Program Overview

LAUS (Labor Area Unemployment Statistics) Methodology

The Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS) program is a federal-state cooperative effort between the North Carolina Department of Commerce, Labor and Economic Analysis Division (LEAD) and the U.S. Department of Laborís Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The LAUS Program produces monthly labor force estimates that include labor force, employment, unemployment, and unemployment rates.

Estimates are available for the United States, the State of North Carolina, and several sub-state geographical areas within North Carolina. These sub-state geographical areas include: 15 Metropolitan Statistical Areas, 24 Micropolitan Statistical Areas, 9 Combined Statistical Areas, 23 Workforce Development Board Areas, 8 Prosperity Zones, 100 counties, 41 cities and towns with population above 25,000, and 21 parts of cities that cross county boundaries. Additional statistical estimates including Labor Force Participation rates and Employment to Population ratios are available for the United States and the State of North Carolina. Estimates produced in the LAUS program are subject to monthly and annual revisions.

There are several different statistical methods utilized to produce the various LAUS data series.These include the signal-plus-noise models utilized for statewide estimates, the building-block approach known as the Handbook procedure utilized for counties and labor market areas, and the disaggregation procedures for cities. For additional information regarding the methods utilized in the LAUS program please see the LAUS Estimation Methodology on the BLS website. National and statewide data series on the NC Dept of Commerce website begin with January of 1976 with most other sub-state data series beginning with January of 1990. Some data series have later start dates that are dependent on population thresholds or geographical configuration changes. Earlier national data is available on the BLS website via the following link

Information utilized in the LAUS program include data from the Current Population Survey (CPS), unemployment insurance claims information, employment data from the Current Employment Statistics (CES) and Quarterly Census of Employment ant Wages (QCEW) programs.

The CPS is a monthly national survey of approximately 60,000 households conducted by the Census Bureau for the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which is utilized to produce the monthly labor force statistics for the Nation. The concepts and definitions utilized in the LAUS program are the same as those utilized in the national labor force statistical series derived from the CPS. Some of the fundamental concepts are listed below.

For more information regarding the LAUS program including additional data series please see the Bureau of Labor Statistics website For more information regarding the CPS, see the Current Population Survey program homepage.