Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Comments on the SCOTUS Blog - Biestek v. Berryill

The SCOTUS Blog - Biestek v. Berryill summarizes from a non-Social Security perspective the oral argument.  The underlying theme of the blog is to emphasize the lack of publicly available data to put any kind of reliability on job numbers in the national economy.  That, my friends, is based on an ignorant understanding of the evolving data. 

Having read the relevant part of the transcript in Biestek, it is clear to me that the vocational expert had no discernible recognized methodology.  It is a gross rounding down of aggregate job numbers for large occupational groups.  It is wholly unreliable. 

The vocational expert identified nut sorter (DOT 521.687-086) representing 120,000 jobs.  The vocational expert had already identified a light inspector job representing 450,000 jobs in the nation.  The entire occupational group represented 489,750 jobs in the nation as of May 2014.  Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2014, 51-9061 Inspectors, Testers, Sorters, Samplers, and Weighers.  

The vocational expert identified final assembler (DOT 713.687-018) representing 240,000 jobs.  Production Workers had an estimated 217,500 jobs in every exertional and skill level.  Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2014, 51-9199 Production Workers, All Other.  

Putting together the testimony relied upon by the ALJ and the other testimony rendered irrelevant by the change in the residual functional capacity assessment, it is clear that the vocational expert in Biestek was at least reckless about the truth an no one called her on it.  Use the O*NET Crosswalk to check the DOT to SOC correlation and the number of occupations in the two groups containing mostly jobs that are not sedentary and jobs that are not unskilled (1,590 occupations in production workers and 782 occupations in inspectors, testers, sorters, samplers, and weighers).  

The equal distribution method (Occupational Employment Quarterly) does not support the absurd testimony by the vocational expert in Biestek.  The occupational density model (Job Browser Pro) does not support that testimony.  The results of research in the Occupational Requirements Survey would not support the testimony.  

Calculating the density by occupation and industry beats equal distribution for job numbers.  Using the ORS beats them both.  The available data ruins the testimony given in Biestek and the court should rest assured that the testimony in this case was not reliable, period.  




Saturday, December 8, 2018

How is BLS Improving the Occupational Requirements Survey

Here is what DOL says:

How are we improving ORS?

The Occupational Requirements Survey (ORS) was developed collaboratively by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the Social Security Administration (SSA). The BLS is comprised primarily of economists and the SSA is comprised primarily of disability adjudication and policy experts. At the onset of the collaboration, efforts were made to develop estimates for work in the modern US economy that closely mirrored the select data elements found in the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT), which SSA currently uses in adjudication. However, very little information exists about the DOT’s methodology. Initially, BLS and SSA agreed to define the scope of collection as how work is “generally performed” in each establishment. This meant BLS would collect requirements related to all aspects of work, including job functions that were incidental or not specific to one job and were unrelated to the primary hiring and pay factors of jobs.
Historically, SSA relied upon information from the DOT and its companion the Selected Characteristics of Occupations (SCO). The data from these publications appears to show a narrower scope for data collection. DOT data appears to show that analysts only rated work requirements that pertained to the hiring and pay factors of jobs.
The BLS has taken steps to revise current procedures to align more closely with a narrower scope of work that pertains to the hiring and pay factors of the job. The revised scope of work is limited to only tasks that are related to the “critical job function” (i.e., the reason the job exists). These tasks must be expected and usual, now defined as “critical.” In addition, after reviewing the duration data in the first published results which included point estimates, respondent-determined ranges, and SSA-defined ranges the BLS determined collection of duration data only in the SSA-defined ranges would more accurately reflect duration of job demands. By adjusting the parameters of what work is included to only that of the critical functions of jobs and specifying duration ranges, the BLS expects to more accurately capture job requirements while still identifying changes in the way work is performed in the modern economy.

Last Modified Date: November 15, 2018

Friday, December 7, 2018

Rethinking Food Processing Workers, All Other - SOC 51-3099

As part of the 2010 revisions of the Standard Occupational Classification system, the Department of Labor moved some occupations out of production workers, all other (SOC 51-9199) and created food processing workers, all other (SOC 51-3099).  2010 SOC User Guide, vii, x, 4-5  (BLS, Feb. 2010); Crosswalk from the 2000 SOC to the 2010 SOC.  The SOC defines food processing workers, all other as:
All food processing workers not listed separately
Illustrative examples: Olive Pitter , Poultry Hanger , Yeast Maker
Job Browser Pro responded by moving the 61 DOT codes related to food products from production workers, all other to food processing workers, all other.  But Labor continues to count food-production-related jobs in its count of production workers, all other.  With three exceptions, all DOT codes moved over have the first two DOT digits of 52 OCCUPATIONS IN PROCESSING OF FOOD, TOBACCO, AND RELATED PRODUCTS.  The question is whether those 61 occupations belong in food processing workers, all other -- or just the ones exemplified by the three examples provided in the SOC:  olive pitter, poultry hanger, and yeast maker. 

