What is the 'Bureau of Labor Statistics – BLS'

The Bureau of Labor Statistics is federal agency that produces a range economic data which reflect the state of the U.S. economy. 

BREAKING DOWN 'Bureau of Labor Statistics – BLS'

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is an arm of the U.S. Department of Labor, and its primary purpose is to research, assemble and publish a range of statistical data on the labor market, prices, and productivity. The statistics produced by the BLS are some of the most influential economic indicators for the American economy: they are frequently cited by the media and used by businesses, academics and policymakers to inform their decisionsmaking. The BLS goes to great lengths to ensure accuracy, impartiality and accessibility of their reports.

Major Data Releases

Some of the most important statistical releases published by the BLS include:

  • The Consumer Price Index (CPI): an aggregate of the prices of a relatively fixed basket of goods, which is used as a standard gauge of inflation and the cost of living.
  • The Producer Price Index (PPI): a measure of the average prices American producers receive for their goods and services.
  • Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS): a range of localized data about labor efficiency and unemployment.
  • The National Compensation Survey (NCS): comprehensive aggregates of workers earnings across a variety of sectors.
  • The "Household" Survey: also known as a Current Population Survey (CPS), this monthly survey of the American population includes the national unemployment rate.

History of the BLS

The Bureau of Labor Statistics was established as a branch of the Department of the Interior in 1884 with a mandate to research and compile information about economics and labor. It was incorporated into the Department of Labor, which it remains a part of, in 1913. Throughout its history, the BLS has been relied upon for empirical evidence to inform economic policy. For example, research from the BLS often justifies raising the minimum wage.

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  1. What does the Bureau of Labor Statistics do?

    By collecting, analyzing and reporting on important economic data, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has become a critical information ... Read Answer >>
  2. What kinds of productivity data does the Bureau of Labor Statistics keep?

    Learn about the types of productivity data kept by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, including labor productivity and multifactor ... Read Answer >>
  3. How does the Bureau of Labor Statistics determine the Consumer Price Index (CPI)?

    Changes in the average price level of more than 200 goods and services across the U.S. economy are used to determine the ... Read Answer >>
  4. Is the Bureau of Labor Statistics accurate?

    Read this brief analysis of the accuracy of Bureau of Labor Statistics, including a summary of the types of reports issued ... Read Answer >>
  5. How is the basket of goods selected for the Consumer Price Index?

    Read about alterations in the market basket for the consumer price index, a measure of approximate consumer price changes ... Read Answer >>
  6. Does the consumer price index (CPI) correlate with the change in price of goods and ...

    See why the consumer price index is a questionable proxy for inflation, and why it is unlikely to represent experiences with ... Read Answer >>
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