We ask questions about how many weeks a person worked in the last year, and how many hours he or she worked each week to produce statistics about full-time and part-time workers, as well as year-round and seasonal workers.
Local, state, tribal, and federal agencies use work status data to plan and fund government programs that provide unemployment assistance and services, and to understand trends and differences in wages, benefits, work hours, and seasonal work. These data also help evaluate other government programs and policies to ensure fair and equitable distribution of services for all groups, and to enforce laws, regulations, and policies against discrimination in society.
We use your confidential survey answers to create statistics like those in the results below and in the full tables that contain all the data—no one is able to figure out your survey answers from the statistics we produce. The Census Bureau is legally bound to strict confidentiality requirements. Individual records are not shared with anyone, including federal agencies and law enforcement entities. By law, the Census Bureau cannot share respondents' answers with anyone—not the IRS, not the FBI, not the CIA, and not with any other government agency.
We ask two questions about how many weeks a person worked in the last year, and how many hours he or she worked each week to help federal agencies understand trends and differences in wages, benefits, work hours, and seasonal work.
We compile the results from these questions to provide communities with important statistics about work. You can see some of these published statistics here for the nation, states, and your community.
Employers, federal agencies, and federal government contractors are interested in knowing whether programs designed to employ specific groups, such as people with disabilities or veterans, are succeeding (Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act, Rehabilitation Act of 1973).
State and local agencies use these statistics to:
We want to know more about people who are employed or looking for work, in combination with age, gender, race, Hispanic origin, disability status, veteran status, and other data, to help governments and communities enforce laws, policies, and regulations against discrimination in employment. For example, data on work status last year help enforce laws against discrimination in employment by federal agencies, private employers, employment agencies, and labor organizations (Civil Rights Act of 1964).
Information on the characteristics of people who are working or looking for work is an important part of estimating changes in the economy. Estimates of work status last year are used to:
The work status last year questions originated with the 1880 Census. They were transferred to the ACS in 2005 when it replaced the decennial census long form. The work status last year question was modified in 2019. Research about this modification and copies of previous questionnaires are available on the ACS website.