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BLS History


Katharine G. Abraham

October 1993–October 2001

Katharine G. AbrahamAppointed by: Bill Clinton
Also served under: George W. Bush

Dr. Katharine Abraham received her Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1982. She served on the faculty of the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was a research associate at the Brookings Institution, and was a professor of economics at the University of Maryland. During the 2002 spring semester, she also held the positions of visiting professor at the Woodrow Wilson School and visiting research scholar in the Department of Economics, Princeton University.

Dr. Abraham has written extensively on a wide range of labor-market subjects including the effects of job duration on wages; the effects of advertising on job vacancies, wages and the business cycle; and comparisons among the U.S., European, and Japanese labor markets.

As the Commissioner of the Bureau of Labor Statistics for two 4-year terms, from 1993 through 2001, Dr. Abraham instituted improvements in consumer, producer, and international price statistics, and employment and wage statistics. She laid the groundwork for the first U.S. Government survey of time use, and she established the only joint statistical agency advisory body, the Federal Economic Statistics Advisory Committee. During the public debate on the Consumer Price Index, Dr. Abraham steered a careful course of studying shortcomings and making revisions based on objective research. She expanded coverage of the prices of services in the Producer Price Index; instituted improvements in the Current Employment Statistics, including the substitution of a probability sample for the quota sample; accelerated delivery of employment and wage statistics; and took steps toward expanding coverage of wages and salaries in those programs.

Dr. Abraham now works as professor of survey methodology and affiliate professor of economics with the Joint Program for Survey Methodology at the University of Maryland. She was the 2002 recipient of the Julius Shiskin Award for Economic Statistics, sponsored by the National Association for Business Economics, the Washington Statistical Society, and the Business and Economics Statistics Section of the American Statistical Association. The award recognized Dr. Abraham's many methodological improvements in U.S. price and employment statistics, improvements demanded by the increasingly complex roles those statistics play in business and government affairs.

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Last Modified Date: June 13, 2012