Success by the Numbers: Statistics for Business Development


BRASS Program at the ALA Annual Conference
June 28, 2004
Orlando, Florida

Program Handout, part 5

Labor, Employment, and Wages Statistics

Prepared by
Ashley Robinson
Pennsylvania State University

International Resources | National | State and Local Resources

Most of the resources listed below are on-line. The premier gateway to labor, employment, and wages statistics is FedStats at This site connects to over one hundred U. S. federal agencies via topic links, mapstats (statistical profiles of Federal judicial districts, Congressional districts, counties, and states), statistics by geography, a statistical reference shelf, alphabetical listing of agencies, press releases, and data access tools, plus search functionality, thereby covering local, state, national, and international areas. This might be a good place to start data shopping. On-line resources listed are free except where noted.

Print materials are largely print versions of online resources or reworkings of data available online. Two others of general interest are :

Berinstein, Paula (2003). Business statistics on the web: find them fast – at little or no cost. Medford, New Jersey : CyberAge Books.

Ojala, Marydee (2003). Statistically speaking. Online, 28, 42-45. This article treats numeric data by considering those responsible for their collection, searching for corporate and industry data, and working from a number, listing also potential pitfalls along the way.


The resources listed on this page contain general information on a wide variety of topics about the majority of nations in the world. However, most of the topics listed on their home pages also contain sections on international information resources. For international statistical information on more specific topics, check the front page and select the desired topic from the list. For statistical information on a particular region or nation, check the front page and select the desired region from the list.

Brosius, Jacques. Labour Economics Gateway, Statistics on the labor markets. Retrieved November 30, 2004, from
Provides direct links to pages with European labor market statistics, not to links to the homepages of the respective statistical offices. The datasets section presents information in category format, and the gateway homepage lists links to labor economists, research institutes, and publications. Typical of individual academic’s pages.

Europa Publications Limited. (2003). The europa world year book. London : Europa Publications Limited.
Focus on international agencies, world view of politics, their impact on employment.

Gale Group, Thomson Corporation. TableBase. [subscription database]. Retrieved November 25, 2003, from
TableBase provides tabular and statistical data on companies, industries, products, and demographics. Search by keyword or company or by pull-down menu by concept, marketing, term, industry, document type, SIC/product, geographical region, or by source. Subject areas include market share, company and brand rankings, industry and product forecasts, imports and exports, production and consumption statistics, number of users, and trends. Ninety percent of the records are full-text. It is international in scope, is updated weekly, and contains information difficult to locate elsewhere.

International Labor Office. Bureau of Statistics. LABORSTA. Retrieved November 30, 2003, from
Permits viewing and extraction of data and metadata including yearly statistics of total and economically active population, employment, unemployment, hours of work, wages, labor cost, consumer price Indices, occupational injuries, strikes and lockouts; 1969-2001 monthly statistics of employment, unemployment, hours of work, wages, consumer price indices: 1976-2003 Monthly Inquiry statistics of: Wages and Hours of Work in 159 Occupations: 1983-2001 Retail Prices of 93 Food Items: 1985-2001 Economically Active Population Estimates and Projections: 1950-2010 Employment by sex for detailed occupational groups: 1970-2000 Sources & Methods, Labor Statistics: methodological descriptions of national statistics by source. provides a menu of its websites.

International Labor Organization. International Labor Organization. Retrieved November 30, 2003, from
"The UN specialized agency which seeks the promotion of social justice and internationally recognized human and labor rights," reporting on labor in human terms dealing with standards and fundamental principles, human rights at work, including child labor; employment, including employability based on education; social protections, such as those inherent in the AIDS epidemic; and social dialog.

International Monetary Fund. International Financial Statistics Browser. [subscription database]. Retrieved November 22, 2003, from
Included are country tables, world tables, and commodity prices. IFS Online is the principal statistical publication of the International Monetary Fund. The emphasis is on money, of course, but wages and other labor data are included in the big picture. Tables for each Fund member country include data on the country's exchange rates, fund position, international liquidity, money and banking accounts, interest rates, prices, production, international transactions, government accounts, national accounts, and population. Selected series are published in area and world tables. Some series begin with 1945. Updated monthly.

Internet Securities, Inc. Emerging markets (international business). [subscription database].Retrieved November 24, 2003, from
ISI (Internet Securities Inc.) Emerging Markets provides business and economic information on developing areas of the world, with some news of labor, wages, and employment available. Included are current news, company financial statements, company profiles, industry reports, analyst and brokerage reports, closing stock and index quotes, macroeconomic statistics and forecasts, and legal and political information.

