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BLS History


Kathleen Utgoff

July 2002–July 2006

Kathleen UtgoffAppointed by: George W. Bush

Kathleen Utgoff received a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics from California State University at Northridge and in 1978 a Ph.D. in economics from UCLA. Her dissertation was "Unemployment Insurance, the Duration of Unemployment and Subsequent Earnings".

Dr. Utgoff's first job as an economist was with the Center for Naval Analysis (CNAC), a research and development center that conducts policy-oriented research for the Department of the Navy and other public institutions. She was there from 1974 to 1983 performing economic research for the Navy, the Marine Corps, and our own Department of Labor. The work for the Marine Corps earned her a Commendation for Exceptional Service.

From 1983 to 1985, she was a senior economist with the Council of Economic Advisers, where she was responsible for all labor market issues. She headed up an interagency working group that developed policy and legislative strategy for the Cabinet Council on Pensions and Health. She also authored major sections of the Economic Report of the President.

Her work with pensions led her to the position of Executive Director of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, the Federal agency that insures private-sector defined-benefit pension plans. She served in this position from 1985-89, during which time the agency restored the program to solvency by designing and implementing two new pension laws and instituting risk-related premiums.

From 1989–95, Utgoff served as the chief economist and a partner at Grooms and Nordberg, the largest employee benefits law firm in the country. Besides employee benefits, her areas of practice included the taxation of life insurance companies and corporate reorganizations. She returned to CNAC in 1995 as a vice president responsible for planning and supervision of all research on workforce issues, the environment, health care and infrastructure.

In July 2002 President George W. Bush appointed Dr. Utgoff to be the 12th Commissioner of the Bureau of Labor Statistics. During her tenure as Commissioner there were a number of significant program improvements, in particular, those that addressed long-standing gaps in the Federal Statistical system and those that benefited BLS data users and survey respondents.

While Utgoff was Commissioner, BLS began publishing several new data series, including monthly estimates on the numbers of separations, new hires, and current job openings both for the economy as a whole and for major industry groups. The Bureau also introduced nationally representative estimates of how Americans spend their time, an important addition to understanding socio-economic trends in our increasingly complex society. Adding regularly-published data on employment trends by size of firm was another major accomplishment.

BLS expanded service-sector coverage in its Producer Price Indexes, U.S. Import and Export Price Indexes, and labor productivity series. Services account for about 70 percent of the U.S. market economy, so this expansion vastly increased the relevance of the data to users.

BLS accelerated the release of several series, including data from the Employee Benefits Survey, which employers commonly use to evaluate benefits offered to employees nationwide. With more timely data, employers are better able to improve benefit packages to remain competitive in the labor market and lower employee turnover rates. BLS also made its Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses summary case and industry data available one month earlier. Information on the more seriously injured and ill workers and the circumstances of their injuries and illnesses now are available 3 months earlier. These data are used by employers, policymakers, and safety inspectors to identify and mitigate potential workplace hazards.

BLS increased the number of options available to respondents, for example, an Internet data collection facility that started in 2003 and an expanded e-mail data collection service. These additions eased data collection efforts and reduced collection costs, while simultaneously improving response rates and the quality of collected data. Another benefit was a reduction in survey turnaround time.

Kathleen Utgoff chose not to continue for another 4-year term and completed her term as Commissioner in July 2006. Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao and others honored her for her service. Although she has not ruled out future opportunities to serve the Nation, she now spends her time with her family and does volunteer work in her community.

Back to BLS Commissioners' History.


Last Modified Date: June 13, 2012