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December 1992, Vol. 115, No. 12
BLS regional offices: 50 years of Federal-State cooperation
Joseph W. Hines and Gunnar Engen
The 50th anniversary of the establishment of the BLS regional offices is a good time to look back on the evolution of cooperation between the Bureau and the State employment security agencies on employment and unemployment statistics. It is a good time as well to take note of BLS-State cooperation in regard to occupational safety and health statistics and to assess the contributions of regional office staff in both of these areas. During the past 50 years, these Federal-State programs have gradually expanded from a few surveys in manufacturing and mining to complex systems that often provide extensive geographic and industrial information. Their current emphasis is on improving the quality and reliability of the data they present. The efforts of the regional offices have been central to the success of this Federal-State cooperation.
Carroll D. Wright, the first BLS Commissioner, sought to obtain cooperative arrangements with State labor agencies as early as 1885. He envisioned a nationwide network of collaborating State and Federal agents. " 'A powerful chain of investigators,' he called it. He planned, he said in 1885, to ask Congress to authorize a system whereby the Federal Bureau could compensate State agencies for their assistance and to allow the Federal Bureau to place agents in States without bureaus."1
Early Federal-State cooperation
It was 1916, however, when New York State became the first State to enter into an agreement with BLS to collect and share payroll employment information for several manufacturing and mining industries. The preceding year, the Bureau had begun a monthly mail survey to collect payroll employment data from businesses and compile statistics for a limited number of manufacturing and mining industries. Agreements to collect and share establishment employment data were reached with Wisconsin in 1920 and with Illinois in 1922. By October 1928, it was reported that "The Bureau of Labor Statistics cooperates with the State Labor Departments in seven States."2 By 1935 12 States were participating in the collection of employment data, and the figure rose to 17 in 1939.3
When States began to identify a need for State- and area-level employment statistics, concern about duplication of reporting and the associated burden on respondents provided an impetus for developing cooperative Federal-State arrangements.4 In addition, the opportunity to achieve consistency between State-to-State and national employment statistics was appealing to researchers.
This excerpt is from an article published in the December 1992 issue of the Monthly Labor Review. The full text of the article is available in Adobe Acrobat's Portable Document Format (PDF). See How to view a PDF file for more information.
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1 Joseph P. Goldberg and William T. Moye, The First Hundred Years of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Bulletin 2235 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, September 1985), p. 14.
2 "Unemployment conditions and relief," Monthly Labor Review, December 1928, p. 40.
3 Goldberg and Moye, The First Hundred Years, p. 164.
4 Dudley E. Young, Cooperative Federal-State Statistical Programs - Past, Present, and Future, unpublished (Bureau of Labor Statistics, December 1962), p. 23.
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