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U .S. Department o f Labor
William E. Brock, Secretary
Bureau o f Labor Statistics
Janet L. Norwood, Commissioner
September 1985
Bulletin 2235
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

The First
Hundred ^tears
o f the Bureau
o f Labor Statistics
Joseph R Goldberg and William T. Moye

For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U .S. Government Printing Office
Washington, D.C. 20402
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

lib rary of Congress Cataloging In Publication D ata

Goldberg. Joseph P., 1918The first hundred years of the Bureau ofLabor Statistics.
(Bulletin / Bureau of Labor Statistics; 2235)
Bibliography: p.
Includes index.
1. United States. Bureau of Labor Statistics—History.
I. Moye, William T. II. Tide. III. Series: Bulletin
(United States. Bureau of Labor Statistics); 2235.
HD8064.2.G65 1985
ISBN 0-935043-00-4
ISBN 0-935043-01-2 (pbk.)



his volume reports on the first century o f a government
agency whose founders hoped that, by publishing facts
about economic conditions, the agency would help end
strife between capital and labor.
The Bureau’s early work included studies o f depressions, tariffs,
immigrants, and alchoholism and many assignments to investigate and
mediate disputes between labor and management. M ost of these func­
tions—especially those involving formulation o f policy—passed on to
other agencies. The Bureau today remains one o f the Nation’s princi­
pal economic factfinders.
This account o f the Bureau’s history is based on 4 years of
research by two historians, Joseph P. Goldberg and William T. Moye.
Dr. Goldberg holds degrees in history and economics from the City
College o f New 'York and Columbia University and has written exten­
sively on the maritime industry, collective bargaining, labor law, and
labor history. He has served as special assistant to the Commissioner
o f Labor Statistics since 1955. Dr. Moye holds degrees from Davidson
College and the University o f North Carolina and has been with the
U .S. Department o f Labor since 1976, specializing in the history o f the
Department and the Bureau o f Labor Statistics.
In conducting their research, Drs. Goldberg and Moye had full
access to the records o f the Bureau and o f the Department o f Labor
and also used the collections of the Library o f Congress, the National
Archives, and other public and private institutions. In addition, the
authors conducted interviews with recent Commissioners and Secre­
taries of Labor and others familiar with the work o f the Bureau. A t
the Archives, Jerry N. H ess and Joseph B. Howerton provided valua­
ble assistance, as did Henry P. Guzda o f the Department of Labor
Historical Office.

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


Rosalie K. Epstein, the book's editor, worked closely with the
authors in helping them fashion their voluminous research into a
book-size m anuscript
Several expert readers helped improve the work through
thoughtful critiques. They included Richard B. M orris, Gouvem eur
M orris Professor o f History Emeritus, Colum bia University; Professor
Irving Bernstein, Department o f Political Science, University o f Cali­
fornia, Los Angeles; Dr. Jonathan Grossman, Historian, U .S. Depart­
ment o f Labor, from 1962 to 1982; Dr. H.M. Douty, author and
economic consultant; Dr. Herbert C . M orton, Director, Office of
Scholarly Communications and Technology, American Council of
Learned Societies; and several members o f the staff o f the Bureau of
Labor Statistics.
Book design was supervised by Richard Mathews. Scenobia G.
Easterly and Elizabeth M. Johnson assisted with manuscript prepara­
In writing the book, Drs. Goldberg and Moye had full freedom to
interpret events in accordance with their judgments as historians,
without conformance to an “official” view o f institutional history.
Given the perspective made possible by passing years, the authors
offer broader evaluations o f the Bureau’s early history than o f contem­
porary events.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Henry Lowenstem
Associate Commissioner, Office o f Publications
Bureau o f Labor Statistics



I. Origins


II. Carroll Wright: Setting the Course



Charles Neill: Studies for Economic and Social Reform



Royal Meeker: Statistics in Recession and Wartime




Ethelbert Stewart: Holding the Fort


Isador Lubin: Meeting Emergency Demands


Ewan Clague: An Expanding Role
for Economic Indicators


Four Commissioners:
An Economy Going by the Numbers


IX. History as Prologue: The Continuing M ission


Appendix: BLS Publications


Source Notes



Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Chapter I.



hen President Chester A. Arthur signed the bill ereating the Bureau o f Labor in the Department o f the
Interior on June 27, 1884, it was the culmination of
almost two decades o f advocacy by labor organizations that wanted government help in publicizing and improvin
status o f the growing industrial labor force.
Those two decades had seen vast changes in the American econ­
omy and society. A truly national economy was developing, epito­
mized by the transcontinental railroads. Industry was attracting
increasing numbers o f unskilled workers, recruited from among immi­
grants, freedmen, women, and children, into the urban centers. And,
with the emergence o f the industrial worker, unemployment, slum
conditions, and labor unrest were on the rise.
The altruistic concerns o f social reformers, largely directed
against slavery in the pre-Civil War period, increasingly focused on
ameliorating the conditions o f American workers—men, women, and
children. Some o f these reformers supported the emerging national
unions as aids to such amelioration. Further, they challenged the
prevailing view that the primary role o f government was to preserve
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


The First Hundred Years

order and protect property and that control o f the economy was to be
left to the captains o f industry. They believed that the state should
have an ethical and educational role, one that was indispensable to
human progress.
It was in this era o f ferment and demands for reform that the
Bureau o f Labor was bom .

The campaign for a national labor agency
The campaign for a national labor agency had begun with the call for a
Department o f Labor at the 1867 convention o f the short-lived
National Labor U nion.1 In 1869, in response to the growing strength
o f a labor reform party in the State, M assachusetts established the first
State bureau o f labor statistics. But, under the leadership of labor
activists, the new agency stirred controversy which almost destroyed
it. In 1873, the governor appointed as chief Carroll D. Wright, a
former State legislator who was not associated with the labor reform­
ers, and Wright soon put the bureau on solid ground. Other States
followed suit, and, within 10 years, 12 more States had established
labor bureaus.
O n the national scene, the Industrial Congress, later renamed the
Industrial Brotherhood, carried on the fight but did not survive the
depression years o f the mid-1870’s. Then, in 1878, the Knights of
Labor adopted the preamble o f the Brotherhood almost verbatim,
calling for “the establishment o f Bureaus o f Labor Statistics’* at the
various levels o f government.2 That same year, a Select Committee of
the U .S. House o f Representatives held hearings on the causes o f the
general depression. In their testimony, Hugh M cGregor, later a leader
in the American Federation o f Labor, and George E. McNeill, former
Deputy C hief o f the M assachusetts agency, called for a Federal Bureau
o f Statistics or Ministry o f Labor to gather facts and figures.3
From its founding in 1881, the Federation o f Organized Trades
and Labor U nions, later reorganized as the AFL, joined the drive. At
its first convention, the Federation urged the passage o f an act estab­
lishing a national Bureau o f Labor Statistics. The 1883 convention
endorsed the creation o f a Department o f Industry and Statistics to
collect “such facts as will tend to bring before the United States
Congress each year the true condition o f industry in all its depart­
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



In Senate hearings on the relationship o f capital and labor in
1883, union leaders testified in favor o f a national Bureau o f Labor
Statistics. Samuel Gom pers, chairman o f the legislative committee o f
the Federation, felt that Congress should no longer be able to justify
its inaction on labor matters by pleading ignorance o f workers’ condi­
tions. A national Bureau "would give our legislators an opportunity to
know, not from mere conjecture, but actually, the condition o f our
industries, our production, and our consumption, and what could be
done by law to improve both [sic].” He cited the useful role o f existing
State statistical agencies as exemplified by a recent investigation of
factory working conditions by the M assachusetts Bureau o f Statistics
o f Labor under the direction o f Carroll D. Wright.5
Wright appeared as an expert witness. H e administered the Mas­
sachusetts Bureau, in his words, "as a scientific office, not as a Bureau
o f agitation or propaganda, but I always take the opportunity to make
such recommendations and draw such conclusions from our investiga­
tions as the facts warrant.” He stressed that the agency should be free
o f political influence. There was need for Federal "investigations into
all conditions which affect the people, whether in a moral, sanitary,
educational, or economic sense,” thus adding "to the educational
forces o f the country a sure and efficient auxiliary.” The resultant
statistical progress o f the Nation would indicate "its great progress in
all other m atters.”6
In 1884, backed by the powerful Knights o f Labor and the Feder­
ation, the establishment o f a national Bureau was included in the
platforms o f both parties. In the same year, the House passed a bill
establishing a Bureau o f Labor, but in the Senate, Nelson W. Aldrich
o f Rhode Island secured an amendment putting the Bureau under the
Department o f the Interior. Attempts to ensure that the head o f the
agency would be identified with workers failed.
In the debate on the issue, Representative James H. H opkins of
Pennsylvania pointed out, "A great deal o f public attention in and out
o f Congress has been given to the American hog and the American
steer. I submit, Mr. Chairman, that it is time to give more attention to
the American man.”7 H opkins and Senators Henry W. Blair o f New
Hampshire and George F. Hoar o f M assachusetts emphasized that the
primary function o f the new agency would be to collect information.
Southerners provided the main opposition. Senator Morgan of
Alabama attacked "the disposition to pry into the affairs o f the people”
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


The First Hundred Years

that had given rise to the desire to mount an “inquisition” on labor
conditions.8 Criticism was also forthcoming in editorials o f The New
York Times, which viewed the proposed new agency as “a fine bit of
Congressional witlessness,” arguing that the work could and should
be done in some existing agency.9
Overwhelming majorities in both houses approved the establish'
ment o f the Bureau o f Labor in the Department o f the Interior, and
the bill was signed by President Arthur on June 27. The statute
provided for a Commissioner o f Labor to be appointed by the Presi­
dent for a 4-year term, whose mission was to “collect information
upon the subject o f labor, its relation to capital, the hours o f labor and
the earnings o f laboring men and women, and the means o f promoting
their material, social, intellectual and moral prosperity.”
The new Bureau was a compromise arrangement, providing only
factfinding authority and limited funds. Labor organizations had
sought more; opponents had wanted less.

Appointing the first Commissioner
Activation o f the new Bureau took an additional 6 months, however,
as candidates for Commissioner presented themselves and others were
offered. The process stirred considerable controversy, and the results
set a permanent stamp on the Bureau.10
Initially, the candidates came from labor organizations. Terence V.
Powderly, Grand Master Workman o f the Knights o f Labor, applied to
Arthur for the position, arguing that the Knights were “the first and
the only national organization” pressing for the Federal agency and
the group primarily responsible for the establishment o f the various
State bureaus.11 Through the Knights’ Journal of United Labor,
Powderly urged passage o f resolutions supporting his candidacy. A t a
meeting with the President, he presented more than 1,500 petitions
requesting his appointment.
Considering Powderly too controversial, Arthur looked for other
candidates associated with labor. He turned to John Jarrett o f the Iron
and Steel W orkers but dropped him because o f the labor leader’s
political statements. Then he considered others, such as Miles S.
Humphreys, a steel puddler who served in the Pennsylvania legislature
and as C hief o f the Pennsylvania Bureau o f Statistics. Apparently the
President even wrote nomination papers for John Fehrenbatch, for­
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



mer General C hief Engineer o f the Brotherhood o f Locomotive Engi­
neers and, at the time, Supervising Inspector o f Steamboats for the
Ohio River District, only to withdraw his name because the Tenure of
Office Act prohibited the holding o f two Federal offices at one time.12
In the meantime, at its 1884 convention, the A FL passed a resolu­
tion to "respectfully but eam esdy protest against the attitude assumed
by President Chester A. Arthur in refusing to appoint a chief o f the
Labor Bureau o f Statistics.”13
The New York Times declared that the work “ought to be in the
hands o f some man o f a judicial turn o f mind who has no interest in
the results to be shown other than that o f presenting the absolute
truth and such conclusions as spring naturally from the facts and
figures.”14 The St. Louis Globe Democrat offered a more specific sug­
gestion: “A Bureau o f Labor Statistics which the new national institu­
tion would do well to take for a model has existed in Massachusetts
for several years. . . . President Arthur, by the way, might have wisely
put Colonel Wright in charge o f the National Labor Bureau, with
these inquiries in view on a broad scale.”15
Wright’s name had been presented to Arthur from several
sources. One report to the President described Wright as “C hief of
the Bureau o f Labor Statistics. N ot a labor man. Excellent statistician,
but will not especially gratify Labor. Moderate Republican. No politi­
cal aspirations.”16
Finally, in January 1885, Arthur named Wright. The New York
Times editorialized, “No better appointment could be made, and Mr.
W right’s selection in the first place would have been much better than
the attempt to win the favor o f the labor organizations of the country
by naming for the place someone prominently identified with them.”17
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


Chapter II.

Carroll Wright:
Setting the Course

arroll D. Wright, the first Commissioner o f the agency that
came to be known as the Bureau o f Labor Statistics, had
little formal training or apparent inclination for labor sta­
tistics. Yet, by the turn o f the century, he was the most
widely known and respected social scientist in the Nation, and per­
haps in the world. How did he come to play such a prominent role in
his country’s service? “Because,” his biographer has responded, “to the
confusion and misinformation surrounding labor reform, Wright
brought high administrative ability, a nonpartisan interest in facts, and
a humane idealism that dignified his character and work.”1
Carroll Wright took office in January 1885 as head o f the newly
established Bureau o f Labor. He was to lead the agency for the next 20
years. Over these years, government would play a more active role in
social and economic affairs in response to the demands o f labor, social
reformers, and the growing Progressive movement, and the services of
Wright’s Bureau would be increasingly called upon. Although the
Bureau would undergo several metamorphoses which reflected shift­
ing political forces, Wright’s leadership gave steady direction to its

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


Wright: Setting the Course

work in "conducting judicious investigations and the fearless publication o f the results___ ”
Wright was bom in Dunbarton, New Hampshire, in 1840, the
son o f a Universalist parson and farmer. H is early life gave no hint o f
his later career except for its heavy emphasis on religion and civic
duty. Wright taught school while he studied at academies, and later
read for the law. During the Civil War, at the age o f 22, he enlisted in
the New Hampshire Volunteers, making a distinguished record and
receiving his commission as colonel in the fall o f 1864. Ill health,
which was to plague him periodically the rest o f his life, cut short his
service, and he returned to his old neighborhoods in M assachusetts
and New Hampshire.
Wright established him self as a patent attorney in Boston with a
residence in Reading, M assachusetts. He had a brief political career,
winning a seat in the State Senate in 1871 and again in 1872, before
declining renomination, as was the custom, in 1873. He sought nomi­
nation to Congress in 1874,1876, and 1878, failing each time.
In the meantime, in 1873, Governor William B. W ashburton
appointed him C hief o f the M assachusetts Bureau o f Statistics of
Labor, which, under earlier leadership, had become embroiled in con­
troversy. Wright moved quickly to put the Bureau on a solid founda­
tion o f objectivity and impartiality, soon making an international
reputation for him self and the agency.
A s Chief, Wright investigated wages and prices, and supervised
die M assachusetts Census o f 1875 and the State section o f die 1880
Federal Census. He also directed studies on such social problems as
drunkenness, education o f youth, and convict labor. He continued as
head o f the M assachusetts Bureau for 15 years, until 1888, a tenure
which overlapped his Federal appointment for 3 years.
Self-trained, Wright pioneered in the development o f the fields o f
economics and sociology in the U nited States. He contributed
through statistical reports, papers, lectures, and new professional
associations to the pragmatic approach to economic thinking, which
had been limited to the narrower abstractions o f classical economics.
H is optimistic view o f human prospects made its mark on the direc­
tion o f economic thought in the U nited States.2
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


The First Hundred years

Wright’s views
A belief in the ability o f man to study his situation and to devise ways
to improve it put Wright in the forefront o f the opposition to the
prevailing doctrines o f Social Darwinism. He has been linked to Lester
Frank Ward, the great pioneer sociologist, in the “frith that mankind
is intelligent enough, or may become so, to play a constructive part in
the creation and organization o f his social as well as o f his physical
Wright expressed his ethical consciousness in a lecture delivered
before the Lowell Institute in 1879 in which he attacked John Stuart
Mill and others o f the “old school” as urging, “Love thyself; seek thine
own advantage; promote thine own welfare; put money in thy purse;
the welfare o f others is not thy business.” In contrast, he spoke
hopefully o f the “new school” which sought “the amelioration of
unfavorable industrial and social relations wherever found as the sur­
est road to comparatively permanent material prosperity.” The “new”
would combine “with the old question the old school always asks,
‘Will it pay?’ another and higher query, ‘Is it right?’” Wright would
repeat this theme many tim es.*
U nrest in labor-management relations did not trouble Wright,
who saw it as the basis o f continuing improvement in the human
condition. But it was the responsibility o f government to provide
information to educate those in the midst o f the unrest. In the Eighth
Annual Report o f the M assachusetts Bureau (1877), C hief Wright
explained, “Any means which the Legislature can adopt which will
add to the information o f the people on subjects which concern their
daily lives are o f untold v alu e.. . . To popularize statistics, to put them
before the masses in a way which shall attract, and yet not deceive, is a
work every government which cares for its future stability should
encourage and enlarge.” In his 1886 presidential address to the Ameri­
can Social Science Association, he declared, “With the enlightenment
o f the workers o f society, the reforms so much sought for will come as
a natural consequence.”5
Wright saw the benefits as well as the evils o f the factory system.
He praised the industrialist: “He is something more than a producer,
he is an instrument o f G od for the upbuilding o f the race.”6 A t the
same time he stated, “The evils o f the factory system are sufficient to
call out all the sentiments o f justice and philanthropy which enable us
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


Wright: Setting the Course

to deal with wrong and oppression; all this I do not dispute, but I
claim that, with all its faults and attendant evils, the factory system is a
vast improvement upon the domestic system o f industry in almost
every respect.”7 He wrote, in The Outline of Practical Sociology in
1899, “Every material improvement by which society is permanently
benefitted temporarily hurts somebody or disturbs some interest;
every advance in civilization means the temporary discomfort, inconvenience, and loss, even, to some man or some set o f men.” The
introduction o f machines displaced some individuals; however, he
argued, “Machines not only create new demands in old lines, they also
create occupations that never existed prior to their introduction.”8
Thus, society as a whole benefitted.
In 1892, before the Buffalo Liberal Club, Wright declared, “In
those countries where machinery has been developed to little or no
purpose, poverty reigns, ignorance is the prevailing condition, and
civilization consequently far in the rear.” In “The Factory as an Ele­
ment in Social Life,” he stated, “The modem system o f industry gives
the skilled and intelligent workman an opportunity to rise in the scale
o f employment, in intellectual development, in educational acquire­
ments, in the grade o f services rendered, and hence in his social
standing in his community.”9
H is views on the entry o f women into the factory system were
advanced for his time. Although initially he had felt that factory work
would degrade women and disrupt the family, he later declared that
the results o f various investigations had caused him to change his
mind. In one statement, he stressed the independence accruing to the
working woman: “A s woman has the power given her to support
herself, she will be less inclined to seek marriage relations simply for
the purpose o f securing what may seem to be a home and protection.
The necessity under which many young women live, o f looking to
marriage as a freedom from the bondage o f some kinds o f labor, tends,
in my mind, to be the worst form o f prostitution that exists. I cannot
see 'much difference between a woman who sells her whole freedom
and her soul to a man for life because he furnishes her with certain
conveniences and one who sells her temporary freedom and her soul
for a temporary remuneration, except this, that the former may be
worse than the latter.”10
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


The First Hundred Years

He argued that working women had as high a moral standard “as
any class in the community” and that “regular employment is condu­
cive to regular living.”11
In early expressions o f his philosophy, Wright placed great faith
in the power o f the individual to bring about reforms. Increasingly,
however, at a time o f strong opposition to union organization and
collective action, he supported both, although he did not accept all
union demands. H e threw out as “absurd” the claim on the part “of
great employers that they can. deal only with individual employ­
ees. . . . ” Rather, “organizations must recognize organizations and the
committees o f the two must meet in friendly spirit for the purpose of
fairly and honestly discussing the questions under consideration.”12
A nd he saw collective bargaining—“a new force comparatively, and
one which expresses the most important principles o f industrial man­
agement”—as the means for achieving what legislation or socialist
revolution or unilateral trade union rules could not do to avoid strikes
or satisfy strikers.13
W hile recognizing that strikes were sometimes necessary, Wright
constantly urged the use o f voluntary means to avoid or settle them.
He favored mediation and conciliation but opposed compulsory arbi­
tration, which he viewed as an indirect means o f fixing wages and
prices by law. Voluntary collective action, then, provided the “practi­
cal application o f the moral principles o f cooperative work.”14
Wright did not believe, however, that resolution o f the labormanagement problem could be easily achieved. “The Bureau cannot
solve the labor question, for it is not solvable; it has contributed and
can contribute much in the way o f general progress. The labor ques­
tion, like the social problem, must be content to grow towards a
higher condition along with the universal progress o f education and
broadened civilization. There is no panacea.”15
Wright’s frank expression o f his views did not jeopardize his high
standing with either labor or business interests. During his tenure as
Commissioner in both Democratic and Republican administrations,
and after his retirement, he was listened to with respect and was
sought after as a commentator on the current scene.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


Wright: Setting the Course

Laying the foundation
After taking office in 1885, Wright moved quickly to establish professionalism and impartiality in the national Bureau, as he had in Massa­
chusetts. He firmly spelled out the guidelines: Study all social and
economic conditions; publish the results; and let the people, individu­
ally and collectively, assess the facts and act on them. Facts, not
theories, were the foundation stones for constructive action. And facts
were to be gained, according to Wright, “only by the most faithful
application o f the statistical method.”16

He gathered a small force o f investigators—capable, well-educated
men and women who shared his views on the utility o f public educa­
tion for social reform. If, in the early years, some lacked formal train­
ing, as did W right him self, others were fresh from European
universities. The staff reflected Wright’s broad interests and contacts
with various academic, professional, and reform groups. Several went
on to careers in other agencies or to academic pursuits, and some
carried public administration into the territories gained during the
national expansion o f the 1890’s.
Among these first staff members was O ren W. Weaver, who
served as C hief Clerk from the Bureau’s inception until his death in
April 1900. Weaver had worked for Wright in M assachusetts, and
Wright had recommended him for the post o f Commissioner o f the
national Bureau. G.W.W. Hanger was C hief Clerk until 1913, when
he left to become a member of the new Board o f Mediation and
Conciliation. Gustavus A. Weber, first a special agent and then head of
the division o f law and research work, went on to the Institute for
Government Research, which was to become a part o f The Brookings
Institution. O ther early staff members included William F. Willoughby
and Elgin R.L. Gould. Willoughby, a graduate o f Johns Hopkins,
wrote extensively on foreign labor laws and U .S. factory legislation
while at the Bureau, and later became Treasurer o f Puerto Rico.
Gould, who spent 5 years in Europe conducting several surveys for
the Bureau, later played an important role in a number o f political and
social reform movements.
Wright also reached outside for assistance in special projects.
Caroline L. H unt conducted the fieldwork for a study o f the Italians
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


