On April 6, I participated in a panel discussion at the 50th Annual Conference of the Society of American Business Editors and Writers. I discussed the challenges for a statistical agency to produce high-quality, relevant data in a fast-paced, data-rich environment. I noted some of these challenges are leveraging administrative or “big” data to supplement current survey efforts, maintaining response rates in BLS surveys, and meeting customers’ demands for new and improved products. I also discussed some of the efforts that BLS is making to stay relevant to our customers, such as the BLS Twitter feed.
In the past week BLS published two new editions of Beyond the Numbers. The first examined employment-based health benefits in small and large private establishments. Over 95 percent of private sector business establishments in the United States employed fewer than 50 workers in the first quarter of 2011. Establishments that employed 500 workers or more accounted for less than half of 1 percent of all private workplaces. The smaller establishments employed 47.3 million workers (45 percent of all private industry employment), while the largest establishments employed about 17.5 million workers (16.5 percent of private industry employment). Thirty-eight percent of workers in establishments with fewer than 50 workers were covered by medical care benefits in March 2012, compared with 68 percent of workers in establishments with 500 workers or more. The report further examined variations by establishment size in employers’ cost for medical coverage, the types of medical services covered by plans, and coverage for dental and vision benefits.
The second edition of Beyond the Numbers published this week is about careers in the growing field of information technology services. The report summarized historical employment trends in the industry and projections for the future. The report also examined the different types of jobs available in the industry, how much they pay, and what type of education or training is needed for such jobs.