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What is the Bureau of Labor Statistics?

By John Markley
Updated Feb 23, 2024
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The Bureau of Labor Statistics is an agency of the US government responsible for collecting data on employment rates, worker compensation and conditions, and prices in the US. This information is collected through an array of economic surveys of American workers and consumers, the US Census, and by monitoring the changing prices of various commodities. The information is widely used by businesses, organized labor, and all levels of government. The Bureau of Labor Statistics is part of the US Department of Labor.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics collects employment data broken down by factors such as geography, industry, and occupation. It tracks increases and decreases in the number of workers working in different parts of the economy, their median wages, and the demographic makeup of the workforce. Much of this data is collected through surveys such as the Current Population Survey, the Current Employment Statistics Survey, and the Mass Layoff Statistics program. This information is then published in a series of monthly reports. The Bureau of Labor Statistics also publishes a quarterly report, the Employment Cost Index, which records changes in the cost of labor.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics is responsible for the Consumer Price Index, which it has published monthly since 1919. The bureau tracks the prices of various consumer products and services, along with the percentage of their incomes that people spend on them. From this, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates changes in the American cost of living from month to month.

The Consumer Price Index is the most widely used indicator of inflation in the US and is the price index used to calculate cost-of-living increases in Social Security. The index also calculates federal employee pensions, government benefits such as food stamps, and some labor union contracts. The Consumer Price Index is a lagging indicator, reflecting the results of economic activity that has already occurred.

The Consumer Expenditure Survey is a study of the consumer goods bought by Americans and estimates the buying habits of people at different income levels and in different demographic groups. This information is widely used by researchers, marketers, and policymakers. It is also used in the calculation of the Consumer Price Index.

The Injuries, Illnesses, and Fatalities program studies workplace safety. This includes both harms that are directly work-related, such as industrial accidents and exposure to hazardous materials, and other sources of danger, such as workplace shootings. This information is categorized according to industry, occupation, and geography, making it possible to track safety trends in different sectors of the economy.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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