The First Hundred years

in Chicago, and Florence Kelley served as the expert in Chicago
during an investigation o f the slums o f large cities.
A t one time, John R. Commons also worked with Wright, on
Regulation and Restriction of Output (XI Special Report, 1904). Com ­
mons later criticized Wright’s method o f leadership, writing that he
had "developed the military organization o f privates carrying out the
detailed orders o f their commander.” The agents, he continued, “were
remarkably accurate in copying figures and making calculations. . . .
But they had no insight or understanding o f what it was all about.”17
But other contemporaries and associates o f Wright evaluated his
influence as broadly leavening in the developing social science field.
Walter F. Willcox, in writing o f the need to give practical assistance
and experience to students o f theoretical statistics, spodighted "the
group o f young men who gathered around Carroll D. Wright” and
complained that, after Wright’s retirement, no agencies gave the
“opportunity to get a training in statistics which would qualify one to
rise to the most important statistical position s.. . . ” And S.N .D . North
declared o f Wright, “H is Bureau at Washington has been a university
for the education o f experts in statistics, in sociology, in economics,
and in industrial studies.”18
C onduct of studies
The principles underlying Wright’s methods for the conduct o f origi­
nal studies were defined and applied early. These were: Firsthand data
collection, voluntary reporting, and confidentiality o f returns.
Wright explained his data collection methods: “The information
under any investigation is usually collected on properly prepared
schedules o f inquiry in the hands o f special agents, by which means
only the information which pertains to an investigation is secured.”
The schedule would avoid the collection o f “nebulous and rambling
observations.” Mail collection, though it might be used occasionally,
was deemed a failure. “With properly instructed special agents, who
secure exactly the information required, who are on the spot to make
any explanation to parties from whom data are sought, and who can
consult the books o f accounts at the establishment under investiga­
tion, the best and most accurate information can be secured.” The
completed schedules were then scrutinized under strict supervision to
ensure internal consistency. The final statistics were carefully checked
and rechecked, as were the analytical results presented by the staff.19
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


Wright: Setting the Course

Wright’s British counterpart, Robert Giffen, head o f the Bureau
o f Labour Statistics in the Board o f Trade, sharply criticized Wright’s
methods, especially the use o f field agents. Questioning the accuracy
o f their direct inquiries, Giffen declared in 1892, “I think I may say
that there are no persons in the world whom I would trust with the
kind of inquiries which some o f the American agents m ake... .”20
Cooperation from businessmen was essential to the Bureau, since
they were virtually the sole source o f information on many subjects.
Wright opposed making reporting mandatory to avoid the appearance
o f adversarial relations between the Bureau and business. And with
voluntary reporting there were increasingly fewer refusals. Generally,
agents were received in friendly fashion, even if information was
refused, and substitutions were made for refusing establishments.
Cooperation was heightened by the businessman’s knowledge
that the Bureau maintained strict confidentiality regarding the identity
o f reporters. “The Bureau never allows the names o f parties furnish'
ing facts to be given in its reports,” Wright assured respondents.21
Thus, in 1898, he wired a San Francisco businessman: “I pledge
my word as a government officer that names o f your plants and o f city
and State in which located shall be concealed. This will be done for all
plants. If senator or representative should ask for these names, he
should not have them.”22 E.R.L. G ould explained to the International
Statistical Institute in 1891, "Impartiality, fair-dealing, and a respect
for confidence bestowed have not only disarmed suspicion but engen­
dered even willing cooperation.”23
Wright’s reputation for impartiality and objectivity gave him
entree to the business community, through organizations such as the
National Civic Federation and the National Association o f Manufac­
turers. H is contacts were helpful in the planning and conduct of
studies. For example, in developing its studies o f production costs, the
Bureau sought the advice o f producers in various industries.2*
Similarly, his labor contacts helped smooth the way for die
Bureau’s investigators. W hen Wright found that unions did not
always cooperate, Gom pers urged cooperation. “Let there be light,”
Gom pers wrote, “confident that impartial investigations create num­
berless sympathizers in our great cause.”25 Moreover, Gom pers sup­
ported putting the census into the Bureau o f Labor, advocated
publication o f a regular bulletin, and suggested topics for investiga­
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The First Hundred Years

Wright sought to expand the scope o f the Bureau’s coverage by
joining forces with the State labor agencies. He was one o f the founders o f the National Association o f Officials o f the Bureaus o f Labor
Statistics and was its president throughout his term o f office. He
envisioned a nationwide network o f collaborating State and Federal
agents—“ a powerful chain o f 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
Although he had little success in carrying out joint studies with
the States, the State bureaus drew increasingly on the Federal
Bureau’s experience, so that by 1900 the reports o f work in progress
in the States demonstrated a substantial degree of uniformity in
inquiries covered.27

Achieving departmental status
W hile Wright was laying the foundation for his agency, forces were at
work to expand its power and influence. The Knights o f Labor under
Terence Powderly had been active in the campaign to establish the
Bureau. Early in 1886, Powderly asked President Cleveland to increase
the powers o f the Bureau and also to have the Commissioner investi­
gate the railroad strike in the Southwest then in progress.28 In April,
Cleveland sent to Congress the first special message dealing with
strictly labor matters, recommending that a mediation and arbitration
commission be grafted onto the existing Bureau. Congress, however,
adjourned without taking action.
Powderly persevered, and, at the Knights o f Labor convention in
O ctober 1887, he urged establishment o f a Department of Labor with
its Secretary a member o f the Cabinet. The next year, he scored a
partial success. It was again a Presidential election year with labor
difficulties on the southwestern railroads. In June 1888, Congress
established a Department o f Labor, independent but without Cabinet
status. A separate statute, the Arbitration Act o f 1888, authorized the
Commissioner of Labor, with two ad hoc commissioners, to act as a
board o f inquiry in railroad disputes.
The growing reputation o f the Bureau under Wright had contrib­
uted to its rise in status. Reflecting Wright’s concerns, the act estab­
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Wright: Setting the Course

lishing the Department specifically called for studies of the domestic
and foreign costs of producing goods, national trade and industrial
activity, the causes and circumstances o f strikes, and other special
topics. The basic functions o f the agency were not changed, but, for
15 years, it was to be more independent.
Any uncertainty regarding Wright’s continuance in the new
agency was soon dissipated. Although it was reported that the Knights
of Labor and the Federation would oppose his retention because o f his
opposition to the Knights o f Labor, his protectionist views, and his
Republican associations, in fact, observers in the labor press com­
mented favorably on Commissioner Wright, his staff, and the Bureau’s
The National Labor Tribune declared, “Inasmuch as Commis­
sioner Wright conducted the Bureau with rare skill, energy, and
impartiality and not as a politican, there does not seem to be any
reason why there should be haste in changing.”29
Powderly later wrote that President Cleveland had offered him
the position but he had refused. A t the time, however, in the Journal
of United Labor, Powderly disclaimed all interest in the post o f Com ­
missioner. In fact, he declared that the campaign to boom him for the
job was a conspiracy by his enemies to embarrass him and the
Wright continued as Commissioner, now head o f the Depart­
ment o f Labor. The Act o f 1888 authorized 55 clerks and experts for
the Department and substantially increased its appropriations. U ntil
the early 1900’s, Wright presided over the enlarged and independent
operation largely without challenge.

A sister agency: Bureau of the Census
Wright took a prominent part in the establishment of a permanent
Bureau o f the Census in 1902. U ntil that time, each decennial census
was conducted under temporary arrangements by a Superintendent of
the Census appointed by the President. A s early as 1884, during his
service as C hief o f the M assachusetts Bureau, Wright had testified
before Congress on the benefits to be gained from the creation o f a
permanent census agency. Prominent academicians and Francis A.
Walker, Superintendent o f the 1870 and 1880 censuses, went beyond
merely proposing a permanent agency; they proposed placing it in
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The First Hundred Years

Wright’s Department for greater efficiency and to take it out o f the
political arena.31
Although there was support for a permanent agency, the 1890
census was still conducted under a temporary arrangement. But the
impetus for a permanent agency increased in 1890, and the Secretary
o f the Interior recommended establishment o f a permanent census
office. In 1891, the Senate called for a report from the Secretary, and,
in response, Robert R Porter, then Superintendent o f the Census, also
suggested formation o f a permanent agency. In his report, Porter
included a letter from Wright supporting the idea.32
W idespread dissatisfaction with the conduct o f the 1890 census,
with especially sharp controversy in New Tfork City, focused attention
on the shortcomings o f the periodic temporary arrangements. The
immediate unhappiness was dissipated when, with the change of
administrations and the resignation o f Porter, Cleveland appointed
Wright as Superintendent o f the Census, a post he held concurrently
with his leadership o f the Department o f Labor from 1893 until
1897.33 "fears later, in a eulogy on Wright, S.N .D . North, first head of
the permanent Bureau o f the Census in the Department o f Com ­
merce and Labor, stated that Cleveland appointed Wright “because no
other available man was so conspicuously fitted” for the task.3*
Calls for legislation continued. In 1892, the House Select Com ­
mittee on the Eleventh Census held hearings on Porter’s report and,
in 1893, recommended a permanent Census Bureau, but Congress
took no action.35
Two years later, the International Statistical Institute suggested
studying ways to conduct a uniform worldwide census at the end of
the century, and, in 1896, Congress directed Wright to correspond
with various experts on the International Institute’s suggestion and to
report on the best organization for the upcoming 1900 canvass.
Wright submitted his report with a draft o f a bill providing for an
independent office. He opposed putting the work in the Department
o f the Interior because the Secretary changed with each administra­
tion and appointments were subject to political pressures. In his view,
the proposed office could include the activities o f the Division of
Statistics in the Department o f Agriculture and o f his Department of
Labor, but he opposed such a transfer. W hen pressed on the question,
he responded, “Personally, I should dislike very much to be put in
charge o f census duties.” But he did admit that, from an administrative
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W right: Setting the Course

point of view, “the work o f the Department o f Labor and that o f the
Census Office could be carried along together.”36
Bills were introduced, one drawn by Wright for an independent
agency and one to place census work in the Wright-led Department of
Labor. The House Committee on Appropriations, in February 1897,
favorably reported the bill putting the work in the Labor Department,
characterizing that agency as “admirably equipped for statistical
work.”37 However, Congress took no action that session.
During the next session, Senator Henry M. Teller o f Colorado
commented, “The Census Office ought to be a bureau under some
Department, and the Department of Labor is the proper place for this
work.” Then he offered an amendment putting the work in the
Department of Labor, “out of which ought to grow in that Depart­
ment a statistical force, and that Department ought to become the
statistical department o f this Government.”38
Senator Henry C. Lodge o f M assachusetts stated that he pre­
ferred that the Census Office be separate and independent but, “if it is
to go anywhere,” the Department of Labor was the natural choice. He
opposed “jumbling it, with public lands, Indians, Pacific railroads, and
every other kind of thing, into a department already absolutely hetero­
geneous and overloaded.”39
Senator William B. Allison of Iowa favored putting the work in
Interior. He pointed out that the Secretary of the Interior was a
Cabinet officer. Moreover, in his view, it would not be fair to the
Department of Labor as it would interfere with the work o f that
agency and the Department officials did not want the new work.40
Some Senators opposed the idea o f a permanent Census Bureau
as an extravagance.
In a compromise, in 1899, a Census Bureau was attached to the
Department o f the Interior specifically to conduct the 1900 census. In
1902, a permanent Census Bureau was formed and, a year later, trans­
ferred to the new Department o f Commerce and Labor.41
In regard to Wright’s statement that, “Personally, I should dislike
very much to be put in charge o f census duties,” there is little but
inference from surrounding events to explain his view. It may have
been that, in serving 4 years as Superintendent o f the Census while he
was also Commissioner of Labor, he had had his fill o f the administra­
tive burdens and political pressures such a position would bring.
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The First Hundred Years

The Departm ent of Commerce and Labor
The depression conditions o f the 1890’s led business interests to
advocate a Cabinet-level department to further the growth o f industry
and foreign and domestic commerce. The National Association of
Manufacturers, organized in 1895, had as a principal goal the forma­
tion o f a Department o f Commerce and Industry which would
include the hitherto independent Department of Labor along with
other agencies.42 To counter the growing NAM drive, Gompers pro­
posed a Cabinet-level Department o f Labor for “a direct representative
in the councils o f the President.”43
Congress also launched an initiative, creating the U .S. Industrial
Commission in 1898 to investigate the Nation’s many social and eco­
nomic problems, including the growing role o f corporate trusts, rising
labor unrest bordering on class warfare, agricultural discontent, the
vast influx o f immigrants, and intensified competition in foreign mar­
kets. The commission reported in 1901 but produced little o f signifi­
The succession to the Presidency o f Theodore Roosevelt in Sep­
tember 1901 brought into office an energetic and innovative leader
who was prepared to meet the problems o f the day through increased
governmental activity. He sought to bridge the contending positions
o f business and labor, and in 1901, in his first State o f the Union
message, he recommended the creation of a Department o f Commerce
and Labor with power to investigate corporate earnings and to guard
the rights o f the workingman.
Roosevelt’s enthusiasm for such a department, along with his
party’s control o f Congress, made the matter a foregone conclusion,
but the Democratic minority fought hard. Proponents o f the bill,
including Senator M arcus A. Hanna o f Ohio, prominent in the
National Civic Federation, saw no conflict between the interests of
capital and labor and insisted that the concerns o f labor would be well
represented in such a department. All sides in the congressional
debate praised Wright, and proponents urged that his role and that of
his agency would only gain if transferred to the new department. The
A FL and the unaffiliated railroad unions opposed the merger and
supported instead the establishment o f a Cabinet-level Department of
Labor. Among labor groups, only the almost defunct Knights of Labor
favored the merger.44
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Wright: Setting the Course

A t the 1901A FL convention, Gom pers had argued that, on many
questions o f national importance, the Cabinet was deprived o f labor
representation and had to act without receiving advice on the work­
ers’ viewpoint. In January 1902, he wrote Senator William P. Frye of
Maine, the President pro tempore o f the Senate, that the proposed
dual department would “minimize the importance o f labor’s interests
and minimize the present Department o f Labor. Against such a proce­
dure, in the name o f American labor, I enter my most solemn pro­
A t hearings on the bill, Thom as F. Tracy, an A FL representative,
did not oppose a Department o f Commerce but asked for a separate
Department o f Labor. H.R. Fuller, o f the railroad brotherhoods,
declared that a businessman “is not capable to speak for labor, even
though he felt honestly disposed to do so.” Andrew Furuseth, o f the
Seamen’s Union, stated that the value o f the existing department lay
“in the absolute reliability o f the information it furnishes. We do not
believe it could remain that under the condition that is proposed.”4^
But the Federation and the brotherhoods did not give Wright
and the Department o f Labor their unqualified approval. Tracy
expressed some reservations. “W hile they are not all that we would
desire, while the Department is limited to a great extent and we would
like to see the scope o f the Department enlarged, the statistics and
reports that are gathered in the Department o f Labor are very benefi­
cial and are very useful to the members o f organized labor and are
looked at very carefully and closely on many occasions.”47
A t these same hearings, businessmen presented their reasons for
establishing a Department o f Commerce. Theodore C. Search, o f the
National Association o f Manufacturers, said the role of the agency
would be “to assist in every feasible way in the extension o f the export
trade o f our manufacturers.” L.W. Noyes explained, “I can conceive o f
no other permanent and sure relief to this constandy recurring danger
[depression] than the cultivation, establishment, and maintenance of
foreign markets for our surplus, and labor will profit more by this
department, through this means, than any other class o f individu­
In the congressional debates, it was argued that the proposed
organization would promote a more harmonious administration that
would make for greater efficiency and service. Further, the new
arrangement would provide increased facilities for the Commissioner
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The First Hundred Years

o f Labor. Indeed, the House report contended, under the new setup
the Bureau would increase the scope o f its activities and be more
worthy o f elevation to Cabinet status.
Southern Democrats constituted the major opposition. Their
main point was that business and labor interests “naturally conflict.
One wants what he can get, and the other wants to keep what he has,
and, consequendy, the two will always be in natural conflict.” Further,
the proposed grouping would place the labor agency “in an overshad­
owed and subordinate position.” The minority on the House Commit­
tee reported that they feared “that distrust and suspicion will result in
friction or create such relations as would seriously impair the useful­
ness and efficiency o f the Department.”49
Senator Hanna retorted that it would be unwise to recognize
separate interests, “to divide this industrial question by raising the
issue that one part o f it is labor and the other part capital. Those
interests are identical and mutual.” Similar views were expressed in
the H ouse.50
The position o f Wright and the Department on the legislation is
difficult to determine. Senator Nelson stated his opinion that the
opposition to the bill was “inspired from die inside o f the Department
o f Labor.” Yet Senator Lodge stated that, while he had not recently
asked Wright, “I have certainly understood in the past that he favored
that scheme.” During the debate, Wright him self wrote, “I have
declined to give any expression upon the proposed bill creating a
Department o f Commerce and Labor. This is in accordance with my
long-continued practice o f not making public statements relative to
pending legislation, especially when that legislation bears upon this
The controversy was partially resolved by changing the agency’s
name to the D epartm ent o f Com m erce and Labor. President
Roosevelt signed the bill on February 14, 1903, and named George B.
Cortelyou the first Secretary. The Department o f Labor became once
more the Bureau o f Labor, 1 o f 18 agencies in the new Department. In
1904, it accounted for only 100 o f the Department’s 9,210 employees
and about 1.5 percent o f its appropriations.52
In his message to Congress in December 1904, Roosevelt reaf­
firmed the role o f the Bureau o f Labor in the new Department of
Commerce and Labor, giving official recognition and praise to the
developmental work o f the Bureau under Carroll Wright. Further,
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Wright: Setting the Course

Roosevelt in effect proposed a quasi-policy status for the Bureau’s
ongoing factual studies, requesting that the Bureau provide Congress
with information on the labor laws o f the various States and be given
“the means to investigate and report to die Congress upon the labor
conditions in the manufacturing and mining regions throughout the
country, both as to wages, as to hours o f labor, as to the labor of
women and children, and as to the effect in the various labor centers
o f immigration from abroad.”53
This description o f the scope o f the Bureau’s responsibilities
coincided with Wright’s formulation. Under the broad statutory
authority, Wright held, “The Commissioner can undertake any inves­
tigation which in his judgment relates to die welfare o f the working
people o f the country, and which can be carried out with the means
and force at his disposal.”5^ And in practice, Wright and the Bureau
initiated most of the studies that were undertaken, although customa­
rily the Commissioner sought either congressional or, later, depart­
m ental approval. But increasingly, there were dem ands from
Congress, the W hite House, and, later, from social reform groups for
specific studies even as the broad social studies o f the early years

The Bureau’s work
During the 20 years o f Wright’s direction, the Bureau’s investiga­
tions ranged widely over economic and social developments in the
U nited States and also, for comparative purposes, in other industrial
nations. Initially, studies were broadly conceived and directed at social
issues such as marriage and divorce, temperance, and laboring women
and children, but, with periodic economic depressions and a growing
industrial labor force, the Bureau was called upon increasingly to deal
with more strictly economic issues such as wages, hours o f work,
prices, and the cost o f living. In addition, with the growth o f unions
and formal collective bargaining arrangements, the Bureau’s reports
and articles increasingly reflected these developments.
The Bureau’s studies placed Wright and the agency in the fore­
front o f the movement to develop quantitative methods for studying
social and economic problems. Statistical concepts and techniques
were developed and refined, although they remained rough hewn,
reflecting the early stage o f development o f statistical methods.
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The First Hundred Years

The Bureau produced an impressive range and volume o f studies
considering the limited resources available. Publications during
Wright’s tenure included 20 annual reports, 12 special reports, several
miscellaneous reports, and, for 9 years, the bimonthly Bulletin. But
the failure o f appropriations to keep pace with the demands on the
agency posed a number o f administrative problems, and Wright had to
drop work he might otherwise have continued. W hile appropriations
rose every year from 1885 to 1893, they did not approach the level of
Table 1. Appropriations for Bureau o f Labor, 1885-1905
(in thousands)
F iscal year ended
June 30 —
















'Includes salaries, per diem, rent, library, contingencies, and special and
deficiency appropriations, but not allocations for printing and binding.
SOURCES: National Archives Record G roup 257, Bureau o f Labor Statistics,
Appropriations Ledger, 1887-1903. Legislative, Executive, and Judicial
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Wright: Setting the Course

