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Commissioner’s Corner 2009 Archives

Commissioner's Corner Archive

Commissioner's Corner 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009



Keith Hall was Commissioner from January 2008 to January 2012.


December 23, 2009

Every two years, the BLS releases projection data for the labor market as a whole 10 years into the future.  There are several additional products that go along with this release, including career guide information and articles featured in the Monthly Labor Review and Occupational Outlook Quarterly. Check out this wealth of information:


December 10, 2009

Have you ever wondered how wages of those who are compensated by commission or other incentive pay impact total wage measures?   You can find some interesting analysis on this subject in the article "The Effect of Incentive Pay on Rates of Change in Wages and Salaries".

Elementary and secondary school counselors earn higher wages than counselors working in individual and family services and vocational services.  You can view this and even more information in the most recent chart book from the Occupational Employment program.

Lastly, here is a link to Keith Hall's statement on the November employment situation, which he delivered before the Congressional Joint Economic Committee (JEC).


November 27, 2009

As we head into late fall, the debate in Congress over health care continues.   BLS has a wealth of data on health care, ranging from employment and compensation for heath care workers, to how much it costs to provide health care.  Check out our Spotlight on Statistics on Health care to see what BLS data can say about this important topic.

The current recession is unprecedented in terms of how broad the job loss has been.  Please see some new analysis of the current recession from the Occupational Employment program "An Occupational Analysis of Industries with the Most Job Losses".

The Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) program released an analysis on the hazards faced by our resident military.

Lastly, here is a link to Keith Hall's statement on the October employment situation, which he delivered before the Congressional Joint Economic Committee (JEC).


October 19, 2009

Here is a link to Keith Hall's statement on the September employment situation, which he delivered before the Congressional Joint Economic Committee (JEC).


September 4, 2009

Many people (perhaps even a few here at BLS headquarters in Washington, D.C.) would be surprised at the volume of publications that come out of the BLS Regional Offices. BLS issues, on average, about 65 news releases each month, and about 50 of these are produced by the Regional Offices. Each of the eight Regional Offices covers a multi-state area and regularly produces news releases, data tables, and other publications that provide insight into employment, unemployment, earnings, prices, and other economic phenomena at the state or metropolitan area level.

The Western BLS Information Office in San Francisco recently published an interesting Regional Report on employment and wages over the 2001–2008 period in Silicon Valley.

Here is a link to Keith Hall's statement on the August employment situation.


August 7, 2009

Here is a link to Keith Hall's statement on the July employment situation, which he delivered before the Congressional Joint Economic Committee (JEC) today.


July 23, 2009

As has been mentioned in this space, the BLS recently turned 125. We were privileged to have several of Washington’s leading policy makers and Bureau supporters join us for the Anniversary celebration on June 26th in the lobby of the Postal Square Building. They included our own Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke, Chairman Christina Romer of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, and Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, Chair of the Joint Economic Committee. They each spoke on the importance of the Bureau’s work and their support of our continuing mission to provide impartial, timely, and accurate data to policy makers, business leaders, workers, and many others to help them make sound decisions. Following their remarks, we were joined by two of our distinguished former Commissioners, Janet Norwood and Kathleen Utgoff, for a panel discussion on the Bureau and its history and mission.

Here is a portion of the remarks delivered by Chairman Bernanke:

"Over its 125 years, the BLS has built a reputation for providing timely and accurate economic information. The close relationship that the bureau’s economists and statisticians maintain with researchers--both those in government and in academia--cultivates that exemplary performance. Researchers’ insights have led to better analysis and higher quality data. Moreover, the bureau is committed to undertaking the innovations and improvements necessary to ensure that its economic statistics effectively measure and provide insight into an ever-changing economy."

Dr. Bernanke’s remarks in their entirety are available on the Federal Reserve website at BLS thanks Chairman Bernanke and our other special guests for their participation at this important event.

Also related to the 125th Anniversary event, here are the closing comments prepared by Keith Hall:

Closing comments by Commissioner Hall at the 125th Anniversary celebration

As I close this portion of our program, I want reflect for a moment on the founding and the growth of the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Bureau was born during the recessions of the 1880s.

