Friends of BLS FY21 Appropriations Letter

On July 3, COPAFS joined 24 organizations, including the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the American Statistical Association, in signing a letter addressed to Senators Roy Blunt and Patty Murray and Representatives Rosa DeLauro and Tom Cole thanking them for the increased funding provided to BLS for FY2020 and asking that Congress sustain this investment by providing BLS with the full FY2021 appropriation request of $658 million.

The Honorable Roy Blunt, Chair
Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor,
Health and Human Services and Education
Washington, DC 20515
The Honorable Patty Murray, Ranking Member
Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor,
Health and Human Services and Education
Washington, DC 20515
The Honorable Rosa DeLauro, Chair
House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor
Health and Human Services and Education
Washington, DC 20515
The Honorable Tom Cole, Ranking Member
House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor,
Health and Human Services and Education
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Chairman Blunt, Chairwoman DeLauro, Ranking Member Murray, and Ranking Member Cole,

We, the undersigned members of the Friends of the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) are writing to thank you for providing the BLS with increased funding in FY 2020 and to encourage you to sustain investment in the agency by providing the Bureau with no less than the Administration’s FY 2021 request, $658 million.

Thanks to your leadership, BLS has an additional $16 million in FY 2020 to modernize its data collection and dissemination capacities, improve its ongoing programs, better understand the impact of the digital economy on our workforce, and begin planning and development of a new National Longitudinal Survey of Youth cohort. We hope that FY 2020 marks the beginning of an effort to reverse the agency’s diminishing purchasing power, which has fallen 13% since FY 2009.

The administration’s request level is a positive step towards the restoration of BLS resources. We fully support the proposals. Most critical is the final tranche of funding for the physical move of BLS. Without these funds, BLS will be forced to curtail spending on all its progra ms, which will delay modernizations and could endanger their quality or continuity. In addition, we support the proposed improvements to the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS). The increased sample size for JOLTS will enable state-level data and more detailed industry data, which will be especially helpful to governors, regional economic development organizations, and other policymakers. We also support the proposed investments for the Consumer Expenditure program. This program is overdue for a new design given its burden on respondents. Resources now feasible through big data and technological advances have the potential to improve inflation and poverty measurement. These improved programs will be especially informative as our country recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic and its profound impact on business dynamics and consumption patterns.

We urge that the increase in funding in FY 2020 be the start of sustained multi -year increases for the BLS to take full advantage of advances in data collection and statistical methods. To produce the high-quality statistics required for a thriving, 21st century economy, BLS must become a 21st century data agency. It is critical that BLS has the funding to take full advantage of alternative sources of data that greatly reduce respondent burden, provide policy makers and the public with real -time data, and through use of advanced statistical modelling techniques vastly improves the coverage of the economy, especially at state and local levels. BLS also needs the agility to create one-time surveys of establishments on topics of emerging policy interest. The economic landscape can change so quickly, as the last few months attest. In February, the conversation was around job shortages and just a few months later, we are focusing on job loss and a hope for recovery. Businesses and policymakers need information on the current economic climate and that requires a 21st century approach to collecting and reporting data.

As Congress acts to help the nation recover from the COVID-19 recession, we urge you to include improving labor market data as an element of infrastructure investments. In particular, we support investment to work with states to upgrade the quality of state Unemployment Insurance worker records and to grant BLS access to those state-owned administrative records, with permission to share data back to the states. These steps would enable BLS to produce far more granular and timely labor market information, benefiting public, business, and family decision -makers at the national, state and local levels. For states, access to each other’s wage records is critical for program evaluation requirements under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, analysis of labor -sheds that cross state borders and helping allocate funds to train workers for jobs most in demand. Implementation would also reduce costs to perform federal policy evaluations, supporting evidence-based policymaking at the national level .

With your support during these challenging times, BLS can continue to fully support evidence-based policymaking, smart program evaluation, and confident business investment. Thank you for your dedicated interest in this critical part of our national data infrastructure and for considering our views as you prepare the FY 2021 Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations bill and deliberate on economic stimulus measures.


Erica L. Groshen, Ph.D.
Chair, The Friends of BLS
Commissioner, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2013-2017


American Statistical Association
Association of Population Centers
Association of Public Data Users (APDU)
Bureau of Labor Statistics
Center for Economic and Policy Research
Clayton Economics
Council for Community and Economic Research
Council of Professional Associations on Federal Statistics (COPAFS)
Data Coalition
Economic Innovation Group
EurekaFacts, LLC
Forland Consulting, LLC
Haver Analytics
IHS Markit
Insights Association
Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research
National Association for Business Economics
National Urban League
Population Association of America
StratoDem Analytics
The Lande Group
The WorkPlace
University of Arizona Economic and Business Research Center