1893 during the rest of his term. Table 1 shows the annual funding by
fiscal year during Wright’s tenure.
In 1892, Wright could say that Congress “has been very liberal.”
The Department, he continued, “has met with the most generous
confidence on the part of Congress and o f the President and been
aided in all reasonable ways in bringing its work to a high standard of
excellence.”55 By 1896, however, congressional demands had grown
beyond the Bureau’s resources and Wright asked for more funds,
declaring, W
I am now struggling under two investigations Congress has
ordered, and to carry out the third one, which Congress has already
ordered, I have not force enough.” Little improvement had occurred
by 1902, when Wright testified, “I have not asked for any increase of
special agents since the office was established, and I may say further
that there has been no increase in the salary appropriations since 1892.
It was then $101,000, and it is now $102,000. That is the only increase
in 10 years in the salary list o f my Department.”56
T h e first report: Industrial D epressions
The Bureau’s first annual report (1886) was on industrial depressions.
The study originated in concern over the depressed conditions o f the
mid-1880’s and the accompanying labor unrest, particularly in the
railroad industry. The report surveyed depressions from 1830 on,
covering the U nited States, Great Britain, France, Belgium, and G er­
many through information obtained directly by 20 Bureau agents in
the U nited States and Europe. W orkers’ wages and living costs in the
foreign industrialized countries were included. The ongoing depres­
sion was analyzed in terms of “alleged causes,” and a catalog of “sug­
gested rem edies” was presented. Am ong the rem edies, W right
suggested that capital and labor “treat with the other through repre­
sentatives” in disputes, and that “the party which declines resort to
conciliatory methods o f arbitration [is] morally responsible for all
effects growing out o f the contest.” The report noted the advantages
o f mechanization, although asserting that in the short run the dis­
placement o f labor contributed to “crippling the consuming power of
the community.”57
The study was a test case, as Wright later described it, conducted
under the “critical watchfulness of friend and foe, and with the idea
prevailing among labor organizations that the duty o f the new office
was in the nature o f propagandism, and not o f the educational func­
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The First Hundred Years

tions o f gathering and publishing facts.” Wright pointed to the suc­
cessful conclusion and acceptance o f the report. He saw it as
innovative in bringing out for “the first time, the relation o f nations to
each other as producers and the various influences bearing upon
Gom pers cited figures from the report at the 1887 A FL conven­
tion, referring to “one o f the most important facts with which the
labor movement has to grapple. The displacement o f labor by machin­
ery in the past few years has exceeded that o f any like period in our
A leading contemporary economist found in this first report “a
mass o f information o f very considerable value,” while noting two
mild criticisms: The subject was too broad and diverse and the statis­
tics were not sufficiently analyzed.60
In his conclusions, Wright emphasized overproduction/underconsumption and speculative investment. Later, such students o f the
business cycle as Alvin H. Hansen praised Wright’s comments on the
relation between investment—notably in canals and railroads—and
business fluctuations. Hansen referred to Wright’s “penetrating
insight into the changing character o f modem industry.”61
The persistent depression o f the early 1890*s gave rise to another
important Bureau study, which looked into whether machines were
depressing wages and causing widespread unemployment. In 1894, a
joint resolution o f Congress called on the Commissioner to investigate
the effect o f machinery on costs o f production, productivity, wages,
and employment, including comparisons with manual labor. The
study took almost 4 years o f difficult work. Agents observed current
machine methods for an article’s production and then, with greater
difficulty, attempted to secure information on the “hand” production
o f the same article. The report provided information on the produc­
tion time required and the total costs under the two methods.
In carefully qualified conclusions, Wright suggested the benefits
contributed by the introduction o f machinery to rising wages and
broadened employment opportunities. “The general tendency of
wages since the introduction o f power machinery and the employ­
ment o f women and children in its operation has been upward, but it
will be difficult to decide positively whether such increase is due
absolutely to the use o f machinery, or to a higher standard o f living, or
to the increased productivity o f labor supplemented by machinery, or
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Wright: Setting the Course

to all these causes combined, or to other causes.” He found further
that “there has been a larger increase in the number o f persons
required for the production o f the articles considered, in order to
meet present demands, than would have been necessary to meet the
limited demands under the hand-labor system.”62
Strike investigations and industrial relations studies
Turbulence on the railroads, an industry crucial to the economic
development o f the country, led to both congressional and Bureau
investigations. For an early Bureau study, Strikes and Lockouts (1887),
Bureau agents collected information on the M issouri and Wabash
strike of 1885 and the Southwest strike o f 1886, and Wright offered
the material to the congressional committee investigating the disturbances. Later, Wright devoted an entire annual report to railway labor,
the first U .S. study to deal with labor turnover.63
Further studies on strikes and lockouts were published in 1894
and 1901, presenting exhaustive treatments o f strikes during the 19th
century. The 1887 and 1894 reports included estimates o f the losses to
management and labor because o f lost worktime. A union periodical
expressed the criticism in 1895 that “statistics o f losses sustained
through strikes by labor are carefully noted, but no estimates are given
o f the gains made by labor,” and called on the Commissioner o f Labor
to “so far forget him self as to do a litde statistical work from an
employee’s rather than employer’s standpoint.”64
The 1901 report contained additional information, including
results of strikes ordered by unions as against those not so ordered.
This time, the same union periodical welcomed the report for show­
ing that “the U nited States Government says that only 36.19 percent
o f all strikes in 20 years failed, and that most o f the wages lost in
strikes is subsequently made up by extra work, and that with the
increase in labor unions, has come an increase in successful strikes.”65
In 1904, with President Roosevelt’s encouragement, Wright
investigated violence in Colorado mining areas. Drawn-out labor dis­
turbances had caused the governor to call out the State militia, and
the Western Federation o f M iners demanded Federal intervention.
Wright’s lengthy report covered some 25 years and 13 strikes in the
region and contained an account o f the violations o f civil law and
constitutional rights o f the State’s striking miners.66
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The First Hundred Years

The Bureau studied many other aspects o f industrial relations in
addition to the causes and effects o f strikes. From the mid'1890’s on, it
published extensively on new developments in collective bargaining
and State and foreign social legislation and practices such as accident
prevention; workmen’s compensation; insurance against sickness,
accidents, old age, and invalidity; and union welfare and benefit plans.
One o f the most innovative studies was the special report, Regu­
lation and Restriction of Output, published in 1904. Conducted under
the direction o f John R. Commons, the study covered union manage­
ment relations in the U nited States and England, particularly in the
building trades and in the iron and steel, cigar, boot and shoe, and coal
industries. It discussed both employers’ objectives o f stable conditions,
fair prices, and fair wages, and workers’ efforts, working through
unions, to improve wages, working conditions, and skills. It pointed
out the restrictive practices o f employers, unions, and nonunion

Wright’s role in dispute settlement
O n several occasions, Wright was called upon in his capacity as Com ­
missioner o f Labor to participate in the settlement o f disputes. The
railroad strikes o f the 1880’s had led to passage o f the Arbitration Act
o f 1888. In addition to providing for voluntary arbitration, it empow­
ered the President to establish committees o f three, with the Commis­
sioner o f Labor as Chairman, to investigate disputes threatening
interstate commerce, make recommendations, and publish a report. In
1894, President Cleveland appointed Wright to the investigating com­
mission on the Pullman strike, and its reports and recommendations
bore the imprint o f Wright’s growing awareness o f the importance of
labor organizations in balancing employer domination to achieve sta­
bility and continuity through agreement.
The strike began in May 1894, when the recently organized
workers at the Pullman factory near Chicago walked out, primarily
because town officials insisted on maintaining rent levels on the com­
pany-owned homes despite wage reductions and layoffs following the
depression o f 1893. The American Railway U nion led by Eugene V.
Debs, which had advised against the strike, sought arbitration. When
Pullman refused, the union voted to boycott Pullman sleeping cars.
The general managers o f the railroads retaliated by importing strike­
breakers. Management also began to attach mail cars to the sleepers so
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Wright: Setting the Course

that refusal to service the Pullmans would constitute interference with
the mails. The managers thus painted the strike as a fight between
anarchy and law and sought Federal Government intervention.
President Cleveland and Attorney General Richard Olney
obtained an injunction against the strikers, and regular troops were
sent in to enforce it. In July, after the strike was broken, the President
invoked the Arbitration A ct o f 1888 and appointed an investigating
commission consisting o f Wright, John D. Keman o f New 'York, and
Nicholas E. W orthington o f Illinois. The commission took extensive
testimony in Chicago and Washington before reporting in Novem­
Samuel Gompers, along with Debs and others, appeared before
the commission. Gom pers stated his views on strikes when Wright
asked him whether sympathetic strike action, such as that in the
Pullman strike, was justifiable when it could “paralyze, to any degree,
the commercial industry o f the country.” Gom pers replied, “I believe
that labor has the rig h t.. . to endeavor to improve its condition.. . . If
industry or commerce is incidentally injured, it is not their fault; the
better course and the most reasonable course would be for employers
to grant the reasonable requests labor usually makes and thus avert
the disaster o f commerce or industry that you have mentioned.” The
social losses o f widespread unemployment, both persistent and inter­
mittent, were greater than disadvantages from strikes, he insisted,
citing Wright’s earlier reports. He opposed legislation for arbitration,
fearing it would lead to compulsory arbitration, with labor at a disad­
In its recommendations, the Wright-chaired commission cited the
quasi-public nature o f railroad corporations as permitting the exercise
o f congressional authority over strikes. It urged employers to recog­
nize unions, stressing that their interests were reciprocal, though not
identical. It proposed a permanent commission to investigate and
make recommendations in disputes having a major impact on the
public, with enforcement by the courts. And it advised that “yellow
dog” contracts be outlawed.70
Gom pers praised the commission’s report as trailblazing in an era
o f employer opposition to union organization, although he implicitly
disagreed about special legislation for mediation and arbitration in the
railroad industry, which the railroad unions supported. He wrote,
“W hatever may be the ultimate result o f U nited States interference
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The First Hundred Years

between the railroad managers and the road laborers o f this country,
we have confidence that none today will refuse to bestow a generous
meed o f praise on Carroll D. Wright and his companion commission*
ers for their lucid and conscientious report on the Chicago strike of
1894. ”71
The commission’s recommendations became the basis for legisla­
tion dealing with railroad disputes that had a major impact on the
public. Wright helped draft and publicly supported the pertinent bills
under congressional consideration between 18^5 and 1898.72 Address­
ing the charge that the proposed measures contemplated compulsory
arbitration, he pointed out that they sought, first, conciliation or
mediation. Only if these failed to bring about agreement was there
provision for seeking a board o f arbitration, with the award final only
“if the parties coming before it agree it shall be.”73
In the congressional debates in 1897, Representative Constantine
Erdman introduced a letter from Wright stating, “Instead of contem­
plating involuntary servitude, the bill, it seems to me, places labor and
capital on an equality as to the enforcement o f contracts.” Citing
protections against yellow dog contracts and blacklists, Wright
explained, “Practically, this is a bill o f rights that the workingman, so
far as railways are concerned, can not claim at present.”74 But Wright
did not leave any illusions about this being a panacea: “The bill,
should it become a law, will not solve any phase o f the labor problem,
nor prevent strikes entirely, but it will do much to steady the forces
involved and afford a powerful and even effective balance wheel in
interstate controversies.”75
The resulting Erdman Act o f 1898 revised the 1888 statute by
providing for voluntary arbitration and establishing a board of media­
tion and conciliation composed o f the Commissioner o f Labor and the
Chairman o f the Interstate Commerce Commission. Operations of
the board were limited since it could function only on the request of
the parties, nor did the act include provisions for investigatory com­
mittees as found in the earlier act. Yellow dog contracts were prohib­
ited, a provision later voided by the Supreme Court. The arbitration
provisions o f the act were never utilized, but the board o f mediation
was called upon later; Wright’s successor, Charles P. Neill, was very
actively engaged.
Wright also figured prominently in the anthracite coal strike of
1902, in which he emerged as Roosevelt’s labor adviser. Roosevelt’s
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Wright: Setting the Course

handling of this strike contrasted with Cleveland’s actions in the
Pullman strike, introducing the Roosevelt policies of seeking to
reduce the impact o f strikes, o f recognizing the right of unions to
organize, and of urging the public airing of issues. Wright and
Gom pers helped to ensure impartiality on the part of the Federal
Government in the investigation of the strike, the dispute-resolving
machinery, and the findings and recommendations.
The miners had walked out in May when the operators refused
to negotiate a new contract. Wright acted as intermediary between
Roosevelt and Gompers in discussions o f means of settling the strike.
In June, Roosevelt directed Wright to investigate the situation, and the
Commissioner prepared a report and recommendations for settling
the dispute. Although pleased to have the factfinding report, the Mine
W orkers criticized Wright for not visiting the fields and attacked some
of his suggestions. The strike dragged on into the fall.76
Frustrated and running out o f patience, Roosevelt called the
parties to meet with him. Subsequently, with the miners willing to
accept arbitration, Roosevelt prevailed on the mine operators to coop­
erate, and he appointed a commission. Wright acted initially as
recorder, later as a member of the commission and as umpire in the
continuing conciliation process. His earlier recommendations were
apparent in the commission’s report settling the strike.
Roosevelt’s appointment o f Wright to explore the anthracite dis­
pute was welcomed, with one expression that: “No man in this coun­
try—and probably there is no man living—has more persistently and
intelligently applied him self to the study of labor problems and their
remedy than has Colonel W right.” Later, however, as permanent
umpire o f disputes under the board of conciliation established by the
commission’s award, he was criticized by the U nited Mine W orkers
and Gom pers for unfavorable awards.77

Studies on working women and children
Wright’s early and continuing concern about the impact o f changing
industrial developments on the family, and particularly on the employ­
ment o f women and children, was reflected in a series of landmark
studies. He had conducted the survey Working Girls in Boston in 1884,
before leaving M assachusetts. In 1888, the new national Bureau issued
Working Women in Large Cities, which covered 17,000 “shop girls”
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The First Hundred Years

engaged in light manual or mechanical work in factories and stores,
representing about 7 percent o f such employment in 22 cities.
Notably, the survey was conducted in large measure by women
agents o f the Department, evidence also o f the changing role of
women. O f these agents, Wright’s report said, “The result o f the work
o f the agents must bear testimony to the efficiency o f the women
employed by the Department, and to the fact that they are capable of
taking up difficult and laborious work. They have stood on an equality
in all respects with the male force o f the Department, and have been
compensated equally with them.”78
The study reported on the wages, expenditures, health, moral
standards, work environment, family backgrounds, and marital status
o f the women. Commenting on the new opportunities and earnings of
women, Wright observed, “A generation ago women were allowed to
enter but few occupations. Now there are hundreds o f vocations in
which they can find em ployment The present report names 343
industries in which they have been found actively engaged.. . . By the
progress or change in industrial conditions, the limit to the employ­
ment o f women has been removed or at least greatly extended, and
their opportunities for earning wages correspondingly increased and
the wages themselves greatly enhanced. . . . " H e noted, however, that
women were willing to work for lower wages than men.79
Depression conditions in the 1890’s raised the question of
whether women and children were replacing men, and Wright
received congressional authorization for a study o f industrial establish­
ments. In pointing out the need for the study, he noted the doubling
o f the number o f women in gainful employment since the 1870 census
and the “serious economical and ethical question as to the reasons for
such a vast increase.”80
The scope o f the 1895-96 survey was characterized as covering
“specifically the employment and wages o f women and children in
comparison with the employment o f men in like occupations, how far
women and children are superseding men, and the relative efficiency
o f men, women, and children when employed in doing like work.”
Agents visited over a thousand establishments, mainly in manufactur­
ing industries, in 30 States. Current data were collected for almost
150.000 men and women employed during the survey period, while
information for some week at least 10 years earlier was collected for
100.000 workers. The published tables provided information on the
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Wright: Setting the Course

occupations, hours worked, and comparative earnings o f men,
women, and children o f “the same grade o f efficiency,” and the rea­
sons usually given for the employment o f women and girls. The data
confirmed the continued rapid increase o f women in manufacturing
employment. Comparisons o f average earnings o f men, women, and
children in the same occupation and grade o f efficiency showed that
men earned over 50 percent more than women, and that children
earned substantially less than adult workers.
One academician criticized the report, arguing that its emphasis
on manufacturing created a downward bias in reflecting the employ­
ment o f women and girls, since the vast majority were employed in
nonmanufacturing industries. Such coverage, the sociologist con­
tended, would have shown a much greater increase in the employ­
ment o f women and girls.81
In the early years of the new century, Wright directed another of
the landmark studies on the employment o f children, Child Labor in
the United States (Bulletin 52, 1904). Hannah R. Sewall and Edith
Parsons investigated conditions for children under 16 years o f age
through visits with employers, parents, and youth.
Wright also gave considerable attention to the training o f youth.
He explained the growing need: “Training in trade schools in the
U nited States is intended to supply the place o f the old-time appren­
ticeship, which has nearly disappeared under the conditions o f pres­
ent-day industry.” He had studied vocational education back in
M assachusetts and, in fact, participated in surveys there after leaving
the Bureau. W hile he was Commissioner, two o f the Bureau’s annual
reports focused on industrial schools.82

Urban and ethnic studies
Several Bureau studies reported on problems o f the burgeoning urban
centers. One o f these was conducted during the depression o f the
early 1890’s, when Congress directed the Bureau to study the slums of
the major cities. Wright noted the reasons for the study: “The popular
idea is that the slums o f cities are populated almost entirely by foreign­
ers, and by foreigners o f a class not desirable as industrial factors and
who do not assimilate with our people.” He added, “The alleged
tendency o f colored people to crowd into cities becomes a part o f this
wide subject and emphasizes the necessity o f the investigation. ”83 In
1894, the Bureau issued The Slums of Baltimore, Chicago, New York,
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The First H undred Years

and Philadelphia> which gave figures on nativity, illiteracy, occupa­
tions, earnings, and health and presented information on liquor,
saloons, and arrests.
O n the liquor issue, W right had stated earlier, “'fou cannot dis­
cuss the labor question from either the ethical or economical side
without consideration o f the temperance question.”84 He was a mem­
ber o f the “Committee o f Fifty," a group o f prominent citizens headed
by Seth Low studying the liquor problem, and planned a major
Bureau study to supplement the committee’s work. In 1897, the
Bureau’s Economic Aspects of the Liquor Problem reported on produc­
tion and consumption, traffic, revenues, and the practices o f employ­
ers in the liquor industry.
In The Housing of the Working People (1895), the Bureau
presented data on sanitary laws, building regulations, public interven­
tion, and model buildings in the U nited States and Europe. The role
o f building and loan associations, cooperative methods for saving, and
home financing available to wage earners also were subjects o f Bureau
In the late 1890*s, Wright turned his attention to other municipal
problems. O ne report dealt with public ownership o f public utilities,
which was favored by reformers. The report, Wright stated, was
intended to provide clarification, not “material for local contention."
In 1899, at the direction o f Congress, the Bureau began the a n n u a l
series, “Statistics o f C ities," which surveyed conditions in cities with a
population o f at least 30,000. This work occupied a disproportionate
amount o f the Bureau’s time, and, when the Bureau o f the C ensus was
established, W right succeeded in having the work transferred. Even
so, W right claimed a constructive influence for the data. “The annual
publication o f these statistics. . . has stimulated many cities to reform
their methods o f accounting, and this. . . has already had most benefi­
cial results."85
Ethnic studies o f the condition o f Negroes and o f newly arrived
immigrant groups were among W right’s important contribution»
W right’s interest in the status o f Negroes under the conditions o f
Reconstruction and migration to the cities had been evident in his
study o f Negroes as part o f the M assachusetts Census o f 1875. H e had
sought to conduct a major study o f Negro labor when the Bureau was
established, but had failed to receive authorization.86 However, in the
late 1890’s, he provided assistance for and published a number o f
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Wright: Setting the Course

regional studies of the condition of blacks in cities and agricultural
areas. W.E.B. Du Bois was notable among the black sociologists con­
ducting the studies, contributing three of the nine articles published
in the Bureau’s Bulletin between 1897 and 1903.
In 1901, when Representative Leonidas F. Livingston of Georgia
introduced a bill appropriating funds for Negro studies in the Depart­
ment, Wright explained that he certainly had no objections and that
in fact, the Bureau had been conducting such work for several years:
“Professor Du Bois, whom I presume you know, has done excellent
work along this line, and I hope to be able to continue him.”87
However, after the relocation of the Bureau to the new Department of
Commerce and Labor, Wright noted obstacles. In August 1903, he
wrote Du Bois, “I do not believe it will be possible for us in the near
future to take up the question of the Lowndes County Negroes. This
is a financial question with us at the present time." 88
Apparently Wright finally found a means of funding a major
study of Negroes after he left office. He headed the Department of
Economics and Sociology at the newly formed Carnegie Institution
which, in 1906, added a division called The Negro in Slavery and
About the time Wright launched the black studies in the Bureau,
he also directed investigations of the Italian community. The 1890’s
had witnessed an increased influx of Italians into the cities and also a
rise in violence, to an extent set off by “native" fear of the so-called
“mafia.” In fact, the whole issue of immigration and importation of
contract labor continued to arouse considerable passion.90The Italians
in Chicago: A Social and Economic Study (1897), based on materials
collected by Caroline L. Hunt under Wight’s supervision, presented
the general economic conditions of the Italian community. It also
provided data on literacy, nativity, diet, size of family, weekly earnings,
and unemployment and gave some comparisons with the earlier study
of slum conditions. An 1897 Bulletin article, “The Padrone System
and Padrone Banks,” also dealt with the Italian community.
Many of the subjects of these early Bureau studies were later to
come under the jurisdiction of other government agencies. The Cen­
sus Bureau took up the statistics of cities; savings and loan associations
came under the Bureau of Corporations in the new Department of
Commerce and Labor; and women and children were to be repre­
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The First Hundred Years

sented by their own agencies in the Cabinet-level Department of
Labor before too long.

