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Overview:

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is one of eight specialized divisions within the Department of Labor, and a direct descendent of the original Bureau of Labor, Department of the Interior, established in 1884. (Today’s Department of Labor was established as a cabinet-level agency in 1913). It is the research arm of the Department of Labor, and the principal fact-finding organization for the Federal Government in the field of labor economics. The data it collects and disseminates on variables such as employment and unemployment, price and spending trends, compensation, productivity and health, have a great influence on economic and social policymaking, labor market and politics, and important decisions within business and financial communities.

 
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History:

Prior to the founding of the Bureau in 1884, labor-statistic bureaus existed at the state level, but the labor movement, including unions and state commissioners of labor statistics, sought the establishment of a permanent, federal bureau to gather data on a nationwide basis. Proponents believed that such data would provide an accurate overview of the state of unemployment in the country, and help the cause of Labor in policymaking. Politicians joined the drive for a federal bureau by the early 1880s, and by the elections of 1884, both Republicans and Democrats were courting Labor. The Act that established the Bureau was signed as a concession to Labor pressure.
 
In its early history, the agency was viewed as part of a movement for social reform. In addition to the agency’s mission to provide data on the state of the economy, labor and employment conditions, it also played a part in collective bargaining and labor disputes. BLS Commissioners helped mediate industrial disputes, and acted as advisors to the government on a broad range of issues, with more scope than the Bureau’s current relegation to objective fact-finding and reporting.
 
In its first phase of existence, before being relocated to the Department of Labor, the Bureau gathered information on working conditions, investigating and reporting on most important labor disputes in the country. Under the direction of its second Commissioner, Charles P. Neill, the Bureau helped to arbitrate more than 50 railroad disputes under the Erdman Act, and investigated most major strikes of the period. Under subsequent leadership, the Bureau reported on changing industry conditions and provided data for major collective bargaining. (Monthly Labor Review, 1985)
 
One hundred years of the Bureau of Labor Statistics (by Janet L. Norwood, Monthly Labor Review)

Bureau of Labor Statistics

(Harvard University)

 

more
What it Does:

Although initially conceived as an agency that would primarily benefit the Labor movement, the BLS has evolved into a comprehensive, scientific, “neutral” agency that provides public information on the overall health of the economy. The Bureau is intended to be separate and distinct from the policy-making and enforcement arms of the Department of Labor, and maintain credibility based on standards of data collection, processing and dissemination. The Bureau Commissioner is appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate to a term that does not coincide with that of the executive.
 
As the primary source of labor- and employment-related information for the government, the Bureau plays a significant role in the development of public policy. Seven of its series are designated as Principal Federal Economic Indicators.
 
BLS data are used by the business community, by industry and Labor in economic planning and collective bargaining (union) activities. BLS data also factor into the development of other federal statistics, such as personal income estimates and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) (produced by the Department of Commerce). Bureau statistics also impact the daily lives of citizens (e.g., insofar as employment and unemployment data are used to determine federal funding and the Consumer Price Index (CPI) is used to adjust income tax brackets. CPI is also used to adjust Social Security, other federal payments, and private sector payments, such as wage, rent, etc.)
 
The Bureau is divided into eight main divisions, with fifteen regional offices that collect information within their geographical areas. Its main areas are employment and unemployment, including projections of the labor force and employment by industry and occupation; prices, inflation and living conditions; compensation, benefits and working conditions; productivity and technology; employment projections, and safety and health statistics, including reports on the occurrence of work-related injuries, illnesses and work-related deaths.
 
Among the most watched reports are employment, unemployment and the consumer price index, used to calculate inflation, by the Federal Reserve to determine monetary policy, and which can exert a significant influence on Wall Street
 
The Bureau issues monthly figures for employment and unemployment rates, and performs comprehensive breakdowns according to industry and occupation, demographic features like age, sex and racial/ethnic composition of the workforce, as well as regional employment patterns and the extent of workforce participation by minorities.
 
BLS generates the much-watched Consumer Price Index (CPI), used to calculate inflation, and the Producer Price Index. They also track import/export movement and how money is spent within the household.
 
