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BLS speakers available

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has experts who may be available to speak at your conference! If you are looking for knowledgeable people to provide informative presentations about the U.S. labor market and economy, please contact the BLS Division of Information and Marketing Services.

BLS staff members frequently discuss BLS data and analysis at conferences, meetings, classrooms, and other settings. (Please note that we generally cannot provide speakers for events of for-profit organizations.) With eight Regional Information Offices and the national office in Washington, DC, speakers from BLS present all across the United States. Here are examples of recent presentations made by BLS staff about the major topics for which BLS provides data.

Inflation and Prices

Understanding Inflation: How BLS calculates consumer, producer, and import and export prices. This set of presentations unravels the mystery behind how the Consumer Price Index (CPI), Producer Price Index (PPI), and Import and Export Price Indexes are calculated. The presentations also dispel common myths about inflation. The presentations include a section on the important uses of BLS price data, such as indexing Social Security payments. The focus can be on any one price program or on any combination of the CPI, PPI, and Import and Export Price programs.

The challenge of measuring inflation for demographic groups, with a focus on Social Security, price measures for the elderly, and the Chained CPI. This presentation explains how the Consumer Price Index is used to adjust Social Security payments. The presentation also examines the concepts and limitations of the experimental CPI for the elderly that BLS currently publishes, the building blocks of developing a CPI for a specific demographic group, and the concept of the Chained CPI, which accounts for consumer substitution. The presentation also explains the technical aspects of proposals to adjust Social Security payments using the Chained CPI.

Globalization and BLS price data. This presentation discusses how offshoring of domestic production is biasing estimates of import inflation, real gross domestic product, and productivity.

“Big data.” This presentation discusses how BLS and its price programs use Big Data—such as web, scanner, corporate, and administrative data—to supplement information gathered from BLS surveys.

Understanding commodity inflation. This presentation discusses how corn, ethanol, wheat, and soybean prices move in today’s markets.

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Spending and Time Use

Spending differences by generation. This presentation uses the most recent Consumer Expenditure Survey results to look at how spending differs by age and the economic differences and similarities between Millennials, Baby Boomers, and other generations.

After the recession: How U.S. family spending has changed. This presentation uses information from the BLS Consumer Expenditure Survey to show how the recession of 2007–09 affected household spending. Major trends in housing, travel, eating out, and healthcare before, during, and after the recession are described.

Big cities and rural life. This presentation uses the Consumer Expenditure Survey to look at how spending differs between urban and rural households. Travel costs, homeownership, healthcare, number of vehicles, and even spending on pets and entertainment vary depending on where you live.

How Americans spend time. Like money, time is an important resource. This presentation tells us how BLS measures Americans’ use of time, what the data say about Americans’ time use, and why information on time use matters. Presentations can be tailored to highlight specific activities, such as household work, leisure, sports and exercise, eldercare, or the time use of a particular demographic group, such as teens, parents, or older Americans.

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Employment and Unemployment

The Employment Situation. This news release is composed of measures from the Current Employment Statistics survey (CES; also known as the establishment or payroll survey) and the Current Population Survey (CPS; also known as the household survey). This presentation goes behind the scenes to explain how U.S. jobs and unemployment figures are calculated and how these monthly data sources are used in the workplace.

Trends in labor force participation. This presentation provides an overview of long-term and recent national trends in the labor force participation of several demographic groups. Among the topics discussed are the collection of data and the concepts used in measuring characteristics of the labor force.

Current employment and unemployment trends. This presentation provides an overview of employment and unemployment from the Current Population Survey. Included are descriptions of how data are gathered, key concepts used, and trends over time.

How the government measures unemployment. This presentation describes the Current Population Survey, the survey used to calculate the national unemployment rate. The presentation describes how the survey is conducted, explains how the unemployment rate is calculated, and presents information on other key economic statistics from the survey and on the uses of Current Population Survey data.

Estimating state and local area unemployment. This presentation reviews labor force trends in different parts of the country. Included is an examination of how states and metropolitan areas have recovered from the 2007–09 recession in terms of the number of unemployed people and the unemployment rate. The presentation discusses how BLS estimates the unemployment rate for states and substate areas. Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS) data use the same concepts of employment and unemployment as the Current Population Survey. However, the LAUS program uses statistical modeling of state-specific CPS estimates, incorporating historical patterns and other data sources to estimate the labor force in states. Surveys, administrative data, and other data sources contribute to estimating employment and unemployment across substate areas.

Understanding payroll employment. This presentation discusses payroll employment: what it is, how it is collected, and how it is used. The presentation describes what goes into the establishment survey portion of The Employment Situation and what the monthly jobs numbers tell us.