The O*NET OnLine, Alternate Titles provides one additional example:  pasta press operator.  That same list of alternate titles continues to list the 61 DOT codes found on the JBP list as in production workers, all other.  And we know that Labor placed 1,590 DOT codes inside of production workers, all other as part of the 2000 SOC revision.  The Alternate Titles list does not count 1,590 job titles as within the group.  It counts 2,788 alternate titles. 

The economy has changed.  The proposition that food processing workers, all other contains four specific occupations as exemplars that were not contained in the 1991 DOT and that production workers, all other contains an additional 1,200 occupations not envisioned in the DOT provides the best and most reasonable explanation for the data provided in the employment projections for not only food production but the rest of the economy

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Sales Attendant with a Limited Education and a Sit-Stand Option-- Using the ORS to Estimate Job Numbers

We start with the vocational expert identifying the occupation of sales attendant (DOT 299.677-010).  The DOT describes the occupation:

299.677-010 SALES ATTENDANT (retail trade) alternate titles: attendant, self-service store
Performs any combination of following duties to provide customer service in self-service store: Aids customers in locating merchandise. Answers questions from and provides information to customer about merchandise for sale. Obtains merchandise from stockroom when merchandise is not on floor. Arranges stock on shelves or racks in sales area. Directs or escorts customer to fitting or dressing rooms or to cashier. Keeps merchandise in order. Marks or tickets merchandise. Inventories stock.
GOE: 09.04.02 STRENGTH: L GED: R3 M1 L2 SVP: 2 DLU: 81
We move to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, employment projections, or occupational employment statistics to see the size of the occupational group, 41-2031 - Retail Salespersons.  

41-2031 - Retail Salespersons
Typical Education Needed
No formal educational credential
Work Experience in a Related Occupation
None
Typical On-The-Job Training Needed to Attain Competency
Short-term on-the-job training
2016 Employment
4,602,500

The prospect of a multi-million job occupational base that requires no formal education and short-term training (unskilled) represents a particular problem for a person under the age of 55 and capable of some range of light work.  The first step in understanding the occupational group is to determine whether other non-light non-unskilled work exist in this group.  

