AThe following terms are commonly used in connection with employment and labor market information. To find the definition of a particular term from the list below, select the first letter of the term.

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25th Percentile Wages

Wage percentiles describe the distribution of earnings and are used to explain the wage variation within occupations. Twenty five percent of the workers in the occupation earn wages below the first quartile wage listed, and seventy five percent of the workers earn wages above the first quartile wage listed.

50th Percentile Wages

Wage percentiles describe the distribution of earnings and are used to explain the wage variation within occupations. Fifty percent of the workers in the occupation earn wages below the median wage listed, and fifty percent of the workers earn wages above the median wage listed.

75th Percentile Wages

Wage percentiles describe the distribution of earnings and are used to explain the wage variation within occupations. Seventy five percent of the workers in the occupation earn below the third quartile wage listed, and twenty five percent of the workers in the occupation earn above the third quartile wage listed.

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Activating Data

Putting the data available into practice for specific results.

America’s Career Information Network (ACINet)

Provides national, state and local career information and labor market data using unique career tools, career reports, videos, a career resource library and other innovative web-based tools.


A structured approach for entering a skilled occupation in most of the major trade industries. Combines training on the job with related and supplemental instruction at school.

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Benchmarking is a standard point of reference by which data can be compared. It is used to align a survey estimate with a census value.

Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Part of the U.S. Department of Labor. This Federal agency is the principal data-gathering agency of the Federal government in the field of economics. The BLS collects, processes, analyzes, and disseminates data relating to employment, unemployment, the labor force, productivity, prices, family expenditures, wages, industrial relations, and occupational safety and health.

Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA)

The BEA is an agency of the Department of Commerce. BEA produces economic accounts statistics that enable government and business decision-makers, researchers, and the American public to follow and understand the performance of the Nation’s economy. BEA’s economic statistics, which provide a comprehensive, up-to-date picture of the U.S. economy, are key ingredients in critical decisions affecting monetary policy, tax and budget projections, and business investment plans.

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Career Development

Is a lifelong process of exploring, choosing, and implementing decisions about educational, work and life roles. It includes an individual’s values about work, their beliefs about their own interests and abilities, their decisions about education, the ways they negotiate transitions into and out of work experiences and their unique interactions between work and other life roles.


An official count or survey of a population, typically recording various details of individuals.

Census Share

The method used to disaggregate labor market area (LMA) employment and unemployment statistics to sub-areas by assigning to the areas the same proportion of the monthly independent labor market area (LMA) estimate as was evidenced in the most recent census data.

Census Tracts

Census-designated units that are small parts of metropolitan areas (MAs) and provide statistically comparable population and housing census tabulations. Tracts are designed to be relatively similar in population characteristics, economic status, and living conditions. Census tract boundaries are recommended by local census tract committees and approved by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Civilian Employment

This includes all individuals who worked at least one hour for a wage or salary, or were self-employed, or were working at least 15 unpaid hours in a family business or on a family farm, during the week including the 12th of the month. Those who were on vacation, on other kinds of leave, or involved in a labor dispute, were also counted as employed.

Civilian Labor Force

This is the sum of civilian employment and civilian unemployment. Civilians, as defined, are age 16 years or older, not members of the Armed Services, and are not in institutions such as prisons, mental hospitals, or nursing homes.

Civilian Noninstitutional Population

Included are individuals 16 years of age and older residing in the 50 States and the District of Columbia who are not inmates of institutions (for example, penal and mental facilities, homes for the aged), and who are not on active duty in the Armed Forces.

Civilian Unemployment

This includes those individuals who were not working but were able, available, and actively looking for work during the week including the 12th of the month. Individuals who were waiting to be recalled from a layoff, and individuals waiting to report to a new job within 30 days were also considered to be unemployed.

Consumer Price Index (CPI)

A Bureau of Labor Statistics program which measures the average change in prices of a fixed set of goods and services purchased by households. It is the most commonly recognized measure of inflation.

Contingent Worker

Workers that do not have an implicit or explicit contract for ongoing employment.


A political and administrative division of a state, providing certain local governmental services.

Current Employment Statistics (CES)

The Current Employment Statistics (CES) program produces detailed industry estimates of nonfarm employment, hours, and earnings of workers on payrolls. CES National Estimates produces data for the nation, and CES State and Metro Area produces estimates for all 50 States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and about 450 metropolitan areas and divisions. Each month, CES surveys nationally approximately 147,000 businesses and government agencies, representing approximately 634,000 individual worksites.

