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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

Census tracts are small, relatively permanent statistical subdivisions of a county or equivalent entity that are updated by local participants prior to each decennial census as part of the Census Bureau's Participant Statistical Areas Program. The Census Bureau delineates census tracts in situations where no local participant existed or where state, local or tribal governments declined to participate. The primary purpose of census tracts is to provide a stable set of geographic units for the presentation of statistical data.


A person not in the military.

Civilian employment

Includes all persons 16 years of age and older who did any work at all (at least one hour) as paid employees, worked in their own business, profession, or on their own farm, or worked 15 hours or more as unpaid workers in an enterprise operated by a member of the family. 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 individuals serving in the military.

Civilian non-institutional population

Included are persons 16 years of age and older residing in the 50 states and the District of Columbia who are not inmates of institutions (for example, penal and mental facilities, homes for the aged), and who are not on active duty in the Armed Forces.

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 individual, firm or trading nation has a relatively lower cost in producing a specific good or service compared to the relative cost for the good or service produced by one’s trading partner. When the difference in relative costs is larger than the expenses for good movement (transportation) it makes trade effective.

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

Weekly request for benefits after an initial claim has been filed. The claimant must answer eligibility questions for each week requested.

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 environmental pollution cleanup.

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 dollars are also known as nominal dollars.

Current Employment Statistics (CES)

A monthly survey of nonfarm business establishments collected through a federal/state cooperative effort. CES 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 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 (BLS) analyzes and publishes this data each month.(

Cyclical unemployment

Unemployment caused by recessions or temporary downturns in the business cycle.