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November 1984, Vol. 107, No. 11
A century of wage statistics:
the BLS contribution
Wage and salary rates of pay remain at the heart of the labor bargain, although a new dimension has been created in recent decades by the rise of various forms of supplements to employee compensation. Information on the general movement of wage rates, and on the structure of rates by such characteristics as occupation, industry, region, union status, and sex, provides crucial insight on the status and well-being of the working population. In a complex industrial society, the development with limited resources of useful statistics in these areas, and more recently in the area of supplementary compensation, has been a formidable undertaking.
This article traces the work of the Bureau of Labor Statistics over the past century in the field of wage statistics, including the attention that has been given since World War II to the growth of wage supplements. An effort has been made to place this work in broad historical perspective. This account does not cover related Bureau programs, including the extensive work on consumer prices1 and the important series of average hourly and weekly earnings by industry developed from employment statistics.2
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1 See The Consumer Price Index: Concepts and Content Over the Years, Report 517 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 1978).
2 For a description of the early development of the average hourly and weekly earnings by industry series, see Hours and Earnings in the United States, 1932-40, Bulletin 697 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1942), pp. 34-46.
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