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Welcome Commissioner McEntarfer!

Thursday, January 25, 2024

Before the end of January, BLS will welcome the 16th Commissioner of Labor Statistics, Dr. Erika McEntarfer. Commissioner McEntarfer joins BLS after a successful career as an economist and researcher with the Census Bureau, the White House Council of Economic Advisors, and the Department of the Treasury.

As we begin this new chapter in BLS history, let’s take a moment to look back at BLS leaders. After all, come June, BLS will celebrate its 140th birthday. What better reason to reflect?

The first nine Commissioners were all men, but since Commissioner Janet Norwood broke the statistical ceiling in 1979, five of the last seven Commissioners have been women.

We’ve had a Royal, an Ethelbert, an Isador, and an Ewan, names that haven’t shown up on “popular baby name” lists in a few years.

No two Commissioners have shared the same first name, although we’ve had a Katharine and a Kathleen. But it’s close, as Commissioner Erika McEntarfer is only one letter off from Commissioner Erica Groshen.

In our first 80 years, there were only six Commissioners – that’s an average tenure of 13.3 years. Not bad when you consider BLS Commissioners serve a 4-year term and then must be reappointed. In fact, our first Commissioner, Carroll Wright, served under five presidents.

The Commissioner of Labor Statistics is the only non-career employee at BLS, which is staffed with hundreds of professionals that work hard every day to ensure that our annual production of nearly 200 national news releases and over 700 state and local releases are available on time, every time. The new Commissioner will be leading a talented, mission-focused group that works hard every day to get the job done.

Commissioners leave their mark on the agency. Each of them has helped to move BLS forward. Here is just a small sample:

  • Commissioner Carroll Wright (1885-1905) established principles of direct, voluntary collection from businesses and households and spoke of the BLS responsibility for “the fearless publication of the facts” without regard to partisan views.

  • Commissioner Isador Lubin (1933-1945) guided BLS in providing key economic information during the Great Depression and World War II, establishing BLS regional offices as the war effort required a considerable increase in local data.

  • Commissioner Janet Norwood (1979-1991) was a career BLS employee who rose to become Commissioner. Among her many accomplishments was testifying before Congress an amazing 137 times during her tenure.

We look forward to seeing how Commissioner McEntarfer will leave her mark on BLS. We can’t wait.

Welcome Commissioner McEntarfer.