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Work Stoppages

Work Stoppages Through the Years

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has collected information on work stoppages (strikes and lockouts) in the United States dating back to the 1880s. Over the long history of providing work stoppage data, there have been scope and publication changes to reflect both labor trends and legislative changes in program funding.

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The BLS published Bulletins covering strikes and lockouts from 1880 into the 1900s. These reports cover the history of early strikes and some of the motivating factors behind them.


The BLS began the first official Work Stoppages program in 1947. This program covered all work stoppages in the United States that involved six workers or more and continued for the equivalent of a full day or shift or longer. Because of budget reductions, the series was terminated in January 1982.  Detailed statistical data were printed in the annual reports, commonly referred to as the “Analysis of Work Stoppage” bulletins. (The last bulletin, containing 1980 data, was published in March 1982).

In February 1982, BLS initiated its major work stoppage series. This series includes work stoppages idling 1,000 workers or more for the equivalent of a full shift, full day, or longer. Using data from the old series, BLS extended the major work stoppage series back to include data starting in 1947.


The BLS continues to track work stoppages idling 1,000 workers or more for the equivalent of a full shift, full day, or longer. Preliminary data is published every month covering the month prior. Annual publications release the final estimates for the prior year.