Kurian, G. T. (ed.) (2001). The illustrated book of world rankings. Armonk, N. Y. : Sharpe Reference.
Includes a wide range of information to give snapshots of countries. Also contains computer file and is alternately available on CD-ROM.

Ovid Technologies. EconLit (ERLWebSPIRS5). [subscription database]. Retrieved November 30, 2003, from
"International in scope, EconLit indexes research in all aspects of economics, including labor, from books, journals and dissertations. Primarily English language. This is an enhanced version of the Journal of Economic Literature. Coverage: 1969- Present. Updates: Quarterly."

PRS Group. 2003 Political Risk Yearbook Online. Retrieved November 23, 2003, from
Country Reports on 106 countries and political and economic risk analysis are available. Each Country Report focuses specifically on political plus business information: finding developing markets, examining labor conditions, determining currency movements, preparing for capital investments, or making judgments about corporate security.

Rubery, J. (2003). The organization of employment: an international perspective. New York: Palgrave.
Sections on labor statistics, market, unions, international division of labor, policies, and employment theory and relations.

United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Statistics Division. MBS Online [subscription database]. (International Statistics) Retrieved November 26, 2003, from
This is the monthly bulletin of statistics online, including employment and wages from more than 200 countries in the United Nations. Data may be graphed, printed, or downloaded.

United Nations Department of Economic and Social Development. Global Statistics. Retrieved November 24, 2003, from
This is a (free) list of links to UN sponsored statistics programs, UN specialized agency statistics programs, and other autonomous organizations statistics program. Click also on the Statistical Databases tab.

U. S. Census Bureau. International Trade Statistics. Retrieved November 24, 2003, from
This database tracks international trade in everything from turkeys to trucks. Labor statistics can be located via the A – Z list.

University of Auckland Library. OFFSTATS: Official Statistics on the Web. Retrieved November 23, 2003, from
If you’d like a different worldview, try OFFSTATS, which "lists web sites offering free and easily accessible social, economic and general data from official or similar 'quotable' sources, especially those that provide both current data and time series." Better yet, go for a field trip. Did you know that Kiwis pronounce the name of this amazingly beautiful city "Oakland"?

World Bank Group. World Development Indicators. Retrieved November 29, 2003, from
This database includes nearly 800 statistical indicators related to social and economic development. It is organized in six sections: World View, People, Environment, Economy, States and Markets, and Global Links. The tables cover 152 economies and 14 country groups-with basic indicators for a further 55 economies. Statistical methods are described, primary data are documented, and acronyms, abbreviations, and an index of indicators, plus a bibliography are presented. Data can be downloaded for further manipulation, and much of it is free.

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Becker, P. C.(ed.) (2002). A Statistical portrait of the United States: social conditions and trends. Lanham, MD: Bernan Press.

The Conference Board, Inc. [subscription database]. Retrieved November 24, 2003, from
The Business Cycle Indicators - U.S. Indicators database provides an interesting presentation of economic indicators and their importance, economic indicators that have proven to be most useful in determining current conditions and predicting the future direction of the United States economy. The United States is featured but eight other countries' data are available here. A common spreadsheet-type format is used, allowing the BCI series to be easily imported into numerous software programs. More than 250 economic series are in the U.S. BCI dataset, with many series beginning in 1945.

Council of Public Relations Firms. Labor Statistics. Retrieved November 21, 2003, from
This site is typical of pages organized and maintained by specific labor groups that are searchable via standard engines. This one is offered as an example.

Dow Jones Reuters Business Interactive LLC. Factiva. [subscription database.] Retrieved November 26, 2003, from
This global news service was formed as a joint venture of Dow Jones and Reuters news services and offers access to national and international sources, including over 8000 publications with an archive of over 10 years for most publications, although holdings dates vary. Users can also access over 11,500 Web sites and thousands of company reports. Information can be searched by keywords, company names, ticker symbols, industries, or designated subject terms, including searching in “region” for employment or labor statistics. The service also provides current and historical stock quotes, interactive charts, various performance measures, and company contact information.

Economic Policy Institute. EPI Datazone. Retrieved November 22, 2003, from
Statistics on labor and income (income inequality in particular) from the Economic Policy Institute, including the Quarterly Wage and Employment Series and issue guides complete with supplemental tables. Some information can be downloaded into spreadsheets.

George Washington University. Program in Labor Studies Links. Retrieved November 24, 2003, from
Treats major labor topics, including general economics and labor economics, affirmative action, child care, living and minimum wages, population economics, and welfare reform. It includes academic links, links to government data local to the university, and an interesting mix of associations and agencies. Last on the list is the "Link of the Weak," the most pitiful current example of labor studies web pages, presented with tongue in cheek. Typical of many fine college and university sites (but not as excellent as Penn State's).

