Friends of BLS FY22 Recommendation Letter

On April 26, 2021, COPAFS signed onto a letter the Friends of the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) wrote to send thanks for providing the BLS with increased funding in FY 2021 and to encourage a sustained investment in the agency by providing the Bureau with no less than $800 million in FY 2022.

The Honorable Rosa DeLauro
Chair, House Appropriations Subcommittee
on Labor, Health and Human Services,
Education, and Related Agencies
Washington, DC 20515
The Honorable Tom Cole
Ranking Member, House Appropriations Subcommittee
on Labor, Health and Human Services,
Education, and Related Agencies
Washington, DC 20515
The Honorable Patty Murray
Chair, Senate Appropriations Subcommittee
on Labor, Health and Human Services,
Education, and Related Agencies
Washington, DC 20510
The Honorable Roy Blunt
Ranking Member, Senate Appropriations Subcommittee
on Labor, Health and Human Services,
Education, and Related Agencies
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Chair Murray, Chair DeLauro, Ranking Member Blunt, 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 2021 and to encourage you to sustain investment in the agency by providing the Bureau with no less than $800 million in FY 2022.

Thanks to your leadership, BLS has an additional $14 million in FY 2021 to modernize its data collection and dissemination capacities, improve its ongoing programs, and better understand the impact of the digital economy on our workforce. We hope that FY 2022 continues to reverse the agency’s diminishing purchasing power, which has fallen 13% since FY 2009.

The recent increase in funding is a positive step towards restoring BLS’s capacity to meet consequential national data needs. The requested allocation for FY 2022 represents a further significant increase that is necessary to fund critical initiatives at BLS and to strengthen ongoing data collection and modernization. Without these funds, BLS will be forced to curtail spending on its programs, which will delay modernizations and could endanger data quality or continuity.

Notably, we support an innovative investment to work with states and the Employment and Training Administration to upgrade the quality of state Unemployment Insurance (UI) worker wage and claims records and to grant BLS access to those state-owned administrative records, with permission to share data back to the states. Adding these assets to our statistical infrastructure would enable BLS and the states to produce far more granular, timely, and agile labor market information. Weekly UI claims releases could be transformed into authoritative measures of economic dynamics. And, unlike today, monthly measures of jobs created and destroyed could be identified by occupation, hourly earnings, demographics, and work location. This information would aid educators, investors, and policymakers’ efforts to track a multitude of labor market issues. For states, access to each other’s curated 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 high-quality federal program evaluations, supporting evidence-based policymaking at the national level.

In addition, we support expanding BLS’s data modernization and data linkage activities by creating a BLS Data Science Center and a second Electronic Data Collection Facility. These two initiatives will go a long way toward lowering reporting burdens on employers, and making full use of all data collected (including UI records), such as providing insight into labor market inequities and the future of work.

The funds will also be used to begin new programs as well as strengthen and conduct more frequent collections for existing efforts. These initiatives include:

· Authorizing a new Survey of Employer-Provided Training, which will provide the first authoritative information since 1995 on the nature and extent to which employers train their workers, and which workers receive training of various kinds. This knowledge will inform decisions by employers, workers, national and state policymakers, and key stakeholders in the workforce development system.

· Redesigning the Consumer Expenditure Survey (CEX), which provides critical information on Americans’ spending patterns. The new CEX would have an expanded sample and allow more frequent updating of market baskets for inflation measures. This modernization would also take advantage of available consumer transaction information or ‘big data’ and technological advances in order to improve data quality and reduce burden on respondents. Two major consequences would be better, more granular measures of inflation and poverty.

· Enrolling a new, and overdue, survey cohort for the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth. The two active cohorts currently contain respondents born between 1957-64 (NLSY79) and respondents born between 1980-84 (NLSY97). A new cohort is needed at this time in order to continue to provide insights over time for the next generation.

· Improving and enhancing the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS). An increased sample size for JOLTS will enable state-level data and more detailed industry data to better understand high turnover and difficult-to-fill jobs, which will be especially helpful to governors, regional economic development organizations, local workforce development agencies, and other policymakers.

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 recent increases in funding for BLS be the start of a sustained effort to take full advantage of advances in data collection and statistical methods that must be the basis for sound decisions about public and private sector investment. To produce the high-quality statistics required for a thriving, 21st century economy, BLS must be a 21st century data agency. It is critical that BLS has the funding to take full advantage of alternative sources of data and apply advanced statistical matching and modelling techniques. Such steps would greatly reduce respondent burden, provide higher frequency granular statistics, and improve 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 very quickly, as the last twelve months attest. Businesses and policymakers need information on the current economic climate and that requires a 21st century approach to collecting and reporting data.

