The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has existed under various names and governmental departments since 1884.[1] The BLS is the federal agency responsible for measuring labor market activity, working conditions, and price changes in the economy and does so by collecting, analyzing, and disseminating essential economic information to the public.[2] Early in FRASER’s history, we digitized BLS data publications such as the Consumer Price Indexes (CPI), Employment and Earnings, and the Producer Price Indexes (PPI). In late 2014, FRASER staff began the long process of digitizing the BLS Bulletins from 1885 to the 1980s—more than 2,000 publications. From 1885 until 1912, the Bulletin of the United States Bureau of Labor was published semi-monthly and contained articles and reports completed by BLS researchers and notable social scientists of the day. These reports not only offer statistics and data about the state of labor in the United States, but they also provide a valuable insight into how contemporary social scientists and economists viewed the important labor issues of the day.

Beginning in 1912, the bulletins moved to a sporadic publication schedule. Some titles (e.g., Retail Prices and Union Scale of Wages and Hours) were produced as semi-regularly as periodicals, and others were unscheduled and published when completed. The BLS produces reports on education and its impact on the labor force, the care of the elderly, how to use labor statistics, and even a code for identification of gas mask canisters.

The FRASER BLS Bulletins span two centuries of American labor. With over 2,000 bulletins to choose from, you may struggle to limit yourself to one favorite bulletin, but this collection is definitely worth browsing.

 

[1] For more information on the history of the BLS, check out The First Hundred Years of the Bureau of Labor Statistics: Bulletin of the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, No. 2235 from 1985.

[2] United States. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “BLS Information: About BLS.” Accessed May 15, 2015; http://www.bls.gov/bls/infohome.htm

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