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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. Seasonal adjustment is a statistical model for transformation a time series to make the data comparable by removing regular seasonal variations.

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 apply to the seasonal migrant agricultural worker.

Seasonal factors

Seasonal factors are the results from the estimations of a seasonal adjustment model (they are numbers, but not events) which are applied to an initial time series data set to make it comparable by removing seasonality. They do not remove irregular events, like incremental weather, moving holidays, strikes, etc.

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. One example of seasonal unemployment is migrant workers that harvest various crops, but have little chance of working when crop-related work is completed.

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. 


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 and insurance, 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, is caused by something other than chance.

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 number of jobs for which workers are being sought (i.e. 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.