DOTCode
DOTTitle
SVP
STRENGTH
INDTTL
260.357-026
SALESPERSON, FLOWERS
4
L
(retail trade)
261.351-010
SALESPERSON, WIGS
4
L
(personal ser.; retail trade)
261.354-010
SALESPERSON, CORSETS
5
L
(retail trade)
261.357-042
SALESPERSON, FURS
5
L
(retail trade)
261.357-046
SALESPERSON, INFANTS' AND CHILDREN'S WEAR
3
L
(retail trade)
261.357-050
SALESPERSON, MEN'S AND BOYS' CLOTHING
4
L
(retail trade)
261.357-054
SALESPERSON, MEN'S FURNISHINGS
4
L
(retail trade)
261.357-058
SALESPERSON, MILLINERY
3
L
(retail trade)
261.357-062
SALESPERSON, SHOES
4
L
(retail trade)
261.357-066
SALESPERSON, WOMEN'S APPAREL AND ACCESSORIES
3
L
(retail trade)
261.357-070
SALESPERSON, YARD GOODS
3
L
(retail trade)
261.357-074
SALESPERSON, LEATHER-AND-SUEDE APPAREL-AND-ACCESSORIES
5
L
(retail trade)
262.357-018
SALESPERSON, COSMETICS AND TOILETRIES
4
L
(retail trade)
270.352-010
SALESPERSON, SEWING MACHINES
6
M
(retail trade)
270.357-018
SALESPERSON, CHINA AND SILVERWARE
4
L
(retail trade; wholesale tr.)
270.357-022
SALESPERSON, CURTAINS AND DRAPERIES
4
L
(retail trade)
270.357-026
SALESPERSON, FLOOR COVERINGS
4
L
(retail trade; wholesale tr.)
270.357-030
SALESPERSON, FURNITURE
4
L
(retail trade)
270.357-034
SALESPERSON, HOUSEHOLD APPLIANCES
4
L
(retail trade)
270.357-038
SALESPERSON, STEREO EQUIPMENT
4
M
(retail trade)
271.354-010
SALESPERSON, ELECTRIC MOTORS
6
L
(retail trade; wholesale tr.)
272.357-022
SALESPERSON, HORTICULTURAL AND NURSERY PRODUCTS
4
L
(retail trade; wholesale tr.)
273.353-010
SALESPERSON, AUTOMOBILES
6
L
(retail trade)
273.357-018
SALES REPRESENTATIVE, BOATS AND MARINE SUPPLIES
5
L
(retail trade; wholesale tr.)
273.357-030
SALESPERSON, AUTOMOBILE ACCESSORIES
4
L
(retail trade; wholesale tr.)
273.357-034
SALESPERSON, TRAILERS AND MOTOR HOMES
5
L
(retail trade)
276.257-018
SALESPERSON, ORTHOPEDIC SHOES
6
L
(retail trade)
277.354-010
SALESPERSON, PIANOS AND ORGANS
6
L
(retail trade)
277.357-034
SALESPERSON, BOOKS
4
L
(retail trade)
277.357-038
SALESPERSON, MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS AND ACCESSORIES
6
L
(retail trade)
277.357-042
SALESPERSON, PETS AND PET SUPPLIES
4
L
(retail trade)
277.357-046
SALESPERSON, PHONOGRAPH RECORDS AND TAPE RECORDINGS
3
L
(retail trade)
277.357-050
SALESPERSON, PHOTOGRAPHIC SUPPLIES AND EQUIPMENT
5
L
(retail trade; wholesale tr.)
277.357-054
SALESPERSON, SHEET MUSIC
5
L
(retail trade)
277.357-058
SALESPERSON, SPORTING GOODS
5
L
(retail trade)
277.357-062
SALESPERSON, STAMPS OR COINS
5
L
(retail trade; wholesale tr.)
277.357-066
SALESPERSON, TOY TRAINS AND ACCESSORIES
3
L
(retail trade)
277.457-010
SALESPERSON, ART OBJECTS
4
L
(retail trade)
279.357-046
SALESPERSON, FLYING SQUAD
6
L
(retail trade)
279.357-050
SALESPERSON, GENERAL HARDWARE
4
L
(retail trade; wholesale tr.)
279.357-054
SALESPERSON, GENERAL MERCHANDISE
3
L
(retail trade; wholesale tr.)
279.357-058
SALESPERSON, JEWELRY
5
L
(retail trade)
290.477-014
SALES CLERK
3
L
(retail trade)
299.377-010
PLATFORM ATTENDANT
3
H
(food prep., nec)
299.467-010
LAYAWAY CLERK
3
L
(retail trade)
299.677-010
SALES ATTENDANT
2
L
(retail trade)

Retail Salespersons contains just one light unskilled occupation, sales attendant but it represents at least a plurality if not the majority of the jobs to justify the OOH classification as unskilled.  Not only is sales attendant the only light unskilled occupation, it is the only unskilled occupation.  

Common sense takes hold and we examine whether the occupational group represents full-time or part-time work.  For that purpose, we turn to the O*NET OnLine.  

Structural Job Characteristics
%
Response
Duration of Typical Work Week — Number of hours typically worked in one week.
38
More than 40 hours
9
40 hours
53
Less than 40 hours


(% of full-time or greater) * 40 + (% of part-time) * x = 100(%) * (average # of hours) 
47*40 + 53x = 100*30.2
1880 + 53x = 3020
53x = 1140
x = 21.3

Assuming the 21.3 hours per week and the O*NET report of $11.16 median hourly wage, average monthly earnings amount to $1,030.07, below the threshold of substantial gainful activity.  We started with 4,602,500 jobs but we now are concerned with 47% of those jobs, or 2,163,175 jobs.  

We know from the occupation list that most of the DOT codes require something other than light exertion and a dearth of skills.  To examine that categorization, we turn to the Occupational Requirements Survey.  

41-2031.00 (retail salespersons)

Series ID: ORUV1000067100000064
Not seasonally adjusted
Series Title: % of retail salespersons; svp is short demonstration only
Requirement: Education, Training, And Experience
Occupation: retail salespersons
Estimate: svp is short demonstration only
Year
Period
Estimate
2017
Annual
2.7

Series ID: ORUV1000067100000065
Not seasonally adjusted
Series Title: % of retail salespersons; svp is beyond short demonstration, up to & including 1 month
Requirement: Education, Training, And Experience
Occupation: retail salespersons
Estimate: svp is beyond short demonstration, up to & including 1 month
Year
Period
Estimate
2017
Annual
66.6

The ORS confirms the OOH classification of the group as unskilled.  The ORS pegs 2.7% of the jobs as SVP 1 and 66.6% of jobs as SVP 2.  The unskilled percentage of the occupational group is 69.3%.  While we started with 2,163,175 jobs as full-time and substantial gainful activity, the unskilled number of those jobs drops to 1,499,080.  

