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BLS West Region Virtual Data Users’ Conference - September 29, 2021

The severe economic impact of COVID-19 has created deep interest in both the original impact and the levels of economic recovery experienced thus far. The West Region Virtual Data Users’ Conference will bring together national BLS experts to discuss the effect of COVID-19 on employment, wages, prices, and production, providing some regional aspects when available. Join the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) on September 29th from 9:00a.m.–12:00 p.m. PDT.

BLS Commissioner William Beach will discuss how the Agency has continued to collect data and produce gold standard numbers during the pandemic. Associate Commissioners Julie Hatch Maxfield and Jeffrey Hill will present data on employment, unemployment, and prices. Assistant Commissioner Hilery Simpson will cover the topics of wages, benefits, and work requirements during the pandemic. The event will conclude with a panel of experts discussing how COVID-19 has changed the outlook for labor, as well as lessons from past post-pandemic recoveries. A short Q&A session will follow each presentation.

Event Information

  • When: Wednesday, September 29, 2021
  • Where: Virtual via WebEx.
  • Time: 9:00a.m.–12:00 p.m. PACIFIC DAYLIGHT TIME, please login at 8:45 a.m.
  • Cost: FREE
  • Registration is required via Eventbrite no later than Tuesday, September 28, 2021, 5:00 p.m.
NOTE: After registration in Eventbrite, a separate invitation to the WebEx will follow.


9:00–9:10   Virtual Welcome and Check-In

  • BLS Regional Commissioner Chris Rosenlund

9:10–9:35   Transformation in Labor Market and Post-Pandemic Workforce Realities

  • BLS Commissioner William Beach will discuss the challenges and unique difficulties of producing the Bureau’s Principal Economic Indicators during and after the pandemic.

9:35–10:00   COVID-19 Impacts on the U.S. Labor Market Featuring Regional Trends

  • Julie Hatch Maxfield, Associate Commissioner for Office of Employment and Unemployment Statistics will discuss how the COVID-19 pandemic and efforts to contain it had a profound and immediate impact on the U.S. labor market. Over a year later, learn how quickly different industrial sectors are recovering the 22.4 million jobs lost in March and April 2020. Learn how the labor market’s sudden contraction and expansion has also impacted different demographic groups in a variety of ways.

10:00–10:25   Wages, Benefits, Work Requirements, and the Pandemic

  • Hilery Simpson, Assistant Commissioner for the Office of Compensation Levels and Trends, will present information on BLS compensation and occupational requirements data that can be used to understand the impact of COVID-19. Data discussed will include the Employment Cost Index, which measures the change in the price of labor, Employee Benefits, and recently released Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics. Also presented are the results from two special BLS surveys that asked employers about changes to their leave plans that resulted from the pandemic.

10:25–10:50   Inflation: Hot or Not?

  • Jeffrey Hill, Associate Commissioner for Office of Prices and Living Conditions will discuss how prices changed significantly at the start of the pandemic and have since reverted to pre-pandemic levels. With the Federal Reserve intent on keeping interest rates low, BLS data show what businesses and consumers are experiencing with regard to inflation.

10:50–11:00   BREAK

11:00–12:00   Panel Discussion: How COVID Has Changed the Outlook for Labor and Lessons from Past Post-Pandemic Recoveries

  • 11:00-11:15 – Prof. Vellore Arthi, University of California, Irvine – What Can History Tell Us About the Potential Long-Run Human Fallout from COVID-19?
    • For the COVID-19 crisis's many survivors, the costs to health and human capital may not be limited to those we see now. While history suggests that these costs could become massive over the coming decades if left unaddressed, luckily, these harms also tend to be easier and more cost-effective to address the sooner interventions can be made. This talk will review the evidence on the long-run effects on health, labor, and human capital of both historical pandemics and historical recessions, and will discuss how past crises can inform our approach to COVID-19—in particular, actions we might take now to mitigate the long-run pain for affected cohorts, and therefore, the wider economy. 
  • 11:15-11:30 – Dr. Michael Horrigan, Upjohn Institute – The impact of the pandemic on U.S. labor markets: Past, present and future concerns
    • The COVID-19 pandemic has had many effects on labor markets. Some of these can be measured while others are qualitative or still developing. This talk will explore the data on how labor markets have been changed in the past, in the present, and in the future as a result of the ongoing pandemic.
  • 11:30-11:45 – Prof. Jose Maria Barrero, Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (ITAM) – Why Working From Home Will Stick
    • Using over 50,000 survey responses from US workers, we estimate that 25% of full paid working days will be supplied from in after COVID, in 2022 and later. This persistent shift to WFH is the result of learning and experimentation during the pandemic, investments into physical and human capital enabling working from home, and shifts in attitudes about remote work and proximity to other people.
  • 11:45-12:00 – Q&A

12:00   Closing Remarks

  • BLS Regional Commissioner Chris Rosenlund

Contact Information

Feel free to forward this message to staff or colleagues who may be interested. Remember, registration via Eventbrite is required. If you have any questions, contact the Western Information Office by phone at (415) 625-2270 or via email at