Katharine G. Abraham, University of Maryland- College Park
Joseph G. Altonji, Yale University
Byron G. Auguste, Opportunity@Work
Kimberli Austin
David H. Autor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Dean Baker, Center for Economic and Policy Research
Lauren Bauer, Brookings Institution
Christopher W. Bazinet, St. John’s University, New York
Edward Beaver, Aerotek (Allegis Group)
Richard Berner, NYU Leonard N. Stern School of Business
Erik Brynjolfsson, MIT
Kathleen M. Camilli, Camilli Economics, LLC
Deborah Carr, Boston University, Department of Sociology
Alberto Cavallo, Harvard University
Stephen Ching
Gerald Cohen, Haver Analytics
Roger J. Cohen, PennDOT Madeleine Conrad, BLS
Cliff Cook, City of Cambridge, MA
Elizabeth Cooksey, The Ohio State University
Julia Coronado, MacroPolicy Perspectives
Elizabeth Crofoot, The Conference Board
Emily Crowley, IHS Markit
Gregory Daco, Oxford Economics
Sheldon Danziger, University of Michigan Naushik Desai
Thomas J. deWolf
Thomas Durfee, The Roy Wilkins Center for Human Relations and Social Justice
Karen Dynan, Harvard University Wendy Edelberg, Brookings Institution
Joshua Eiermann, Energy Information Administration
Alexander Farach, Accenture Federal Services
Henry Farber, Princeton University
Aaron R. Fichtner, Ph.D., New Jersey Council of
County Colleges
J. J. Flattery, ECSU Martin Fleming
Phyllis Orlikoff Flug, The Friends of BLS
Gail Fosler, The GailFosler Group
Jason Furman, Harvard University
John M. Galvin, Bureau of Labor Statistics
Sharat Ganapati, Georgetown University
Martha Garcia-Murillo, Syracuse University
John Mollenkopf, Center for Urban Research, The Graduate Center, City University of New York
Andrea Moro, Vanderbilt University
Emi Nakamura, University of California at Berkele
Erik Nesson, Ball State University
Demetra Smith Nightingale, Ph.D., Urban Institute
Jane Oates, WorkingNation
Alexandre Olbrecht, Ramapo College of New Jersey
William P. Osterberg
Wong P, BLS
Elizabeth Pancotti, Employ America
Julia Pollak, ZipRecruiter Kenneth Prewitt, Columbia U. Lee Price, Retired
James Ratcliffe, Evercore ISI
Andrew Reamer, George Washington University
Roberto Rigobon, MIT
Richard D. Rippe, Evercore ISI Alexander J Rist, King County
William M. Rodgers III, Rutgers University
Mark Rosin, BLS
John W. Ruser, Ph.D., Workers Compensation Research Institute
Sara R. Rutledge
Claudia Sahm, Washington Center for Equitable Growth
Kathryn W. Schmidt
Ian Schmutte, University of Georgia
Paul Schroeder, COPAFS
Michael J. Schultz, Center for Automotive Research
Jared M. Scolati, JS
Robert Seamans, New York University
J. Sebastian Leguizamon, Western Kentucky University
David R. Senf, Mn DEED
Benjamin S. Shippen, Economist Incorporated
Dan Sichel, Wellesley College
Scott Siegel
Kenneth Simonson, Associated General Contractors of America
Rosella M. Gardecki, The Ohio State University
Teresa Ghilarducci, The New School
Lonnie Golden, Penn State University
Avindra Goolcharan, ADP
Marcello Graziano, Central Michigan University
Michelle Green, Prevedere
Erica L. Groshen, Cornell University
Susan Groshen, University of Southern California
Derrek Grunfelder-McCrank
Keith Hall, Georgetown University
Daniel S. Hamermesh, Barnard College
Maurine A. Haver, Haver Analytics
Carolyn Heinrich, Vanderbilt University
Juan Herreño, Columbia University
Brad Hershbein, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research
Bart Hobijn, Arizona State University
Harry J. Holzer, Georgetown University
Andrew Hong, Barclays
Michael W. Horrigan, The W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research
Lane Hudgins, Lane Hudgins Analysis
Dave Iaia, IHS Markit
Barbara Jeffreys, Boomers
David Johnson, University of Michigan Chinhui Juhn, University of Houston Lawrence Katz, Harvard University
James Kemper, Texas Tech University
Sania Khan, BLS
Jacob Funk Kirkegaard, Peterson Institute
Jed Kolko, Indeed
Nina Koppelman
Douglas Kruse, Rutgers University
Adriana Kugler, Georgetown University
Brian Lefler, Former US Digital Service
Margaret Levenstein, University of Michigan
Frank Levy, Mass. Institute of Technology
Diane Lim, Penn Wharton Budget Model
Josh Lipsky, Atlantic Council
Theodore Littleton, IFR Markets
Maricar Mabutas, NYC Department of Finance
Michael Mandel, Progressive Policy Institute
Alexandre Mas, Princeton University
Loretta Mason-Williams, Binghamton University
Ken Matheny, IHS Markit
James J. McAndrews
Robert McClelland, The Urban Institute
Bruce D. Meyer, AEA, ASA
Lois Miller, University of Wisconsin – Madison
Robert A. Moffitt, Johns Hopkins University
Logan Mohtashami,
Tara M. Sinclair, The George Washington University
Perry Singleton, Syracuse University
Tim Smeeding, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Aaron Sojourner, University off Minnesota
Richard Stein, KLIOS Consulting, LLC
Charles Steindel, Ranapo College of New Jersey
Raymond Stone, Rutgers University
Michael R. Strain, American Enterprise Institute
Diane Swonk, Grant Thornton
Lowell Taylor, Carnegie Mellon University
Ernie Tedeschi, Evercore ISI Aaron Terrazas
Daniel L. Thornton, DLThornton Economics LLC
Frances Tirado, Government Accountability Office
Rafael Torres, Prevedere
Daniell Toth, US Bureau of Labor Statistics
Kenneth Troske, University of Kentucky R.F. Tubman
Matthew Unrath, UC Berkeley
Chris Varvares, IHS Markit
Giovanni L. Violante, Princeton University
Jeff Vockrodt, Climate Jobs NY
Till von Wachter, UCLA
Jialan Wang, University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign
Christopher Ward, StratoDem Analytics
Erik White, Department of Employment and Economic Development
Justin White, LendingTree, Inc.
Geoffrey Williams, Transylvania University
Taylor Wilson, Consumer Product Safety Commission
Amie Yarbrough, Ravers
Chrissy Yarbrough, Gold Entertainment
Janet Yellen, Brookings Institution
Michele Zanini, Management Lab
Daniel Zhao

*The institutional listing is only for identification purposes and does not imply the institution’s endorsement of the letter

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