Tariff studies and price and wage statistics
The enactment o f the McKinley tariff in 1890 gave rise to several
Bureau studies and stimulated groundbreaking work in the develop­
ment o f statistical methods and data on wages, prices, and the cost of
living. In 1891, to determine the effect o f the new tariff law, the Senate
Committee on Finance, headed by Nelson W. Aldrich o f Rhode
Island, called on Wright to collect data on prices, wages, and hours of
work, and hired Roland R Falkner o f the University o f Pennsylvania
to analyze the material. There was the “constant demand from legisla­
tors and economic students for reliable statistics in regard to the
course o f prices and wages in the U nited States,” for, the committee
report stated, “W ithout them it has been impossible to judge even
with approximate accuracy o f the progress o f the people o f the coun­
try and the changes which have taken place from time to time in their
Wright’s activities had already anticipated the need. The Act of
1888 elevating the Bureau to departmental status had specifically called
for studies o f “the cost o f producing articles at the time dutiable in the
U nited States” and “the effect o f the customs laws.” 92 Bureau studies
o f the cost o f production in the iron and steel, coal, textile, and glass
industries in the U nited States and abroad were already well under­
way. Along with wage data for workers in these industries, cost-ofliving and budget information was collected. The term “cost o f living”
referred to family expenditures, and thus the study sought to reflect
the standard o f living supported by the actual levels o f family income.
In all, 8,544 families were covered. O f these, 2,562 were viewed as
“normal” families, defined as families consisting o f a husband and wife,
up to five children under the age o f 15, and without other dependents
or boarders.
Two reports prepared by the Bureau for the Aldrich Committee
became landmark sources o f data on prices and wages. Some wholesale
price data were assembled for the preceding half century; for the 28
months preceding September 1891, prices were collected for 218 arti­
cles in 7 cities. Retail price collection was limited to the 28-month
period, covering 215 commodities, including 67 food items, in 70
localities. Wage data were also assembled for the preceding half cen­
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Wright: Setting the Course

tury in 22 industries; for the 28-month period, the data covered 20
general occupations in 70 localities and specialized occupations in 32
Falkner’s methodological innovations related to weighting and
indexing the price and wage data. Indexing techniques, although
known, had not been used to any extent in analyzing economic phe­
nomena. To weight the wholesale and retail price indexes, Falkner
used the family expenditure patterns developed in the Bureau’s cost of
production studies, supplemented by additional budgets developed for
the Senate committee. The wage indexes, however, were based on
unweighted data.93
The academic community was generally pleased with the recogni­
tion accorded professional statistical and economic analysis by the
Aldrich Committee, although some found fault with Falkner’s meth­
ods. The Quarterly Journal of Economics referred to the wholesale
price statistics as a “monument of thorough and skillful statistical
work” and a “careful and complete investigation o f the course of
prices.” Frank W. Taussig wrote, “The skill and judgment of Commis­
sioner Wright have yielded results whose importance and interest to
the economist can hardly be overstated. . . . ” Yet Richmond MayoSmith criticized Falkner’s method for risking distortion in the general
wholesale price index by placing “undue emphasis upon certain kinds
o f commodities” in order to utilize family expenditures as weights.94
Frederick C. Waite said o f the two reports, “Together they consti­
tute the most valuable contribution to the history o f American eco­
nomic conditions that has yet appeared.” However, Waite criticized
Wright and Falkner for making “a series o f fallacious deductions.”
Waite complained that the wage index was based on too few occupa­
tions and too few returns—and all of them collected in the Northeast.
He further alleged problems in the methodology in that Falkner
should have used a multiyear base instead o f the single year 1860 and
that he should have weighted the wage data in making the index.95
And, in further comment, some critics did not see that the reports
would resolve the disputes surrounding the tariff question.
The work on wholesale prices, begun for the Aldrich Committee,
was developed further by Falkner and the Bureau in 1900 and thereaf­
ter. They directed their efforts towards overcoming the undue repre­
sentation o f consumer goods arising from the use o f the weights
determined from the family expenditure studies. In 1900, in revising
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The First Hundred Years

his indexes, Falkner maintained the weighting system based on family
expenditures, but sought to improve the price representation o f spe­
cific commodities. However, criticism o f his use o f family expenditure
weights continued; Taussig commented that these were better suited
to retail prices.96
The Bureau’s own W holesale Price Index, covering 1890 to 1901,
appeared in 1902, marking the Bureau's entry into the field o f current
economic measures. Although the Bureau sought to link its effort as
much as possible to the earlier work, the index o f 1902 was based on
an entirely new survey and concept. Because a weighting system based
on national consumption patterns was not deemed feasible, and
weighting by family expenditures was held to miss too many manufac­
tured items, the Bureau used “a large number o f representative staple
articles, selecting them in such a manner as to make them, to a large
extent, weight themselves."97 A subsequent revision in 1914, however,
turned to computing the weights “from the aggregate values o f com­
modities exchanged year by year,” utilizing the 1909 Census o f Manu­
To lay the groundwork for an index o f retail prices, the Bureau
conducted a massive survey o f family expenditures during 1901-03, 10
years after the Aldrich study. Unlike the earlier surveys, which had
covered workers’ families in specific industries and areas, the new
survey aimed to be representative o f the conditions o f workers in the
whole country. Special agents o f the Bureau visited 25,440 families of
wage earners and o f salaried workers earning up to $1,200 a year in
the principal industrial centers in 33 States. Native—including
Negro—and foreign-bom families were included, without reference to
industry. The agents recorded one year’s expenditures on food, rent,
principal and interest on homes, fuel, lighting, clothing, furniture,
insurance, taxes, books and newspapers, and other personal expendi­
tures. They also obtained information on earnings o f family members.
Detailed data on income and expenditures o f 2,500 families pro­
vided a basis for determining the relative expenditures, or weights, for
the principal items entering into the cost o f living. In particular,
weights were determined for the principal articles o f food consumed.
The Bureau also obtained information on prices for the period
1890 to 1903 from 800 retail merchants for the same items and locali­
ties as those reflected in the budgets o f the expenditure survey. This
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Wright: Setting the Course

was the first known collection o f retail price data covering a period as
long as 3 years.
With the expenditure and price data, the Bureau prepared its first
weighted retail price index: “Relative Retail Price o f Food, Weighted
According to the Average Family Consumption, 1890 to 1902 (base of
1890-1899).” It provided monthly quotations of 30 principal items of
food and summarized them in terms o f “average price o f the article”
and “relative price,” presenting these as averages and as weighted by
consumption. Coverage was soon expanded to over 1,000 retail estab­
lishments in 40 States. The index was maintained through 1907."
Wage data were collected as part o f the same set of surveys.
Previously, the agency’s wage work had been sporadic and for specific
purposes. In releasing the results of the study in 1904, in Wages and
Hours of Labor, the Bureau explained that it had undertaken “a very
painstaking and complete investigation which would result in thor­
oughly representative figures for a period o f years [1890 to 1903] and
which would serve as the basis for the regular annual collection and
presentation o f data from the establishments covered.”
The study covered 519 occupations, “only the important and
distinctive occupations which are considered representative o f each
industry,” in 3,475 establishments in 67 manufacturing and mechani­
cal industries. The voluminous data included actual and relative wages
and hours by occupation; relative wages by industry; and relative
wages and hours for all industries covered, weighted according to
census data for aggregate wages in each industry. The new series
appeared formally in 1905, as “Wages and H ours of Labor in Manufac­
turing Industries, 1890 to 1904,” but covered fewer industries and
occupations than the original study.100
The wage and retail price survey results were placed in juxtaposi­
tion in an article in the Bureau’s Bulletin in July 1904, with the
observation that, “taking 1903, it is seen that hourly wages were 16.3
percent above the average of 1890-1899, while retail prices o f food
were 10.3; making the increase in purchasing power of the hourly
wage, 5.4 percent.”
There were sharp reactions to this conclusion from labor organi­
zations, politicians, and academicians, coming as it did at a time of
industrial unrest and strikes due to layoffs, wage reductions, and
reduced purchasing power following the panic o f 1903—and the Pres­
idential campaign o f 1904. Representative William S. Cowherd of
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The First Hundred Years

M issouri, o f the Democratic Congressional Committee, attacked the
Bureau's results and charged Wright with veiling the truth by manipu­
lating figures to meet party necessities. The Journal o f the United
Mine W orkers complained o f methodological problems, arguing that
the Bureau should show not only the daily wage but also the number
o f days worked. The Official Journal o f the Amalgamated Meat C ut­
ters and Butcher Workmen castigated Wright and the wage and costof-living figures, alleging that the summary “appears to have been
edited solely for political purposes and, to that end, has so many
misleading statements that, as a bulletin concerning labor matters, it is
entirely unworthy and inaccurate.’’101
The Machinists’ Monthly Journal o f the International Association
o f M achinists roundly attacked the figures: “It will take more than the
figures given by the Honorable Carroll D. Wright in the July Bulletin
o f the Bureau o f Labor to convince the housewives o f the nation that
wages have increased in proportion to the increase in prices.”102
Ernest Howard wrote in the Political Science Quarterly, “The effort
made by the Bureau o f Labor to find an approximate compensation for
the rise o f retail prices in the wage increase among certain classes of
labor, most highly organized and aggressive, cannot be accepted as
representative o f the general labor experience.”103
More moderate views came from two other sources. Wesley C.
M itchell spoke favorably o f the improvements in wage data under
Wright, especially in classified wage tables and index numbers. Later,
he upheld the “high character” o f the Bureau's index numbers, specifi­
cally in contrast to a Census report that showed different trends.
Nevertheless, even M itchell warned o f shortcomings. The new tables,
he said, had met “with more favor than they merit” because they
continued Falkner’s “most serious error”—lack o f an adequate system
o f weights. The National Civic Federation gave a balanced perspective
on the issue under the caption “Statistics That Do Not Apply.” Com ­
menting that “partisan motives, sharply accentuated by a Presidential
campaign, have caused both attack and defense o f these data,” it
pointed out that the Bureau had not intended that the observations
apply to the immediate situation. The statistics “share the fault, per­
haps inevitable, o f all governmental statistics. They may enlighten in
retrospect, but as to the immediate present, they are out o f date.”10*
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Wright: Setting the Course

International influences
Wright’s interest in developments abroad was apparent early in his
career. A s C hief o f the M assachusetts Bureau, he visited England in
1881 to collect material for a factory study. Later, as Commissioner of
the Federal Bureau, he sent members o f his staff to Europe and
obtained the services o f experts studying abroad to collect information
for studies.
W right’s reputation and his example, as well as the example o f the
State bureaus, influenced the rise o f labor agencies in the European
countries. A t an Industrial Remuneration Conference in London in
January 1885, several speakers pointed to the American experiments.
Charles Bradlaugh, M.R, maintained “there could not be any fair
arbitration satisfactory to the men until we had bureaux o f the statis­
tics o f labour similar to those which had existed for 17 years in
M assachusetts, which had been established in Connecticut, and in
which an experiment had been made to some extent in W ashington.”
Sir Rawson Rawson, President o f the Royal Statistical Society, hoped
the conference would impress the government with the importance of
following the example o f “the American government or the govern­
ment o f M assachusetts.”105
The influence o f the U .S. agency was formally recognized in a
resolution o f the 1891 convention of the International Statistical Insti­
tute in Vienna, which expressed the desire “that the governments may
be willing to create Bureaus o f Labor on the plan o f those o f the
U nited States, where these offices do not exist, either creating a dis­
tinct Bureau or utilizing the organization o f existing bureaus o f statis­
tics.” National bureaus o f labor statistics were established in quick
succession during the 1890*s and early 1900’s in France (1891), Britain
(1893), Spain (1894), Belgium (1895), Austria (1898), Germany, Italy,
and Sweden (1902), and Norway (1903). O ther countries, like Den­
mark (1895) and the Netherlands (1895), established central statistical
offices which also collected statistics on labor.106
During hearings before the British Royal Commission on Labour
in 1892, Elgin R.L. Gould, a special agent o f Wright’s agency, was
called upon to testify. G ould had been in Europe to attend a session of
the International Statistical Institute and to collect information for
several Bureau studies, and he gave a thorough picture o f the philoso­
phy and organization o f the agency under Wright. One outcome of
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The First Hundred Years

the commission’s activities was the prompt establishment o f the new
British Labour Department.107
Shortly after its establishment, the British agency exerted a recip­
rocal influence on its American counterpart when it began publication
o f the monthly Labour Gazette, which Wright used as an example to
justify congressional authorization o f a similar publication. In a letter
to Representative Lawrence E. M cGann, Wright endorsed the House
bill providing for a bulletin, “especially as foreign Governments are
now doing precisely what your bill aims to accomplish. The English
Department o f Labor, which was established only recently, is now
publishing, very successfully and with great acceptance to the indus­
trial interests o f the country, a labor gazette.”108 Congress approved
publication o f a bulletin in 1895.
Wright was active in the early international efforts o f economists,
social reformers, and government labor officials to provide a bridge
between trade union concerns, particularly about working conditions,
and national government approaches to labor policy. The first confer­
ence held under such informal welfare reform auspices was the Con­
gress for International Labor Legislation in Brussels in 1897. Wright
and W.F. Willoughby o f the Bureau staff attended these first discus­
sions o f international cooperation “in the formulation of labor stand­
ards and uniform presentation o f reports and statistics regarding
enforcement. ”109
In 1900, Wright attended the Congress o f Baris, an outgrowth of
the Brussels meetings. From the Baris conference developed the Inter­
national Labour Office, established at Basel in 1901, and the Interna­
tional Association for Labor Legislation, which first met at Basel that
same year. The next year, Wright helped organize an American section
of the International Association. From 1903 to 1909, the Bureau
carried $200 in its budget to support the work of the Labour Office,
which received generally greater support from European govern­
m ents.110
The Commissioner also belonged to the International Statistical
Institute and the International Institute of Sociology. He was made an
honorary member o f the Royal Statistical Society of Great Britain and
the Imperial Academy o f Science o f Russia, and a corresponding
member of the Institute of France. In 1906, the Italian government
honored him and, in 1907, France bestowed on him the Cross of the
Legion o f Honor for his work in improving industrial conditions.
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W right: Setting the Course

Wright’s other activities
W hile at the Bureau and after he left, Wright was active in many
pursuits. He served as president o f the American Social Science A sso­
ciation (1885-1888), the International Association o f Governmental
Labor Officials (1885-1905), and the American Statistical Association
(1897-1909). He also served as president o f the American Association
for the Advancement o f Science (1903) and was active in the Washing­
ton Academy o f Sciences. He was also president o f the Association for
the Promotion of Profit Sharing, a short-lived group established in
1893 to promote industrial partnership between employers and work­
ers through profit sharing.
Shortly before leaving the Bureau, he was superintendent o f the
Department o f Social Economy at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition,
St. Louis World’s Fair (1904). He also served on the Massachusetts
Committee on Relations Between Employer and Employee, whose
report favored profit sharing, arbitration, child labor restrictions,
workmen’s compensation, and revision o f the laws on injunctions.111
From 1895 to 1904, Wright was honorary professor o f social
economics at the Catholic University o f America—where he met the
young professor o f political economy, Charles P. Neill, who was to
succeed him as Commissioner o f Labor Statistics. For some o f the
period he also lectured at Columbian University, later to become
George Washington University. He served on the board o f trustees of
the newly established Carnegie Institution o f Washington and, in
1904, became head o f its new department o f economics and sociology.
Meanwhile, in 1902, he had become the first president o f Clark C ol­
lege, charged with organizing the undergraduate program for the inno­
vative institution.
After leaving the Bureau, he served as chairman o f the Massachu­
setts Commission on Industrial and Technical Education. A t the same
time, he helped found and served as president o f the National Society
for the Promotion o f Industrial Education and was active on several
committees o f the National Civic Federation.112

Carroll Wright retired from government service at the end o f January
1905—the 20th anniversary o f his joining the new Bureau o f Labor in
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The First Hundred Years

the Department o f the Interior. Near the close o f his tenure, Wright
reaffirmed his view o f the agency’s role: “To my mind, all the facts
which have so far been gathered and published by the Bureau bear,
either directly or indirecdy, upon the industrial and humanitarian
advance o f the age, and are all essential in any intelligent discussion of
what is popularly known as the ‘labor question.’” He stressed that
labor statistics should relate to the ‘‘material, social, intellectual, and
moral prosperity o f society itself,” rather than solely to narrow fields.
In response to those who called on the Bureau to become “the instru­
ment o f propagandism” in the interest o f reform, Wright replied,
“W henever the head o f the Bureau o f Labor attempts to turn its
efforts in the direction o f sustaining or o f defeating any public mea­
sure, its usefulness will be past and its days will be few.” He continued:
“It is only by the fearless publication o f the facts, without regard to the
influence those facts may have upon any party’s position or any parti­
san’s views, that it can justify its continued existence, and its future
usefulness will depend upon the nonpartisan character o f its person­
Wright died in February 1909 at the age o f 69.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


Chapter III.

Charles Neill:
Studies for Economic
and Social Reform


n December 12, 1904, President Roosevelt appointed
Charles P. Neill to succeed Carroll Wright as Commissioner o f the Bureau o f Labor, effective February 1, 1905.
The active role already emerging for the Bureau under
Wright in the early years o f the Roosevelt administration intensified
under Neill as Roosevelt increasingly used the Bureau to further the
reform efforts of the Progressive movement. In 1908, the President
wrote, “Already our Bureau o f Labor, for the past 20 years of necessity
largely a statistical bureau, is practically a Department o f Sociology,
aiming not only to secure exact information about industrial condi­
tions but to discover remedies for industrial evils.”1
A s a major figure in the conservative wing o f the Progressive
movement, Roosevelt was concerned with the social problems o f the
working population brought on by the increasing industrialization of
the economy and the growth o f large-scale enterprises. This concern
reflected both a sincere interest in reducing the ill effects o f industrial­
ization and a desire to forestall the possible alternatives o f social insta­
bility and radicalism. In relations between capital and labor, neither
“government o f plutocracy” nor o f “mob” was to be controlling.2
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The First Hundred Years

Roosevelt regularly expressed his concern with labor problems in
his annual messages to Congress. H is policy, innovative for the times,
was for limited government involvement in labor-management rela­
tions to protect the interests o f the public. He saw unions and their
federations as accomplishing "very great g o o d .. . when managed with
forethought and when they combine insistence upon their own rights
with law-abiding respect for the rights o f others.“ The role o f the
Department o f Commerce and Labor was to secure fair treatment for
both labor and capital.3
For Roosevelt, the Bureau o f Labor's investigatory activities and
reports were o f great value in furthering his goals. In his 1904 message
to Congress, he called attention to the positive role o f government
accomplished “merely by giving publicity to certain conditions," and
praised the Bureau o f Labor for doing excellent work o f this kind “in
many different directions."4
The Bureau retained its broadened role even after Taft took office
in 1909. Thus in 1911, in describing the Bureau's activities, Neill
wrote o f “the practical nature o f the work which the Federal Govern­
ment is trying to do to assist in exposing conditions which are danger­
ous to the life and health o f wage-earners and to furnish the basis for
sound legislation for the improvement o f these conditions."5
Demands for legislation mounted during the early years o f the
century as the growing strength o f labor unions was challenged by the
concerted action o f large corporations. Responding to gains by the
American Federation o f Labor and especially the United Mine Work­
ers, the National Association o f M anufacturers and the Citizens'
Industrial Association launched a vigorous campaign for the open
shop. A t the same time, the U nited States Steel Corporation drove
the remnants o f the iron and steel workers’ union from its plants.
In defense against these antiunion moves, the A FL increased its
political activities. In 1906, it presented “Labor’s Bill o f Grievances,"
calling labor’s principal demands to the attention o f the President and
the leaders o f the House and Senate. Among the demands were
legislation for an 8-hour workday, elimination o f the competition of
convict labor, relief from the mounting flow o f immigration, exemp­
tion o f unions from the antitrust laws, and relief from injunctions,
which were increasingly sought by employers to prevent union action
in labor disputes.
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N eill: Studies for Economic and Social Reform

In the factories and mines, a militant new union, the Industrial
W orkers o f the World, emerged to challenge the A FL from the left.
Originating in western mining areas, the IWW took up the cause of
the unorganized and unskilled, largely immigrant, work force in the
factories o f the East. Confrontations o f workers, strikebreakers,
police, and militia often erupted into violence.
In the turmoil o f the times, Neill, as Roosevelt’s ally in reform
efforts, became embroiled in considerable controversy. Although the
Commissioner forcefully defended his agency against charges o f parti­
sanship, declaring that it sought objectivity and balance, his experience
provided something o f an object lesson, warning o f the hazards of
being closely identified with particular government policies.

The second Commissioner
Charles Patrick Neill was bom in Rock Island, Illinois, in 1865 and
was reared in Austin, Texas. He attended the University o f Notre
Dame and the University o f Texas before graduating summa cum
laude from Georgetown University in 1891. He then became an
instructor at Notre Dame. In 1895, he returned to the East Coast to
finish his doctorate at Johns Hopkins, receiving the Ph.D. in 1897. In
the meantime, he served as an instructor at Catholic University in
Washington, D .C . He was appointed Professor o f Political Economy
in 1900, a post he held until he came to the Bureau o f Labor in 1905.
It was at Catholic University that Neill met Carroll Wright, who was
teaching there while serving as Commissioner o f Labor.
Before the House Committee on Agriculture in 1906, Neill
briefly summarized his early years: “I was engaged in business as a clerk
from the time I was 10 years old to 20, including occupation as a
newsboy, a clerk, and other things. I have been a student from the
time I was 20 until I was 30, and a teacher from that time on.” He had
also worked at the University o f Chicago setdement house at the gate
o f the stockyards.6
Neill was active in charitable organizations in Washington before
his entry into government service, and was associated with the “new
era” o f professionalism in welfare work in that city. In 1900, President
McKinley appointed him to the newly created Board o f Charities for
the District o f Columbia, which chose him as its vice president.7
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The First Hundred Years

Neill also participated in the educational activities o f the District’s
Civic Center, which sponsored studies o f housing conditions, espe­
cially o f alley dwellings, and o f sanitary conditions in the schools, and
which played an important role in the enactment o f child labor and
compulsory education laws—causes in which he was prominent as
Neill first came to Roosevelt’s attention in 1902, when Carroll
Wright recommended him for a post on the staff o f the commission
set up to mediate the anthracite coal strike. Roosevelt commented in
his autobiography, “The strike, by the way, brought me into contact
with more than one man who was afterward a valued friend and
fellow-worker. O n the suggestion o f Carroll Wright, I appointed as
assistant recorder to the Commission Charles R Neill, whom I after­
ward made Labor Commissioner to succeed Wright him self.. . . ” 9 In
1903, Roosevelt appointed Neill to the new Board of Conciliation and
Arbitration for the anthracite industry, where he served first as
accountant and later as umpire, replacing Wright.
W hen Roosevelt was looking for a new Commissioner o f Labor, a
number o f influential men supported Neill for the position. One of
them, Edward A. Moseley o f the Interstate Commerce Commission,
wrote Marshall Cushing o f the National Association o f Manufactur­
ers, “I believe he is the sort o f man that should be appointed to a
position o f that kind not only because he is a political economist, but
will be able to hold the balance with a steady hand.” The Review of
Reviews, while commenting that it would be difficult to fill Wright’s
place in government and academic reputation, remarked, “The new
Commissioner brings good credentials for his work.”10

N eill’s views
Neill’s early writings and speeches reflected the view that the better­
ment o f society could come only from the moral improvement o f the
individual. He saw the task o f the social worker as one o f developing
the psychic fortitude o f the poor: “We may say what we will about
environment. The struggle o f the poor is the struggle o f the interior
psychical forces against external environment. Any society is only as
strong as the individual members make it.”11
By the time he became Commissioner, he had broadened his
view: “It is true poverty is perfectly compatible with sanctity, but
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Neill: Studies for Economic and Social Reform

when this happens it is the unusual. Those o f you who have seen
something o f low standards o f living amid poor material surroundings
know how almost impossible it is to bring up children with decent
moral standards. To raise the standards o f living, both material and
moral, we must begin with the food, clothing, and shelter. . . . There
are certain possibilities in higher standards o f living which the individ­
ual cannot attain by himself. This requires State action. There must be
certain united action to allow the individual to reach the highest
standard o f living possible.”12
Neill emphasized the collective social conscience, especially after
becoming Commissioner. In a 1906 article, “Child Labor in the
National Capital,” he summarized his ideas as follows: “W hose is the
responsibility? For whom do these children work? The truth is these
child victims are working for us. They are working for me, and they
are working for you. We enjoy cheaper products because the rights of
children are outraged in order to furnish cheap labor. We cannot turn
around and lay the blame entirely on the greed o f the employer.
W hatever shameful conditions o f child labor exist, it is due just as
much to a lack o f conscience in the community at large as it is to any
greed on the part o f particular employers.”13
Neill did not agree with those who believed that capital and labor
were “necessary allies and natural friends.” O n the contrary, he argued
that industrial disputes were inherent in the very nature o f the eco­
nomic system. However, he stated, “That strife may be tempered and
kept within reasonable limits. . . . The best hope o f industrial peace
between these two groups lies in educating each to the realization that
antagonistic interests can be compromised and treaties of peace
arranged better before than after a test o f strength has been made by
an appeal to force. ”14
He saw unions as an avenue for tempering the conflict. “We must
either develop a satisfactory process by which, through some form of
trade unionism and collective bargaining, the burdens o f industry shall
be lightened and the wealth constantly created by the joint toil of
brain and arm shall be more widely distributed amongst those who
cooperate in its production, or we shall find ourselves face to face with
the menace o f Socialism in one form or another.”15
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The First Hundred Years

The Bureau’s investigative work
During his first year in office, Neill concentrated on completing stud'
ies Wright had begun. But the President soon asked him to undertake
several major new investigations on issues o f immediate concern.

