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BLS and the economy: a centennial timetable.

Celebration of the BLS Centennial affords an opportunity to review the growth and development of the Bureau's work in relation to changes in the American economy and society. Shifts in Bureau leadership, changes in objectives, and the evolution of programs following the Bureau's inception are narrated in a study to be published by the Bureau in 1985. In what follows, pertinent facts and dates are presented in a Timetable of History, a format of a long span of years. It is intended to present briefly the historical context in which the Bureau has developed.

The table presents events over the past 100 years under three headings: first, the commissioners and their terms of office, including the presidents who nominated them; second, major activities of the Bureau of Labor Statistics; and third, selected economic and historic milestones.

Among the major themes that emerge from this overview: increasing use of BLS programs in the administration of private and public stabilization programs, such as adjustment of incomes to consumer price changes, allocation of public funds for unemployment assistance, and the regulation of working conditions; the pursuit of economic stability through government intervention; the shift away from government action on the side of employers to a more neutral position in labor-management relations; and the persistance and creativity of collective bargaining in dealing with problems of change.

In addition to the forthcoming historical study, the timetable draws on several other BLS publications for the sections on the Commissioners and Major Activities of the BLS: BLS Handbook of Methods, Vol. I (Bulletin 2134-1, 1982); Information Processing at BLS (Report 583, 1980); The Monthly Labor Review; and selected Bulletins. The Annual Reports of the Secretary of Labor, 1915-83, were also consulted. Other useful sources included: Ewan Clague, The Bureau of Labor Statistics (New York, Frederick A. Praeger, 1968) and Joseph W. Duncan and William C. Shelton, Revolution in United States Government Statistics, 1926-1976 (Washington, U.S. Government Printing Office, 1978).

The main sources for economic and historic milestones were: Richard B. Morris, ed., Encyclopedia of American History, Sixth Edition (New York, Harper and Row, 1982); Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., general editor, The Almanac of American History (New York, G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1983); Lawrence Urdang, ed., The Timetables of American History (New York, Simon and Schuster, Inc., 1981). the dates of business cycle turning points are from the article by Geoffrey H. Moore, "Business Cycles" in Douglas Greenwald, editor-in-chief, Encyclopedia of Economics (New York, McGraw-Hill Book Co., 1982) and the U.S. Department of Commerce's Business Cycle Digest.

Also consulted were Brief History of the American Labor Movement (BLS Bulletin 1000, 1976) and Harold S. Roberts, Robert's Dictionary of Industrial Relations (Washington, The Bureau of National Affairs, 1971).
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Author:Weinberg, Edgar
Publication:Monthly Labor Review
Date:Nov 1, 1984
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