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Farewell 2023, Greetings 2024

Wednesday, December 27, 2023

What a whirlwind this year has been! As we edge toward the final days of 2023, let’s take a look at some of the things BLS has accomplished this year.

New data

In 2023, BLS added new monthly and quarterly detailed labor force data for Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Other Pacific Islanders as well as for Hispanic or Latino groups. In the past we’ve published these data on an annual basis. Adding the new monthly and quarterly data helps users have more information to rely upon when tracking these important demographic groups.

In addition to our demographic expansions, BLS added new questions to the Current Population Survey (or household survey) that focus on telework or work at home for pay. These new monthly data allow us to examine the prevalence of telework by occupation, age, and educational attainment. Speaking of looking at telework data by educational attainment, we’ve often said “education pays,” meaning that people with higher education tend to have higher earnings and lower unemployment. It turns out more education also means a higher prevalence of telework.

Understanding the nature of work is important to us at BLS, so we don’t just look at the question of telework from the household perspective but also from how businesses operate. In March 2023, we released new data from the Business Response Survey on telework, hiring, and vacancies. This quick-response survey gave us new data on what proportion of employees teleworked and business plans for expanding or reducing telework.

Telework isn’t the only work arrangement we’re interested in measuring. The BLS Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses completed a major initiative with the first-ever publication of details on workplace injuries resulting in Days of Job Transfer or Restriction. We now have biennial estimates for case circumstance and worker demographics for these “restricted work” or “light duty” cases for the first time. These data will help provide a more complete picture of how injuries and illnesses are managed in the workplace. This is the largest change to the Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illness in nearly two decades. Needless to say, this is a pretty big deal to us stat folks.

Expanding our experimental data and research material

New data are important, and BLS continues to produce research and publish experimental measurements of the economy. We’re always trying to use new sources of data, new methods, or understand a part of the economy that’s changing or hasn’t been measured before.

In terms of new data sources, BLS has continued to expand its wage record research. The number of participating states is up to 28. This is a program where BLS links state Unemployment Insurance wage records across time to perform long-term longitudinal analysis of workers over many years, even when workers move or relocate to other states for work.

Why do we look for new sources of data? Sometimes other sources of data can provide more complete coverage than survey data might. In addition, we are mindful of the time and energy it takes for people to respond to our surveys. Our Import and Export Price Indexes program has been conducting research to examine if administrative trade data can be used in place of directly collected survey data. Using this additional source of data would help offset the respondent time needed to answer survey questions.

The way our nation shops has changed so much over time. From mail-order catalogs to shopping malls to doing all your holiday shopping on your mobile phone, the nature of retail trade has changed substantially. Following a set of recommendations from the Committee on National Statistics, we released experimental productivity measures on Retail Trade industries.

These are just a few of the many highlights of 2023. As we come to an end of this year, we’re honored to be your trusted data source. As we grow our collection of data, we hope to be able to say that we’ve got a stat for that! Warmest wishes to you, and we’ll see you in 2024!