Current Population Survey (CPS)

The Current Population Survey (CPS) is one of the oldest, largest, and most well-recognized surveys in the United States. It is immensely important, providing information on many of the things that define us as individuals and as a society – our work, our earnings, and our education. In addition to being the primary source of monthly labor force statistics, the CPS is used to collect data for a variety of other studies that keep the nation informed of the economic and social well-being of its people. The Census Bureau conducts this survey on behalf of the Department of Labor and each month, CPS surveys nationally approximately 60,000 households.

Cyclical Unemployment

Cyclical unemployment is a factor of overall unemployment that relates to the cyclical trends in growth and production that occur within the business cycle.

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A centralized location that states/organizations use to display data analysis and provide public access to information, typically quantitative, for various purposes, potentially for data-driven policymaking and programming.

Data Sharing

Providing data to stakeholders outside of an organization or receiving data from other organizations. If the data includes information on individuals (“unit records” “personally identifiable information or PII” “individual-level data”), it likely requires a data sharing agreement (DSA) or memorandum of understanding (MOU).

Data Management

The practice of collecting, keeping, and using data securely, efficiently, and cost-effectively. The goal of data management is to help people, organizations, and connected things optimize the use of data within the bounds of policy and regulation so that they can make decisions and take actions that maximize the benefit to the organization.

Data Infrastructure

A collection of data assets, the bodies that maintain them and guides that explain how to use the collected data.


The characteristics of the population such as age, income, ethnicity, etc.

Department of Finance (DOF)

The Department of Finance (DOF) has authority over all financial and business polices of the State. The Demographic Research Unit within DOF is designated as the single source of demographic data for State planning and budgeting. This includes, but is not limited to producing population estimates and projections.

Department of Industrial Relations (DIR)

The Department of Industrial Relations was established to improve working conditions for California’s wage earners, and to advance opportunities for profitable employment in California.

Discouraged Worker

Discouraged workers are a subset of persons marginally attached to the labor force. The marginally attached are those persons not in the labor force who want and are available for work, and who have looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months, but were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey. Among the marginally attached, discouraged workers were not currently looking for work specifically because they believed no jobs were available for them or there were none for which they would qualify.

Displaced Worker

Data on displaced workers are collected from a special supplementary survey conducted every 2 years. Displaced workers are defined as persons 20 years of age and older who lost or left jobs because their plant or company closed or moved, there was insufficient work for them to do, or their position or shift was abolished.

Durable Goods

Manufactured goods that are expected to last at least three years.

Duration of Unemployment

The length of time in weeks (through the current reference week)that individuals classified as unemployed had been looking for work.

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Economic Development

The entire array of activities, some conducted by government, and some by the private sector, often in partnership with government, which are intended to expand the economy of a designated area to increase the number of jobs available to the population of that area.

Economic Indicator

A set of data that serves as a tool for analyzing current economic conditions and future prospects. Usually classified according to their timing in relationship to the ups and downs of the business cycle, that is, whether they anticipate (lead), coincide with, or lag behind general business conditions.

Education and Training Data

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) education and training classification system consists of three categories of information that BLS analysts have assigned to each detailed occupation in the 2016–26 National Employment Matrix. The categories are: 1) typical education needed for entry, 2) commonly required work experience in a related occupation, and 3) typical on-the-job training needed to obtain competency in the occupation.

Eligible Training Provider List (ETPL)

California established the Eligible Training Provider List (ETPL) in compliance with the Workforce Investment Act – now superseded by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). The purpose of the ETPL is to provide customer-focused employment training for adults and dislocated workers.

Employed Persons

Employed persons consist of: persons who did any work for pay or profit during the survey reference week; persons who did at least 15 hours of unpaid work in a family-operated enterprise; and persons who were temporarily absent from their regular jobs because of illness, vacation, bad weather, industrial dispute, or various personal reasons.

Employee Turnover

Employee turnover refers to the number or percentage of workers who leave an organization and are replaced by new employees.

Employer Payroll Records

Data from employers submitted quarterly to the Tax Branch of the Employment Development Department. These records contain information such as the number of workers and the total wages paid.

Employment and Training Administration (ETA)

A part of the U.S. Department of Labor. This agency oversees the State Unemployment Insurance Programs and job training and placement services provided by the State Employment Security Agencies. In California the Employment Development Department is the State Employment Security Agency.

Employment Cost Index (ECI)

A quarterly economic series detailing the changes in the costs of labor for businesses in the United States economy. The ECI is prepared by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in the U.S. Department of Labor.