Its mission was to "… collect information upon the subject of labor, its relation to capital, the hours of labor, and the earnings of laboring men and women, and the means of promoting their material, social, intellectual, and moral prosperity." The information was to be published annually. The Bureau had a total budget of $25,000 per year.

The first Commissioner, Carroll D. Wright, and a hand full of employees set out in 1885 to survey American labor. The first report was published in March of 1886 and was entitled "The Industrial Depressions in the United States."

Commissioner Wright wrote:

"From the observations of the agents of the bureau and from other sources from which it has been possible to form conclusions, it is undoubtedly true that out of the total number of establishments, such as factories, mines, etc., existing in the country, about 5 percent were absolutely idle during 1885, and that perhaps 5 percent more were idle a part of the time; or, for a just estimate, 7 ½ percent of the whole number of such establishments were idle or equivalent to idle during the past year."

Commissioner Wright went on to detail the Bureau’s estimate of the unemployed in 1885 ... 998,839 workers ... the loss to the "consumptive power of the country" ... $1 million per day ... and a crippling of the trade of the country ... $300 million per year ... the wages lost to "the people involved" in those unemployed classes ... $600 each per annum ... and more.

The American workforce and economy are far different now than at the founding of the Bureau. Through the years we have grown as America has grown, and worked to keep pace with our ever changing world. BLS has been a leader in pioneering, refining and disseminating critical measures of employment and employment, compensation and benefits, workplace safety, productivity, and consumer and producer prices.

Today we have 24 programs and surveys that collect data across the broad field of labor economics. We have a highly trained staff of economists, statisticians, information technologists and data collectors in locations across the nation.

Our work on behalf of the American people would not be possible without you, our dedicated employees, who manage those programs and surveys. This celebration of our 125th Anniversary is as much for you as it is the Bureau. As Commissioner, I thank you for your service to the Bureau and the Nation.

Finally, here are links to Keith Hall's statements on the May and June employment situation news releases. The statement for May was delivered before the Congressional Joint Economic Committee (JEC), the one for June was not as Congress was in recess for the July 4th holiday.


June 26, 2009

The Bureau of Labor Statistics turns 125 this month! BLS is marking this anniversary in a number of ways.

A Monthly Labor Review article, "BLS at 125," by Associate Commissioner Bill Wiatrowski was posted today. In this article, Bill reviews a set of core principles that have guided BLS for one and a quarter centuries, including commitment to objectivity, fairness and impartiality; concern for respondents; and relevance to current economic and social conditions.

Yesterday, an issue of BLS Spotlight on Statistics was posted in honor of the 125th anniversary. This Spotlight takes a look at a sample of prominent BLS products. You may be surprised to find out how far back some of the numbers go. For example, the Consumer Price Index extends back nearly 100 years, to the World War I era. Payroll employment statistics for the nonfarm sector date back to 1939 and show that such employment has increased by about 100 million since then.


May 8, 2009

Below you will find a link to Keith Hall's testimony on the April 2009 employment situation delivered before the Congressional Joint Economic Committee (JEC) this morning:

Yesterday, the President’s Budget for Fiscal Year 2010 was released. The 2010 President’s Budget for BLS includes funds to develop new series on "green-collar" jobs, addressing the need for detailed data on these rapidly evolving industries and occupations.

A new paper is available from BLS, "Ranks of Discouraged Workers and Others Marginally Attached to the Labor Force Rise During Recession." This paper shows how the number of persons who were marginally attached to the labor force increased sharply during the current recession.


April 3, 2009

Here are links to Keith Hall's testimony on the March 2009 employment situation delivered before the Congressional Joint Economic Committee (JEC) on Friday, April 3, 2009, as well as his JEC testimony on the February 2009 employment data. Below you will find a link to his testimony delivered on Wednesday, March 25, 2009, before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies hearing on "Raising Wages and Living Standards for Families and Workers."

Recently a reporter with The Washington spent part of a day with two of the Bureau’s economists as they compiled data for the March employment report. (Of course, the reporter was not permitted to see any of the actual March employment data on that day, because of the strict BLS standards regarding the handling of data prior to release.) If you are interested in seeing the work of BLS staff, please visit the the Federal Eye blog on the website to find out about a day in the life of our economists.


Last Modified Date: December 23, 2009