Institute of Business and Economic Research, University of California. The Historical Labor Statistics Project. Retrieved November 21, 2003 from Collection in machine-readable format of detailed data on American labor markets selected from over 150 separate investigations undertaken between 1874 and 1920 by the Bureaus of Labor. Statistics established by the governments of 29 states. This is typical of similar projects, usually carried out by academic institutions.

LexisNexis, Reed Elsevier. LexisNexis Statistical. [subscription database.] Retrieved November 21, 2003, from
"Statistical Universe is a powerful index to statistics and data contained in federal agency government publications. It duplicates all American Statistics Index (ASI) abstract and index records (with monthly updates). In addition, it also links to 800 full-text documents published since 1994 and stored on LEXIS®-NEXIS®, and links to 2,000 publications on federal agency Web sites. The abstracts of all publications covered by ASI in 1996-97 include active links to agency Web sites where the full-texts can be accessed. The primary purpose of these links is to supplement the coverage of Statistical Universe as its full-text coverage expands. The links also enable users to explore an agency’s Web site." Nationmaster. Retrieved November 30, 2003, from
This "encyclopedia" entry bills itself as "a massive central data source and a handy way to graphically compare nations. Using the form above, you can generate maps and graphs with ease on all kinds of statistics." The site contains links to BLS pages. Its sidebars lead to interesting graphs and quick facts of national and international interest, including such topics as 'most taxed' (the Vatican), murder rates, and dollar figure expenditures. Interactive maps and the ability to compare data make this site engaging. It also presents information in imaginative ways. Today’s factoid: Guatamalan women work 11.5 hours a day, while South African men work only 4.5. Just so you know.

U. S. Census Bureau. CenStats Databases. [subscription database]. Retrieved November 23, 2003, from
CenStats is a Web-based subscription service that provides interactive search-and-display access to the following databases: Annual Survey of Manufactures; Building Permit; Data Census Tract; Street Locator; Consolidated Federal Funds Report; County Business Patterns; International Trade Data; Occupation by Race and Sex; USA Counties; Zip Business Patterns.

U.S. Department of Labor. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved November 26, 2003, from
The primary source of labor statistics, this U.S. government agency provides many useful resources and publications, including press releases on employment and unemployment, earnings, employment cost index, consumer prices, producer prices, productivity, collective bargaining, and union membership. Search and Data options on the main page provide various retrieval options. The "Latest Numbers" box includes the unemployment rate, payroll employment, and average hourly earnings. An enormous amount of information relating to employment, wages, and labor is available at this site. Included are:
  • Consumer Price Indexes at, "monthly data on changes in the prices paid by urban consumers for a representative basket of goods and services."
  • Current Population Survey at, "the primary source of information on the labor force characteristics of the U.S. population;"
  • Industry at a Glance at which "contains profiles of the nine industry divisions. Each profile is a fascinating collection of facts about the industry, and contains links to additional data. The nine industry divisions are Construction, Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate, Government, Manufacturing, Mining, Retail Trade, Services, Transportation and Public Utilities, and Wholesale Trade. In terms of employment, Services is the largest of the industry divisions, and Mining is the smallest;" the site is being converted to NAICS (North American Industry Classification System) which is scheduled to include and provide more information than is available under the older SIC.
  • Occupational Outlook Handbook at is the perennial classic, print or electronic, "a nationally recognized source of career information, designed to provide valuable assistance to individuals making decisions about their future work lives. Revised every two years, the Handbook describes what workers do on the job, working conditions, the training and education needed, earnings, and expected job prospects in a wide range of occupations."
  • Producer Price Indexes at measure "the average change over time in the selling prices received by domestic producers for their output. The prices included in the PPI are from the first commercial transaction for many products and some services." In addition to these subsets, information is available that is arranged in these categories: Inflation and consumer spending (includes indexes related to consumers and pricing); wages, earnings, and benefits (area, state, national, industry wages and costs); productivity; occupations (outlook, wages, injuries, illnesses, and fatalities); demographics; employment and unemployment (openings, layoffs, research); at a glance tables that snapshot industries and economies); publications and research papers (sources of on-line and print materials); industries (at a glance, employment and occupations); business costs (indexes of prices and costs); and BLS information offices at various locations around the nation. See the home page for these categories.

