Marcia Hultman

Cabinet Secretary

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Labor Market Information Center

Confidentiality Precautions

As a cooperating agency of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), we must follow their guidelines regarding the safeguarding of confidential data reported by employers. As the principal data gathering agency of the federal government in the field of labor economics, it is important the BLS maintains its integrity, confidentiality and trust with respondents and data users to ensure accurate and honest data are provided for BLS surveys. When collecting data, the BLS makes a pledge of confidentiality to its respondents. This pledge varies depending on the context of each survey, but the standard BLS confidentiality pledge promises data collected are used for statistical purposes only.

For this reason, we generally cannot disclose the identity of specific employers. The only exception is the alphabetical lists of "largest establishments" we publish and provide upon request, and even in those cases, we do not disclose the employment level of any employer. A notation of "confidential" for any data item in a table or file of labor market data indicates the data did not meet confidentiality thresholds. In other words, if the data is limited and there is any possibility the identity of an employer could be statistically discerned, the data is not published, and instead is noted as "confidential."

The most relevant statute which governs BLS confidentiality is the Confidential Information Protection and Statistical Efficiency Act (CIPSEA). (The CIPSEA law is available in Adobe PDF format from the U.S. Department of Education website). This statute prohibits disclosure or release, for non-statistical purposes, of information collected under a pledge of confidentiality. Under CIPSEA, data may not be released to unauthorized persons. Willful and knowing disclosure of protected data to unauthorized persons is a felony punishable by up to five years imprisonment and up to a $250,000 fine.