With your support during these challenging times, BLS can continue to fully support evidence-based policymaking, smart program evaluation, rewarding career choices, 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 2022 Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations bill.


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


Aero Research & Analytics

American Economics Group, Inc.

American Statistical Association

AMT – The Association for Manufacturing Technology

Associated General Contractors of America

Association of Population Centers

Association of Public Data Users

Boston University

Center for Economic and Policy Research

Center for New York City Affairs

Clayton Economics

Consortium of Social Science Associations

Cornell University-ILR

Council for Community and Economic Research

Council of Professional Organizations on Federal Statistics (COPAFS)

Data Coalition Initiative

Economic Innovation Group

Forland Consulting

The Friends of BLS

Haver Analytics

Industry Studies Association

Information Technology and Innovation Foundation

Initiative for a Competitive Inner City

Institute for Social Research and Data Innovation, University of Minnesota

International Brotherhood of Teamsters

Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research

National Association for Business Economics

National Association of Home Builders

National Employment Law Project

National Multifamily Housing Council

National Retail Federation

National Urban League

National Venture Capital Association

NORC at the University of Chicago


Population Association of America

SRR Consulting

StratoDem Analytics

The W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research

The WorkPlace Inc.

Twin Cities Research Group

Visa, Inc


Katharine G. Abraham, BLS Commissioner, 1993-2001

William G. Barron Jr., Acting BLS Commissioner, 1991-1993

Richard Berner, Director of Office of Financial Research, Dept. of Treasury, 2013-2017

Ronald Bird, Chief Economist, Department of Labor, 2005-2009

Jason Furman, Chair, President’s Council of Economic Advisors, 2013-2017

John M. Galvin, Acting BLS Commissioner, 2012-2013

Keith Hall, BLS Commissioner, 2008-2012; CBO Director 2015-2019

Harry Joseph Holzer, Chief Economist, Department of Labor, 1999

Glenn Hubbard, Chair, President’s Council of Economic Advisors, 2001-2003

Jennifer Hunt, Chief Economist, Department of Labor, 2013-2014

Adriana Kugler, Chief Economist, Department of Labor, 2011-2012

Tony Martinez, Former Chief of Staff, Department of Labor Wage and Hour Administration

Lee Price, Chief Economist, House Appropriations Committee, 2011-2017

Philip L. Rones, Acting BLS Commissioner, 2006-2008

Robert J Shapiro, Former Under Secretary of Commerce for Economic Affairs

Patricia A. Shiu, Director, Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs,

Department of Labor, 2009-2016

Dixie Sommers, Former BLS Associate Commissioner for Occupational Statistics and

Employment Projections

Kathleen Utgoff, BLS Commissioner, 2002-2006

Katherine Kersten Wallman, Chief Statistician of the U.S., 1992-2017

Spencer Wong, Former Chief of State of CA Labor Market Information Division

William Theodore Dickens, Northeastern University

Stephanie R Aaronson, Brookings Institution

Hassan Afrouzi, Columbia University

Joseph G. Altonji, Yale University

Brian J Asquith, W.E. Upjohn Institute

Orazio Attanasio, Yale University

David Autor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Dean Baker, Center for Economic and Policy Research

Paul B Bennett, Former Deputy Director of Research, Federal Reserve Bank of New York

Francine Blau, Cornell University

Barry Bosworth, Brookings Institution

Cindy Brittain, Kansas City Area Development Council

Erik Brynjolfsson, Stanford Digital Economy Lab, Stanford University

Stephen Burks, Professor of Economics & Management, University of Minnesota Morris

