Revisions in Hispanic population and labor force data Essay

In January 1985, procedures designed to improve the estimates of the
Hispanic population were introduced into the Current Population Survey
(CPS). As shown in table 1, these procedural changes have had a
substantial impact on the estimates of Hispanic labor force, employment,
and unemployment levels.

Based on information from the 1980 census, independent population
estimates for Hispanics were developed for January 1980 up through the
present. This, in turn, permitted a revision of the historical data for
major Hispanic labor force series for this period. (Data prior to 1980
are not comparable to the revised series.) Monthly seasonally adjusted data for the two independently adjusted Hispanic series–employment and
unemployment levels for all Hispanics age 16 and over–have also been
revised back to 1980. From these, adjusted labor force, participation
rate, employment-population ratio, and unemployment rate series are

In the past, the CPS did not use independent population estimates
for Hispanics–the only major population group for which this was the
case. Instead, the population estimates were derived from the CPS
itself. This yielded estimates that were too low relative to those from
the decennial census (because of problems with CPS coverage) and quite
unstable over time. Under the revised procedure, CPS sample estimates
are “inflated” to the independent estimate of the Hispanic
population rat her than being determined by the proportion of Hispanics
found in the sample each month.

The independent population estimates were developed using a
cohort-component methodology, in which the 1980 census count is updated
by adding estimates of Hispanic births and immigrants and subtracting
estimates of deaths and emigrants. These procedures integrate data on
changes in the Hispanic population from a number of sources. Data on
births come from the annual CPS fertility questionnaire and from the
National Center for Health Statistics. Death rates are derived from
mortality stat istics in California and Texas, States with more than
half of the Hispanic population in 1980. Data on immigration and
emigration are from the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the
Puerto Rican Planning Board, and the Office of Refugee Resettlement.

The new methodology results in sharply higher population estimates
and, hence, higher labor force counts, although overall national
estimates are not affected. For example, table 1 shows that, on an
annual average basis for 1984, the revised Hispanic civilian
noninstitutional population levels were almost 1.3 million, or 13
percent higher than the old estimates. Adult men were the group most
affected by these changes; their 1984 population estimates rose by more
than 18 percent. The levels of various labor force measures (that is,
employment, unemployment, and persons not in the labor force) expanded,
to a large extent, proportionately. Hence, rates calculated using these
levels are not significantly different from those derived with the old
methodology. For example, in 1984, only the unemployment rates for
teenagers rose by more than a tenth of a percentage point. Revised data
for major Hispanic labor force measures for the years 1980-84 are
available upon request.


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