CPI is one of the most frequently used statistics for calculating and predicting periods of inflation and deflation (as large rises in CPI over short periods of time typically denote inflation, while large drops in the same typically signal deflation). The Bureau measures two kinds of CPI statistics—one for urban wage earners and clerical workers, and one for all urban consumers, the latter accounting for about 87% of the population.
Explaining the Consumer Price Index (Congressional Budget Office (CBO) Brief)
 
 
Quick topical links to BLS topic pages
 
 

 

more
Where Does the Money Go:

 

Grants

There are 5 Bureau of Labor Statistics federal grants, government grants and loans. Popular BLS grant areas include:

Employment Projections Data, Labor Force Statistics, Prices and Cost of Living Data, Compensation and Working Conditions, and Productivity and Technology Data.

more
Suggested Reforms:

Detailed Information on the Bureau of Labor Statistics Assessment (ExpectMore)

 

more
Congressional Oversight:

Senate Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies; Committee on Appropriations

 

more

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Founded: 1884
Annual Budget: $593 million
Employees:
Official Website: http://www.bls.gov/
Bureau of Labor Statistics
Groshen, Erica
Director

The Bureau of Labor Statistics, which is the research arm of the Department of Labor and the principal fact-finding organization for the Federal Government in the field of labor economics, has a new leader in the pipeline, an experienced labor economist who has spent most of her career working for the Federal Reserve. Dr. Erica L. Groshen, who was nominated for a four-year term by President Obama on February 16, is herself a former union member and official who describes herself as “nonpartisan.” She has not yet been scheduled for a Senate confirmation hearing.

 
Born in August 1954, Groshen earned a B.S. in Economics and Mathematics at the University of Wisconsin at Madison in 1977, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Economics at Harvard University, in 1983 and 1986, respectively. At Harvard, she taught Labor Economics; Statistical Methods for Economists; Trade Unions, Collective Bargaining, and Public Policy; and Principles of Economics.
 
While still at the University of Wisconsin in 1976, Groshen served as a contract negotiator and union steward for the Memorial Union Labor Organization, a labor union of student workers and limited-term employees at the Memorial Union and Union South on the University of Wisconsin campus. After graduation, she took a job as an economic analyst studying the National Supported Work Experiment, at Mathematica Policy Research, in Princeton, New Jersey, where she worked in 1977 and 1978. She then worked as an economic analyst studying the Minnesota Work Equity Project at Abt Associates, Inc., in Cambridge, Massachusetts from 1978 to 1980.
 
After graduating with her doctorate in 1986, Groshen served as an economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, where she was promoted to economic advisor in 1991, remaining until 1993. At that time she took a job as visiting assistant professor of Economics at Columbia University’s Barnard College from 1993 to 1994, where she taught Labor Economics, Intermediate Microeconomics, and Introduction to Microeconomics. Groshen soon returned to the Federal Reserve, but not to Cleveland. Instead, she joined the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in 1994, where she held a series of positions, including head of international research (1994-1997); head of domestic research (1997-1999); assistant vice president, Microeconomic and Regional Studies (2000-2006); vice president and director of Regional Affairs (2006-2010); and vice president and economist in the Regional Analysis Function of the Research and Statistics Group, a position she has held since 2010. During those years, and immediately before her promotion to vice president, Groshen worked as a visiting economist at the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland, from 1999 to 2000.
 
Groshen is married to Christopher W. Bazinet, a biology professor at St. John’s University in New York, and the couple has two children: Oliver and Jeremy.
 
Long Islander Nominated to Lead U.S. Agency (by Carrie Mason-Draffen, Newsday)
 
more
Hall, Keith
Commissioner

Dr. Keith Hall earned a bachelor’s Degree from the University of Virginia and M.S and PhD degrees in economics from Purdue University. He taught on the faculties of the University of Arkansas and the University of Missouri. Hall spent ten years at the U.S. International Trade Commission, including in the position of senior international economist in the Research Division, in the Office of Economics. He worked as chief economist in the U.S. Department of Commerce before joining the White House Council of Economic Advisors for two years as chief economist. He was nominated by President Bush for the post of BLS Commissioner in September of 2007.

