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Each month, millions of Americans look to the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) for answers to questions like these: Is unemployment going up or down? How much have prices changed since last month? What's happening to wages? BLS also traces national trends in productivity, employment costs, and other labor-related measures.
Besides monitoring the economy's pulse, BLS national economic statistics serve as guides when wages, pensions, and other payments are adjusted for changing prices--as required by escalator clauses in contracts and by provisions of law.
People interested in State and local economies use the Bureau's area statistics--State unemployment rates, the Consumer Price Indexes (CPI) for metropolitan areas, and wage rates for occupations common to regional industries.
BLS industry statistics cover employment, earnings, prices, productivity, and technology and include data on major industry sectors such as mining and manufacturing, on specific industries such as clothing and textiles, or on State and local areas. The numbers are used to measure the performance of an industry from one month or one year to the next, to compare performance among industries, and to adjust contracts for changes in industry prices, wages, and other conditions.
The Bureau also looks at the people behind the statistics. It examines the racial composition of the labor force, the kinds of jobs held by men and women, the level of education of those working and not working, and the unemployment problems of worker groups including teenagers, blacks, Hispanics, and women.
The Bureau gathers data on how people spend their money. BLS consumer expenditure studies provide not only a fixed market basket for computing the Consumer Price Indexes, but also insight into patterns of consumer spending. Market researchers and merchandisers use the Bureau's consumer expenditure data, classified by family characteristics such as size, income, and place of residence.
The Bureau develops long-term economic projections, based upon certain specific assumptions that include projections of aggregate labor force, potential demand, industrial output, and employment in 226 industry sectors. Government officials use this information to evaluate alternative economic policy options to analyze the implications of likely economic growth trends for the national economy, and to identify potential problems of labor utilization.
BLS analyzes changes in the occupational structure of industries resulting from changes in technology, product mix, and other factors, and translates projections of industry employment into future occupational employment demands.
This job outlook information is used by persons planning careers, jobseekers, training officials, education planners, and employment counselors.
BLS conducts annual surveys which measure the number, incidence, and severity of job-related injuries and illnesses by industry. Through supplementary surveys, BLS helps to identify specific safety hazards on the job. The findings are used by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and State safety agencies, as well as by management and labor. The Bureau collects information on wage and benefit changes in major collective bargaining agreements and on work stoppages involving 1,000 workers or more. The Bureau's file of collective bargaining agreements--open to the public--is a source of information about industry wage practices, supplementary benefits, and union security provisions. Negotiators for both labor and management use these BLS data. The Bureau also gathers international statistics. Comparisons of prices, wages, employment, unemployment, and unit labor costs show the competitiveness of U.S. industries and products in the world market.
The Bureau's sales publications are available from its Publcations Sales Center, P.O. Box 2145, Chicago, IL 60690, or from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402. Single copies of other publications are available while supplies last from any of the Bureau's regional offices or from the Bureau's Inquiries and Correspondence Branch, Room 2831A, GAO Building, 441 G Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20212.
BLS Regional Offices
Region I (CT ME MA NH RI VT)
1 Congress Street
Boston, MA 02114
Region II (NJ NY PR VI)
201 Varick Street
New York, NY 10014
Region III (DE DC MD PA VA WV)
3535 Market Street
P.O. Box 13309
Philadelphia, PA 19101
Region IV (AL FL GA KY MS NC SC TN)
1371 Peachtree St., N.E.
Atlanta, GA 30367
Region V (IL IN MI MN OH WI)
Federal Office Building
230 S. Dearborn Street
Chicago, IL 60604
Region VI (AR LA NM OK TX)
525 Griffin Street
Dallas, TX 75202
Regions VII and VIII (CO IA KS MO MT NE ND SD UT WY)
911 Walnut Street
Kansas City, MO 64106
Regions IX and X (AK AS AZ CA GU HI ID NV OR WA Trust Territory of
71 Stevenson Street
P.O. Box 193766 San Francisco, CA 94119-3766
This is one of a series of fact sheets highlighting U.S. Department of Labor Programs. It is intended as a general description only and does not carry the force of legal opinion.
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