Data on employment from the BLS
The FRED Blog has discussed the presence of gender gaps in employment in the sports industry. Today we revisit that topic in two seemingly similar occupations within the same industry: janitors & building cleaners and maids & housekeeping cleaners.
The FRED graph above shows Bureau of Labor Statistics employment data for janitors and building cleaners occupations sorted by gender. The areas in the graph are stacked in percent format to facilitate the comparison of proportions: The green area represents men’s employment and the purple area represents women’s employment. The relative size of each area shows that, between 2000 and 2022, when data are available, men traditionally outnumbered women in those occupations.
The second FRED graph presents the gender breakdown of employment in the maids and housekeeping cleaners occupations using the same stacked area visualization. In this industry, the gender pattern is more markedly reversed and noticeably stable over time.
The different gender makeup of those two cleaning industry occupations may stem from the nature of the work involved. The BLS describes the work of janitors and building cleaners using words such as “heavy cleaning duties” and potentially including both outdoors and maintenance tasks. In contrast, the work of maids and housekeeping cleaners is described as involving “light cleaning duties” and lists examples of indoors activities only.
Also, while janitors are likely to work evenings or in shifts, maids’ work schedules can be more flexible. This scheduling flexibility likely facilitates the gendered provision of family childcare services we discussed in an earlier FRED Blog post and further skews the composition of the labor force.
How these graphs were created: Search FRED for and select “Employed full time: Wage and salary workers: Janitors and building cleaners occupations: 16 years and over: Women.” Next, click on the “Edit Graph” button and use the “Add Line” tab to search for and add “Employed full time: Wage and salary workers: Janitors and building cleaners occupations: 16 years and over: Men.” Next, click on the “Format” tab and change the graph type to “Area” and the stacking to “Percent.” For the second graph, repeat with “maids and housecleaning occupations.”
Suggested by Diego Mendez-Carbajo.
A steaming cup of FRED data
The harmonized index of consumer prices (HICP) is a measure of inflation published by Eurostat that’s comparable across all countries in the European Union. It covers all 12 categories of the “European classification of individual consumption according to purpose” (ECOICOP).
FRED has all these data, and the FRED graph above shows some:
- the harmonized index of consumer prices for coffee, tea, and cocoa in the euro area (in red)
- the IMF global prices for coffee (in purple), tea (in green), and cocoa (in orange)
We customized the data to create an index with a value of 100 in the year 2000, when the first HICP data are available, to better compare the changes in commodity prices to the change in the harmonized consumer price index.
So, what’s brewing? Global prices for cocoa and coffee have almost tripled between 2000 and the time of this writing. During that time, the global price for tea has increased at a much lower rate, about 10%. As might be expected, the harmonized consumer price index tracking those categories has also increased. However, that growth was merely 50% because the harmonized consumer price index for the whole of the euro area is an aggregate of the harmonized consumer price index for each of its 19 member countries. As it happens, different countries prefer different comfort drinks.
According to the detailed 2023 HICP data published by Eurostat:
- In Ireland, tea and coffee prices have very similar weights in the calculation of the HICP. So there, the price index of comfort drinks tracks close to the cost of brewing a cuppa.
- In Austria, coffee prices have five times the weight of tea prices in the calculation of the HICP. So there, the price index of comfort drinks tracks close to the cost of brewing a cup of joe.
- In Spain, cocoa and powdered chocolate prices have relatively larger weights in the calculation of the HICP than in Ireland and Austria. So there, the price index of comfort drinks tracks close to the cost of anything chocolate.
How this graph was created: In FRED, search for and select “Harmonized Index of Consumer Prices: Coffee, Tea, and Cocoa for Euro area (19 countries).” Next, click on the “Edit Graph” button and use the “Add Line” tab to search for and add “Global price of Tea, Kenyan.” Repeat the previous step to add “Global price of Cocoa” and “Global price of Coffee, Robustas.” Next, click on the “Edit Line 2” tab and change the units to “Index (scale value to 100 for chosen date)” with 2000-01-01 as the index date.
Suggested by Diego Mendez-Carbajo.
Data from the BLS
When unionized workers go on strike, the total amount of hours worked in the economy decreases; but the level of employment reported each month in the Current Employment Statistics survey may not show a similar change. The impact of labor stoppages on the number of people on payrolls depends on the timing and duration of those collective bargaining actions.
The FRED graph above shows the employment level in the motor vehicles and parts industry reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics between January 1990, the earliest available data, and the time of this writing. Two major labor stoppages stand out: the lockdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in April 2020 and the 54-day strike by the United Auto Workers (UAW) union against General Motors in July 1998.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes a monthly strike report of labor stoppages of 1,000 workers or more who were idle during a complete pay period while the Current Employment Statistics survey was conducted. Depending on the industry, the pay period may be weekly, biweekly, monthly, or semimonthly. The reference date for conducting the CES survey is the 12th day of the month.
To learn more about this topic, read “Understanding strikes in CES estimates” by John P. Mullins in the Monthly Labor Review. You can check the industry data referenced in Figure 1 of that publication in this FRED graph. For more information on current UAW contract negotiations, look to the Chicago Fed.
Other large-scale labor actions, such as the August 1983 telecommunication workers strike against AT&T, are also visible in FRED. However, the ongoing Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) strike against the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers is not immediately noticeable in the recent overall employment figures for that industry. That may well be a case where the full story is truly behind the numbers and a data graph is unable to tell it.
How this graph was created: From FRED’s main page, search for and select “All Employees, Motor Vehicles and Parts.”
Suggested by Diego Mendez-Carbajo.