 
 
more
Bookmark and Share
Overview:

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is one of eight specialized divisions within the Department of Labor, and a direct descendent of the original Bureau of Labor, Department of the Interior, established in 1884. (Today’s Department of Labor was established as a cabinet-level agency in 1913). It is the research arm of the Department of Labor, and the principal fact-finding organization for the Federal Government in the field of labor economics. The data it collects and disseminates on variables such as employment and unemployment, price and spending trends, compensation, productivity and health, have a great influence on economic and social policymaking, labor market and politics, and important decisions within business and financial communities.

 
more
History:

Prior to the founding of the Bureau in 1884, labor-statistic bureaus existed at the state level, but the labor movement, including unions and state commissioners of labor statistics, sought the establishment of a permanent, federal bureau to gather data on a nationwide basis. Proponents believed that such data would provide an accurate overview of the state of unemployment in the country, and help the cause of Labor in policymaking. Politicians joined the drive for a federal bureau by the early 1880s, and by the elections of 1884, both Republicans and Democrats were courting Labor. The Act that established the Bureau was signed as a concession to Labor pressure.
 
In its early history, the agency was viewed as part of a movement for social reform. In addition to the agency’s mission to provide data on the state of the economy, labor and employment conditions, it also played a part in collective bargaining and labor disputes. BLS Commissioners helped mediate industrial disputes, and acted as advisors to the government on a broad range of issues, with more scope than the Bureau’s current relegation to objective fact-finding and reporting.
 
In its first phase of existence, before being relocated to the Department of Labor, the Bureau gathered information on working conditions, investigating and reporting on most important labor disputes in the country. Under the direction of its second Commissioner, Charles P. Neill, the Bureau helped to arbitrate more than 50 railroad disputes under the Erdman Act, and investigated most major strikes of the period. Under subsequent leadership, the Bureau reported on changing industry conditions and provided data for major collective bargaining. (Monthly Labor Review, 1985)
 
One hundred years of the Bureau of Labor Statistics (by Janet L. Norwood, Monthly Labor Review)

Bureau of Labor Statistics

(Harvard University)

 

more
What it Does:

Although initially conceived as an agency that would primarily benefit the Labor movement, the BLS has evolved into a comprehensive, scientific, “neutral” agency that provides public information on the overall health of the economy. The Bureau is intended to be separate and distinct from the policy-making and enforcement arms of the Department of Labor, and maintain credibility based on standards of data collection, processing and dissemination. The Bureau Commissioner is appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate to a term that does not coincide with that of the executive.
 
As the primary source of labor- and employment-related information for the government, the Bureau plays a significant role in the development of public policy. Seven of its series are designated as Principal Federal Economic Indicators.
 
BLS data are used by the business community, by industry and Labor in economic planning and collective bargaining (union) activities. BLS data also factor into the development of other federal statistics, such as personal income estimates and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) (produced by the Department of Commerce). Bureau statistics also impact the daily lives of citizens (e.g., insofar as employment and unemployment data are used to determine federal funding and the Consumer Price Index (CPI) is used to adjust income tax brackets. CPI is also used to adjust Social Security, other federal payments, and private sector payments, such as wage, rent, etc.)
 
The Bureau is divided into eight main divisions, with fifteen regional offices that collect information within their geographical areas. Its main areas are employment and unemployment, including projections of the labor force and employment by industry and occupation; prices, inflation and living conditions; compensation, benefits and working conditions; productivity and technology; employment projections, and safety and health statistics, including reports on the occurrence of work-related injuries, illnesses and work-related deaths.
 
Among the most watched reports are employment, unemployment and the consumer price index, used to calculate inflation, by the Federal Reserve to determine monetary policy, and which can exert a significant influence on Wall Street
 
The Bureau issues monthly figures for employment and unemployment rates, and performs comprehensive breakdowns according to industry and occupation, demographic features like age, sex and racial/ethnic composition of the workforce, as well as regional employment patterns and the extent of workforce participation by minorities.
 
BLS generates the much-watched Consumer Price Index (CPI), used to calculate inflation, and the Producer Price Index. They also track import/export movement and how money is spent within the household.
 
