Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Bureau of Labor Statistics

The Postal Square Building in Washington, D.C., the headquarters of the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Agency overview
FormedJune 27, 1884; 139 years ago (1884-06-27)
JurisdictionFederal government of the United States
HeadquartersPostal Square Building
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Annual budget$655 million (2021)[2]
Agency executives

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is a unit of the United States Department of Labor. It is the principal fact-finding agency for the U.S. government in the broad field of labor economics and statistics and serves as a principal agency of the U.S. Federal Statistical System. The BLS collects, processes, analyzes, and disseminates essential statistical data to the American public, the U.S. Congress, other Federal agencies, State and local governments, business, and labor representatives. The BLS also serves as a statistical resource to the United States Department of Labor, and conducts research measuring the income levels families need to maintain a satisfactory quality of life.[4]

BLS data must satisfy a number of criteria, including relevance to current social and economic issues, timeliness in reflecting today's rapidly changing economic conditions, accuracy and consistently high statistical quality, impartiality in both subject matter and presentation, and accessibility to all. To avoid the appearance of partiality, the dates of major data releases are scheduled more than a year in advance, in coordination with the Office of Management and Budget.[5]


The Bureau of Labor was established within the Department of the Interior on June 27, 1884, to collect information about employment and labor. Its creation under the Bureau of Labor Act (23 Stat. 60) stemmed from the findings of U.S. Senator Henry W. Blair's "Labor and Capital Hearings", which examined labor issues and working conditions in the U.S.[6] Statistician Carroll D. Wright became the first U.S. Commissioner of Labor in 1885, a position he held until 1905. The Bureau's placement within the federal government structure changed three times in the first 29 years following its formation. It was made an independent (sub-Cabinet) department by the Department of Labor Act (25 Stat. 182) on June 13, 1888. The Bureau was then incorporated into the Department of Commerce and Labor by the Department of Commerce Act (32 Stat. 827) on February 14, 1903. Finally, it was transferred under the Department of Labor in 1913 where it resides today.[7][8] The BLS is now headquartered in the Postal Square Building near the United States Capitol and Union Station.

Since 1915, the BLS has published the Monthly Labor Review, a journal focused on the data and methodologies of labor statistics.

The BLS is headed by a commissioner who serves a four-year term from the date he or she takes office. The most recent Commissioner of Labor Statistics is William W. Beach,[9] who was assumed office on March 28, 2019 [10][11] Dr. William Beach was confirmed by the United States Senate on March 13, 2019. William Beach's Senate Confirmation.

Erica Groshen, who was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on January 2, 2013 and sworn in as the 14th Commissioner of Labor Statistics on January 29, 2013, for a term that ended on January 27, 2017.[12][13] William Wiatrowski, Deputy Commissioner of the BLS, served as Acting Commissioner until the next commissioner, William Beach was sworn in. William Beach served until January 2024, at which time he was succeeded by Erika McEntarfer.


Commissioners of Labor Statistics (1885 to present):[14]

Portrait Commissioner Took office Left office
Carroll D. Wright January 1885 January 1905
Charles P. Neill February 1905 May 1913
George Hanger (Acting) May 1913 August 1913
Royal Meeker August 11, 1913 June 1920
Ethelbert Stewart June 1920 June 1932
Charles E. Baldwin (Acting) July 1932 July 1933
Isador Lubin July 1933 January 1946
A. Ford Hinrichs (Acting) January 1946 July 1946
Aryness Joy Wickens July 1946 August 1946
Ewan Clague August 1946 September 1965
Arthur Ross October 1965 July 1968
Ben Burdetsky (Acting) July 1968 March 1969
Geoffrey H. Moore March 1969 January 1973
Ben Burdetsky (Acting) January 1973 July 1973
Julius Shiskin July 1973 October 1978
Janet L. Norwood May 1979 December 1991
William G. Barron Jr. (Acting) December 1991 October 1993
Katharine Abraham October 1993 October 2001
Lois Orr (Acting) October 2001 July 2002
Kathleen Utgoff July 2002 July 2006
Philip Rones (Acting) July 2006 January 2008
Keith Hall January 2008 January 2012
John M. (Jack) Galvin (Acting) January 2012 January 2013
Erica Groshen January 29, 2013 January 27, 2017
William J. Wiatrowski (Acting) January 2017 March 2019
William Beach March 13, 2019 March 2023
William J. Wiatrowski (Acting) March 2023 January 31, 2024
Erika McEntarfer January 31, 2024 Present

