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Glossary of terms

This glossary defines terms related to the economy and the job market.
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The general course or progression of a person’s working life or professional achievements.

Career development

The outcome of career plans as viewed from both individual and organizational perspectives. Outcomes desired by individuals may include status, job flexibility and monetary rewards. An organization’s desired outcomes include achieving the best match between people and jobs.


A complete count of a specified population or some measurable characteristics in a given area, such as people, housing or industry.

Census data

Information gathered in a census. An example is the Bureau of Census’ count of the U.S. population.

Census tract

A statistical subdivision of a county delineated by census data users for the purpose of collecting and presenting census data. A census tract conforms to county lines, but may not follow zip code lines.


A person not in the military.

Civilian employment

A measure of total civilian workers age 16 years and older meeting certain criteria in a survey of employers conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The survey counts the following types of workers: those who did any work as paid employees, worked in their own businesses or professions, worked on their own farms, worked 15 hours or more as unpaid workers in a family enterprise. It also counts those who were not working, but had jobs or businesses from which they were temporarily absent (due to illness, bad weather, vacation, labor management disputes or personal reasons) whether or not they were paid for the time off.

Civilian labor force

The total number of civilian individuals age 16 years and older that are employed or counted as unemployed. This category does not include the military.

Civilian non-institutional population

The total civilian population 16 years and older. This excludes prison inmates and those that are hospitalized or in an institution.

Civilian unemployment

All civilians 16 years and older who did not work during the reference week, but made specific efforts to find a job within the past four weeks and who were available for work (except for temporary illness) during the reference week. This also includes those who did not work, but were available for work, and who were waiting to be recalled to a job from which they had been laid off for a specific time or had a new job to go to within 30 days.

Comparative advantage

The economic situation in which an economic factor (a person, firm or trading nation) has a lower opportunity cost in producing a good or service compared to the opportunity cost of the good or service produced by one’s trading partner.

Consumer Price Index (CPI)

A Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics program which measures the average change in prices of a fixed set of goods and services purchased by households. CPI is the most common measure of inflation. (

Contingent workers

Workers hired for a limited time, or who work on a specific project lasting from a few days to many months.

Continued claims

Unemployment claims that may or may not qualify for weekly payment of financial benefits, with at least a one week waiting period credit or payment. Someone who qualifies is said to be monetarily eligible.

Core area

One of four types of green activity used as a basis for defining green jobs. These activities are: 1) increasing energy efficiency; 2) producing renewable energy; 3) preventing and reducing environmental pollution; and 4) providing mitigation or cleanup of environmental pollution.

Core inflation rate

The rate of increased prices of a set group of goods and services. This excludes food and energy prices, which are more volatile.


A method to compare similar components or elements of different systems.

Current dollars or prices

The face value of currency with no regard to actual purchasing power over time, or the current dollar value of goods and services not adjusted for inflation in the economy.

Current Employment Statistics (CES)

A monthly survey of nonfarm business establishments collected through a federal/state cooperative effort. It uses wage, salary, employment, worker hours and payroll data to compute current monthly employment by industry for the nation, the District of Columbia, and over 250 metropolitan areas. (

Current Population Statistics (CPS)

A monthly household survey of the civilian non-institutional population of the U.S. The survey provides monthly statistics on employment, unemployment and related subjects. The Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics analyzes and publishes this data each month. (

Cyclical unemployment

Unemployment caused by recessions or temporary downturns in the business cycle. The most common form of cyclical unemployment occurs when workers are temporarily laid off.