Packinghouse conditions
For over a decade, reformers had been demanding Federal legislation
to require the accurate labeling o f preserved foods, beverages, and
drugs. Germany and other European countries had roundly con­
demned American preserved meat and packinghouse products. Veter­
ans o f the Spanish-American War remembered none too fondly the
“embalmed beef* o f the quartermaster. Such legislation had passed the
House only to die in the Senate, and Roosevelt urged its adoption in
his message to Congress in December 1905.16
Early in 1906, U pton Sinclair published The Jungle, which
exposed the unsanitary practices o f the Chicago packers and stirred
public indignation. Roosevelt called for action. The Bureau o f Animal
Industry o f the Department o f Agriculture, which maintained a staff
o f inspectors at the stockyards, immediately launched an investigation.
The President directed Neill to make an independent inquiry: “I want
to get at the bottom o f this matter and be absolutely certain of our
facts when the investigation is through.” Neill, along with James Bron­
son Reynolds, a reformer from New York City, spent 2Vz weeks
gathering information and then submitted a report to Roosevelt, who
praised him for his work. In addition, not satisfied with the report of
the Animal Industry Bureau, Roosevelt asked Neill to revise it.17
Based on these reports, Roosevelt ordered the Department of
Agriculture to prepare a bill establishing more stringent meat inspec­
tion procedures. Senator Albert J. Beveridge introduced the proposal
in May. The so-called Beveridge Amendment quickly passed the Sen­
ate, where the packers made no fight. The press reported that the
packers “were willing to agree to almost any kind of legislation” to
prevent publication of the Neill-Reynolds report.18
However, Representative James W. Wadsworth of New York,
Chairman o f the Committee on Agriculture, mounted a vigorous
opposition in the House. Thereupon, Roosevelt released both reports.
A s he transmitted the Neill-Reynolds report, he declared, “The condi­
tions shown by even this short inspection to exist in the Chicago
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Neill: Studies for Economic and Social Reform

stockyards are revolting. It is imperatively necessary in the interest of
health and decency that they should be radically changed. Under the
existing law it is wholly impossible to secure satisfactory results.” The
Neill-Reynolds report had described the poor lighting and ventilation
facilities; the “indifference to matters o f cleanliness and sanitation”
demonstrated by the privies provided for men and women; and the
uncleanliness in handling products.19
The packers retorted in congressional hearings that their procedures were sanitary and wholesome but that they would favor more
efficient and expanded inspection. Nevertheless, their defenders in the
House treated Neill harshly when he came to testify, prompting him
to complain, “I feel like a witness under cross-examination whose
testimony is trying to be broken down.”20
In the meantime, the press reported vigorous activities at the
packinghouses where “carpenters and plumbers and kalsominers by
the score are at work on alterations.” Nevertheless, a great outcry
continued in both American and foreign newspapers. O n June 19,
Congress agreed to a meat inspection bill, and the President signed it
on June 30, the same day he signed the Pure Food Law.21

Violations of the 8-hour law
A t the same time that Roosevelt ordered Neill into Chicago on the
meatpacking investigation, he asked the Commissioner to investigate
alleged abuses o f the law limiting contractors on Federal Government
work to an 8-hour day for their laborers and mechanics. The AFL
charged that contractors disregarded the 8-hour law with impunity. In
response, Roosevelt wrote to Frank M orrison, Secretary of the AFL:
“At our interview yesterday, I requested you to bring to my attention
any specific cases of violation o f the 8-hour law. . . . I shall at once
forward them to Mr. Neill, o f the Labor Bureau, and direct him to
investigate them and report direct to m e .. . . My belief is that you will
find that with Commissioner Neill personally supervising the enforce­
ment of the law all complaints will be met.”22
After a thorough inquiry, Neill reported to the President in
August that the law was rarely obeyed. In September, referring to the
Neill memorandum, Roosevelt issued executive orders putting into
effect the Commissioner’s suggestions for improving notification and
enforcement procedures. Roosevelt asked Neill to continue his review
of enforcement by the contracting agencies and the courts. A year
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The First Hundred Years

later, Neill reported that most contractors continued to have their
employees work 10 hours a day.23
The Butchers' Journal o f the Amalgamated Meat Cutters and
Butcher Workmen declared, “Charles P. Neill, National Commis­
sioner o f Labor, has come out flat-footed against the greedy and grasp­
ing contractors on government work and in a letter to President
Roosevelt he shows up the contractors in their true light and con­
demns their persistent efforts to violate the 8-hour law on all govern­
ment work.”24
The Machinists' Monthly Journal o f the International Association
o f M achinists thought politics to be at the root o f the President’s
action: “W hether the sudden feverish desire on the part o f the Federal
authorities to see that the provisions o f the 8-hour law are strictly
enforced has anything to do with the recent decision o f the organized
forces o f labor to enter the political field can best be determined by
the workers themselves.”25

Immigration laws
Immigration laws figured prominently among labor’s grievances,
because the unions viewed existing laws as providing draftees for
business to restrain wages and prevent unionization. Roosevelt fre­
quently called on Neill to conduct inquiries, and the issue occasionally
found Neill, who supported restriction o f immigration, at odds with
his superior, Secretary o f Commerce and Labor O scar Straus, a
founder o f the Immigrants* Protective League and a proponent o f an
open immigration policy.
In June 1906, Roosevelt asked Neill to prepare confidential
reports on the immigration situation, with the assistance o f the Com ­
missioner General o f Immigration. Neill also surveyed conditions sur­
rounding Japanese immigration into the San Francisco area.26
Roosevelt also called on Neill, as well as Straus, when the actions
o f the State o f South Carolina under the Immigration Act of 1903
were questioned. The act had made it unlawful to pay for the trans­
portation o f aliens or to assist or encourage the importation o f aliens
by advertising in foreign countries or otherwise. The ban on advertis­
ing, however, did not apply to State governments, and South Carolina
established a Department o f Agriculture, Commerce, and Immigration
to encourage immigration into the State. The State Commissioner
induced several hundred aliens to migrate, with the understanding
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N eill: Studies for Economic and Social Reform

that their passage would be paid from a fund made up o f a State
appropriation and individual and corporate contributions. Organized
labor charged that mill owners supplied the funds, thereby skirting
the letter o f the law in hope o f obtaining cheap labor.
W hen the Solicitor o f the Department o f Commerce and Labor
upheld South Carolina, Roosevelt called on Straus to review the
matter thoroughly, because “many o f the people most affected sin'
cerely believe that it is the end o f any effort to stop the importation of
laborers under contract in the Southern States, and that this means
further damage to laborers in the Northern States.” Roosevelt also
advised Straus that he was consulting with Neill, who had “excep­
tional advantages in the way o f keeping in touch with the labor people
and o f knowing their feelings as well as their interests.”27
The Immigration Act o f 1907 was intended to close the loophole.
However, a conference called by the President on the interpretation
o f the act produced divergent views. Straus commented in his diary,
“Commissioner Neill gave a narrow view o f the whole situation
which, however, the President did not adopt.” Roosevelt then
appointed a committee, with Neill as a member, to study immigration
into the South and directed that all reports o f violations o f contract
labor laws should be filed with the Commissioner.28
The 1907 act also created a commission to study the whole
question o f immigration, and the President appointed Neill to it. Neill
wrote later, “W hen the Immigration Commission was created in the
spring o f 1907,1 was, against my personal wishes, drafted into service.
I had a good deal to do with the planning o f the work of the Commis­
sion in the beginning, and during the entire period of its existence, I
was in close touch with its work.” He helped direct the statistical work
and the southern investigation and supervised the general work in
Washington, at least in the earlier years o f the commission. A number
o f Bureau personnel worked with the commission as well, including
Fred C. Croxton, who served as its chief statistician.29
The new act also set up a Division o f Information within the
Bureau o f Immigration. Terence Powderly, former leader of the
Knights of Labor, was appointed C hief o f the Division, whose func­
tion was to distribute immigrants to sections o f the country where
there were jobs available. Originally, the A FL had viewed this func­
tion as permitting “workmen lawfully coming to the U nited States.. .
a more intelligent choice o f location in which to seek em ploym ent.. .
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The First Hundred Years

and if administered fairly [as] calculated to be o f least injury to
In a period o f widespread unemployment, however, the activities
o f the Division o f Information in helping immigrants find jobs came in
for much criticism. The A FL argued that the Department of Com ­
merce and Labor should devote its energies solely to meeting the
problem o f the domestic unemployed. Neill reaffirmed an earlier view
that “it is useless to talk about any plan to distribute immigrants, other
then the single plan o f offering higher wages in the places that want
them than they are getting in the places that they are now or in
offering them opportunities to take up land that make the opportuni­
ties actual and really within their reach.*31
In September 1909, Neill wrote President Taft, calling his atten­
tion to union charges that immigrants were being used to break the
unions: “. . . the immigration figures are rapidly mounting up to what
they were during the high tide o f immigration 2 years ago, and the
labor organizations are convinced that a number o f the large corpora­
tions are determined to take advantage o f the abundance of labor and
the incoming immigrants to break the power o f the unions before
there is a full return to prosperity and such a scarcity o f labor as would
give an advantage to the organizations.*32
Neill also expressed concern about the influx o f Orientals into
Hawaii. A major section o f the third report o f the Commissioner of
Labor on Hawaii (1906) was entitled “Orientalization o f Laboring Pop­
ulation and Its Results.* Neill wrote that “as long as Oriental labor is
available, it will be practically impossible to build up a typical Ameri­
can commonwealth.* Besides, he continued, pointing to the planta­
tion regimen, “It will always be impossible to secure any body of selfrespecting Caucasian laborers who will work under those conditions.*
Neill reported in 1911 that competition had increased between Ameri­
can and Japanese workers, and that the territorial government and
businessmen had attempted to attract Caucasian labor from the main­
land, with only slight success.33

Strike investigations
In the festering industrial unrest o f the period, Neill and the Bureau
were called upon to investigate many labor disputes, particularly in the
steel, mining, and textile industries, which were later viewed as
landmarks in the history o f industrial relations. The Bureau’s reports
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Neill: Studies for Economic and Social Reform

on these disputes were comprehensive. In addition to noting the
immediate causes of the dispute, they discussed the new developments
on the labor scene—the role of immigrant labor, the rise of the IWW,
and the growth o f the open shop and company unions. Further, they
dealt with the corporate structure of the industry, its business prac­
tices, and the impact of new technology on the work force.
Steel was one o f the most strife-ridden industries. In 1909, Neill
was asked to investigate a strike called by unorganized workers, many
o f them recent immigrants, at the Pressed Steel Car Company of
McKee’s Rock, Pennsylvania, when the company altered the wage
system and refused to post rates o f pay. The workers* other grievances
included the compulsory use of company stores, extortion by fore­
men, and a speedup o f work. Moreover, the Austrian consul com­
plained that employment agencies were importing immigrants as
strikebreakers. The IWW gave advice and direction to the strikers,
marking its entry into the East.34
The A FL noted Neill’s report on the strike when it directed its
executive board to obtain the report “for the purpose of framing
national legislation for the proper supervision o f the employment
A t the same time, when the United States Steel Corporation
announced that all its plants would operate on an open shop basis, the
Amalgamated Association o f Iron, Steel and Tin W orkers struck in
protest at a company subsidiary, the American Sheet and Tin Plate
Company, the only remaining unionized mill o f U .S. Steel. During
the unsuccessful year-long strike, the A FL provided organizing sup­
port and presented grievances to President Taft and Congress, calling
for an investigation o f the activities o f U .S. Steel.
Neill reported to Taft on the “bitterness in labor circles” aroused
by the company positions in the two steel strikes. He suggested to Taft
that, to avoid increasing bitterness, a study o f labor conditions in the
steel industry be undertaken and announced immediately. Taft replied
that he had no objection to such a study, “but I do not wish it
advertised. . . . I am not in favor o f grandstand performances in
In February 1910, another walkout by several thousand unorgan­
ized workers at the Bethlehem Steel Company over the extension of
overtime and Sunday work prompted the Secretary o f Commerce and
Labor to direct the Bureau to investigate. Ethelbert Stewart of the
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The First Hundred Years

Bureau's staff led the study. H e reported that at least half the com '
pany’s workers were required to work 12 or more hours a day, with
no premium for overtime or Sunday work, and that a 7-day workweek
was common. N o grievance procedure was available to the unorgan­
ized workers, he reported, and “time-bonus” payments stimulated a
speedup in work.37
The Machinists' Monthly Journal described die report as provid­
ing “reliable information founded upon exact data, carefully and scien­
tifically collected,” and called on the union’s members to give all
possible publicity to the facts in the report. Charles Schwab, Bethle­
hem Steel’s president, protested that the report was unfair in failing to
clarify that these conditions existed throughout the American steel
industry. Following a meeting with Schwab and the Secretary o f Com ­
merce and Labor, Neill affirmed that the “shocking” conditions pre­
vailed in the industry generally, but that U .S. Steel had recently
ordered Sunday work reduced to a minimum.38
A month after the publication o f the report on Bethlehem Steel,
the Senate authorized the Bureau to examine working conditions in
the iron and steel industry. The Bureau's 4-volume study, published
over a 2-year span, was based on information obtained through per­
sonal visits and mail questionnaires to plants employing about 90
percent o f the industry’s workers, the majority o f whom were recent
immigrants. The study covered wages, hours o f work, and accidents. It
reported continued 6- and 7-day workweeks o f 12-hour days: Onethird o f the 150,000 workers in blast furnaces, steel works, and rolling
mills were working 7 days a week, and one-fifth were working 84
hours or more a week. The report questioned the need for Sunday
work in view o f the recent action o f U .S. Steel in abolishing most
Sunday work. The report also called attention to the dilution o f skills
in the industry as mechanical developments spread, adding to the
already large proportion o f unskilled workers.39
In commenting on the study, the M achinists' Journal stated,
“Gratifying in the extreme and profitable in every way is the report.. .
because o f the additional light it throws upon the terrible conditions
under which men have to work in that industry.” Pointing out the
inadequacy o f craft unions for dealing with the employers, the Journal
continued, “There is only one remedy and that is thorough and
perfect organization. N ot the organization o f a little aristocracy com­
posed o f the less than one-twentieth o f these workers who receive fifty
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N eill: Studies for Economic and Social Reform

cents an hour and over, but the complete organization o f every
worker in the industry along the broadest, the most liberal and demo­
cratic lines imaginable___ w4°
Gom pers cited excerpts from the report to reply to “public opin­
ion” that labor was well-treated in the industry. Later, in his autobiog­
raphy, he wrote, “Dr. Neill performed a very comprehensive and
valuable piece o f work which caused the officials o f the steel corpora­
tions to ‘cuss’ him and gnash their teeth.”"*1
The Bureau continued to focus considerable attention on the
outbreaks o f industrial violence characteristic o f the period. A con­
gressional resolution o f June 1911 called on the Bureau to investigate
conditions in Westmoreland County, near Pittsburgh, where a strike
had been going on in the bituminous coal mines for over a year. The
Bureau reported that union efforts at organization had been blocked
by the mine operators for two decades and that the introduction of
machinery had increased the number o f unskilled jobs for which
immigrants were employed.1*2
One o f the most dramatic industrial disputes o f the period began
in the textile mills o f Lawrence, M assachusetts, in January 1912. The
immediate cause o f the strike was a reduction in earnings announced
by the American Woolen Company in response to a new State law
reducing the limit on working hours for women and children from 56
to 54 hours a week. The strike was marked by violent confrontations
between strikers and the police and militia. Although Congress held
hearings, the Bureau conducted its own investigation and prepared a
report, which commented on the strike “started by a few unskilled
non-English-speaking employees” that developed into an organized
action o f 20,000 workers led by the IWW. It noted that wage increases
were obtained.43
Friends o f President Taft objected to giving publicity to the poor
wages and working conditions in the highly protected textile industry
for fear o f exposing the weakness o f the argument that high tariffs
kept American wages high. However, the Senate called for the Bureau
report, and published it as a Senate Document.44
The widespread industrial unrest prompted concerned citizens to
petition Taft to form a commission to make a thorough investigation
o f laboring conditions in the country. In a message to Congress, Taft
supported the idea, explaining that recent investigations had been
“fragmentary, incomplete, and at best only partially representative.”
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The First Hundred Years

The country needed, he said, a comprehensive, nationwide study.
Neill expressed a similar view in congressional testimony, stating that
the Bureau was too small to undertake such a task. But Taft delayed in
making appointments and Woodrow W ilson subsequently named the
members—after Neill had left the government and the Department of
Labor had been established.45

N eill’s mediation activities
Although the President and Congress called upon Neill for many
tasks, mediation o f labor disputes proved to be his major and most
absorbing public work. A s Commissioner, he helped settle some 60
railway controversies, and his involvement in railroad labor relations
extended into World War I, when he served on the first Railway Board
o f Adjustment.
The Erdman Act o f 1898 had provided for a board of mediation
for railroad disputes, with the Commissioner o f Labor as a member,
but the act’s procedures had been asked for only once during Wright’s
tenure. In December 1906, the Southern Pacific Railroad Company
applied to the board when it found itself threatened by a jurisdictional
dispute between two railway unions. Although one o f the unions was
skeptical at first about the board’s role, it viewed the final result
favorably, finding that “Mr. Neill applied him self with such diligence
to the task o f bringing about an adjustment that he was soon familiar
with every detail o f the controversy. He was absolutely fair to all
interested.”46 Within a month, the unions agreed to an arbitration
panel. This success, coupled with the broadening scope of railroad
collective bargaining agreements, spurred use o f the act’s machinery.
Neill noted that, in the beginning, the companies viewed him
with some suspicion since they presumed him to be pro-labor because
of his position. But, he said, “After the first case or two, why, they
became convinced o f my fair-mindedness.” He further explained,
“There is no occasion to charge either side, as a rule, with unfairness.
. . . It is human nature to want to be fair. But it is also human nature to
be self-centered. Therefore, each side has an entirely different concep­
tion o f what is fair.”47
H is colleague on the mediation board, Judge Martin A. Knapp,
chairman o f the Interstate Commerce Commission, stated that the
function o f the mediators “is to aid a friendly settlement. . . . For this
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N eill: Studies for Economic and Social Reform

reason, it has been the conception o f those who have acted in this
capacity that their duty is not to determine what setdement they think
ought to be made, but to find out what setdement can be made.”48
A s originally viewed, the Erdman A ct provided a tool for dealing
with disputes between a single railroad and its operating employees,
but the railroad brotherhoods turned to concerted action, in which
they organized and negotiated with management on a broader regional
basis. This greatly complicated procedures and took considerably
more o f Knapp’s and Neill’s time while threatening a more extensive
public impact if mediation failed.
In addition, legislation was proposed in 1912 to extend coverage
under the Erdman A ct to coal companies in interstate commerce and
to railway shop craft workers. Widening the board's scope would
make further demands on the time o f the Commissioner o f Labor.
Thus, in his report for 1912, the Secretary o f Commerce and
Labor stated that the Commissioner needed some relief and recom­
mended an independent board o f conciliation and arbitration, to be
named by the President and confirmed by the Senate. This reflected
Neill’s concern that, if the Erdman A ct were expanded or if he and
Knapp were to undertake cases not properly falling under the letter of
the act, “It would be absolutely necessary to create some other
machinery.”49 And in testimony before Congress that year, Neill
emphasized that the suggested expansion would require a new mecha­
nism, declaring, “It has been impossible for me to give proper atten­
tion to this work and even begin to perform my legitimate duties in
the Bureau o f Labor. . . . I might add that I would not, under any
conditions, be willing to continue to attempt to carry on the work
under this act and the work o f the Bureau o f Labor both.”50
Early in 1913, under the pressure o f disputes on eastern railroads,
Knapp and Neill worked with a committee from the National Civic
Federation and representatives o f the major railroads and the railroad
brotherhoods to develop a plan for a separate, permanent board of
mediation. Within the year, Congress passed the Newlands Act,
which set up a separate Board o f Mediation and Conciliation. From
that time on, Commissioners o f the Bureau were no longer occupied
with the time-consuming task o f mediating labor disputes.
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Work in industrial safety and health
U nder Neill, the Bureau was a leading force in the movement to
improve industrial safety and health conditions. In 1908, the Bureau
highlighted the lack o f information on industrial accidents by publish'
ing an article by Frederick L. Hoffman, a consulting statistician for the
Prudential Insurance Company, in which he wrote, “Thus far, no
national investigation o f the subject o f industrial accidents has been
made to determine the true accident risk in industry, and the statisti­
cal data extant are more or less fragmentary and o f only approximate
value.”51 To fill some o f the gaps, the Bureau published reports on
railway employee accidents, fatal accidents in coal mining, and acci­
dent experience in other countries.
In addition, Bureau staff developed information on occupational
accidents as part o f larger studies. Lucian W. Chaney, the Bureau's
expert on accident prevention, prepared Employment of Women in the
Metal Trades, a study o f accidents to machine operators, as volume XI
o f the Bureau’s massive study on working women and children. In
1912, the Bureau published Chaney’s Accidents and Accident Preven­
tion as volume IV o f its report on working conditions in the iron and
steel industry. Chaney had taken 2 years to collect the data. This
publication was the first in a continuing annual series on industrial
accidents in iron and steel.
Both Neill and Chaney played important roles in the early years
o f the National Safety Council. A t the First Cooperative Safety C on­
gress in 1912, both were appointed to the Committee on Permanent
Organization, whose function was “to organize and to create a perma­
nent body devoted to the promotion o f safety and to human life.” The
next year, Neill delivered a paper in which he advocated that the
National Council for Industrial Safety become a clearinghouse that
would circulate information about accidents and maintain a roster of
lecturers. In the speech he declared, “I doubt if there is a commercial
nation today, laying any claim to an elementary civilization, that has
been maiming and mangling and killing those who attempt to earn
their bread in the sweat o f their faces with as little apparent regret and
as little thought as we do in the industrial centers o f the United
The Bureau’s interest in industrial hygiene paralleled its concern
with industrial accidents. In 1908, the Bureau published an article on
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N eill: Studies for Economic and Social Reform

