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Glossary of terms

This glossary defines terms related to the economy and the job market.
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Fixed compensation paid to employees for labor or services. Most salaries are paid for a fixed period of working hours.


Part of a statistical population, representative of the whole population.

Seasonal adjustment

A process whereby expected seasonal changes are removed or discounted. Seasonally adjusting data makes underlying trends easier to identify.

Seasonal agricultural worker

A person employed in work of a seasonal or other temporary nature who is not required to be absent overnight from his or her permanent place of residence. The same exceptions listed above for migrant agricultural worker apply to the seasonal agricultural worker.

Seasonal factors

Seasonal factors are events that cause normal fluctuations in business activity within an industry or a combination of industries. Seasonal factors include weather, holidays and school schedules.

Seasonal hired worker

A worker employed less than 150 calendar days during a calendar year.

Seasonal unemployment

Unemployment resulting from jobs being available for only a portion of the year. Migrant workers who follow the harvest of various crops, but have little chance of working when that crop is completed, become seasonally unemployed.

Seasonally adjusted

Data that has been adjusted to account for normal seasonal changes.


The North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) groups industries into sectors by related products and activities. Some two-digit NAICS codes are combined such as 31, 32 and 33, which together comprise the manufacturing sector.

Dividing an economy into different like-pieces allows for more in-depth analysis of the economy as a whole.  Analysts often use major sector groupings such as the extraction of natural products from the earth in agriculture, mining and forestry.  Other frequently used major economic sectors are processing, manufacturing, and construction; services such as retail sales, entertainment, technology and financial services; and education.

Self employed

People who work for profit or fees in their own business, profession or trade, or who operate a farm.


A job opening created by a worker permanently leaving an occupation. This includes those who leave an occupation to stay at home, attend school, move out of the area and those who retire or die. This term is not the same as turnover.

Service-producing industries

Industries that primarily produce services, such as transportation, communications, utilities, trade, finance, insurance and real estate, and government.

Short-term unemployment

People who have been jobless for fewer than five weeks.

Shortage of labor

There is no official definition of a labor shortage. Traditionally, a labor shortage is the difference between the quantity of labor supplied and the quantity of labor demanded when the hourly wage rate (or its piece rate equivalent) lies below the equilibrium wage rate. For this kind of shortage to exist, the wage rate offered must be below what workers are willing to accept. Increasing the wage rate will tend to eliminate the shortage.

Shortage of workers

A situation where there are too few applicants with the required experience and abilities to fill openings within a reasonable amount of time.

Standard Industrial Classification (SIC)

Predecessor to the North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS). It was a hierarchical classification system that defined all establishments to a specific industry based on their primary output or product. The last revision of the SIC was in 1987. NAICS replaced SIC in 2002.

Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system

A numerical coding system used by federal and state agencies that classifies occupational data for the purpose of collecting, calculating or reporting data. All workers are classified into one of over 820 occupations according to their occupational definition. To facilitate classification, occupations are combined to form 23 major groups, 96 minor groups and 449 broad occupations. Each broad occupation includes detailed occupations requiring similar skills, education or experience. (

Static labor market

Unchanging labor market conditions resulting from the development of few openings, coupled with a correspondingly low number of applicants.

Statistically significant

The probability that the observed relationship between variables, or a difference between means in a sample, occurred by pure chance and that in the population from which the sample was drawn, no such relationship or differences exist.

Statistically valid

Data that include accurate collection and sampling methods and a period of reference using generally accepted statistical methods.

Structural unemployment

Unemployment that occurs when the basic nature of the economy changes over time, or when employers no longer demand skills that unemployed workers possess. Structural unemployment is involuntary unemployment and typically requires retraining or education of displaced workers to bring their skills in line with current demand.

Supply and demand

In the labor market, this term usually refers to the supply of workers in relationship to the demand for workers.

Surplus of workers

A situation where there are more applicants ready and willing to work than there are available jobs.


A study of all or a portion of a population, conducted for the purpose of making generalized statements about the whole.

Survey week

See reference week.