Jobs or occupations for which employers hire workers with little or no previous work experience or with relatively minimum training or education. Occupations that require more education or training may have specific entry-level classifications such as apprenticeship or internship.


The physical location of a certain economic activity–for example, a factory, mine, store, or office


Numerical data calculated from sample data, or from a model, and intended to provide information about a larger set of data.

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To calculate or predict some future event or condition; usually as a result of study and analysis of available pertinent data.

Frictional Unemployment

The time period between jobs when a worker is searching for, or transitioning from one job to another.

Full-Time Employment

Persons who work 35 hours or more per week.

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Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

A system designed to capture, store, manipulate, analyze, manage, and present spatial or geographic data.

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A family household is a household maintained by a householder who is in a family and includes any unrelated people (unrelated subfamily members and/or secondary individuals) who may be residing there.

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A group of establishments that produce similar products or provide similar services. For example, all establishments that manufacture automobiles are in the same industry. The North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) is used to categorize industries.

Industry Cluster

A subset of industries in the regional economy connected by flows of goods and services stronger than those linking them to the rest of the economy. Individual firms in a cluster benefit from certain comparative advantages associated with geographical concentration such as access to a common pool of specialized labor, infrastructure, intellectual property, and lower transaction costs between firms.

Industry Employment

Full-time and part-time workers (including employees on paid vacation or paid sick leave) who work or receive compensation from establishments for any part of the pay period including the 12th of the month. Those workers involved in labor-management disputes are excluded. This is a count of the number of jobs, and is available by industry.


A structured program where an individual gains supervised practical experience in an occupation.

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Job Leavers

Unemployed persons who quit or otherwise terminated their employment voluntarily and immediately began looking for work.

Journey Level

A fully qualified skilled trade or crafts worker, generally having mastered a trade by completing a formal apprenticeship program. Also used to designate fully-qualified workers in other jobs.

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Labor Market Area (LMA)

An economically integrated geographic area within which individuals can reside and find employment within a reasonable distance or can readily change employment without changing their place of residence.

Labor Market Information (LMI)

Information about the market -where labor skills are exchanged for wages. Information can be descriptive (qualitative) or statistical (quantitative). The key elements in the labor market are the workers (labor resources) and jobs (employment opportunities).

Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS)

A Federal/State cooperative program managed by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics that produces monthly and annual employment, unemployment, and labor force data for Census regions and divisions, States, counties, metropolitan areas, and many cities, by place of residence.

Local Workforce Development Area (LWDA)

LWDA’s administer services as designated by the Governor. Factors that are considered in designating these LWDA’s include geographic location, population, and commonality of labor market areas.

Logic Models

Graphical depictions of theoretic and/or programmatic change. They are used to assist planners and managers in defining and describing the inputs, activities, outputs, outcomes and expected impacts. Logic models show the relationship between resources and activities that will take place using these resources and the intended effects.

Long Term Unemployment

Individuals who have been unemployed for 15 or more consecutive weeks.

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The average value of a set of numbers.


The mid-point in a data set after the numbers are sorted. The median is the point where half of the numbers lie above and half lie below this value.

Metropolitan Division

A county or group of counties (or equivalent entities) delineated within a larger metropolitan statistical area, provided that the larger metropolitan statistical area contains a single core with a population of at least 2.5 million and other criteria are met. A Metropolitan Division consists of one or more main/secondary counties that represent an employment center or centers, plus adjacent counties associated with the main/secondary county or counties through commuting ties.

Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA)

A geographic entity delineated by the Office of Management and Budget for use by federal statistical agencies. Metropolitan statistical areas consist of the county or counties (or equivalent entities) associated with at least one urbanized area of at least 50,000 population, plus adjacent counties having a high degree of social and economic integration with the core as measured through commuting ties.

Middle Skill Occupations

Occupations that require either some college, postsecondary non-degree award, associate’s degree, or on-the-job training.

Minimum Wage

The lowest wage per hour that a worker may be paid, as mandated by federal law. Individual states, cities, and localities may also pass different minimum wage requirements as long as the stipulated hourly wage is not lower than the federal minimum wage. Although there are some exceptions, almost all employees in California must be paid the minimum wage as required by state law.


The number in a distribution of numbers that appears most frequently.

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New Entrants

Individuals entering the labor force for the first time.

Non-Durable Goods

Manufactured goods consumed in a short time or that have useful lives of less than three years.

Nonfarm Employment

Nonfarm employment is an estimate of the number of payroll jobs in the economy. This estimate DOES not include the following types of jobs: unincorporated self-employed, unpaid family work, private household work, workers absent without pay, and farm work.