the subject by George M. Kober, professor at the Georgetown Univer­
sity Medical School. In the same year, an article by Hoffman, “M ortal­
ity from Consum ption in Dusty Trades," gave impetus to the fight
against tuberculosis.
The Bureau also gave increased attention to the problem o f expo­
sure to industrial poisons. A s late as 1908, the report o f the Lucerne
Conference o f the International Association for Labor Legislation
included the following comment on the state o f protective legislation
in the U nited States: “The protection o f the worker from industrial
poisons and dust has hitherto made little progress in the United
States. No material on the subject was available and the American
Section could do nothing except bring to the notice o f the Govern­
ments o f the various States the petition o f the International Associa­
tion requesting the compulsory notification by doctors o f cases of
industrial poisoning.”53
In 1904, when the president o f the International Association had
written Secretary Cortelyou, head o f the Department o f Commerce
and Labor, about a conference to consider, among other things, the
use o f white phosphorus in the production o f matches, Cortelyou
replied, “I have the honor to state that the Federal Government has
no jurisdiction in such matters. They belong definitely and specifically
to the several States."5^ Subsequently, in September 1906, Germany,
Denmark, France, Italy, Luxembourg, Switzerland, and the Nether­
lands signed a convention on the prohibition o f the use o f white
phosphorus in the manufacture o f matches. In December 1908, the
British Parliament passed the W hite Phosphorus Matches Prohibition
Neill and the Bureau were instrumental in arousing American
concern over phosphorus poisoning. In 1909, the Bureau cooperated
with the American Association for Labor Legislation in a study o f the
effects o f white phosphorus in match production. John B. Andrews,
secretary o f the association, summed up the results: “The investigation
o f 15 o f our 16 match factories during the year 1909 proved conclu­
sively that, in spite o f m odem methods and precautions, phosphorus
poisoning not only occurs in this country but exists in a form so
serious as to warrant legislative action to eliminate the disease."55
The Secretary o f Commerce and Labor wrote Neill, “W hile this
report will no doubt make some stir, I am satisfied that the truth o f
this condition ought to be known, especially since we seem to be
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behind other countries in giving attention to so serious a condition. If
the matter is to be published, kindly urge it as much as possible in
order that it may receive attention as early as conditions admit of.”56
After publication o f the report, legislation was introduced to ban
phosphorus matches from interstate commerce. The campaign sought
to encourage production o f matches by the more modem sesquisulphide process, but this faced three problems: The Diamond
Match Company (also known as the "match trust”) held the patent on
the process; the technology was more expensive; and the match indus­
try was localized and not easily subject to Federal regulation under the
commerce clause. Therefore, supporters o f the legislation argued the
need for a heavy tax to discourage use o f phosphorus by eliminating
the economic incentive. In his 1910 message to Congress, President
Taft recommended such an approach.57
In the meantime, Diamond moved to sell rights to other compa­
nies who wished to use the sesquisulphide process. In January 1911, it
relinquished the patent to three trustees: Neill, E.R.A. Seligman of
Colum bia University, and Jackson Ralston, an attorney for the Ameri­
can Federation o f Labor. O n January 27, the trustees surrendered the
Since the industry could not be forced to adopt the new process,
efforts to tax phosphorus matches continued. Finally, in 1912, C on­
gress passed a law that provided for the tax, ending the phosphorus
poisoning problem so far as matches were concerned, but not in other
The Bureau also focused considerable attention on the problem
o f lead poisoning, beginning with three articles in the Bulletin in July
1911. Based on personal investigation o f 22 factories, Alice Hamilton,
later a professor at Harvard Medical School, wrote on the white-lead
industry in the U nited States. John Andrews wrote on deaths from
industrial lead poisoning reported in New 'fork State in 1909 and
1910. And Sir Thom as Oliver, leader o f the British crusade against the
employment o f women in white-lead processes, contributed an article
on lead poisoning and lead processes in European countries. In 1913,
the Bureau published Hamilton’s tentative findings on the effects of
lead in the painters’ trade.
Neill’s activities included participation both at home and abroad
in efforts to establish occupational health standards. The American
Association for Labor Legislation, o f which he was a member, took
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N eill: Studies for Economic and Social Reform

several steps in the field o f occupational health in addition to the work
on phosphorus, such as organizing the National Commission on
Industrial Hygiene (1908) and calling the First National Conference
on Industrial Diseases (1910). The conference wrote a Memorial to the
President which recommended some greatly expanded national

Industrial education
The Bureau had published studies on industrial education in 1892 and
1902, but in 1908 there was intensified interest from the AFL, which
corresponded with educators, academicians, and social workers on the
subject. In that year, a committee was formed which included Neill,
union officials, and representatives o f public interest groups. A t the
committee’s request, the Bureau conducted another study.
The A FL termed the Bureau’s effort, published in 1910, the
“most comprehensive study o f the whole subject.. . that has ever been
made in the United States.” The study provided support for legislative
proposals by the A FL for Federal aid to the States for industrial
education on the basis that, as Gom pers wrote, “Industrial education,
like academic education, is becoming a public function and. . . should
be paid for by public funds.”60 Legislation did not come until 1917,

Social insurance
The Bureau’s educational work in the field o f social insurance also
began under Wright, who, as early as 1893, had published a study of
compulsory insurance in Germany. U nder Neill, the Bureau contin­
ued to provide information on European and also American practices.
In 1908, a study by Lindley D. Clark reported on U .S. employers’
legal liability for injuries to their employees, and the Bureau’s annual
report for that year consisted of a study o f workmen’s insurance and
benefit funds in the United States. A companion report published in
1909 dealt with workmen’s insurance and compensation systems in
It was in the field of workmen’s compensation that the Bureau
exercised, for 8 years, a statutory administrative function. In May
1908, Congress passed a law providing compensation for injuries to
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certain artisans and laborers employed by the Federal Government,
the first workmen’s compensation act in the United States. Adminis­
tration o f the law was assigned to the Department o f Commerce and
Labor, and the Secretary turned over most of these duties to the
Bureau, including the examination and approval o f claims. The cover­
age o f the act was later widened so that by 1913 the compensation
system covered about 95,000 civilian government employees. The
Bureau retained this responsibility until 1916, when Congress estab­
lished the Federal Employees* Compensation Board.
A sidelight on the compensation system the Bureau administered
is provided by a 1913 magazine article by a former Bureau employee.
He noted, first, that the Government treated its employees badly:
“The economic and social value o f the welfare work o f large corpora­
tions need not be exaggerated, but it is a sad fact that the Federal
Government has done less o f it (outside the Isthmian Canal) than
many o f the soulless corporations.” Second, he noted that, although
the Federal act was the first compensation law in this country, several
States had subsequently enacted programs that were far superior.
Further, he charged that the Bureau had done little to implement
The Federal Government’s efforts to establish a pension system
for its employees led to several Bureau studies. In examining various
proposals, the Senate asked the Bureau for information on domestic
and foreign retirement plans. In response, the Bureau prepared a
study o f 219 municipal retirement systems and 22 railroad programs.
The Bureau also commissioned a report by an outside expert on civil
service retirement programs in Great Britain, New Zealand, and Aus­

The study on working women and children
During 1907, with much encouragement from the AFL and welfare
reform organizations, Neill and the Bureau embarked on a massive
study o f the working conditions o f women and children. The investi­
gation joined two campaigns, one for limitation o f child labor and the
other to improve the conditions o f the increasing number of working
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Neill: Studies for Economic and Social Reform

In his annual messages for 1904 and 1905, Roosevelt had pressed
for such a study, with special emphasis on child labor and its regular
tion by the States.
Social reformers from Chicago pushed for an investigation of
women’s working conditions, and Mary McDowell and Jane Addams
met with Roosevelt in 1905 to ask for a study. Several women’s
organizations took up the cause and drew up a proposed bill. In
January 1906, Neill wrote to Sophonisba Breckinridge o f Chicago,
“The President is very much in earnest in this matter and has said to
me since you were here that he is quite anxious to do anything he can
to help secure the investigation.”62
In the appropriations hearings on the study, the Commissioner
stated, “If there were conditions o f prime importance affecting the
family life and morals and citizenship, due to industrial conditions, the
national government has just as much interest in finding that out as it
has in finding out what is the total amount in savings banks or what is
the general increase o f street railways, or nine hundred and ninetynine other things for which large sums o f money are expended in the
Census. Here are matters. . . o f tremendous sociological impor­
The movement toward the study proceeded at the same time that
proposals were introduced in Congress to limit child labor. A bill
introduced by Senator Albert J. Beveridge prohibited the interstate
transportation o f the products o f factories or mines employing chil­
dren under 14 years o f age. A bill proposed by Senator Henry C.
Lodge applied only to the District o f Columbia.
Neill, who had been campaigning for a child labor law in the
District, wrote to the President, arguing; that, “If Congress has the
power to pass legislation o f this kind, some bill embodying the princi­
ple o f the Lodge or the Beveridge Bill should be passed. . . . Child
labor is indefensible from any view point whatever, and is a blot on
the civilization that tolerates it.” Either bill, he explained, “would serve
both to protect the markets o f any State from being made the dump­
ing ground for the products o f child labor in other less advanced
States, and would assure to the manufacturers o f more progressive
States a protection against the competition o f child labor States in
outside m arkets.”64 Neither bill won committee approval. However,
Congress finally passed a bill applying only to the District o f Columbia
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The First Hundred Years

which prohibited the employment o f youth under 16, with some
exceptions. Roosevelt signed the limited measure in May 1908.
There was even opposition to the conduct o f a study. Congres­
sional opponents questioned whether the national government had
the authority to investigate, contending that Congress lacked author­
ity to legislate on the subject.65
Another set o f arguments was directed at limiting the scope of
the study. Neill was asked, MIs not all this information that you can
gather already to be had right here in the Census Bureau—the num­
ber o f women and children employed and the average wages they
receive per annum?”66
Supporters o f the measure responded that the Census Bureau
could provide some numbers but not the "thorough investigation as to
the effects o f the employment o f women and children upon their
health and upon the social conditions o f the people.”67
In January 1907, Congress directed the Secretary o f Commerce
and Labor to conduct the investigation, later stipulating that the Cen­
sus Bureau should do the work. With continuing uncertainty over the
status and conduct o f the investigation, the National Civic Federation
established a commission o f its own, made up o f representatives of
manufacturers and the AFL, to investigate the extent and menace of
child labor, expressing concern that "it would be most unfortunate to
have the result o f the investigation be a lot o f misleading figures and
exaggerated statements o f conditions which would simply serve as
socialist propaganda.”68
Roosevelt wrote to Secretary Straus that the Bureau o f Labor
should have the work: “I cannot too strongly state that in my judg­
ment the investigation will be shorn o f a very large part o f the good
results we have a right to expect from it, if it is not confided to the
Bureau o f Labor.”69 Straus then wrote, “Both the Director o f the
Census and the Commissioner o f Labor agree with me thoroughly”
that the investigation should be carried out by the Bureau o f Labor. In
the end, the Bureau o f Labor was permitted to conduct the study.70
For each o f two consecutive years, the Bureau received $150,000 for
the investigation.
Eager to have the cooperation o f employers, Neill assured the
National Association o f Manufacturers, as he had Congress, that there
were no preconceived notions guiding the conduct o f the study and
that its purpose was solely to gather facts. The study would take into
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Neill: Studies for Economic and Social Reform

account the conditions and practices o f the “best class o f manufactur­
ers” and avoid the misrepresentation that would result from describing only the worst conditions. “There is no desire to discover the
harrowing or unearth the sensational---- * “W hen the important facts
have all been brought out, there will be found to be evils to be
corrected,” Neill went on to say. “I believe that then it will be found
that the members o f this association are just as ready as any body of
men in the country to see that justice is done.”71
The A FL and representatives o f welfare organizations offered
their assistance in the investigation, and the National Child Labor
Committee provided the Bureau with the material it had collected
over a period o f 3 years. A s the investigation proceeded, A FL repre­
sentatives met with Neill to suggest setting up a division in the Bureau
to deal specifically with the conditions o f working women and chil­
The Bureau encountered many problems in the conduct o f the
study. Although Bureau agents took great care to verify the ages of
children under 16, as reported by children and mill officers, there
were difficulties in obtaining age information in the southern mills,
and frequently, it was reported, working children were hidden from
Bureau agents.73 In addition, there were complaints by mill operators
about the time required to respond to the questions o f the agents.
N eill's designation o f a southerner to conduct the study o f the
textile mills was challenged very early by the study’s supporters.
McDowell wrote Neill, “I saw M iss Addams. . . and from her learned
that the cotton industry had been assigned to a southerner. . . . I did
hope so much that you were going to be free to give a body o f facts
that would stand the test o f criticism, but already I hear rumors that
the cotton industry investigation is discredited. This may be unfair,
but natural.”74 Then, when the study finally was published, Neill was
attacked from the other side as having slandered the South.
Work on the study began in 1907 and continued through 1909.
The inquiry was substantially confined to States east o f the M issis­
sippi, partly because the social and industrial problems dealt with were
found mainly in the East, and partly because o f the limitations o f time
and money. One aspect o f the study dealt with employment o f women
and children in the four industries in which they made up a significant
proportion o f the work force—cotton, glass, men’s readymade gar­
ments, and silk—and also with employment o f women in stores and
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factories, in the metal trades, and in laundries. Two studies dealt with
child labor problems, focusing on the reasons for leaving school and
on the relationship between employment and juvenile delinquency.
Three studies gave historical accounts o f child labor legislation,
women in industry, and trade unionism among women. Three reports
dealt with health questions: Infant mortality in Fall River, causes of
death among cotton-mill operatives, and hookworm disease, particu­
larly in the southern cotton-mill communities. The remaining studies
included a survey o f family budgets o f cotton-mill workers, the con­
nection between occupation and criminality among women, and State
enforcement o f labor laws and factory inspection laws. In all, 19
volumes o f studies were published.
Among the leading findings o f this landmark report was the
disparity between the North and the South in the employment of
children. In the textile mills o f the South, where the legal age limit
was 12, there were many children at work; there were far fewer in
New England. However, in Pennsylvania, although the age limit was
16, enforcement was lax, and a large number o f children were at work
in the silk mills.
The study showed that, in a substantial number o f cases, chil­
dren’s earnings were essential to meet pressing necessity. But in many
other cases, both in the South and elsewhere, families would not have
suffered hardship if child labor were forbidden. The report concluded
that, to a considerable extent, child labor seemed to be due “to indif­
ference or active hostility to the schools on the part o f both parents
and children.**75
Another finding concerned the growing substitution o f women
for men in industry. The report brought out the paradox that “a
process o f substitution has been going on by which men have been
gradually taking the leading role in industries formerly carried on
chiefly in the home and considered distinctly feminine, such as spin­
ning and weaving and garment making and knitting. A s the women
have been more or less dispossessed in their specialities, they have
either gone into work formerly considered men’s, such as the printing
trade, or entered newly established industries which had not been
definitely taken over by either sex. In both cases they are usually
found doing the least skilled or poorest paid work.**76
Among the many pioneering aspects o f the study was the devel­
opment o f new techniques for analyzing economic and social phenom­
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ena. The first standard budgets prepared by the Bureau were
developed for the purpose o f evaluating the living conditions o f the
cotton-mill workers in Fall River and the South in 1908-09. Actual
weekly earnings and expenditures for a year were obtained for repre­
sentative cotton-mill families. From these the Bureau prepared stan­
dard budgets for a “fair standard o f living,” including some allowance
for comfort, and a “minimum standard o f living o f bare essentials,” on
which families were living and apparently maintaining physical effi­
Commissioner Neill noted: “These standards, it should be
emphasized, are the standards found to be actually prevailing among
cotton-mill families o f the several communities studied, and are not
standards fixed by the judgment either o f the investigators or o f the
Bureau o f Labor.”77
The diet o f the Federal prison in Atlanta was compared with the
expenditures for food o f the cotton-mill families. The comparison
indicated that—for both Fall River and southern families—at least half
had expenditures at a standard less than the prison diet.78
The study results influenced the establishment o f the Children’s
Bureau, achieved in 1912 after several years o f effort by supporters.
Neill had favored its establishment as a separate agency rather than
have his Bureau assume the added responsibilities. The intensive stud­
ies required o f a Children’s Bureau would not duplicate the work of
the Bureau o f Labor, he said.
Pressure also developed to make special provision for women’s
studies. The AFL, for example, called for a special unit in the Bureau
of Labor—to be headed by a woman—that would conduct studies
relating to the condition o f women in the U nited States. The Bureau
established such a section in 1911 under the direction o f Marie L.
Obenauer, who published a series o f studies on hours and earnings of
women in selected industries in Chicago, the District o f Columbia,
Maryland, California, and W isconsin.

Controversy over the study findings
In 1912, during congressional debate on the establishment o f the
Children’s Bureau, southern Senators charged that the study on
women and children presented an unfair picture o f southern condi­
tions. In addition, a former Bureau agent charged that Neill had
suppressed his survey o f conditions in southern mills. The agent’s
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report, which he later published on his own, held that conditions
under industrialization, even if not very good, represented an
improvement over the conditions in the rural areas from which the
mill workers had migrated.79
Although the Bureau had not published the agent’s study, Sena­
tor Lee S. Overman o f North Carolina referred to sections o f it as
presenting an “obscene and. . . scandalous” picture o f southern rural
conditions. A month later, the Senator criticized as “odious” the
Bureau’s report on family budgets o f cotton-mill workers. A Washing­
ton newspaper had reported die study under the headline, “Southern
Mills Bad as Prisons (Bureau o f Labor Report)—Families ill fed, poorly
clad, and ignored by every class o f society—children all drudges.”80
Neill responded to these criticisms, both as they occurred and
later. To charges that he had been unfair to the South, Neill replied, “I
designedly placed this under charge o f special agent Walter B. Palmer,
him self bom , reared, and educated in the South and known to me to
be southern in every respect.” Furthermore, Neill said, he had
directed that the southerners on the project staff were to be assigned
to the cotton textile study.
The Commissioner also pointed out that the study covered virtu­
ally all the best mills as well as the worst, stating, “I desired to be able
to point out that good conditions could be maintained on a commer­
cial and practical basis by the fact that they did exist in mills that were
being profitably conducted.” He stated further that he had been so
anxious to avoid any appearance o f focusing attention on the South
that he had hoped to present the data by State, without dividing them
by region, but that clear differences between the northern and south­
ern States in age limits, working hours, and the ethnic composition of
the work force required presentation by region.81
Neill summed up: The agents “were not sent south to write up
sensational material any more than they were sent north to do s o . . . .
If the results were sensational, it was due to the facts and not to any
desire on the part o f the Bureau to make them sensational.”82
There was much support for the conduct and findings o f the
investigation. In the Senate, William E. Borah o f Idaho, sponsor o f the
Children’s Bureau proposal, contested Overman: “But the fact
remains that a vast amount o f the facts were based upon real investiga­
tions and brought forth a number o f things which were startling to
the country. I do not know whether there are things in them that are
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untrue or not; but I know from investigations o f my own, which have
resulted since I took charge of this measure, a great many of those
things reported to be true are true.”83
The Survey commented on the first publications, “No greater
service could be done the various movements against child labor,
against the night employment o f women, against unsanitary shop
conditions and for higher wages, better hours, more conserving meth­
ods o f work, than to secure a wide distribution and reading o f these
encyclopedic books.”84
Warren M. Persons, in the Quarterly Journal of Economics,
wrote, “The first three volumes issued by the Bureau o f Labor on
Woman and Child Wage-Earners in the United States set a very high
standard of excellence for the series. . . . The investigations seem to
have been as careful as they were extensive.”85
Gompers, in his report to the 1911 A FL convention, declared,
“The results o f this investigation have fully justified the action o f the
American Federation of Labor in behalf o f such an inquiry being
The National Child Labor Committee also took some pride of
sponsorship: “We may fairly claim a large share o f responsibility. . . .
We promoted the bill which secured the appropriation for this investi­
gation and have placed all our available information at the disposal of
the U nited States Bureau o f Labor.”87
But criticism of Neill’s conduct o f the study persisted and reap­
peared when President Taft asked Congress to reconfirm Neill as
Commissioner in 1913.

