Research for the AASHTO Standing Committee on Planning. Task 127. Employment Data for Planning: A Resource Guide

High-quality employment data drawn from broad sectors of the economy are necessary for transportation planning, whether used for travel demand modeling or policy analysis. Availability of this data varies widely, however, as do the methods that the transportation community uses to combine, adjust, and manipulate employment data drawn from multiple sources. Some analysts begin with proprietary business lists and then use in-house staff to update and correct elements such as local government employment. Others rely on the latest Census Transportation Planning Products (CTPP) data at the workplace location; some have established a working relationship with their State Employment Security Department to obtain Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) micro-data files, and some rely on Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics (LEHD) data from the Census Bureau. Another complication is that the transportation industry does not have a recognized standard for distinguishing, or even understanding the differences, among employment, jobs, labor force, and workers. Furthermore, the definitions used by the major national statistical agencies (including the OMB, Bureau of the Census, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Bureau of Economic Analysis, etc.) and their different statistical products (that are the sources of the statistics for labor force, employment, jobs and workers) need to be assembled and compared with differences evaluated and explained. This compilation will by necessity include workers in family and non-family households as well as group quarters. Some in the transportation community are using data sets with a good understanding of what the data represent, how it is gathered, and what gaps exist. Still, little is known about the statistical reliability of the data sources, their stability over time, or their update cycles. Additionally, data are being manipulated to be used for purposes for which they were not gathered; QCEW data is collected for employment insurance, and routinely manipulated to be used as employment location data for individual workers, LEHD uses IRS home location to synthesize its population. In the current climate of confusion, clarity and information are more pressing than ever. As agencies move towards greater accountability in transportation planning, they need to have confidence in the information they produce and they need to know their data sources are reliable. In other words, the transportation community needs to examine potential data sources in an appropriate context for their planned use. The objective of this research is to develop a resource guide for selecting and using employment data which will explain to practitioners the various types of employment and employer data that exist and can be used for transportation travel demand modeling purposes. The resource guide should explain the major differences among employment, jobs, labor force, and workers. Note, however, that this research is not a critical evaluation of vendor data. This research further develops both the Census Bureau’s own research on the interactions between the worker estimates of American Community Survey and Current Population Survey and the information available in NCHRP 08-36, Task 98: Improving Employment Data for Transportation Planning report that looked at the publicly available sources - Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), and two databases produced from the Census Bureau’s Longitudinal Employment Household Dynamics (LEHD) Program – the Quarterly Workforce Indicators (QWI) and OnTheMap (OTM).


  • English


  • Status: Active
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project 08-36, Task 127

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Transportation Research Board

    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001
  • Project Managers:

    Goldstein, Lawrence

  • Performing Organizations:

    Cambridge Systematics, Incorporated

    100 Cambridge Park Drive
    Suite 4000
    Cambridge, MA  United States  02140-2369
  • Principal Investigators:

    Enarson-Hering, Evan

  • Start Date: 20150618
  • Expected Completion Date: 20160617
  • Actual Completion Date: 0
  • Source Data: RiP Project 40784

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01598840
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project 08-36, Task 127
  • Files: TRB, RiP
  • Created Date: May 4 2016 1:00AM