The Current Population Survey (CPS) and the American Time Use Survey (ATUS) use the 2002 census occupation system to classify workers into 509 separate occupations arranged into 22 major occupational categories.
We describe the methods and rationale for assigning detailed Metabolic Equivalent (MET) estimates to occupations and present population estimates (comparing outputs generated by analysis of previously published summary MET estimates to the detailed MET estimates) of intensities of occupational activity using the 2003 ATUS data comprised of 20,720 respondents, 5323 (2917 males and 2406 females) of whom reported working 6+ hours at their primary occupation on their assigned reporting day.
Analysis using the summary MET estimates resulted in 4% more workers in sedentary occupations, 6% more in light, 7% less in moderate, and 3% less in vigorous compared with using the detailed MET estimates. The detailed estimates are more sensitive to identifying individuals who do any occupational activity that is moderate or vigorous in intensity resulting in fewer workers in sedentary and light intensity occupations.
Since CPS/ATUS regularly captures occupation data it will be possible to track prevalence of the different intensity levels of occupations. Updates will be required with inevitable adjustments to future occupational classification systems.