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October 2004, Vol. 127, No.10
Planning, designing, and executing the BLS American Time-Use Survey
Michael Horrigan and Diane Herz
This article describes the evolution of the American Time Use Survey (ATUS) from its inception as an issue of statistical policy interest in 1991 to its implementation in January 2003 as an ongoing monthly survey sponsored by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, the Bureau). This 12-year process included four developmental phases. Each successive phase represented a deeper level of agency commitment and outside statistical support. Reports referenced in the text reflect an evolution in thinking at both the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Census Bureau regarding survey estimation objectives, units of measurement, the universe frame and sampling plan, and data collection and coding protocols.
First phase: policy environment
In 1991, a bill introduced into the 102nd Congress called for the Bureau of Labor Statistics to "conduct time-use surveys of unremunerated work performed in the United States and to calculate the monetary value of such work." Although the bill, called the "Unremunerated Work Act of 1991," did not make it out of committee, the existence of a bill naming the Bureau as a sponsoring agency spurred BLS management to begin studying the issue.
In April of the same year, the Bureau sent a representative to a conference sponsored by Statistics Canada on the measurement and valuation of unpaid work. At the conference, it became clear that there was a strong sentiment in the international community that the lack of a time-use survey in the United States from which to measure the value of unpaid work was a significant data gap in the U.S. statistical system.
This excerpt is from an article published in the October 2004 issue of the Monthly Labor Review. The full text of the article is available in Adobe Acrobat's Portable Document Format (PDF). See How to view a PDF file for more information.
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American Time Use Survey
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