North American Industry Classification System (NAICS)

NAICS is the successor to the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) System. The United States, Mexico, and Canada will universally use this system of classifying business establishments. Due to differences in NAICS and SIC structures, industry data for 2001 are not comparable to the SIC-based data for earlier years. NAICS focuses on how products and services are created, as opposed to the SIC focus on what is produced.

Not in the Labor Force

All people in the civilian noninstitutional population who are neither employed nor counted as unemployed are “not in the labor force.”

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A set of activities or tasks that employees perform. Employees that perform essentially the same tasks are in the same occupation, whether or not they are in the same industry.

Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) Program

A Federal/State cooperative program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual States, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas; national occupational estimates for specific industries are also available.

Occupational Information Network (O*NET)

The O*NET Program is the nation’s primary source of occupational information. Valid data are essential to understanding the rapidly changing nature of work and how it impacts the workforce and U.S. economy. From this information, applications are developed to facilitate the development and maintenance of a skilled workforce.


On-the-Job Training involves supervised, real-life practice in the current job usually at the worksite.

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Part-Time Employment

Persons who work less than 35 hours per week.


Total wages paid by a business to its employees for work performed during the pay period (weekly, monthly, etc.).

Pay Period

Frequency with which worker’s wages are calculated and paid. Examples of the most common pay periods are as follows: weekly, biweekly, semimonthly, or monthly.


Work paid for at a fixed rate (piece-rate) per piece of work done.


A prediction or estimate of an actual value in a future time period. For employment it is based on a time series or for a situation it is based on a cross-section of data. Forecast, prediction and projection are typically used interchangeably. Projections of employment are based on historical employment and economic indicators input into mathematical models with national, state and local trends factored into the overall model.

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A statistical term describing a division of observations into four defined intervals based upon the values of the data and how they compare to the entire set of observations.

Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW)

The Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) program produces a comprehensive tabulation of employment and wage information for workers covered by California Unemployment Insurance laws. The QCEW program serves as a near census of monthly employment and quarterly wage information at the state and county levels and provides the most detailed industry data available. The QCEW data is usually published six months after the end of the quarter.

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Individuals who are re-entering the labor force after an absence.


Replacement openings occur as workers either switch occupations, retire, return to school, quit for health reasons or to assume household responsibilities. For occupations like cashiers, replacement openings will far surpass openings related to economic growth. While individuals already in the workforce will fill most replacement openings, some jobs will remain open when employees leave the workforce. Openings not filled by currently employed workers are net replacement openings. Usually separations and replacements are interchangeable terms. However, when employment declines in an occupation, replacement needs are less than separations because some workers leaving the occupation are not replaced.  In these cases, separations are reduced by the decline in an occupation’s employment.

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Fixed compensation paid for labor or services. Most salaries are paid for a fixed periods of working hours.


A set of observations drawn from a population.

Seasonal Adjustment

A statistical technique that attempts to measure and remove the influences of predictable seasonal patterns to reveal how employment and unemployment change from month to month.

Seasonal Factors

Seasonal factors are events that cause normal fluctuations in business activity within individual or combinations of industries. Seasonal factors include, but are not limited to, such events as: weather conditions, holidays, and school schedules.

Seasonal Unemployment

A form of unemployment that occurs when there is limited need for a specific type of work to be performed during a certain time of the year.


Generally, you are self-employed if you either carry on a trade or business as a sole proprietor or independent contractor; are a member of a partnership that carries on a trade or business; or are in business for yourself (including a part-time business).


The separations methodology is designed to estimate the number of workers who leave their occupation and need to be replaced by new entrants into the occupation. It is not a measure of all movement in and out of occupations, but instead an estimate of workers who permanently leave an occupation. For more information about the Separations methodology, visit:

Staffing Pattern

Each business employs workers with different types of skills to produce a good or provide a service. A staffing pattern summarizes this array of workers for an industry. The costs of labor and equipment in a local area will largely determine the mix of workers that a business will employ to remain competitive. Industry staffing patterns are often used to determine the ability of a local area to support economic development by being able to provide a skilled workforce.

Standard Occupational Classification (SOC)

The Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system is a federal statistical standard used by federal and state agencies to classify workers into occupational categories for the purpose of collecting, calculating, or disseminating data. All workers are classified into one of 867 detailed occupations according to their occupational definition. To facilitate classification, detailed occupations are combined to form 459 broad occupations, 98 minor groups, and 23 major groups. Detailed occupations in the SOC with similar job duties, and in some cases skills, education, and/or training, are grouped together.

