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April 1990, Vol. 113, No. 4
Labor force data in the next century
Thomas J. Plewes
Over the past 3 years, much attention has been focused on the shape and composition of the labor market in the year 2000.
The two sets of Bureau of Labor Statistics projections to the year 20001 and the Hudson Institute's Workforce 2000 report2 have received media and academic attention far beyond the usual labor market information audience.
The long-term projections are based primarily on analysis of current labor force data. Among their many valuable functions, these projections permit us to respond to the challenges and opportunities that lie in the future. In addition, they have to be taken into account in managing the programs that produce current labor force statistics. Labor statistics, like the educational and training institutions they serve, must be fine-tuned to assure that adequate measures are in place as the work force of the future evolves. It is sometimes said that statistical programs face a special challenge. To be useful, they must stay ahead of the trends, for their function is to identify events and measure those trends as they happen. Staying ahead, in turn, means that the programs must be in place before the projected changes they measure occur. The challenge to all statisticians who deal with projectionsbut to BLS statisticians in particular, given the Bureau's reputation for providing reliable, useful statistics on a timely basisis to pay close and constant attention to the projections. While the projections are based on the Bureau's best current data, it is recognized that those data are themselves only as good as past projections and resource investments have allowed them to be.
This excerpt is from an article published in the April 1990 issue of the Monthly Labor Review. The full text of the article is available in Adobe Acrobat's Portable Document Format (PDF). See How to view a PDF file for more information.
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1 The most recent BLS projections to the year 2000 are found in a series of five articles in the November 1989 Monthly Labor Review.
2 William B. Johnston and Arnold E. Packer, Workforce 2000, Work and workers for the twenty-first Century (Indianapolis, the Hudson Institute, 1987).
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