 We assumed at the outset the presence of a limited education.  BLS reports education level of incumbents, not the education level required.  the ORS reports the latter:

Series ID: ORUV1000067100000076
Not seasonally adjusted
Series Title: % of retail salespersons; minimum education level is a high school diploma
Requirement: Education, Training, And Experience
Occupation: retail salespersons
Estimate: minimum education level is a high school diploma
Year
Period
Estimate
2017
Annual
41.9

This data allows the reduction of the number of jobs available to a claimant with a limited education to 58.1% of the number of full-time jobs -- 870,966 jobs.  If the claimant has a limitation to four hours of standing/walking and four hours of sitting in a full-time workday, the ORS informs the next step reduction:

Series ID: ORUP1000067100001004
Not seasonally adjusted
Series Title: retail salespersons; % of day standing/walking is required (10th percentile)
Requirement: Physical Demands
Occupation: retail salespersons
Estimate: % of day standing/walking is required (10th percentile)
Year
Period
Estimate
2017
Annual
50

Series ID: ORUP1000067100001002
Not seasonally adjusted
Series Title: retail salespersons; % of day sitting is required (90th percentile)
Requirement: Physical Demands
Occupation: retail salespersons
Estimate: % of day sitting is required (90th percentile)
Year
Period
Estimate
2017
Annual
50

The two pieces of data correspond, 10% of jobs require standing/walking 50% of the day or less and 10% of the jobs require sitting 50% of the day or more.  The interim conclusion is that 10% of the jobs are available to the claimant -- 87,097.  But we are looking for people that have the option of sitting-standing at will, the sit-stand option.  

Series ID: ORUP1000067100000139
Not seasonally adjusted
Series Title: % of retail salespersons; sitting vs. standing/walking at will is allowed
Requirement: Physical Demands
Occupation: retail salespersons
Estimate: sitting vs. standing/walking at will is allowed
Year
Period
Estimate
2017
Annual
9.8

The need for the sit-stand option leaves 8,536 jobs.  But we still need to limit the jobs to those requiring light exertion and exclude those requiring medium or heavy exertion.  

Series ID: ORUP1000067100000234
Not seasonally adjusted
Series Title: retail salespersons; pounds maximum weight lifted/carried (10th percentile)
Requirement: Physical Demands
Occupation: retail salespersons
Estimate: pounds maximum weight lifted/carried (10th percentile)
YearPeriodEstimate
2017Annual10
Series ID: ORUP1000067100000235
Not seasonally adjusted
Series Title: retail salespersons; pounds maximum weight lifted/carried (25th percentile)
Requirement: Physical Demands
Occupation: retail salespersons
Estimate: pounds maximum weight lifted/carried (25th percentile)
YearPeriodEstimate
2017Annual25
Series ID: ORUP1000067100000239
Not seasonally adjusted
Series Title: % of retail salespersons; lifting/carrying up to 10 lbs is required, seldom
Requirement: Physical Demands
Occupation: retail salespersons
Estimate: lifting/carrying up to 10 lbs is required, seldom
YearPeriodEstimate
2017Annual14
Series ID: ORUP1000067100000240
Not seasonally adjusted
Series Title: % of retail salespersons; lifting/carrying > 10 lbs & <= 20 lbs is required, seldom
Requirement: Physical Demands
Occupation: retail salespersons
Estimate: lifting/carrying > 10 lbs & <= 20 lbs is required, seldom
YearPeriodEstimate
2017Annual9.8
Series ID: ORUP1000067100000241
Not seasonally adjusted
Series Title: % of retail salespersons; lifting/carrying > 20 lbs & <= 50 lbs is required, seldom
Requirement: Physical Demands
Occupation: retail salespersons
Estimate: lifting/carrying > 20 lbs & <= 50 lbs is required, seldom
YearPeriodEstimate
2017Annual71.2

The profile does not give light percentages of jobs.  We use the maximum weight lifted and the seldom weight lifted to deduce that the number of jobs that require light exertion or less is 23.8% of the jobs.  

The number of sales attendant jobs for a person with a limited education at the light level of exertion with four hours of standing/walking and four hours of sitting with a sit-stand option is approximately 2,032 jobs.  

This approach uses a granular distribution method.  It assumes that the percentages of work characteristics have the same distribution -- serially reducing the number of jobs at each layer.  The associative properties of mathematics mean that it does not matter the order in which the percentages are applied, just that they are each applied sequentially.  That observation allows us to remove a single criterion such as a high school education or six hours of standing/walking without redoing the entire calculation.  

Comments on the SCOTUS Blog - Biestek v. Berryill

The  SCOTUS Blog - Biestek v. Berryill summarizes from a non-Social Security perspective the oral argument.  The underlying theme of the bl...