Gary T. Burtless, Brookings Institution

Anne M. Burton, Cornell University

Michael Buso, Former BLS Economist

Henggao Cai, Rutgers University

Samantha Campbell

Joseph Carson, Consultant

Alessandra Casella, Columbia University

Alberto Cavallo, Harvard University

Daniel Chupe-OHanlon, Austin Community College

Kevin Costa, NYC Dept. of Transportation

Elizabeth Crofoot, The Conference Board

David M Cutler, Harvard University

Sheldon Danziger, Russell Sage Foundation

Donald R. Davis, Department of Economics, Columbia University

Steven J Davis, University of Chicago

Dante DeAntonio, Moody’s Analytics

Thomas deWolf

Carlos Cassó Domínguez, Northeastern University

Jill Dupree, Northeastern University

Randall Eberts, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research

Ceyhun Elgin, Columbia University Dept. of Economics

Diana Farrell, CNSTAT, NBER, WEF

Martin Fleming, The Productivity Institute

Marcia Flicker, Gabelli School of Business, Fordham University

Christopher Flinn, New York University

Peter Fox, Scoolidge Peters Russotti & Fox LLP

Hannah Furstenberg-Beckman

William Gale, Brookings Institution

Sharat Ganapati, Georgetown University

Frank Georges, Ph.D., Northeastern University

Donna K. Ginther, University of Kansas

Edward Glaeser, Harvard University

Matthieu Gomez, Columbia University

Wayne Gray, Clark University

Marcello Graziano, Southern Connecticut State University

Michael Grossman, City University of New York Graduate Center

Robert E Hall, Hoover Institution, Stanford University

John C, Ham, New York University

Maurine A Haver, Haver Analytics

Maria Heidkamp, Heldrich Center for Workforce Development, Rutgers University

Judith K. Hellerstein, University of Maryland

Rebecca Hellerstein, MacroLabs

Juan Herreno, Columbia Business School

Brad Hershbein, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research

Nicholas Horton, Ameherst College

V. Joseph Hotz, Duke University

Hilary W Hoynes, University of California, Berkeley

John Eric Humphries, Yale University

David Iaia

Sanford M. Jacoby, UCLA

Brad Jensen, Georgetown University

Chinhui Juhn, University of Houston

Arne Kildegaard, University of Minnesota

Jack Kleinhenz, Ph.D. CBE, Kleinhenz & Associates

Pete Klenow, Stanford University

James L Kopp

Douglas Kruse, Rutgers University

David Lan, Portland Cement Association

Jennifer La’O, Columbia University

Simon Lee, Columbia University

Jennifer LeFurgy, NAIOP, The Commercial Real Estate Development Association

Frank Levy (Professor Emeritus), Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Shelly Lundberg, University of California Santa Barbara

Lisa M. Lynch, Brandeis University

W Bentley Macleod, Columbia University

Steven R Malin, City University of New York

Catherine L. Mann, Citibank

Mindy Marks, Northeastern University

Thomas Masterson, Levy Economics Institute of Bard College

Rebecca Maynard, University of Pennsylvania

Patrick McGibbon, AMT – The Association For Manufacturing Technology

Ruth Milkman, UCLA

Daniel JB Mitchell, UCLA

Alicia Sasser Modestino, Northeastern University

Robert Moffitt, Johns Hopkins University

Giuseppe Moscarini, Yale University

Richard Murnane, Harvard University

Brendan O’Flaherty, Columbia University

Alexandre Olbrecht, Eastern Economic Association and Ramapo College of New Jersey

Colm O’Muircheartaigh, University of Chicago

Carol Lee Osler, Brandeis University

Dimitri Papadimitriou, Levy Economics Institute

Joel Perlmann, Levy Economics Institute of Bard College

Edmund Phelps, Columbia University

Gerald Porter, Northeastern University

Valerie Ramey, University of California San Diego

Michael Reich, University of California, Berkeley

Richard D. Rippe, Evercore ISI

Richard Roberts, Monmouth University

Emily Rosenbaum, Fordham University

Mark Rosin

Lyle Ryter, Sarona Company

Brenda Samaniego, U. of Callifornia — Santa Clara

Jose A Scheinkman, Columbia University

Stephanie Schmitt-Grohe, Columbia University

Robert Seamans, NYU Stern School of Business

Louise Sheiner, Brookings Institution

Madi Shields, Metro Atlanta Chamber

Tim Smeeding, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Aaron Sojourner, U Minnesota

Charles Steindel, Ramapo College of New Jersey

Michael L Sternad, A Point of View

Raymond Stone PhD, Rutgers University

Michael Strain, American Enterprise Institute

Adaryll Taylor, NYC Department of Transportation

Robert K. Triest, Department of Economics, Northeastern University

Kenneth Troske, University of Kentucky

Eric Verhoogen, Columbia University

Steve Viscelli, University of Pennsylvania

Jeff Vockrodt, Climate Jobs NY

Tao Wang, Johns Hopkins University

David E Weinstein, Columbia University

David Wessel, Brookings Institution

Brady T. West, Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor

Jonathan Wright, Johns Hopkins University

Max Zarin

Christina Zausner

Seth Zimmerman, Yale University

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

Download/Print a copy of the Friends of BLS FY22 Recommendation Letter.