter (D-NY). The letter to BLS Commissioner Kathleen P. Utgoff states, “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 represents a critical component of the Bureau’s work.” In their letter, the Members of Congress also question the use of census surveys as a substitute for monthly payroll survey citing that the “smaller sampling size produces a greater margin for error” and that “reliance on household introduces the possibility of subjective reporting bias that does not exist with the payroll survey.”

Also objecting to the planned change, Heidi Hartmann, President of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, said “Without accurate timely data, we may develop misleading pictures of employment changes for both men and women and institute ineffective policy solutions.”


The Washington Post, January 12, 2004; Institute for WomenÕs Policy Research

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