Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the Bureau of Labor Statistics?

The Bureau of Labors Statistics, also known as BLS or the Bureau, is the statistical wing of the U.S. Department of Labor and the principal fact-finding agency for the Federal Government in the broad field of labor economics and statistics. BLS collects, analyzes, and disseminates essential statistical data to the American public, Congress, Federal and State agencies, business, the media, and academia. Federal policy makers, public institutions, and private citizens use the economic indicators that we provide.

What type of statistical information does BLS publish?

BLS publishes information about the Nation’s economy relating to employment, unemployment, and other characteristics of the labor force; consumer and producer prices, consumer expenditures, import and export prices; wages and other worker compensation; productivity and technological change; safety and health statistics; international comparisons of labor statistics; and employment projections.

What type of work would I be doing at BLS?

You will have potential opportunities to work in one of five major program areas at BLS, based on the availability of positions and your personal qualifications. Here is some information to give you an idea of the type of work you might be doing.

Employment and Unemployment
  • Generates the two most closely watched labor market indicators: job growth and the unemployment rate
  • Measures characteristics of the work force (e.g., age, sex, race, education, and earnings)
  • Tracks the occupational, industrial, and geographic mix of employment
Prices and Living Conditions
  • Generates two of the most closely watched monthly inflation indicators: Consumer Price Index (CPI) and Producer Price Index (PPI)
  • Responsible for U.S. Import and Export Price Indexes
  • Analyzes spending patterns from the Consumer Expenditure Survey
Compensation and Working Conditions
  • Studies developments in wages and benefits
  • Measures frequency of occupational injuries and illnesses
Productivity and Technology
  • Measures productivity for industries and major sectors of the economy
  • Tracks international labor data
  • Trains international delegations in U.S. labor statistics
Employment Projections
  • Produces comprehensive projections for over 200 industries and occupations
  • Publishes Occupational Outlook Handbook, a source of career information designed to assist individuals making decisions about their future work lives

Must I be a U.S. citizen to apply for a BLS position?

Yes, and at the time of application.

Are your salaries competitive?

Absolutely! BLS employees are paid under a federal system called the General Schedule or "GS" for short. Entry level employees are generally hired at the GS-5, GS-7, or GS-9 levels (the higher the grade, the higher the salary). To view current salary information for Federal employees, go to Office of Personnel Management?s website to view the current salaries and wages. Pay tables are updated annually and vary depending on metropolitan areas.

Keep in mind that the target grade in BLS for economists, mathematical statisticians, and information technology specialists is GS-12. An employee with satisfactory performance ratings would be promoted as follows: GS-5 ~ GS-7 ~ GS-9 ~ GS~11 ~ GS-12. These grade level increases are called "career ladder" promotions. You can normally reach the target grade level within four years of your appointment date. The potential for rapid advancement is a tremendous benefit in working for the BLS. Please note that each grade level has 10 steps with increasing salaries. In addition to the career ladder promotions previously mentioned, you will be eligible for step increases within each grade at the completion of the career ladder.

Do I qualify for an Economist position?

For all Economist positions, you must have a bachelor’s degree with 21 semester hours in economics, and 3 semester hours in statistics, accounting, or calculus.
A Bachelor’s degree will qualify you for employment as an Economist at the GS-5 level. However, you might be eligible for a higher grade and pay if you meet certain additional criteria. Please take a look at the following requirements to see if you qualify at the GS- 7 or 9 levels.
To qualify as an Economist at the GS-7 level, you must:

  • Have a grade point average of 2.95 or higher; or
  • Have a grade point average of 3.45 or higher in your major; or
  • Have a grade point average of 2.95 or higher in last 2 years of undergraduate study; or
  • Be in the upper one-third of your college class; or
  • Be a member of a national scholastic honor society, or
  • Have one year of professional experience in economics

To qualify as an Economist at the GS-9 level, you must:

  • Have a Master’s degree in economics; or
  • Have 2 years of graduate education in economics; or
  • Have 2 years of professional experience in economics

Do I qualify for an Information Technology Specialist position?

For all IT Specialist positions, you must have a bachelor’s degree in information science, computer science, mathematics, statistics, operations research, or engineering or 24 semester hours in computer-related course work. If you meet these criteria, you will qualify for employment as an Information Technologist at the GS-5 level. However, you might be eligible for a higher grade and pay if you meet certain additional criteria. Please take a look at the following requirements to see if you qualify at the GS- 7 or 9 levels.
To qualify as an Information Technology Specialist at the GS-7 level, you must:

  • Have a grade point average of 2.95 or higher; or
  • Have a grade point average of 3.45 or higher in your major; or
  • Have a grade point average of 2.95 or higher in last 2 years of undergraduate study; or
  • Be in the upper one-third of your college class; or
  • Be a member of a national scholastic honor society, or
  • Have one year of professional experience in a computer-related field

To qualify as an Information Technology Specialist at the GS-9 level, you must:

  • Have a master’s degree in a computer-related field; or
  • Have 2 years of graduate education in a computer-related field; or
  • Have 2 years of professional experience in a computer-related field

Do I qualify for a Mathematical Statistician position?

For all Mathematical Statistician positions, you must have a bachelor’s degree with 24 semester hours in mathematics and statistics, of which at least 12 hours must be in mathematics (at or above the calculus level) and 6 hours in statistics. If you meet these criteria, you will qualify for employment as a Mathematical Statistician at the GS-5 level. However, you might be eligible for a higher grade and pay if you meet certain additional criteria. Please take a look at the following requirements to see if you qualify at the GS- 7 or 9 levels.
To qualify as a Mathematical Statistician at the GS-7 level, you must:

  • Have a grade point average of 2.95 or higher; or
  • Have a grade point average of 3.45 or higher in your major; or
  • Have a grade point average of 2.95 or higher in last 2 years of undergraduate study; or
  • Be in the upper one-third of your college class; or
  • Be a member of a national scholastic honor society, or
  • Have one year of professional experience in the mathematics/statistics field

To qualify as a Mathematical Statistician at the GS-9 level, you must:

  • Have a Master’s degree in mathematics or statistics; or
  • Have 2 years of graduate education in mathematics or statistics; or
  • Have 2 years of professional experience in the mathematics/statistics field

Where are the vacant positions located?

