Katharine Abraham

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Katharine Abraham
Katharine abraham.png
Abraham in 1993
Commissioner of Labor Statistics
Bureau of Labor Statistics
In office
October 1993 – October 2001
Preceded by Janet L. Norwood
Succeeded by Kathleen Utgoff
Member of the Council of Economic Advisers
In office
President Barack Obama
Preceded by Cecilia Rouse
Succeeded by Betsey Stevenson
Personal details
Born (1954-08-28) August 28, 1954 (age 63)
Ames, Iowa[1]
Academic career
Institutions Sloan School of Management, MIT
University of Maryland, College Park
Field labor economics
Alma mater

Katharine G. Abraham (born 28 August 1954[3]) is the Director of the Maryland Center for Economics and Policy,[4] and a professor of Survey Methodology and Economics[5] at the University of Maryland. She was Commissioner of the Bureau of Labor Statistics from 1993–2001[2] and a member of the Council of Economic Advisers from 2011–2013.[6][7]


Abraham holds a BS degree in Economics from Iowa State University (1976) and a PhD in Economics from Harvard University (1982). She was an assistant professor at MIT's Sloan School of Management and a Research Associate at the Brookings Institution before joining the faculty at the University of Maryland in 1988.[1]


During her time as Commissioner of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Abraham laid the groundwork for the American Time Use Survey, the first U.S. government survey of time use, and established the Federal Economic Statistics Advisory Committee. During extensive public debate on the Consumer Price Index in the 1990s, Abraham testified repeatedly before Congress on the shortcomings of existing methodology and the necessity of making revisions based on objective research.[8][9][10] She expanded coverage of the prices of services in the Producer Price Index; instituted improvements in the Current Employment Statistics, including the substitution of a probability sample for the quota sample; accelerated delivery of employment and wage statistics; and took steps toward expanding coverage of wages and salaries in the Occupational Employment Statistics program.[2]

Abraham's research has included studies of the effects of job duration on wages; the effects of advertising on job vacancies, wages and the business cycle; and comparisons among the U.S., European, and Japanese labor markets; work-sharing policies, unemployment, and job openings; the operation of internal labor markets; and the measurement of market and nonmarket economic activity.[11][12]


She is a Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research[13] and the recipient of an honorary doctorate by Iowa State University. She has been awarded the Julius Shiskin Award for Economic Statistics (2002),[2] the Roger Herriot Award for Innovation in Federal Statistics (2010), and the Susan C. Eaton Scholar-Practitioner Award of the Labor and Employment Relations Association (2013). She is a Fellow of the American Statistical Association and the Society of Labor Economists.[4]

Personal life[edit]

Abraham is married and has two sons.[1]

Selected bibliography[edit]

  • Abraham, Katharine G.; McKersie, Robert B. (1990). New developments in the labor market: toward a new institutional paradigm. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press. ISBN 9780262011181.  Based on papers presented at a conference held at MIT in June of 1987.
  • Abraham, Katharine G.; Houseman, Susan N. (1993). Job security in America: lessons from Germany. Washington, D.C: Brookings Institution. ISBN 9780815700753. 
  • Abraham, Katharine G.; Mackie, Christopher D. (2005). Beyond the market designing nonmarket accounts for the United States. Washington, D.C.: National Academies Press. ISBN 9780309093194. 
  • Abraham, Katharine G.; Spletzer, James R.; Harper, Michael J. (2010). Labor in the new economy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. ISBN 9780226001432. 
Journal articles