Collecting Current Employment Statistics (CES) data. This presentation offers a behind-the-scenes look at how data are collected for the largest monthly establishment survey in the United States. The CES program collects payroll data from roughly 145,000 businesses and government agencies each month in only 10–16 days before the first release of the estimates in The Employment Situation. The CES program maximizes effectiveness and minimizes respondent burden by collecting data through the web, by touchtone data entry using the telephone, with computer-assisted telephone interviews, by spreadsheets, and by means of electronic data interchange.

The 2007–09 recession. This presentation discusses the nonfarm industries that are leading the recovery from the recession. The presentation examines the industries that have recovered the most since the end of the recession, the industries that have recovered the least, and how the 2007–09 recession compared to previous recessions. The focus can be on all major industries or on any combination of industries.

The Current Employment Statistics net birth–death model. This presentation dispels myths about the model. The CES sample alone is not sufficient for estimating total U.S. employment, because each month new firms generate employment that cannot immediately be captured through the sample. A parallel, though somewhat different, issue pertains to capturing employment loss from business deaths through monthly sample collection: businesses that have closed are unlikely to respond to the survey, and data collectors may not be able to ascertain until after the monthly collection period that firms have gone out of business.

Recent developments in the Current Employment Statistics State and Area program. This presentation describes the improvements made to the CES State and Area program within the last several years. New estimators, new procedures, and current areas of research are among the topics discussed.

Employment outlook, 2014–24. BLS publishes career information resources and projections for those who are interested in the future job market. This presentation features the 2014–24 projections and covers the labor force, industry employment, and occupational employment. The presentation examines the occupations and industries projected to grow the fastest and to add the most new jobs, as well as the typical education and training needed for entry into those occupations. Other topics of interest may include the BLS education and training classification system, labor force projections, and occupational job openings and replacement needs.

What have we learned from the National Longitudinal Surveys? This presentation introduces longitudinal data and explains both the uses of such data in the analysis of microeconomic phenomena and the advantages of NLS data over cross-sectional data. The presentation then describes the surveys and findings from them. Research based on the NLS have examined labor force activity over the course of people’s lifetimes, the role of noncognitive skills in the labor market, patterns of labor force activity of mothers, the costs of teenage childbearing, the labor market costs of obesity, and many other topics.

Job openings and labor turnover. Large numbers of people are hired or separated from jobs each month. Relatively small changes in these numbers can make big differences in net employment levels. This presentation on the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) explains the factors underlying the overall employment level. Other topics may include measuring “churn” and why it is important; job openings and unemployment: the supply and demand measures of the labor market; why the quits rate matters; and timing of layoffs during recessions.

Recent Developments in the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW). In this presentation, learn about recent trends in local employment and wages. The presentation features the fastest changing counties in terms of employment and wages. Also discussed are the availability of BLS measures of local industry concentration, such as employment and wages, location quotients, and the local employment aspects of economic events such as the Bakken shale oil boom in North Dakota and Montana and the Marcellus shale natural gas expansion in the eastern United States.

Other topics of interest in the QCEW. This presentation discusses how QCEW data are used to identify new markets, how the recovery from the 2007–09 recession is distributed over the business cycle at the local level, and how data mapping is done in the QCEW.

Recent developments in job creation and destruction from the Business Employment Dynamics program. This presentation features the role of employment dynamics in business openings, closings, expansions, and contractions that take place in the nation, in states, and in industries. Employment dynamics informs our understanding of the forces related to changes in job creation and destruction that underlie net employment change. Topics discussed are the contributions of small, medium, and large firms to net employment change; which states and industries have the highest rates of job creation; and how the age of a business affects its chances for survival.

Other topics of interest in business employment dynamics. This presentation discusses the following topics: firm size–related trends in employment over the business cycle; entrepreneurship trends in business startups; survival of younger and older businesses in the United States; and measuring and defining high-employment-growth firms.

Occupational employment data from the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program. The OEWS program produces employment estimates annually for more than 800 occupations for the nation, states, and nearly 600 metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas and over 450 industry classifications at the national level. This presentation provides an overview of the OES survey, presents highlights from OEWS employment data, and discusses how OEWS data can be used to evaluate industry or local area labor markets. Topics include using the OEWS data to compare the occupational staffing patterns of different industries, identifying local areas with the largest number of jobs in an occupation, and using location quotients to analyze geographic concentration of occupations. The following are examples of articles published by BLS analysts on topics pertaining to occupational employment data: (1) Using Occupational Employment Statistics Data in a Job Search; (2) How Jobseekers and Employers Can Use Occupational Employment Statistics Data during Wage and Salary Discussions; (3) Occupational Employment and Wage Patterns in Nonmetropolitan Areas; (4) OEWS information on a particular area, the Riverside–San Bernardino–Ontario, CA, Metropolitan Statistical Area; (5) Using Location Quotients to Analyze Occupational Data; (6) an overview of employment and wages in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) groups; and (7) measuring occupational concentration by industry.

The Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system. This presentation features the SOC, a federal statistical system established by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget so that federal statistical agencies can classify workers into occupational categories for the purpose of collecting, calculating, or disseminating data. Workers are classified into 840 detailed occupations. To facilitate classification, detailed occupations are combined to form 461 broad occupations, 97 minor groups, and 23 major groups. Detailed occupations with similar job duties and, in some cases, skills, education, or training are grouped together.

Revising the SOC. The interagency SOC Policy Committee, chaired by BLS, is revising the 2010 SOC, with the goal of producing a 2018 version. As part of the revision, the committee conducted outreach to producers and users of occupational information to help them understand the review process and the information the committee needs in developing its recommendations to the U.S. Office of Management and Budget.

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Pay and benefits

What do you mean my health plan doesn’t cover that? This presentation looks at access to employment-based health benefits across different groups of workers and employers. Topics covered are (1) the percentage of employees who have access to health benefits; (2) features of health benefit plans; (3) how coverage varies across worker groups, such as union members versus nonunion workers or those in different occupational groups; (4) how coverage varies across employers, such as large versus small employers or those in different industries; and (5) required contributions and the amount of the contribution.

The cost of benefits. This presentation uses data primarily from the Employer Costs for Employee Compensation program to compare the relative costs that employers pay to provide benefits to their employees. Questions answered include: Do employers pay more for health benefits or retirement benefits? How do costs for defined contribution plans compare against costs for defined benefit plans? What categories (occupations, industries, bargaining status, etc.) of workers receive higher cost benefits? Do wage increases result in increases to the cost of benefits?

Understanding the cost of compensation. This presentation explains the methodology used to calculate the Employment Cost Index (ECI) and how the data help us understand the changes to employer costs for providing compensation to their employees. Compensation includes wages and salaries as well as benefits—the more difficult of the two components to measure and understand. The presentation examines the uses of ECI data, including economic analysis and tools for human resource management.

The National Compensation Survey (NCS). This overview of the surveys explains the methodology used and the outputs produced: the Employment Cost Index; Employer Costs for Employee Compensation; and the incidence of, and provisions pertaining to, employee benefits. The relationships among these outputs are explained, and examples are given of practical uses of the data.

Other topics of interest in pay and benefits:

  • Retirement plans—they are a-changin’
  • How the Affordable Care Act will change what we know about the coverage, cost, and provisions of employment-based health benefits

Occupational wage data from the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program. The OES program produces mean and percentile wage estimates annually for more than 800 occupations for the nation, states, nearly 600 metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas, and over 450 industry classifications at the national level. This presentation explains how the OES wage data are collected and produced, highlights selected occupational wage information, and discusses how the OES wage estimates can be used by jobseekers, employers, and researchers. Topics covered include using OES wage data to identify high- and low-paying geographic areas for an occupation, analyzing occupational wage differences across industries, and understanding and interpreting percentile wages. The following are examples of articles published by BLS analysts on topics pertaining to occupational wage data: (1) using OES data in a job search (PDF) and (2) how jobseekers and employers can use OES data during wage and salary discussions (PDF).

Also discussed is how to obtain data from the BLS website and additional help available from BLS staff.

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What can labor productivity tell us about the U.S. economy? This presentation describes labor productivity and the corresponding changes in output and labor hours in the context of historical and business cycle periods.

Trends in Productivity. This presentation discusses long-term labor productivity growth in different periods, including before and after the 2007–09 recession. The growth or decline of productivity and its components (output and hours) is analyzed. Also highlighted is the growth of compensation and unit labor costs in comparison to productivity growth. Implications for the U.S. economy are discussed.

How does BLS measure productivity and why are these measures important? This presentation describes how labor productivity measures are calculated and includes an explanation of data sources, measures of output and hours, and calculations of compensation and unit labor costs. Total factor productivity and industry measures also are highlighted. The concept of productivity is described, and reasons for changes in productivity are discussed. Examples of data users and applications of productivity data are given.

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Workplace injuries, illnesses, and fatalities

Homicides in the workplace: Workplace homicides have declined precipitously over the last 20 years but still account for 10 percent of all fatal occupational injuries. This presentation focuses on what type of assailant, such as a robber, family member, or customer, is most commonly associated with certain types of homicides. It also explores the occupations in which homicides most frequently occur.

Other topics of interest in workplace injuries, illnesses, and fatalities include fatal occupational injuries among Hispanic or Latino workers, trends in musculoskeletal disorders, and how to use BLS safety and health data at the workplace.

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Measuring import and export prices: This presentation uses data from the International Price program to compare and contrast the cost of goods and services imported into the United States, and those exported abroad. Special attention is given to emerging goods and services.

Other topics of interest in international data include locality of origin of imports and the role of exchange rates in global trade.

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