Positions are located in the National Office in Washington, DC, and at BLS Regional Offices in Boston/New York, Chicago, Dallas, Philadelphia, Atlanta, and San Francisco.

How do I apply for BLS vacancies?

Please visit our Search/Apply for Jobs page to learn more about the application process. Specific job announcements will provide you with detailed instructions on how to apply for our positions and where to submit your application.

How does BLS address diversity in its workforce?

We believe in and are strongly committed to the recruitment and retention of a highly diverse workforce. We are continually striving to ensure that BLS has a workforce that reflects the diversity of our country.

What are the promotional opportunities at BLS?

Promotional opportunities are excellent at BLS and, as a result, our new entry-level employees are eligible for promotion to higher grades. We recognize, appreciate, and reward talent and achievement.

Does BLS offer hiring bonuses?

BLS offers hiring bonuses for some occupations on a limited case-by-case basis.

What types of benefits does BLS offer?

  • As a new Federal employee with BLS, you will accumulate vacation and sick leave. Depending on years of service, you will earn from 13 to 26 days of annual leave to use for vacation and other personal reasons. In addition, you will earn 13 days of sick leave per year to use in the event of illness, injury, or medical appointments.
  • BLS observes 10 national holidays during the year for which employees receive regular pay.
  • BLS offers flexible work schedules and a mass transit subsidy for employees located in Washington, DC and in our Regional Offices around the country.
  • A wide variety of health benefit plans are available including Fee For Service Plans, Preferred Provider plans (PPOs), and Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs)
  • All employees may obtain low-cost life insurance protection under the Federal Employees Group Life Insurance Plan at the time of hire, or during open seasons, regardless of your age or physical condition
  • The BLS offers an excellent retirement plan that will allow you to plan for your retirement and long term security. The Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) is a three-tiered retirement plan comprised of the following features:
    • Generous basic Retirement Benefits which accumulate for each year you work
    • Social Security Benefits
    • Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) (equivalent to a 401(k))

What training opportunities exist?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics is committed to being a "Lifelong Learning Organization," which provides the opportunity for every employee to learn continuously in order to improve organizational performance. Training begins the day you enter on duty at the Bureau of Labor Statistics through orientation and continues throughout your career. The following types of training are available:

  • Onsite training offering a variety of professional courses at the beginning, intermediate, and advanced levels in subject matters relevant to BLS
  • Tuition reimbursement (budget permitting)
  • State of the art, online training courses to enhance your personal and professional development

What types of awards are granted to BLS employees?

BLS provides monetary awards and non-monetary forms of recognition for our best performers. We appreciate the work of our employees and take the time to recognize and thank them.

Is Student Employment available?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has temporarily suspended the student employment program
As additional information concerning recruitment activities is available, this page will be updated.
In the interim, please forward questions regarding BLS hiring to Careers@BLS. For your convenience, we may be reached by phone at 800-827-5334.

What is it like living in the Washington, DC, area?

Washington, DC, is the seat of government for our Nation and the home of the Smithsonian Institution’s museums, the National Gallery of Art, the Kennedy Center, as well as numerous national monuments.
Entertainment in Washington, DC, is varied and virtually unlimited. Whether you prefer theater, football, opera, or tennis, Washington, DC, has a wide range of venues, resources, and people who share your interests. You sports enthusiasts have your choice of hockey, basketball, baseball, soccer, and football teams and events at local sports complexes, bike trails, and golf courses, and organized fund-raisers and events such as triathlons and bike rides.
Our office in Washington, DC, offers numerous amenities including a fitness center, a cafeteria, a health center, and transportation subsidies.
Please see www.dc.gov for more information.

What is it like living in a BLS Regional location?

Our BLS Regional Offices are located in the following large metropolitan areas: Atlanta, Boston, New York, Chicago, Dallas, Philadelphia, and San Francisco. There are smaller BLS branch offices in many more great cities! The possibilities found in such a breadth of metropolitan settings are endless.

Our regional cities are beautiful and exciting, boasting world famous buildings, monuments, museums, and parks.

  • Boston is New England’s largest city and is full of American history and culture from the North End to Beacon Hill and also home to some of the best universities and colleges. Please see www.cityofboston.gov for more information.
  • Philadelphia enjoys the historic magnificence of Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, and the Betsy Ross House, and extravagant art exhibitions and festivals that are transforming this waterfront location. Please see www.phila.gov for more information.
  • Atlanta is the burgeoning heart of the southeast, home to many Fortune 500 companies, historic districts and homes, and the World of Coca-Cola Museum. Please see www.atlantaga.gov for more information.
  • Chicago (also known as "the Windy City") is one of the Midwest’s main attractions known for its art museums, the Magnificent Mile, and the architectural beauty of its downtown. Please see egov.cityofchicago.org for more information.
  • Dallas mixes the big city with the old west in some of its main attractions including the West End Historic District, the Fair Park museum district and much more. Please see www.dallascityhall.com for more information.
  • San Francisco in all its West Coast glamour is home to the Golden Gate Bridge and close to many national landmarks. Please see sf.gov for more information.

Our BLS regional offices offer numerous amenities including fitness centers, cafeterias, training centers, and transit subsidies.

 

Last Modified Date: November 18, 2011