Metrics of Labor Market Information for Vocational Rehabilitation

Labor market information (LMI) is an overarching term of multiple sources of information about labor supply, demand, and labor exchanges. This information is gathered at national, state, regional, and local levels.

LMI data includes historical, current, and future projection metrics at these multiple levels on employment, unemployment, working hours, earnings, and labor turnover. It also offers descriptive characteristics of the population in the labor force, and of the skills job seekers require to meet their employment goals.

The mission of the public vocational rehabilitation (VR) services program is to empower people with disabilities to achieve employment and economic self-sufficiency. In pursuit of this, integrating LMI into VR strategic planning, managing, and operations has profound practical significance.

LMI Metrics: The Basics

LMI uses a range of indicators and metrics that describe the supply and demand of labor in the economy of a given region. This information allows VR counselors and customers to develop career plans that are grounded in actual labor market opportunities and educational/career pathways. Below is a list of commonly used metrics of LMI from traditional data records, typically drawn from federal and state data sources (e.g., Departments of Labor, Commerce, and Education):

  • Employment and unemployment data and forecasts
  • Wage data for different industries and occupations
  • Industry sector data, job growth in different sectors
  • Occupation data, job growth in different occupation types
  • Labor turnover and mobility
  • Average hours worked and earnings
  • Population characteristics
  • General economic trends
  • Occupational skill, knowledge, and educational requirements

Real-Time LMI and Agency Business Relations LMI

In addition, real-time analysis of online job postings reveals the most current, region-specific information on employer demand by sectors and industry, occupations, job titles, and job requirements including skills, credentials, and education. Real-time LMI is drawn from online job postings whereby sophisticated “spidering” technologies are used to scour hundreds or thousands of online postings for this up-to-the-minute information about occupations, job titles, skills, and education levels. Real-time LMI can be accessed through several vendors, as well as state agencies.

Agency Business Relations LMI (also known as local labor market intelligence) is typically collected by VR employer/business relationship managers. It is similar to real-time LMI at the local level, but more fine-grained. This local LMI contains information gathered from regionally specific and individual employers or industry associations about opportunities and challenges of hiring for different positions. View a brief to learn more about using Agency Business Relations LMI as part of your labor market strategy.

Agency-generated information collected through in-person interviews with HR or hiring managers may also offer insights into upcoming changes in a regional economy. These changes may include workforce expansions or reductions, introductions of new technologies into business operations, and specific opportunities and challenges employers face meeting their skill needs by occupation or industry.

Four Categories of LMI for Analysis

Overall, there are four major categories of LMI under which different metrics can be gathered, analyzed, and used by VR:

  1. Labor force information, which includes employment, unemployment, labor force participation, labor turnover and mobility, average hours and earnings, and characteristics of the population and labor force within specific labor market areas and the state.
  2. Occupational information, which includes occupational supply and demand estimates and projections, characteristics of occupations, wage levels, job duties, training and education requirements, conditions of employment, unionization, retirement practices, and training opportunities. Because the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system is used to record an individual’s services outcome after a successful closure in VR’s case management system as well as the Rehabilitation Service Administration (RSA) Case Service Report data (RSA-911), an association can be drawn between LMI and RSA-911 by SOC. If presented effectively, LMI along with RSA-911 data can assist counselors in making effective decisions in a timely manner.
  3. Economic information, which includes the number of businesses, starts and stops of industry and labor market area, information on employment growth and decline by industry and labor market area, employer establishment data, and number of labor–management disputes by industry and labor market area.
  4. Program information, which includes program participants’ information gathered in cooperation with other state and local agencies, along with related LMI to evaluate the effectiveness, efficiency, and impact of state and local employment training education, and job creation efforts in support of planning, management, implementation, and evaluation. Certain indicators such as jobs created, unemployment rates, or mass layoffs are basic statistics that report the state of the workforce in any given region.

Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services created an LMI Dashboard for staff in their agency to access LMI. View a presentation about the LMI Dashboard in Alabama: The Creation, Implementation, and Challenges of Rolling Out an LMI Dashboard in Alabama and Preliminary Perspectives of Users [PPT]

Who can you contact to learn more about LMI in your state? Click on your state below for LMI contact information!

LMI: Empowering VR

In summary, LMI has the potential to inform VR agencies, and thereby the clientele they serve, of current and projected labor market trends in a particular geographic area for specific sections of the population in any given time frame. Using LMI can empower VR agencies to provide critical information to those they serve, so that these job seekers can make informed decisions based on the industries that are hiring the most, occupations that are in demand, and geographic areas that have the most job openings.

Ideally, LMI should help VR agencies to provide 360-degree professional-level clinical counseling. With the help of this data, VR counselors can guide clients to immediately available jobs that match their primary employment factors.