Also useful are the following, which go beyond data or supply background and structure:

  • National Longitudinal Study at - "a set of surveys designed to gather information at multiple points in time on the labor market activities and other significant life events of several groups of men and women. For more than 3 decades, NLS data have served as an important tool for economists, sociologists, and other researchers" (demographic and household characteristics).
  • BLS Handbook of Methods at "presents detailed explanations of how the Bureau of Labor Statistics obtains and prepares the economic data it publishes. BLS statistics are used for many purposes, and sometimes data well suited to one purpose may have limitations for another. This edition of the Handbook, like its many predecessors, aims to provide users of BLS data with the most current information necessary to evaluate the suitability of the statistics for their needs. Chapters for each major Bureau program give a brief account of the program’s origin and development and then follow with comprehensive information on concepts and definitions, sources of data and methods of collection, statistical procedures, where the data are published, and their uses and limitations. Sources of additional technical information are given at the end of most chapters." This is a good introduction to the how and where of data used in various ways by the BLS because it gives their history and methodology.
  • Monthly Labor Review at presents full text of articles on labor topics and legislation beginning with 1997, including the "Labor Month in Review" section and book reviews, as well as a link to current labor statistics.
  • Report on the American Workforce at is an annual report (2001 available at present) with in-depth focus on different issues (e.g. "just in time" supplies, work time v. leisure time, minorities).

U. S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. (1990). Handbook of labor statistics. Washington, D. C.: U. S. Government Printing Office.

U. S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2002). National compensation survey: a guide for respondents. Washington, D. C.: The Bureau.

U. S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2001?). Working in the 21st century. [Washington, D. C.?] : The Bureau.

U. S. Department of Commerce. STAT-USA Internet. [subscription database.] Retrieved November 20, 2003, from
"STAT-USA/Internet, a service of the U.S. Department of Commerce, is the site for the U.S. business, economic and trade community, providing authoritative information from the Federal government." The State of the Nation section contains current and historical economic and financial data, while GLOBUS hits current and historical information on the international front.

U. S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Statistics. Retrieved December 2, 2003, from
This commission keeps a wide-range of statistics regarding complaints to the commission, EEOC enforcement and litigation, job patterns for women and minorities, and others and presents a number of reports on such topics as the glass ceiling, diversity in law firms, and investment banking, as well as files pulled from the 2000 census.

U. S. National Labor Relations Board. NLRB. Retrieved November 23, 2003, from
The NLRB is a Federal agency that conducts elections to determine whether employees want union representation and investigates and remedies unfair labor practices by employers and unions. This site is keyword searchable.

U. S. Small Business Administration. U. S. Business Advisor. Retrieved November 21, 2003, from
Provides links to a number of government sites potentially useful to those interested in establishing a business, including NTIS, legal advice, and social security information. Click on the home page to see the full range of information, including, for your continued amusement, the Small Business Paperwork Relief Act of 2002 Final Report.

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Note: Pennsylvania serves as the model for this section. National statistics databases provide subsets for each state, and Pennsylvania has been pulled from several as an example of information contained in the resource. Other resources are typical of information made available by each state government.

JobsbyState. Jobs by State. Retrieved November 20, 2003, from
Pulls together over thirty sites, government and commercial, containing various types of information about the job market in Pennsylvania, and all other states, including educational opportunities, employment information by region, specific industry jobs, resource centers, and links to organized labor groups.

U. S. Census Bureau. AmericanFactfinder. Retrieved November 20, 2003, from
AmericanFactfinder contains subsets for business and economics and comments mainly on trends. Click on "change the geography" to Pennsylvania, or any other state, for summary information. Maps are provided for those unsure of the state's location.

U. S. Census Bureau. State & County Quick Facts: Pennsylvania. Retrieved November 21, 2003, from
"Quick Facts tables are summary profiles showing frequently requested data items from various Census Bureau programs. Profiles are available at the national, state, and county level." Has link to business quicklinks that provide very basic information. County Business Patterns, at Demographic and economic data for States and counties. Updated every two years.

U. S. Census Bureau. Statistics of U. S. Businesses: 2001: All industries. United States. Retrieved November 20, 2003, from
This database presents a wide range of information relating to employment: size of enterprise, all industries by year and sector, and by state, with links to definitions. Tables include numbers of firms, paid employees, annual payrolls, and industry title. Data can be examined for national level or individual state.

