Appointed by: Donald Trump
Also served under: Joseph R. Biden
Dr. William W. Beach became the 15th Commissioner of Labor Statistics on March 28, 2019. Before joining BLS, Dr. Beach was Vice President for Policy Research at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University from February 2016 to March 2019. Before that he served as the Chief Economist for the Senate Budget Committee, Republican Staff, from 2013 through early 2016. Among his other professional positions, he was the Lazof Family Fellow in Economics at the Heritage Foundation and founder and director of Heritage’s Center for Data Analysis. Before joining Heritage in 1995, Dr. Beach served as a senior economist in the corporate headquarters of Sprint United, Inc., in Kansas City and, from 1991, as the President of the Institute for Humane Studies at George Mason University. A graduate of Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas, he also holds a master’s degree in history and economics from the University of Missouri-Columbia and a Ph.D. in economics from Buckingham University in Great Britain.
Dr. Beach’s priorities when he came to BLS were to improve ways of measuring productivity, make technical enhancements to BLS price programs, and enhance understanding of how global value chains have reshaped the U.S. labor force and workplaces.
BLS created new statistical products during Dr. Beach’s term, including data on state productivity and state job openings and labor turnover. BLS also created research-level import and export price indexes using administrative trade data. BLS began publishing state-level consumer expenditure tables by income, monthly labor force data for more demographic groups, state and metropolitan area employment-diffusion indexes, and new Producer Price Indexes on inputs to industry.
BLS continued to research and implement program improvements during Dr. Beach’s term. Among many notable activities, BLS sponsored three studies from the Committee on National Statistics—on contingent work, the future of retail, and improvements to the Consumer Price Index (CPI). Dr. Beach advocated for the use of new alternative data sources and established the Data Science Research Center. During his tenure, BLS accelerated the release of employment projections and the updating of CPI spending weights from biennial to annual.
The COVID-19 pandemic had a tremendous impact on BLS during Dr. Beach’s term. When the pandemic began in March 2020, BLS quickly introduced new questions in the monthly survey of U.S. households on how the pandemic affected labor market activity. BLS also surveyed businesses about pandemic-related changes to their operations and sick leave policies. BLS introduced new methods to ensure productivity data reflected the rapid changes in employment at the start of the pandemic, released critical information on employer-reported cases of respiratory virus, and published many special articles and reports on the effect of the pandemic. Data collection methods changed dramatically to include video collection during Dr. Beach’s term, in part due to the pandemic, but also from technological innovations.
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Last Modified Date: March 23, 2023