Statistical reporting[edit]

Statistics published by the BLS fall into four main categories:[15]


Employment and unemployment[edit]

Unemployment measurements by the BLS from 1950 to 2010
Job seekers ratio in the JOLTS report
  Cold job market
  Balanced job market
  Hot job market

Compensation and working conditions[edit]


Statistical regions[edit]

Data produced by the BLS is often categorized into groups of states known as Census Regions. There are four Census Regions, which are further categorized by Census Division as follows:

Northeast Region

  • New England Division: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
  • Middle Atlantic Division: New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania.

South Region

  • South Atlantic Division: Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia.
  • East South Central Division: Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Tennessee.
  • West South Central Division: Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas.

Midwest Region

  • East North Central Division: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin.
  • West North Central Division: Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota.

West Region

  • Mountain Division: Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming.
  • Pacific Division: Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "FY 2024 Congressional Budget Justification" (PDF). Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved November 21, 2023.
  2. ^ "BLS 2021 Operating Plan" (PDF). US Department of Labor. Archived (PDF) from the original on December 27, 2021. Retrieved February 22, 2022.
  3. ^ a b "Bureau of Labor Statistics: Senior Staff". Bureau of Labor Statistics. Archived from the original on February 23, 2017.
  4. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on June 11, 2014. Retrieved December 22, 2013.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ Cohen, Patricia (November 3, 2016). "How Economic Data Is Kept Politics-Free". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on March 11, 2017. Retrieved February 23, 2017.
  6. ^ GB McKinney, Henry W. Blair's Campaign to Reform America: From the Civil War to the U.S (2012) 110-111
  7. ^ "Records of the Bureau of Labor Statistics [BLS]". National Archives. August 15, 2016. Archived from the original on February 24, 2017. Retrieved February 23, 2017.
  8. ^ "Overview : U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics". www.bls.gov. Archived from the original on February 23, 2017. Retrieved February 23, 2017.
  9. ^ "William W. Beach, Commissioner". U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. April 16, 2019.
  10. ^ President Donald J. Trump Announces Key Additions to his Administration, whitehouse.gov, 17 Oct 2017
  11. ^ Nomination - William Beach — Department of Labor, 16 Jan 2019
  12. ^ Presidential Nominations, 112th Congress (011 - 2012), PN1404-112 Archived 2016-01-02 at the Wayback Machine, Library of Congress, thomas.loc.gov
  13. ^ Senate Confirms Erica Groshen to Head Bureau of Labor Statistics Archived 2017-09-04 at the Wayback Machine, by Jeffrey Sparshott at Wall Street Journal]
  14. ^ "Past BLS Commissioners". bls.gov.
  15. ^ "Subject Area Categories : U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics". Archived from the original on February 23, 2017. Retrieved February 23, 2017.
  16. ^ "American Time Use Survey". Bureau of Labor Statistics. Archived from the original on February 23, 2017.
  17. ^ "Current Employment Statistics". Bureau of Labor Statistics. Archived from the original on February 23, 2017.
  18. ^ "Local Area Unemployment Statistics". Bureau of Labor Statistics. Archived from the original on September 8, 2017.
  19. ^ "Employment, Hours, and Earnings from the Current Employment Statistics survey (State & Metro Area) Home Page". Bls.gov. May 30, 2012. Archived from the original on June 15, 2012. Retrieved June 22, 2012.
  20. ^ "Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey Home Page". Bls.gov. Archived from the original on June 16, 2012. Retrieved June 22, 2012.
  21. ^ "Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages". Bls.gov. March 28, 2012. Archived from the original on June 10, 2012. Retrieved June 22, 2012.
  22. ^ "Business Employment Dynamics Home Page". Bls.gov. May 1, 2012. Archived from the original on October 15, 2012. Retrieved June 22, 2012.
  23. ^ "Mass Layoff Statistics Home Page". Bls.gov. May 16, 2012. Archived from the original on February 23, 2017. Retrieved February 22, 2017.
  24. ^ "Injuries, Illnesses, and Fatalities". Bls.gov. Archived from the original on June 26, 2012. Retrieved June 22, 2012.
  25. ^ "Overview of BLS Productivity Statistics". Bls.gov. Archived from the original on June 25, 2012. Retrieved June 22, 2012.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]