Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Bureau of Labor Statistics
Bureau of Labor Statistics logo.svg
Agency overview
FormedJune 27, 1884; 138 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
  • William J. Wiatrowski, Acting Commissioner[3]
  • William J. Wiatrowski, Deputy Commissioner[3]

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, was serving as Acting Commissioner until the next commissioner, William Beach was sworn in.


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

Portrait Commissioner Took Office Left Office
Carroll D. Wright2.jpg Carroll D. Wright January 1885 January 1905
Charles Patrick Neill 1912.jpg Charles P. Neill February 1905 May 1913
Martin Augustine Knapp, William Lee Chambers, and George W. W. Hanger.jpg George Hanger (Acting) May 1913 August 1913
Royal Meeker.jpg Royal Meeker August 11, 1913 June 1920
Ethelbert Stewart.png Ethelbert Stewart June 1920 June 1932
No image.svg Charles E. Baldwin (Acting) July 1932 July 1933
Isador Lubin.png Isador Lubin July 1933 January 1946
No image.svg A. Ford Hinrichs (Acting) January 1946 July 1946
ArynessJoyWickens1961.png Aryness Joy Wickens July 1946 August 1946
Ewan Clague.png Ewan Clague August 1946 September 1965
Arthur Ross.png Arthur Ross October 1965 July 1968
No image.svg Ben Burdetsky (Acting) July 1968 March 1969
Geoffrey Moore.png Geoffrey H. Moore March 1969 January 1973
No image.svg Ben Burdetsky (Acting) January 1973 July 1973
Julius Shiskin.png Julius Shiskin July 1973 October 1978
Janet Norwood Official BLS photo.jpg Janet L. Norwood May 1979 December 1991
No image.svg William G. Barron Jr. (Acting) December 1991 October 1993
Katharine abraham.png Katharine Abraham October 1993 October 2001
No image.svg Lois Orr (Acting) October 2001 July 2002
Kathleen Utgoff Official BLS photo.jpg Kathleen Utgoff July 2002 July 2006
No image.svg Philip Rones (Acting) July 2006 January 2008
Cbo1.jpg Keith Hall January 2008 January 2012
No image.svg John M. (Jack) Galvin (Acting) January 2012 January 2013
Erica Groshen.jpg Erica Groshen January 29, 2013 January 27, 2017
William J. Wiatrowski.jpg William J. Wiatrowski (Acting) January 2017 March 2019
William Beach Official BLS photo.jpg William Beach March 13, 2019 March 2023
William J. Wiatrowski.jpg William J. Wiatrowski (Acting) March 2023 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. ^ "What BLS Does". Bureau of Labor Statistics. February 9, 2009. Archived from the original on May 8, 2011. Retrieved May 10, 2011.
  2. ^ "BLS 2021 Operating Plan" (PDF). US Department of Labor. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2021-12-27. Retrieved 2022-02-22.
  3. ^ a b "Bureau of Labor Statistics: Senior Staff". Bureau of Labor Statistics. Archived from the original on 2017-02-23.
  4. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2014-06-11. Retrieved 2013-12-22.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ Cohen, Patricia (2016-11-03). "How Economic Data Is Kept Politics-Free". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on 2017-03-11. Retrieved 2017-02-23.
  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. 2016-08-15. Archived from the original on 2017-02-24. Retrieved 2017-02-23.
  8. ^ "Overview : U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics". www.bls.gov. Archived from the original on 2017-02-23. Retrieved 2017-02-23.
  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 2017-02-23. Retrieved 2017-02-23.
  16. ^ "American Time Use Survey". Bureau of Labor Statistics. Archived from the original on 2017-02-23.
  17. ^ "Current Employment Statistics". Bureau of Labor Statistics. Archived from the original on 2017-02-23.
  18. ^ "Local Area Unemployment Statistics". Bureau of Labor Statistics. Archived from the original on 2017-09-08.
  19. ^ "Employment, Hours, and Earnings from the Current Employment Statistics survey (State & Metro Area) Home Page". Bls.gov. 2012-05-30. Archived from the original on 2012-06-15. Retrieved 2012-06-22.
  20. ^ "Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey Home Page". Bls.gov. Archived from the original on 2012-06-16. Retrieved 2012-06-22.
  21. ^ "Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages". Bls.gov. 2012-03-28. Archived from the original on 2012-06-10. Retrieved 2012-06-22.
  22. ^ "Business Employment Dynamics Home Page". Bls.gov. 2012-05-01. Archived from the original on 2012-10-15. Retrieved 2012-06-22.
  23. ^ "Mass Layoff Statistics Home Page". Bls.gov. 2012-05-16. Archived from the original on 2017-02-23. Retrieved 2017-02-22.
  24. ^ "Injuries, Illnesses, and Fatalities". Bls.gov. Archived from the original on 2012-06-26. Retrieved 2012-06-22.
  25. ^ "Overview of BLS Productivity Statistics". Bls.gov. Archived from the original on 2012-06-25. Retrieved 2012-06-22.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]