Statistics: What you need to know

There are a number of statistics of interest to employers that indicate current economic conditions and employee compensation trends. Here is an overview of four of the most significant of those statistics. Three are released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a branch of the U.S. Department of Labor. Their website is at www.bls.gov. One is released by The Conference Board (Board), a private, nonprofit research organization. Their website is at www.conference-board.org.
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Payroll data. Each month, BLS collects payroll data from records reported on a voluntary basis to the Bureau and its cooperating state agencies by thousands of organizations. Monthly averages are calculated for nonsupervisory workers in manufacturing, mining, construction, transportation, public utilities, wholesale and retail trade, finance, insurance, real estate, and other services. These groups account for over 80 percent of the total employment on private nonagricultural payrolls.
The average hourly rate includes all payments that production or nonsupervisory workers receive during the survey period, including premium pay for overtime or shift work, but not including the value of employee benefits, irregular bonuses, and other special payments. This means that the numbers vary according to changes in (1) employee base pay, (2) hours worked, and (3) shifts worked and shift premium rates.
Current earnings/rate of change. This indicator includes the following statistics: (1) the latest average hourly rate—considered preliminary and subject to revision—for all production workers, and (2) the percent increase for selected 12-month periods (calculated using the formula new rate minus old rate, ...

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