Friday, August 18, 2017

County Business Patterns and a National Program of Adjudication

On more than one occasion, I have had the opportunity to ask the vocational expert if the testimony rendered was consistent with County Business Patterns.  On some of those occasions, the ALJ has objected to my question, "this is a national program and I asked about national job numbers."  The objection is spurious and reflects a deep misunderstanding of the regulatory paradigm.

The Commissioner takes administrative notice of County Business Patterns.  It is the second example on the list that the Commissioner describes as the items that the agency "will" take notice.  20 CFR §§ 404.1566(d)(2); 416.966(d)(2).  County Business Patterns also appears on page 7 of the Vocational Expert Handbook of items that the agency insists that a vocational expert be familiar with, know how to use, and know how to apply.

But I am always willing to play along with the mind game that an ALJ wants to throw down.  So I assume that County Business Patterns sets forth job numbers county by county across the nation.  Having passed the sixth grade in knowing how to use a calculator, I can add up all of the job numbers, county by county, state-by-state, until I get a national number.  Even if the spurious objection had some semblance of validity, that we ignore County Business Patterns because this is a national program that has an interest in the national job numbers, the ALJs protestation falls flat.  Even if the Census Bureau published County Business Patterns exclusively by county and never by state or by nation, we have the intelligence and methodology to add the numbers together and discern just how big and industry is in the national economy.

And any protest about County Business Patterns as stating county employment and never setting forth state or National employment is simply untrue.  The Census Bureau states:
CBP is an annual series that provides subnational economic data by industry. This series includes the number of establishments, employment during the week of March 12, first quarter payroll, and annual payroll.
 In describing the tables of data available, the Census Bureau lists:
U.S., States, and Counties tables start from 1998 to current year.
 The Census Bureau permits the user to select any state/territory or the entire United States.  We then get to pick industries and find out job numbers within those industries. 

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