Structural Unemployment

This type of unemployment occurs when the basic nature of the economy changes over time; when employers no longer demand skills that unemployed workers possess. Structural unemployment is involuntary unemployment and typically requires retraining or education of displaced workers to bring their skills in line with demand.

Survey Week

The week including the 12th of the month.

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Technical Assistance

Direct support to address data-related issues through facilitation, advising, connecting, providing resources and information.

Temporary Workers

Those workers have a working arrangement that is limited to a certain period of time based on the needs of the employing organization.

Time Series

A sequence of numerical data points in successive order. A key characteristic of a time series is that any two points in a time series can be compared.

Total Job Openings

The total of job openings produced by industry growth plus the job openings created when a worker changes occupations or leaves the labor force.


An individual hired for a job, which may or may not require previous experience or education. A trainee could start in an entry-level, apprenticeship level, or internship level position.


The general direction of a market or of the price of an asset, and trends can vary in length (e.g., short, intermediate, long-term).

Turnover Rate

The number of total separations during the month divided by the number of employees who worked during or received pay for the pay period that includes the 12th of the month (monthly turnover); the number of total separations for the year divided by average monthly employment for the year (annual turnover).

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Workers who are highly skilled but working in low paying jobs, workers who are highly skilled but working in low skill jobs and part-time workers who would prefer to be full time. This is different from unemployment in that the individual is working but is not working at his full capability.

Unemployed Persons

Persons are classified as unemployed if they do not have a job, have actively looked for work in the prior 4 weeks, and are currently available for work. Persons who were not working and were waiting to be recalled to a job from which they had been temporarily laid off are also included as unemployed. Receiving benefits from the Unemployment Insurance (UI) program has no bearing on whether a person is classified as unemployed.

Unemployment Insurance (UI) Program

A national program administered by the U.S. Department of Labor under the Social Security Act. Provides temporary weekly payments to workers who lose their jobs through no fault of their own. The payments are financed by contributions from employers on the wages of their covered workers.

Unemployment Rate

The unemployment rate is derived by dividing the number of unemployed by the labor force. The result is expressed as a percentage.

U.S. Census Bureau

Part of the U.S. Department of Commerce. This agency conducts the censuses of population and housing every 10 years and of agriculture, business, governments, manufacturers, mineral industries, and transportation at 5-year intervals. The Census Bureau also conducts the monthly Current Population Survey (CPS) in cooperation with the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Data from this survey are the source of unemployment statistics.

U.S. Department of Labor

Cabinet-level U.S. agency that enforces laws protecting workers, promotes labor-management cooperation, sponsors employment and training placement services, oversees the unemployment insurance system, and produces statistics on the labor force and living conditions.

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Wage and Salary Employment

Full-time and part-time workers who receive wages, salaries, commissions, tips, payment in kind, or piece rates. The group includes employees in both the private and public sectors.


A payment, usually of money, for labor or services performed.

Wage Percentiles

Wage percentiles describe the distribution of earnings within occupations. These estimates, along with establishment and worker characteristics, help to explain the wage variation within occupations.

Workforce Development

Generally speaking, the term has come to describe a relatively wide range of activities, policies and programs employed by geographies to create, sustain and retain a viable workforce that can support current and future business and industry.

Workforce Investment Act (WIA)

This 1998 Act provides the framework for a unique national workforce preparation and employment system designed to meet both the needs of the nation’s businesses and the needs of the job seekers and those who want to further their careers. The most important aspect of the Act is its focus on meeting the needs of businesses for skilled workers and the training, education, and employment needs of individuals.

Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA)
President Barack Obama signed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) into law on July 22, 2014. The WIOA supersedes the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (WIA) and amends the Wagner-Peyser Act, the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act, and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

The WIOA helps job seekers succeed in the labor market by providing access to employment, education, training, and support services while matching employers with the skilled workers they need to compete in the global economy. In addition, the enactment of WIOA provides a new opportunity to ensure that America’s Job Center of CaliforniaSM (AJCC) locations remain effective and job-driven—responding to the needs of employers and preparing workers for jobs, now and in the future.

Working Age Population

The total population in a region that is considered to be able and likely to work based on the portion of the population belonging to a certain predetermined age range. The working-age population measure is used to give an estimate of the total number of potential workers within an economy.

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Year-Over / Over-the-Year Change

A comparison of a statistic for one period to the same period the previous year. The period is usually a month or a quarter.