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 is a governmental statistical agency that 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 into how much families need to earn to be able to enjoy a decent standard of living.
The 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.
The Bureau of Labor was established in the Department of the Interior by the Bureau of Labor Act (23 Stat. 60), June 27, 1884, to collect information about employment and labor. It followed the hearings led by Henry W. Blair of the Committee of the Senate upon the relations between Labor and Capital.Carroll D. Wright was the first U.S. Commissioner of Labor. It became an independent (sub-Cabinet) department by the Department of Labor Act (25 Stat. 182), June 13, 1888. It was incorporated, as the Bureau of Labor, into the Department of Commerce and Labor by the Department of Commerce Act (32 Stat. 827), February 14, 1903. Finally, it was transferred to the Department of Labor in 1913 where it resides today. The BLS is now headquartered in the Postal Square Building near the United States Capitol and Union Station.
Since 1915, the BLS has published a journal, the Monthly Labor Review, with articles about 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 was 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. William Wiatrowski, Deputy Commissioner of the BLS, is serving as Acting Commissioner until the next commissioner is sworn in. William Beach has been nominated for the position.
Statistics published by the BLS fall into four main categories:
Employment and unemployment
Unemployment measurements by the BLS from 1950 to 2010
Compensation and working conditions
Data produced by the BLS is often categorized into groups of states known as Census Regions. There are 4 Census Regions, which are further categorized by Census Division as follows:
- New England Division: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
- Middle Atlantic Division: New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania.
- 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.
- East North Central Division: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin.
- West North Central Division: Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota.
- Mountain Division: Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming.
- Pacific Division: Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington.
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