Public Policymaker or Analyst
The Bureau of Labor Statistics provides a variety of information to help you evaluate public policies on healthcare, retirement benefits, the minimum wage, workforce education and training, economic development, workplace safety, monetary policy, consumer spending, and other topics that affect the well-being of American workers, retirees, and their families.
Health insurance coverage and the cost of healthcare have received considerable attention in recent years. We provide detailed information on the percent of workers whose employers offer health insurance plans and the percent of workers who participate in them. We also provide information on the types of services these plans cover and the out-of-pocket costs that workers must pay for premiums, copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles. We publish information on employers’ costs to provide health insurance and changes in these costs. We also measure inflation in the cost of medical services and commodities that consumers purchase directly.
As the baby-boom generation approaches retirement age, concern is growing about whether today’s workers will be financially prepared to retire. We provide information on the percent of workers who participate in employer-provided retirement plans. We also provide information on key characteristics of these plans, such as whether they are defined-benefit pensions or defined-contribution plans and employers’ costs for these plans. For defined-benefit pensions, we publish information on eligibility requirements for normal and early retirement, the benefit-payment formula, vesting, survivor benefits, and disability benefits. For defined-contribution plans, we publish information on the type of plan, whether employees contribute to their accounts on a pre-tax basis, the investment options that employees can choose, and other plan characteristics.
We provide information on the number and characteristics of workers who earn the Federal minimum wage. These characteristics include their sex, age, race, marital status, educational attainment, occupation, industry, and geographic area. We also publish annual reports on the working poor and on the weekly and hourly earnings of women and men by age, race, and other characteristics.
Workforce Education and Training
We publish statistics on the educational attainment and school enrollment of the workforce, including an in-depth article examining youth enrollment and employment trends. We have statistics that track people from youth into adulthood to examine their decisions to enroll in school or training and to assess how those decisions affect their economic success as adults. We project the types of jobs that are likely to grow or decline in the future. This information helps educational institutions and training organizations develop programs and curriculums relevant for tomorrow’s workers.
State and local leaders who focus on economic development use our statistics to evaluate how their geographic area measures up in terms of employment growth, the unemployment rate, pay levels, demographic characteristics, occupations, and industries. For example, we publish Pay Relatives that allow you to compare pay across occupations and areas, and the Location Quotient Calculator enables you to compare industry employment distributions across areas. Many of these statistics are collected and published through partnerships between the Bureau of Labor Statistics and State agencies. In today’s global economy, it’s important to consider how your region compares not only with the rest of the country but with other parts of the world. All of this information helps economic development officials and their partners in the private sector identify future opportunities for building a vibrant community.
In the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, Congress recognized the need for statistics on workplace injuries, illnesses, and fatalities for an effective national program of prevention. Today, information on nonfatal injuries and illnesses includes counts and rates by detailed industry as well as counts and rates of the characteristics of injury and illness cases and the demographics of those involved. Similar information also is available on fatalities.
Two of the main concerns of monetary policy are unemployment and inflation. See these and other statistics at U.S. Economy at a Glance. Productivity statistics are also closely followed because increases in the Nation’s standard of living ultimately depend on productivity growth.
We provide information on the spending patterns of different demographic and income groups, how these patterns respond to the availability of new products and services, gift-giving behavior, and more. This detailed information is vital for understanding how public policies and changing economic conditions affect spending for housing, transportation, food, entertainment, education, and other categories.