The Bureau’s statistical work
Neill continually sought to improve the quality o f the Bureau’s statisti­
cal work. One of his first activities upon becoming Commissioner was
to visit the Bureau’s agents in the field. He had heard, he said, “serious
charges affecting the integrity” o f their work, and reports o f “a large
degree of loafing and considerable drinking.” “I made a trip through
the country visiting practically every agent in the field and made
inquiries in proper quarters concerning the character o f their work.”88
Collection of data on prices and wages was the primary activity of
the field agents; for this, it was essential to be assured o f the represen­
tativeness of the stores selected for obtaining prices and o f the estab­
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


The First Hundred Years

lishments selected for obtaining wages. The stores were to be those
patronized by workers. In his trips to the field, Neill visited many
stores to be sure the selection had been the proper one.
A s a check on the validity o f the agents' work, Neill decided to
switch the territories and industries to which they were assigned. The
agents protested that this would undermine the value o f the personal
relationships they had established with store proprietors and o f their
familiarity with the characteristics o f the industry. Neill felt that cer­
tainty o f the quality o f the primary material collected overshadowed
these considerations, and he went ahead with the reassignments.
Neill sought to take the Bureau’s price and wage reports out of
the climate o f political campaigns. These reports had been published
in alternate years, a pattern which had placed them “at the beginning
o f a political campaign and. . . a subject o f discussion in the campaign.
This led to attacks upon the report and the charge that it was pre­
pared for political purposes, and attempts were made to discredit the
integrity o f the w ork.” He decided to change the time o f publication
to nonelection years. “In this way we felt that it received consideration
as a serious scientific study and would not be subject to the charge of
being a political document."89
In 1908, Neill undertook an extensive revision and reorganization
o f the Bureau’s statistical work. He halted the collection o f data on
retail prices and wages, partly because o f the heavy demands on the
Bureau’s resources arising from the study on women and children, but
also because he felt there were serious shortcomings in the concepts
and techniques. Collection o f retail price data was resumed in 1911
and wage data in 1912; information for the missing years was gathered
retroactively. In the interim, Fred C . Croxton developed new tech­
niques for data collection and supervised the reorganization of the
field staff. 90
W hen retail price collection was resumed, the new series covered
39 cities in 32 States, generally the cities with the largest population in
each region, representing two-fifths o f the urban population and onefifth o f the total population. One innovation was the arrangement
whereby retail merchants furnished price information by mail directly
to the Bureau each month. Retail dealers selected were those selling
largely to the families o f American, English, Irish, German, and Scan­
dinavian wage earners. Neighborhood stores predominated; few
downtown stores were included, no cut-rate stores were priced, and
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


N eill: Studies for Economic and Social Reform

chain stores were included only where they were so numerous as to be
an important factor in the city’s trade. The grade o f articles quoted
was that sold in each city in the stores patronized by wage earners.
The Bureau cautioned that it had not “attempted to quote prices
for an article o f identical grade throughout the 39 cities. For almost
every article, this would be absolutely impossible, as the grade varies
not only from city to city but also from firm to firm within the same
city, and the grade even varies to some extent from month to month
within the same store.”91
The Bureau presented “Relative Retail Prices o f Food” for the 15
leading food items, representing approximately two-thirds o f the
expenditure for food by the average workingman’s family. The rela­
tives were presented in two forms—a simple average o f the relative
prices for the 15 items, and as indexes weighted according to the
workingmen’s expenditure patterns in 1901.
A s Neill summarized the results o f the reorganization o f retail
price collection, the information was secured from “a larger number of
stores, is therefore more representative, is submitted monthly, and is
more accurate, and what is more the collection o f this field data from a
large number o f stores is now carried on at probably one-third or
possibly one-fourth the cost o f the former work.”92
Regular publication o f wage data was not resumed until after
Neill left office. But in March 1913 he described the new data collec­
tion system. One o f the changes was to have the agents specialize in
certain industries, whereas formerly they had covered many. Also,
they were to become more familiar with the nature o f the work in the
various occupations. “U nder the new system which we devised, the
agents are required to make a careful study o f systems and occupations
in the industries to which they were assigned.” Neill went on to point
out, “The importance o f this is suggested by the fact that.. . methods
o f production in the U nited States frequently change, so that, while
the name remains, the real character o f the occupation has undergone
radical change, and this fact should be reflected in the reports on these
The series on industry wages and hours launched in 1913
reflected the improvements developed under Neill, including the
application o f statistical techniques for weighting and for constructing
indexes. Further, successive reports on individual industries were
made more comparable through provision o f data for identical estab­
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


The First Hundred Years

lishments and well-defined occupations, with weights based on the
number o f workers at each rate. Similarly, the work on union scales of
wages in seven industries was systematized. The studies covered the
cities included in the Bureau's survey o f food prices, with indexes for
wages and hours derived by weighting each city by the number of
union employees in the city.
W holesale price collection, begun under Wright in 1902, was
maintained throughout Neill’s term. The Bureau priced about 250
articles on an annual basis, generally in the New ’fork market. A t this
time the wholesale index was not weighted, in the technical sense.
Rather, the Bureau simply priced aa large number o f representative
staple articles, selected in such a manner as to make them to a large
extent weight themselves." The quotations were collected partly from
the standard trade journals and partly from different firms, or from
chambers o f commerce, by correspondence. The same source was
used year after year so as to maintain the same standard.
Strikes and Lockouts was published as the Bureau’s 1907 annual
report. It provided data for the 1901-05 period on the number o f
employees involved in each strike, the duration o f the strike, and the
cause. It also indicated how the settlement was reached—whether by
joint agreement or arbitration—and included a summary o f the pre­
ceding 25 years. A s with price and wage data, collection o f strike
statistics was suspended in 1908, and no further information on
strikes was collected until 1914.
There were several efforts during this period to reorganize and
coordinate statistical work on a broader scale, both within the Depart­
ment o f Commerce and Labor and throughout the Federal establish­
ment. In connection with one such effort—the Interdepartmental
Statistical Committee set up by executive order in 1908—Neill
pointed out in answer to the committee’s survey that, within the same
Department, both the Bureau o f Labor and the Bureau o f Statistics
published wholesale prices—even o f the same commodities. He con­
cluded, “The subject o f wholesale prices, however, cannot be classed
within the province o f the Bureau o f Labor; logically, it should be
transferred to the Bureau o f Statistics, provided a sufficient force be
given that Bureau to keep this annual investigation at its present
standard, or better, to extend and improve it."94
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Neill: Studies for Economic and Social Reform

The committee took no action on Neill’s suggestion. Nor did
other attempts to coordinate the government’s statistical work come
to fruition during Neill’s tenure.

Neill continued most o f the top leadership from Wright’s administra­
tion, including C hief Clerk G.W.W. Hanger, Charles Verrill, and
Gustavus Weber. Ethelbert Stewart continued as one of the principal
members of the field staff.
Neill had to deal with several personnel problems during his
tenure. No retirement system was yet in force for Federal workers,
and the Bureau found itself with a large number of elderly employees.
Neill explained, “The Bureau has been, and still is, hampered in its
work by having a number o f employees who have been long in the
service and reached an age when their usefulness in the work of the
Bureau is considerably impaired.”95 A t the same time, the Bureau lost
some of its best staff members because o f low salaries.
In 1908, in line with a govemmentwide directive to improve
efficiency, the Bureau moved to put its personnel system on a merit
basis and instituted efficiency ratings for its employees. O n the basis of
these, Neill made a number o f promotions and demotions, which led
some employees to charge him with unfairness and discrimination.
The Secretary o f Commerce and Labor found the charges to be
groundless, but they came up again 5 years later at Neill’s reconfirma­
tion hearing.96
Sufficient funding was a chronic problem. The many special stud­
ies the President and Congress called for, along with the reluctance of
Congress to provide additional funds, strained the Bureau’s resources.
Regular appropriations remained at close to the same level during
Neill’s 8 years; extra funds were granted only for the largest studies.
(See table 2.) As noted earlier, Neill suspended some o f the Bureau’s
regular data collection programs partly because o f the demands of
other, more pressing work.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


The First Hundred Years

Table 2.

Appropriations for Bureau o f Labor, 1906-13
(in thousands)

F iscal year ended
Jun e 30 —






'Includes salarie», per diem and etc., library, and medical examinations, but
not allocations for printing and binding.
in c lu d e s $150,000 for d ie study on working women and children.
^Includes a deficiency appropriation o f $20,000 for special work.
^Includes $100,000 for d ie Industrial Commission.
SOURCES: National Archives Record G roup 257, Bureau o f Labor Statistics,
Appropriations Ledger, 1887-1903. Legislative, Executive, and Judicial

The Bureau revised its publications program at about the time it
introduced its revised price and wage series. Neill had already halted
publication o f the voluminous annual and special reports, relying on
the bimonthly Bulletin to present more timely information. Since
1895, the Bulletin had presented original work, digests of State
reports, summaries and digests o f foreign labor conditions and statist^
cal papers, and summaries o f current legislation and court decisions.
U nder the new plan, the Bureau produced the Bulletin at irregular
intervals, with each issue devoted to one o f nine subject areas.

International activities
Neill continued Wright’s interest and participation in international
activities. In 1910, he served as the delegate o f the U .S. Government
to the Paris International Conference on Unemployment and as a
delegate o f the American Association for Labor Legislation to the
Lugano Conference o f the International Association. In that year as
well, the annual U .S. appropriation for the unofficial International
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


Neill: Studies for Economic and Social Reform

Labor Office, carried in the Bureau budget, was increased from $200
to $1,000.
In 1912, Neill presented a paper at the International Conference
on Unemployment. The same year, President Taft appointed him a
government representative to the Fifth International Congress of
Chambers o f Commerce and Commercial and Industrial Associations.

Neill’s second term as Commissioner expired on Feb. 1, 1913, in the
midst o f the transition from the Taft to the W ilson administration.
Taft had sent Neill’s name to the Senate for reconfirmation in January,
but Democratic capture o f the W hite House and Congress had
prompted partisan debate over all Taft appointments. The influence of
southern Democrats in the Senate created an additional obstacle for
Neill, as his study o f working conditions for women and children in
the South remained a sore point.
O n March 4, his last day in office, Taft reluctantly signed the bill
creating the new Department o f Labor. O n March 8, President W ilson
sent Neill’s nomination forward. With reconfirmation before the Senate, two former Bureau employees submitted “Summary o f Charges
Preferred Against Charles P. Neill” in the name o f “a large majority of
the employees o f the Bureau o f Labor (irrespective o f party affilia­
tion).” They called for a “thorough and impartial investigation by the
U .S. Senate,” explaining that “such an investigation will show extrava­
gance, maladministration, woeful waste o f public funds, lack o f execu­
tive ability, evasion o f the Civil Service law, cruelty and injustice to
the employees o f said Bureau—especially towards Democrats and old
A t about the same time, another former employee wrote to the
new Secretary o f Labor, William B. Wilson, charging that the previous
Secretary had not satisfactorily answered his earlier allegations against
Neill. The protestor concluded, “Neill has been the most daringly
incompetent public official that has ever been foisted upon an unsus­
pecting labor contingent or an ambitious President.”98
W hen President W ilson sent die nomination forward in March,
Senator Benjamin R. Tillman o f South Carolina wrote the Secretary
that his appointment o f Neill “would be a very unwise one to make,”
citing Neill’s alleged bias against the South. Overman joined Tillman
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


The First Hundred Years

in opposition. To this allegation, they added die charge that Neill had
demoted or fired Democrats and replaced them with R epublicans."
A t Neill’s insistence, Secretary W ilson launched a full investiga­
tion. A. Warner Parker, Law Officer o f the Bureau o f Immigration,
conducted the inquiry, holding hearings and making independent
studies. The complainants, along with Neill and the supervisory staff
o f the Bureau, testified fully.
The investigation again completely absolved Neill. Parker found
no basis for the charge o f unfairness to the South. Nor did he find
political partisanship in the staff demotions, pointing out that no
“cruelty and injustice” had been involved but that Neill had carried
out a plan under a Presidential Order. Further, Parker stated that the
Bureau had devoted more time and thought to carrying out the reclas­
sification than was generally true in government
The charge o f maladministration had specified that investigations
had been started “at great expense and then abandoned.” One o f the
studies referred to was a report on Negroes in Lowndes County,
Alabama, by W.E.B. Du Bois. Parker stated that the project had not
been abandoned and that Neill viewed the work as “a report o f great
value.” However, Parker stated, it “contained many o f Professor Du
Bois’ personal opinions and also other matter not suitable for a gov­
ernment publication. . . . Press o f other work in the Bureau has
prevented either Dr. Neill or his chief editor from reviewing the work
and editing out the objectionable parts.”
A s to charges that Neill had been away from his office an exces­
sive amount o f time, Parker found them exaggerated, noting that
Neill’s absence arose from the statutory procedures for railroad media­
tion under the Erdman Act. Further, in regard to Neill’s administra­
tion o f the Bureau, Parker wrote, “I was in a position to witness his
remarkable familiarity with details, evidenced by the manner in which
he could promptly respond to each and every call upon him for
records, data, and information.”
Thus, Parker concluded, “In closing this report, the evidence
accompanying which I feel fully vindicates Dr. Neill o f every charge
preferred directly or impliedly in the papers turned over to me, I wish
to add that Dr. Neill welcomed the investigation.”100
Neill received many expressions o f support during the reconfir­
mation proceedings. In January, the Executive Council o f the AFL
resolved that “Hon. Chas. P. Neill has served faithfully and ably in the
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


Neill: Studies for Economic and Social Reform

capacity as Commissioner o f Labor, and that his reappointment be
strongly urged.” The railway brotherhoods also urged Neill’s confir­
The Washington Times declared, “To defeat Dr. Neill’s confirma­
tion now would be equivalent to telling the sweat shop employers of
the country that they have nothing to fear.”102 Alexander J. McKelway
o f the National Child Labor Committee wired the President: “Failure
to confirm Neill would alienate the countless friends o f the reform of
child labor and woman labor abuses in the nation.”103
Neill also received support because o f his activities in railroad
mediation under the Erdman Act, especially because his commission
had expired in the middle of mediation proceedings involving the
eastern roads. Before leaving office, Taft had written Senator Borah,
pointing out that since February 1 Neill had been powerless to per­
form his Erdman functions. The President concluded, “The failure to
confirm him may very well carry responsibility for serious conse­
quences.”104 Ralph M. Easley o f the National Civic Federation tele­
graphed Secretary Wilson: “The Federation never makes political
recommendations but it felt that the public exigencies required the
reappointment of Dr. Neill. His experience and tact in handling the
railroad problems is required at the present time as never before.”105
Not all o f Neill’s opposition came from the South. In a letter to
President W ilson, a M assachusetts manufacturer wrote, “He has evi­
dently felt it necessary to suppress all reports that do not agree with
his preconceived ideas concerning labor conditions.”106
President W ilson fought for his nominee. O n March 21, he wrote
Tillman, apparently basing his comments on Parker’s preliminary
report. “W hatever mistakes Dr. Neill may have made in judgment, he
was certainly not guilty o f the charges preferred against him.” Wilson
continued, “Circumstances have arisen which make it extremely desir­
able that I would appoint Dr. Neill in recess in order to make use of
his services in arbitrating a pending controversy between the railroad
switchmen and the 20 odd railroads that center in Chicago.” The next
day, the President made the appointment.107
Tillman had already dropped serious opposition, awaiting only a
face-to-face meeting with the Commissioner to confirm his new posi­
tion. He had “learned the kind of work he is doing and the kind of
people who are attacking him,” Tillman said. Also, the Senator
explained somewhat enigmatically, “I learned this morning that he was
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


The First Hundred Years

bom in Texas and is southern to the backbone in his prejudices and
feelings.”108 O n May 1, the Senate voted to consent to the appoint­

Two weeks after his reconiirmation, however, Neill tendered his resig­
nation and took a position with the American Smelting and Refining
Company to organize and conduct their labor department. In his
letters o f resignation to the President and the Secretary, Neill wrote
that it was uimpossible for me to make the financial sacrifice required
to continue in the Government.” He took the step, he said, “with
extreme regret and only because my personal affairs at this time
require it.”109
Secretary W ilson received the letter with “a deep sense o f loss.”
He commented, “^tbur wide experience and sound judgment o f indus­
trial affairs would have been o f great value to me in organizing the
Department o f Labor and directing its initial efforts in the proper
It was a testimonial to the nonpartisan character o f the work of
the Commissioner and the Bureau that, particularly in the face o f the
charges, the new Democratic administration was prepared to have
Neill continue his service. Although the Bureau assumed its role in
the new Department o f Labor without his leadership, in many ways
Neill had prepared it for its new functions.

Later years
Neill’s career following his resignation was a full one, including many
activities he had begun as Commissioner. Among these were media­
tion in the coal and railroad industries and work on the Railway Board
o f Adjustment.
Neill’s work at the American Smelting and Refining Company
has been described in the company’s history: “Following the longestablished Guggenheim policy o f engaging the best qualified experts,
C.P. Neill, who had been Labor Commissioner under the Theodore
Roosevelt, Taft, and W ilson administrations, was engaged to direct the
welfare and safety work. He was made chairman o f the Labor Com ­
mittee with Franklin Guiterman and William Loeb, Jr., as associ­
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


N eill: Studies for Economic and Social Reform

ates.”111 Neill resigned from the company in 1915 to become manager
o f the Bureau of Information of the Southeastern Railways, a post he
held until his retirement in 1939.
Neill remained active in National Civic Federation projects
directed at labor-management cooperation, mediation, and arbitration.
W hen the Federation undertook a survey o f industrial and social
conditions, it named Neill as a member o f both the Committee on
Plan and Scope and the Child Labor Committee.112 During the rail­
road and coal strikes o f 1922, he was involved in Federation activities
to bring the parties together. In October 1922, as part o f the settle­
ment o f the coal strike, President Harding appointed Neill to a com­
mission to investigate both the bituminous and anthracite industries
and report to Congress.113
Neill continued his work as umpire for the Anthracite Board of
Conciliation until 1928. A t the 50th anniversary dinner of the Board,
J.B. Warriner, of the Lehigh Navigation Coal Company and long-time
operator member o f the Board, recalled, “Charles P. Neill, the first
long-term umpire, was a learned and scholarly man, keen and able,
broad minded and liberal. He stands very high in my mind.”114
Neill also continued to be active in civic and social welfare work,
particularly concerning women and children. In January 1920, the
Supreme Court of the District o f Columbia named him to the Board
o f Education for a term expiring June 30, 1921.115 In November 1921,
when the National Council o f Catholic Women opened the National
Catholic School o f Social Service in Washington, a graduate school
affiliated with Catholic University, Neill became its first director. Dur­
ing the 1920’s, Neill also served as a member o f the Department of
Social Action of the National Catholic Welfare Council.116
Charles Patrick Neill died in October 1942.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


Chapter IV.

Royal Meeker:
Statistics in Recession
and Wartime


oyal Meeker, the new Commissioner o f Labor Statistics,
faced a different situation in August 1913 from that o f his
predecessors. The Bureau o f Labor Statistics was now part
o f the newly established Cabinet-level Department of
Labor. The Secretary o f Labor, rather than the Commissioner, was
labor’s primary point o f contact. Thus, Meeker’s dealings with organized labor were more circumscribed than was the case for Neill or
The influences on Meeker and the Bureau came from a variety of
sources. In the early years, concern with unemployment in a deepen­
ing recession led the Bureau to begin studies on the subject and, in
1916, to start a regular series o f reports on industrial employment.
The Bureau also encouraged the activities o f State and municipal
public employment offices and the efforts o f Secretary o f Labor Wil­
liam B. W ilson to establish a national employment service.
U pon U .S. entry into the war in April 1917, government pro­
grams for increasing production, mobilizing the labor force, maintain­
ing peaceful labor-management relations, and stabilizing prices and
wages influenced the work o f the Bureau. With statistics now used in
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


Meeker: Statistics in Recession and W artime

planning war programs, the Bureau was called upon to expand its
conceptual and technical work in the fields o f prices and wages. This
led notably to the development o f a cost-of-living index. The necessary resources were provided by Presidential allocations from special
war funds.
Meeker and the Bureau cooperated effectively with the War
Industries Board's Central Bureau o f Planning and Statistics, estab­
lished to monitor and coordinate the mushrooming statistical activities
o f the war agencies.
The demands on the Bureau continued after the armistice, partic­
ularly for information on living costs. But the special funding from the
President was now terminated, and the Bureau’s budget was cut as
Congress sought to return expenditures to “normal’’ following the
war emergency.
W hen Meeker resigned in 1920, the Bureau had established a
substantial place for itself as a provider o f widely utilized economic
data and had become a prototype o f the m odem statistical agency.

