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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