February 12, 2009

Unemployment Rose Sharply Among Latino Immigrants in 2008

Appendix A: Revisions of the CPS

Each January, the U.S. Census Bureau makes adjustments to the population controls in the Current Population Survey. These adjustments are typically based on revised estimates of net international migration and updated vital statistics. According to a note released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (“Adjustments to Household Survey Population Estimates in January 2008”), the cumulative effect of the adjustment in January 2008 was to reduce the estimate of the Hispanic working-age population by 349,000, the Hispanic labor force by 270,000 and the number of employed Hispanics by 252,000.

The BLS has also published a methodology that can be used to adjust previously published CPS data for the effects of ongoing January revisions (see “Creating Comparability in CPS Employment Series,” by Marisa L. Di Natale). That methodology was applied to make revisions to estimates of the Hispanic population, labor force and employment in 2007 and earlier years.

It is assumed in this report that the principal force underlying revisions in the CPS population controls is revised estimates of net international migration. In principle, that means some of the revision could be attributed to emigration by second- and third-generation Hispanics. However, that effect is assumed to be negligible in the current analysis, and the full extent of the CPS revision for Hispanics was assumed to apply to first-generation Hispanics arriving in the U.S. in 2000 or later. Previously computed distributions of the Hispanic first generation by education, age, industry, occupation and other categories were then utilized to distribute the total change in the Hispanic population along those dimensions.

The January 2008 revisions also affected estimates of the non-Hispanic population. The estimates for all non-Hispanics are adjusted to reflect those revisions. However, no adjustments were made to the data for non-Hispanic whites, blacks, Asians and others. For whites and blacks, those revisions were relatively small in proportion to their working-age population and have a negligible effect on comparability of the data over time. However, estimates of the working-age population, labor force, employment and unemployment of non-Hispanic Asians are sensitive to the effects of CPS revisions and should be treated with caution. Rates—for employment, labor force participation and unemployment—are not affected by the January CPS revisions.

About the Report

This report updates labor market trends for Hispanics and other workers through the fourth quarter of 2008, capturing the first full year of the recession. The data for this report are derived from the Current Population Survey, a monthly survey of about 55,000 households conducted jointly by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Census Bureau. Data from three monthly surveys were combined to create larger sample sizes and to conduct the analysis on a quarterly basis.

A Note on Terminology

The terms “Latino” and “Hispanic” are used interchangeably in this report, as are the terms “foreign born” and “immigrant.” The terms “whites,” “blacks” and “Asians” are used to refer to their non-Hispanic components.

The terms “jobs” and “employment” are used interchangeably in the report although they are not necessarily the same—a single worker can hold more than one job, and a job can be filled by more than one worker

Unless otherwise indicated, estimates are not seasonally adjusted.