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Fiscal Year 2020 Activities in Support of Measuring the Effects of New Technology on the Labor Force


The following report outlines the steps the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) of the U.S. Department of Labor took in fiscal year 2020 to develop a strategy for measuring the impact of new technologies, including automation, digitization, and artificial intelligence, on the American workforce.

This report follows our response to the language included in the Senate Committee on Appropriations Report (S. Rept. 115-289) that accompanied the Department of Defense and Labor Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations Act, 2019 and Continuing Appropriations Act, 2019 (Pub. L. 115–245):

The Committee is concerned that there continues to be insufficient data on the impact technology is having on the American workforce. The Committee encourages BLS to develop a strategy to better understand how automation, digitization, and artificial intelligence are changing the employment landscape. BLS is directed to submit a report to the Committees on Appropriations of the House of Representatives and the Senate no later than 90 days after enactment of this act detailing the steps taken to develop the data strategy as directed. (S. Rept. 115–289, p. 38)

Fiscal Year 2020 Work

BLS is the principal federal statistical agency responsible for measuring labor market activity, working conditions, price changes, and productivity to support public and private decision making. Like all federal statistical agencies, BLS executes its statistical mission with independence, serving its users by providing products and services that are accurate, objective, relevant, timely, and accessible.

In fiscal year 2019 BLS undertook initial efforts to understand the impact of changing technology on the workforce by contracting with Gallup to conduct a literature review on the interaction between capital and labor in the workplace, develop a comprehensive list of constructs that need to be measured, perform a gap analysis, and propose ways to supplement BLS data collection to address these gaps. This work was completed in the first quarter of fiscal year 2020.

In the second quarter of fiscal year 2020, BLS began planning a conference on this topic in order to receive feedback and further recommendations from subject matter experts. The conference was held on June 4 and included the following panelists from governments and academia: Daron Acemoglu, Enghin Atalay, Lucia Foster, Anders Humlum, Tom Mitchell, and Pascual Restrepo. The panelists were tasked with reviewing Gallup’s report to BLS and providing additional recommendations for BLS to consider. Recommendations from the panelists included: developing a module on tasks and technology for a household survey, adding a module on technology to an establishment survey, understanding tasks and skills in the workplace, matching BLS data to data from other federal statistical agencies, and exploring alternative sources of data.

In the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2020, BLS created multiple internal working groups to evaluate these recommendations and develop short scoping documents for next steps on data collection from households and establishments. Additionally, BLS continued work to evaluate task data collected as part of the Occupational Requirements Survey.

For questions or comments about this report, contact Kristen Monaco at or call her at (202) 691-7527.

Last Modified Date: October 1, 2020