U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. States at a Glance: Pennsylvania. Retrieved November 20, 2003, from
The Bureau of Labor Statistics is the mother lode of information of state, regional, national, and international interest. Its organization of information by Geography provides links to

  • State and Local Employment, at The CES (Current Employment Statistics) program of data on "employment, hours, and earnings of workers on nonfarm payrolls for all 50 States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands" as well as nearly 300 metropolitan areas;
  • State and Local Unemployment Rates, at LAUS, the Local Area Unemployment Statistics program, produces data in monthly and annual format for states, counties, metro areas, and more;
  • State and County Employment and Wages at Reports data for various political entities via the Covered Employment and Wages program;
  • Geographic Profile of Employment and Unemployment at presents information from the Current Population Survey for all 50 states, plus regions and cities;
  • Mass Layoffs at statistics program tracks data for all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico;
  • Consumer Price Index at and the Consumer Expenditure Survey areas are organized by region but contain information for metro areas as well as ten-year statistics;
  • Injuries, Illnesses, and Fatalities at look at major industry divisions and regional, state, and metro statistical areas;
  • Wages by Area and Occupation at provides data by state, region, national, and metro area, and it is possible to Create Customized Maps (Unemployment Rates). The Wages, Earnings, and Benefits section provides wages by area and occupation, state and county wages, and earnings by industry. Employment and Unemployment reports state and local employment and unemployment rates, employment projections, job openings and turnover, and employment research. At a Glance Tables features the U. S. economy, subdivided by areas, states, and regions. Bureau of Labor Statistics information for the state of Pennsylvania (and all the rest), including labor force data, employment and wages, with subsets for narrower geographic areas and lists of types of information available are included.

U. S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. (1998). Measuring state and local government labor productivity : examples from eleven services. Washington, DC. : The Bureau. (Bulletin 2495)
Provides print version of statistics regarding labor productivity on state and local level. This publication is typical of the myriad available through the GPO on a wide range of topics.

U. S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Middle Atlantic Regional Office. (2002). New York-Northeastern New Jersey consumer price index news release. New York, N.Y.: The Office, -2002.
This document is an example of publications addressing specific regions’ labor and employment.

Specific to Pennsylvania but available for all states via similar state agencies:

Bensen, C. H. (1997). Demographic atlas of Pennsylvania. Lake Ridge, Va.: Polidata. Companion to Demographic guide to Pennsylvania.
Labor supply, education, housing, and much more!

Current Local Economic Picture at
Provides "a quick snapshot of economic data" by geographic area – state, county, and metropolitan statistical areas and by small labor markets; includes graphics.

Employment, Unemployment, and Labor Force Data at
Includes information by population unit, type of industry, in text and graphics. Current and historical statistics primarily from the U. S. Census Bureau, the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, and the Pennsylvania State Data Center. Useful for retrospective analysis as well as current practice.

Keystone Research Center. The Sixth Annual State of Working in Pennsylvania 2001. Retrieved December 20, 2003, from Contains the results of the organization's "annual checkup on the Pennsylvania economy." It includes comparative statistics relating to inflation, wages, societal impacts, education, job growth, and other factors.

Pennsylvania Code. Section 63.55. Wages paid under Shipping Articles. Retrieved December 1, 2003, from
While not statistical in nature, the Pennsylvania Code is searchable by keyword so that potential entrepreneurs can be aware of legal ramifications of various employment and wage situations.

Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, Bureau of Research and Statistics (2003). Pennsylvania Labor Force. Harrisburg: PDLI.
Labor market statistics, issued annually.

Pennsylvania State Data Center. (2003). Pennsylvania Abstract. Harrisburg: Pennsylvania State Data Center, Institute of State and Regional Affairs.
Formerly known as the Pennsylvania Statistical Abstract, "the abstract contains data for Pennsylvania and its 67 counties. The abstract is now published annually. There is a wealth of data including: population, vital statistics, industrial development, banking, employment, education, social services, taxes, government, crime, infrastructure, and much more." Available also in CD-ROM.

Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, Center for Workforce Information & Analysis. PALMIDS. Retrieved November 20, 2003, from Pennsylvania Labor Market Information Database System at
PALMIDS is the official source for Pennsylvania's workforce information. Provides links to information about education, employers, population/census, income and wages, industry, labor force, occupation, and economic indicators. Compare wages, look at an occupation's projected growth, view area profiles, research education and training opportunities, and explore economic potential.

Pennsylvania Labor Force Data.
Information organized by year, subdivided by month, with links to sources for more up-to-date information at the Pennsylvania Bureau of Research & Statistics and the Pennsylvania Labor Market Information Database System.

Pennsylvania State Data Center. Retrieved November 21, 2003, from
The source for much of the data used in labor and employment statistics. This site is an evolving tool, with information being added to various categories on an on-going basis, some with seasonal adjustments. Includes research briefs on a number of topics, including business and agriculture, and a glossary of terms used.

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bullet Success by the Numbers: Statistics for Business Development
BRASS Program at the ALA Annual Conference, June 28, 2004, Orlando, Florida
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