CPI is one of the most frequently used statistics for calculating and predicting periods of inflation and deflation (as large rises in CPI over short periods of time typically denote inflation, while large drops in the same typically signal deflation). The Bureau measures two kinds of CPI statistics—one for urban wage earners and clerical workers, and one for all urban consumers, the latter accounting for about 87% of the population.
Explaining the Consumer Price Index (Congressional Budget Office (CBO) Brief)
 
 
Quick topical links to BLS topic pages
 
 

 

more
Where Does the Money Go:

 

Grants

There are 5 Bureau of Labor Statistics federal grants, government grants and loans. Popular BLS grant areas include:

Employment Projections Data, Labor Force Statistics, Prices and Cost of Living Data, Compensation and Working Conditions, and Productivity and Technology Data.

more
Suggested Reforms:

Detailed Information on the Bureau of Labor Statistics Assessment (ExpectMore)

 

more
Congressional Oversight:

Senate Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies; Committee on Appropriations

 

more

Comments

Leave a comment

captcha

Founded: 1884
Annual Budget: $593 million
Employees:
Official Website: http://www.bls.gov/
Bureau of Labor Statistics
Groshen, Erica
Director

The Bureau of Labor Statistics, which is the research arm of the Department of Labor and the principal fact-finding organization for the Federal Government in the field of labor economics, has a new leader in the pipeline, an experienced labor economist who has spent most of her career working for the Federal Reserve. Dr. Erica L. Groshen, who was nominated for a four-year term by President Obama on February 16, is herself a former union member and official who describes herself as “nonpartisan.” She has not yet been scheduled for a Senate confirmation hearing.

 
Born in August 1954, Groshen earned a B.S. in Economics and Mathematics at the University of Wisconsin at Madison in 1977, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Economics at Harvard University, in 1983 and 1986, respectively. At Harvard, she taught Labor Economics; Statistical Methods for Economists; Trade Unions, Collective Bargaining, and Public Policy; and Principles of Economics.
 
While still at the University of Wisconsin in 1976, Groshen served as a contract negotiator and union steward for the Memorial Union Labor Organization, a labor union of student workers and limited-term employees at the Memorial Union and Union South on the University of Wisconsin campus. After graduation, she took a job as an economic analyst studying the National Supported Work Experiment, at Mathematica Policy Research, in Princeton, New Jersey, where she worked in 1977 and 1978. She then worked as an economic analyst studying the Minnesota Work Equity Project at Abt Associates, Inc., in Cambridge, Massachusetts from 1978 to 1980.
 
After graduating with her doctorate in 1986, Groshen served as an economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, where she was promoted to economic advisor in 1991, remaining until 1993. At that time she took a job as visiting assistant professor of Economics at Columbia University’s Barnard College from 1993 to 1994, where she taught Labor Economics, Intermediate Microeconomics, and Introduction to Microeconomics. Groshen soon returned to the Federal Reserve, but not to Cleveland. Instead, she joined the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in 1994, where she held a series of positions, including head of international research (1994-1997); head of domestic research (1997-1999); assistant vice president, Microeconomic and Regional Studies (2000-2006); vice president and director of Regional Affairs (2006-2010); and vice president and economist in the Regional Analysis Function of the Research and Statistics Group, a position she has held since 2010. During those years, and immediately before her promotion to vice president, Groshen worked as a visiting economist at the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland, from 1999 to 2000.
 
Groshen is married to Christopher W. Bazinet, a biology professor at St. John’s University in New York, and the couple has two children: Oliver and Jeremy.
 
Long Islander Nominated to Lead U.S. Agency (by Carrie Mason-Draffen, Newsday)
 
more
Hall, Keith
Commissioner

Dr. Keith Hall earned a bachelor’s Degree from the University of Virginia and M.S and PhD degrees in economics from Purdue University. He taught on the faculties of the University of Arkansas and the University of Missouri. Hall spent ten years at the U.S. International Trade Commission, including in the position of senior international economist in the Research Division, in the Office of Economics. He worked as chief economist in the U.S. Department of Commerce before joining the White House Council of Economic Advisors for two years as chief economist. He was nominated by President Bush for the post of BLS Commissioner in September of 2007.

 
 
more