The third Commissioner
Royal M eeker was bom in 1873 in Susquehanna County, Penn­
sylvania. A s a young man, Meeker worked “on the farms o f Penn­
sylvania and Iowa, in the lumber woods o f Pennsylvania, in the
foundries, machine shops, and factories, and at casual employments in
several States”—all apparently before his graduation from Iowa State
College in 1898.1 He moved on to Columbia University as a graduate
student under E.R.A. Seligman from 1899 to 1903, then spent a year
at the University o f Leipzig before returning to his native Penn­
sylvania as a professor o f history, political science, and economics at
U rsinus College during 1904 and 1905. He published his dissertation,
“History and Theory o f Shipping Subsidies,” in 1905 and received his
Ph.D. from Colum bia the following year.
M eeker’s association with Woodrow W ilson began in 1905, when
he applied to W ilson, then president o f Princeton, for a position as
preceptor in economics. He obtained the appointment and taught,
among other subjects, money and banking and transportation. He was
named assistant professor in 1908.
He was also associated with W ilson in charitable and welfare
activities. Meeker served on the executive committee o f the New
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


The First Hundred Years

Jersey Conference o f Charities and Correction while W ilson served as
a vice president. Also, he served on the Board o f Managers o f the New
Jersey State Reformatory for Women while W ilson was Governor of
New Jersey.2
After the election o f 1912, Meeker offered his services to the
President-elect, suggesting, among other things, a survey o f the eco­
nomic community on the banking reform issue. In this connection, he
helped prepare a questionnaire and compiled the results for Wilson.
In March 1913, the new President wrote Meeker of the findings,
“They are most useful to me, and I warmly appreciate all the trouble
you have taken in getting this material together.”3
In June 1913, Secretary o f Labor W ilson recommended Meeker
to the President for the post o f Commissioner of Labor Statistics. The
President urged his acceptance: “I hope with all my heart we shall see
you here a great deal.”"* U pon M eeker’s nomination, The New York
Times described him as “a close friend o f President W ilson,” who “has
given much attention to labor problems.” The Times also reported
that he was frequently consulted by “W ilson Administration leaders
on the currency question.” The reference to labor problems may have
been an overstatement, for Meeker had said little on the subject
before his appointment.5
W hen offered the position, Meeker went to New York to talk
with his predecessor, Charles P. Neill. Writing o f the meeting, Meeker
said that Neill “strongly advised me to tackle the job” but that he also
“expressed the belief that the functions o f the Commissioner are too
many and incompatible.” The role o f the Commissioner in mediating
and conciliating disputes in the railroad industry definitely caused
Meeker to pause. He wrote Secretary W ilson, “I feel then that unless I
can be assured that the Commissioner o f Labor Statistics will be
relieved o f the duties o f mediator in the disputes covered by the
Erdman Act, I must ask you to withdraw my name from consideration
as Commissioner.”6
Nevertheless, Meeker wrote the Secretary, “I know the work is
hard and the responsibility great; but I should deem it an honor and a
pleasure to serve under you and President W ilson no matter what the
task.” Passage o f the Newlands Act, which created a new agency for
mediation o f labor disputes, cleared the way for Meeker’s acceptance,
and the President transmitted the nomination to the Senate on July
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


Meeker: Statistics in Recession and W artime

22. The Senate confirmed the appointment on August 11, and Meeker
was sworn in the following day.7

M eeker’s views
Meeker, like Neill, was associated with the Progressive movement for
governmental activism to achieve reform. In 1910, he wrote, “Before
all else, the average American must be startled out o f his stupefying
faith in the divinely ordained destiny o f his country. The policy of
drift cannot possibly bring the ship o f state to any desirable haven, and
the sooner the crew are made aware o f this, the better.”8
Meeker carried over into his work as Commissioner his belief in
the positive role o f government. It was his duty, he said, “to turn the
searching light o f publicity into the farthest and darkest com ers of
industry, to make known the successes o f enlightened policies of
dealing with labor, to show up wrongdoers, whether they be employ­
ers o f workers or workers of employers, to aid every endeavor to raise
the ethical standards that obtain in the dealings between employer and
employee, to bring about kinder feelings between master and man,
and to foster the spirit o f cooperative endeavor throughout all indus­
try.” For Meeker, the Bureau’s role was crucial to ensuring that “the
old policies o f antagonism, belligerency, and warfare must give way to
the policies o f cooperation, mutual understanding, and peace.” 9
Linking morality and business gain, Meeker stressed the need for
constructive approaches for dealing with the human factor in indus­
try. A s he expressed it, “The dissemination o f information bearing on
labor, the presentation o f the facts which will enable employers to
contrast the statistical results o f the different systems and methods of
dealing with labor, is o f the utmost importance and benefit to busi­
ness.” The Bureau’s publications “have aided business immeasurably
by showing that the employer who deals justly with his workers can
produce better goods and services at lower prices than the employer
who depends for his profits upon low wages, long hours, and bad
working conditions.” 10
But much remained to be done. He wrote, “Managers generally
seem to regard the workman as a peculiar kind o f peripatetic machine
which installs and removes itself when and where needed without cost
to the employer, needs no oil or attention, and scarcely ever is worth
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


The First Hundred Years

conserving or safeguarding because so easily replaceable when broken
or worn out.”11
M eeker viewed unemployment as one o f the great hazards o f life
and felt that government had a larger responsibility toward the unem­
ployed than merely “handing out bread and soup.. . . ” He favored the
establishment o f a nationwide system o f public employment offices
with “the responsibility for the furnishing o f suitable employment for
all the unemployed, not merely jobs to the jobless, but economically
paying jobs—jobs that pay an American living wage to American
Meeker set forth his views on this issue in his 1919 testimony
supporting a national employment system: “I take it that every man
and woman bom in the U nited States is entitled to the privilege of
earning a living, and that his job or her job should not be dependent
upon any private fee-charging agency w hatsoever.. . . It should be the
first and forem ost policy o f our National Government to see to it that
every potential worker is an actual worker every working day o f the
year outside needed vacation time.”13
H e was also concerned with protecting workers against other
hazards. Asserting that “social insurance against property losses” was
more common in this country than “insurance against personal
hazards o f workers or those in the lower income groups,” Meeker
argued that the laboring man should be protected against the hazards
o f accident, illness, unemployment, invalidity and old age, and death.
He came to view such insurance as one o f the necessities o f life, just
like food, clothing, and shelter—and as “essentially a public function”
which “should be operated as a social enterprise.” “I do not happen to
be a socialist,” he declared, “but, if it is socialism to provide adequate
protection to the lives, health, and well-being o f our working popula­
tion, then let us have some more o f the same.”14
In M eeker’s view, workmen’s compensation provided not only a
rightful and proper protection for the laborer but also an economic
benefit to business and to society at large. Accidents had always
occurred in industry, but the workers had had to shoulder the burden
o f this cost o f production. However, said Meeker, the advent of
workmen’s compensation had wrought a miracle. Because compensa­
tion laws prompted safer and more efficient production methods—as
managers sought to avoid the cost o f claims—they encouraged gener­
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Meeker: Statistics in Recession and W artime

ally better business practices. And the bitterest critics o f compensation
had become its strongest friends.15
M eeker’s recommendations for workmen’s compensation could
be summed up in two words—compulsory and universal. The plans
should be funded by the States and operated as a State monopoly or a
State-controlled mutual benefit society from which all private casualty
companies were excluded. And the plans should cover occupational
poisons and diseases and compensate for permanent disabilities.16
He laid out six "minimum requirements’’ for the system. First,
industry and government should concentrate on preventing accidents.
W hen injuries occurred, the worker must be assured o f adequate
medical, surgical, and hospital care to cure or restore him as com­
pletely as possible. The injured worker should receive adequate com­
pensation for him self and his family. W hen ready to return to work,
he should be retrained, if necessary, for suitable employment. He
should then be placed in an appropriate job. And, at proper intervals,
he should be reexamined to make sure that the injury had responded
to treatm ent.17
Meeker had expressed definite views on child labor before
becoming Commissioner, apparendy influenced by his work in the
charities and prisons o f New Jersey. Although, like his predecessor, he
opposed child labor on moral grounds, Meeker recognized some fun­
damental economic necessities. Thus, while supporting restrictions on
child labor, he also preached die need to improve education and
training. In requiring school attendance and prohibiting factory work
for children, society must also assure the quality o f their education.
“We must be sure that our schools are at least as good educational
institutions as our factories,” M eeker warned.18
Meeker advocated a strong, state-controlled school system. In an
article in The New York Times in April 1913, he called for the compul­
sory public education o f all children through the intermediate grades.
A ll would be “busy preparing for the great business o f living,” with
some beginning to learn trades, others, engineering professions or
general culture.19 He believed that many o f the community’s problems
with crime and pauperism could be traced to an inadequate school
system. A s part o f the remedy, he suggested vocational education,
arguing that proper training in conjunction with counseling would
help alleviate unemployment problems by giving guidance and
resources to the unskilled.70
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The First Hundred Years

H e favored some form o f compulsory civic service for youth and
proposed that, as “an antidote and partial substitute for militarism,” all
youth on completion o f secondary or technical school be required to
enter the service o f the state for a period, serving in private employ­
ment, government factories, farms, and mines. In addition to aiding
youth “to find themselves and to select more intelligently a vocation in
life,” such service would diminish industrial strife by “giving sons and
daughters o f luxury a saving knowledge o f blisters, backaches, and
hunger, the first fruits o f manual labor.”21
Meeker supported government action to protect workers, view­
ing the state o f trade union organization as inadequate. However, he
considered unions to be beneficial institutions, at one time even pro­
posing that the state oblige “every laboring man to belong to a union,
discriminating against non-unionism to the extent o f actually prohibit­
ing it. . . . Wages and hours o f labor would not be fixed by inflexible
statutory enactment, but by bargaining between employers and
employees in approximately equal term s.”22
Shortly before he left office in 1920, Meeker warned of the
growing bitterness in labor-management relations, lamenting the
inability to carry over the cooperative relationships o f the war years
into peacetime. He citied the British experience o f securing worker
representation on joint industrial councils and works committees. At
home, he saw the resumption o f employer opposition to unions and
little prospect for continuing such wartime efforts as worker represen­
tation on shop committees. “We are today exactly where the British
were about 30 years ago,” he stated. Meeker’s conclusion was more an
appeal: “Before abandoning ourselves completely to pessimism and
despair, we should at least try the experiment o f giving the workers a
real voice and responsibility in management.”23

Securing the Bureau’s place
Meeker entered the Bureau at a time when government agencies were
proliferating in response to specialized demands. One o f his continu­
ing concerns was to secure a clear jurisdiction for the Bureau, both
within the new Department o f Labor and in the growing Federal
establishment. A t the same time, he sought to establish cooperative
arrangements so as to avoid duplication and provide uniformity in the
statistical work o f government agencies.
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Meeker: Statistics in Recession and W artime

T he B ureau in the D epartm ent of Labor
Meeker maintained effective relations throughout his tenure with Secretary of Labor William B. W ilson and Assistant Secretary Louis F.
Post and, during the war years, with Special Assistant Felix Frank­
furter. To a degree, this was helped by the early establishment of the
Department Committee on Correlation, under Post, to coordinate the
activities of the bureaus within the Department and to work with
other departments and commissions on matters relating to labor.
In the new Department, the Bureau retained its old responsibilites for labor-associated statistics. In addition, it was given some
oversight of the statistical work o f other bureaus. Also, the Commit­
tee on Correlation set up agreements and procedures to avoid disputes
between the Department’s agencies. BLS negotiated one such agree­
ment with the Children’s Bureau on statistics relating to wage-earning
children and another with the Secretary’s Office on procedures for
administering the Federal workmen’s compensation system.24
During the period, several bills were introduced to create a
Bureau o f Labor Safety in the Department o f Labor, one as early as
July 1913.25 Both the interest o f the Department and BLS in the field
of safety and their reluctance to see a new agency established were
apparent in their correspondence with Congress on the bills. In
August 1913, Secretary W ilson wrote Rep. David J. Lewis, Chairman
o f the House Committee on Labor, that “much useful work would be
performed” by such a bureau but emphasized that the Bureau o f Labor
Statistics had “for a long time” studied accident statistics, accident
prevention, and compensation, and had issued many reports and bul­
letins on the subject. The proposed new bureau was not established.26
Meeker also faced an active campaign by women’s groups to
establish a separate agency to deal with women’s issues. BLS had had a
women’s division since 1911, but its studies had been limited by the
failure of Congress to make appropriations for the work. Further, the
women’s advocates wanted an agency which would actively promote
social reform rather than merely present statistical information. In
1916, Zip S. Falk, Executive Secretary o f the Consum ers League o f the
District o f Columbia, wrote Secretary W ilson that women wanted to
show “the human story of wage earning women.” The Bureau, she
said, published its reports in “an exclusively statistical form .” And
Edith Abbott wrote that the Bureau’s 19-volume report on working
women and children constituted a superior collection of facts, but a
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The First Hundred Years

“commission inquiry would in all probability have been vastly more
useful in promoting improvements in the condition o f the working
women and children.” Abbott cited the New fo rk State Factory Inves­
tigation Commission as an example o f what she and her friends
wanted—constructive publicity, not just dry facts. 27
Initially, Secretary W ilson and the Bureau opposed the creation
o f a separate agency. Ethelbert Stewart, M eeker’s second in command,
argued that the Bureau o f Labor Statistics had had a women’s division
for several years and that establishment o f a separate agency would
cause “duplication or conflict o f jurisdiction.” Besides, he said,
women’s concerns were part o f general labor issues. The better proce­
dure, he explained, would be to create by statute a women’s division
within BLS and to appropriate sufficient funds.28
A t first, Secretary W ilson supported the Bureau’s position, but
the arguments o f the women’s advocates apparently impressed him,
for he soon changed his mind. U pon “mature consideration,” Wilson
wrote to Rep. Lewis, “there is a vast field for investigation and study
which specially and peculiarly affects women in industry which could
be more effectively handled under the immediate direction o f women
than under the direction o f men.”29
The House Committee recommended passage o f a bill to estab­
lish a separate agency, finding that the lack o f statutory support had
made for limited funding o f the women’s division in BLS and uncer­
tainty over its continued existence, finally resulting in successive resig­
nations from the position o f division chief.30
M eeker reluctantly altered his views. In 1916 he wrote to Mary
Van Kleeck, “A s Congress seems disinclined to grant larger appropria­
tions and larger salaries in the Bureau o f Labor Statistics, I think the
only thing for the women o f the country to do in order to bring about
the proper consideration o f women in industry is to advocate the
establishment o f a Women’s Bureau.”31
Congress failed to act, however, and Meeker sought funds for
special studies o f women in industry and to create the statutory posi­
tion o f chief o f the women's division, but with little success. In July
1918, Secretary W ilson established the Woman in Industry Service as
part o f the War Labor Administration, and, in 1920, with Meeker’s
full support, Congress created the separate Women’s Bureau.32
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Meeker: Statistics in Recession and W artime

The Bureau in the Federal establishment
Shortly after taking office, Meeker wrote Joseph P. Tumulty, private
secretary to the President, asking for an appointment with W ilson to
discuss his plans for the Bureau. He wanted to know if the Bureau’s
program “trespasses upon the preserves o f any other department or
bureau.” He also expressed concern that Congress might create addi­
tional bureaus and commissions in disregard o f the already existing
For several years, Meeker complained to congressional commit­
tees about duplication o f work by government agencies. In 1914, he
pointed out to the House Appropriations Committee, “There are no
less than five governmental agencies that are commissioned by law to
investigate the cost o f living.” And he wrote the President that C on­
gress had ordered the Commerce Department to investigate the cause
o f rising food prices, emphasizing that only BLS collected retail prices
on a regular basis and that, in fact, Commerce had turned to BLS for
assistance. A little later, Meeker criticized Commerce for publishing
material on wholesale prices: “The work that they do is but a small
segment o f the work that we are doing in wholesale prices.”34
O n several occasions, the Bureau complained o f intrusions by the
Treasury Department’s Public Health Service. Stewart charged that
the Public Health Service had begun studies o f occupational diseases 5
or 6 years after the Bureau had done similar work for the study on
women and children. He called the action “a deliberate infringement”
and “an act o f trespass” upon the functions o f the Bureau o f Labor
Statistics. Before the Senate Appropriations Committee, both Meeker
and Stewart criticized the Public Health Service: “They are not well
fitted to do that thing___ Their statistics are extremely inaccurate and
unreliable because they do not know the occupations.”
In 1918, Meeker cautioned Secretary W ilson about an Executive
O rder proposed by the Secretary o f the Treasury concerning the
functions o f the Public Health Service, alerting W ilson to the poten­
tial threat to Bureau programs. 'Yet during the war, the Bureau joined
with the Public Health Service in a study o f health problems arising
from industrial poisons. Despite his continuing concerns, Meeker saw
“no reason why there should not be full and cordial cooperation
between the Bureau o f Labor Statistics and the Public Health Serv-
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The First Hundred Years

M eeker also fought for a role for the Bureau in developing
resources for industrial education. In February 1914, he wrote
Tumulty that Congress had established a commission to investigate
the field and also noted that the National Society for the Promotion of
Industrial Education sought a separate investigation. In view o f those
activities, he wanted to make the President aware o f the Bureau’s
efforts on the subject. A s “the only Federal agency that has ever made
a comprehensive study o f industrial and vocational education and
guidance,” his Bureau deserved the work, Meeker argued, pointing
out that BLS had made the pioneering studies and had invented the
Ethelbert Stewart expressed like concerns in writing the Secre­
tary about the new Federal child labor law. He stated that parents
must be convinced that they would profit by keeping their children in
school because o f the child’s increased earning power. This meant that
schools must make the hope a reality. Training should reflect employ­
ment opportunities, and the Department o f Labor should have the
functions o f developing both the national employment offices and the
vocational training resources.37
Early in 1915, at the President’s instruction, Meeker wrote a
confidential memorandum outlining the major cases o f overlapping
and duplication in the Federal establishment. He listed six agencies
competing with BLS: The Bureau o f Mines o f the Department o f the
Interior, for accidents in the iron and steel industry; the Bureau of
Foreign and Domestic Commerce o f the Department o f Commerce,
for wages and prices; the Public Health Service, for occupational
health and diseases; the Forest Service and the Bureau o f Chemistry of
the Department o f Agriculture, for industrial poisons; and the Bureau
o f Education, for vocational education.38 In 1917, the Secretary of
Labor pointed out several o f these in his report to Congress on
harmonizing the work o f the various government agencies.39
M eeker used various forum s to stress the importance o f coopera­
tion. In 1914, he told the National Safety Council, “We must get
governmental agencies to work together. I regard that as my principal
job.” A t the American Economic Association meeting in December
1914, he commented, “I sincerely hope that the proposed joint com­
mittee o f the Economic Association and the Statistical Society to
advise with the statistical Bureaus o f the government will be
appointed. Unnecessary duplication o f statistical work should be elim­
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Meeker: Statistics in Recession and W artime

inated, and the statistical methods used should be standardized and
made uniform.”40

The Bureau and State agencies
Meeker tried to improve communications with and among State agen­
cies as well. He wanted to make the Bureau “the center for the
dissemination o f useful information regarding developments in the
industrial field, to cooperate with the State agencies, and to secure
their cooperation in making labor studies. . . .”41 “I have, it seems to
me, a very excellent plan which covers cooperation between my
Bureau and the various State agencies that deal with labor m atters.. . .
You do the work, and I will reap the glory,” he suggested to the
Association o f Governmental Labor Officials in 1915. More seriously,
he declared his intention to eliminate duplication, to develop informa­
tion where it was lacking, and to establish uniform statistical defini­
tions and methods.42
W hen unemployment became a major public concern in 1914,
the Bureau began a continuing cooperative relationship with the
American Association o f Public Employment Offices and regularly
published its proceedings. In addressing the association, Meeker cited
the need for national and local information on the employed and
unemployed, including industrial and occupational detail. He sug­
gested that the States were better able to obtain and furnish such
information and indicated the kinds o f information to be sought from
trade unions and employers.43 In 1916, shortly after the Bureau began
its employment series, it arranged with the New York State Depart­
ment o f Labor for the mutual use o f the employment data collected by
that agency.

The Bureau’s work: M eeker’s first term
Price indexes
One o f Meeker’s first projects was revision o f the index numbers of
retail and wholesale prices. He later commented, “Long before I took
charge o f the Bureau, I had become very suspicious o f the Bureau's
index numbers, especially its retail price index. . . . Before I had got
settled in the saddle, I set about to revise and recalculate the index
numbers published by the Bureau.” He called upon his fellow econo­
mists; Irving Fisher and Wesley C. Mitchell were among the few who
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The First Hundred Years

responded with helpful suggestions. He later thanked them especially:
“Had it not been for the sympathy, encouragement, and counsel of
Professors Mitchell and Fisher, I should not have had the courage to
carry out the recasting o f the Bureau’s index numbers.”44
The Bureau expanded retail price coverage in 1914. To obtain a
more realistic measure o f changes in workers’ living costs, it increased
the number o f food items priced and added several cloth and clothing
items. By 1917, retail prices were collected in 46 cities, as against 39
formerly; for 28 food items, as against 15 earlier; for the new category
o f dry goods, 8 items; and, in addition, for anthracite and bituminous
coal and gas for domestic use.
Also, the method o f computation o f the indexes was altered by
shifting the base from 1890-1900 to the most recent year and develop­
ing a chain index, making year-to-year comparisons easier. Actual
prices, rather than averages o f relative prices (percentages), were now
used in determining relative change. The Bureau explained the reason
for the new method: “W hen averages o f averages o f relative prices are
thus piled up, it becomes difficult to comprehend the meaning o f the
final average.” U nder the new system, “A percentage based on average
or aggregate actual prices o f a commodity reflects more accurately the
changes in the cost o f that commodity.”45
The wholesale price index underwent a parallel revision. In 1914,
the Bureau increased the number o f price quotations to 340, defined
the commodities more accurately, and included more markets. Previ­
ously unweighted, the index was now weighted by value (price multi­
plied by quantity marketed) based on the 1909 censuses of
manufactures and agriculture. Indexes were rebased and computed in
the same fashion as for retail prices. The Bureau published its new
wholesale price index in 1915, along with Wesley C . Mitchell’s classic
essay, “The Making and U sing o f Index Numbers.”
The influences o f both Fisher and Mitchell were apparent in the
price index revisions. Fisher advocated chain indexes as more easily
comparable than those on fixed bases. Also, Fisher believed that the
wholesale price index could be computed from a relatively small num­
ber o f commodities. Mitchell agreed that chain indexes were more
accurate than fixed-base measures and that the series should be an
aggregate o f actual prices weighted according to the quantities mar­
keted. However, he differed with Fisher about the size o f the survey
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Meeker: Statistics in Recession and W artime

field: “The more commodities that can be included in such an index
number the better, provided that the system o f weighting is sound.”46
Tfears later, before the American Statistical Association, Meeker
recommended further improvements in the wholesale index: “In my
view, the best way to achieve the ‘best index number’ is, first, to secure
more trustworthy and more representative prices from (1) producers
and (2) jobbers and wholesalers, and, secondly, to obtain more accu­
rate statistics and estimates o f quantities o f goods produced, imported,
exported, and consumed.” 47
Meeker early showed an interest in developing an international
system o f price statistics. In January 1914, the Bureau wrote to the
Senate Appropriations Committee that negotiations were underway
with England, France, and Canada. In March, Meeker wrote the
President, “Plans for putting international statistics upon a common
basis have proceeded so far that I think it highly desirable that I go to
Europe to confer in person with the leading statisticians there.” He
made the trip, but the outbreak o f war in Europe prevented any
further work on the project.48

Wage studies
Shortly after resuming its program o f industry wage studies, the
Bureau was collecting payroll data for all industries that employed at
least 75,000 workers. The Bureau surveyed nine major industry
groups: Cotton, wool, and silk; lumber, millwork, and furniture; boots
and shoes; hosiery and knit goods; iron and steel; cigars; men’s cloth­
ing; slaughtering and meatpacking; and steam railroad cars.
The 1913 study on the cotton, wool, and silk industries gave
hourly wage rates and nominal full-time hours per week. The 1914
study for the same industries added data on full-time weekly earnings.
Moreover, in line with revisions in the retail and wholesale price
indexes, the weighting system for the wage indexes was changed. The
new industry relative was constructed as an aggregate compiled
directly from employment data rather than as a relative o f relatives.
Another innovation in the wage studies was the collection o f data
on the extent and regularity o f employment. In a study o f the hosiery
industry, the Bureau introduced the concept “variation in employ­
ment during the year,” appearing in other industry studies as “fluctua­
tions in employment during the year” and “volume o f employment.”
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The First Hundred Years

Productivity measures also were introduced. A study of the lum­
ber and millwork industry in 1915 presented output per one-man
hour, cost per one-man hour, and cost per 1,000 board feet produced
for logging and saw mill operations. For the boot and shoe industry,
data were presented on “time and labor cost, by occupations in the
manufacture o f 100 pairs o f welt shoes, the rate o f wages or earnings
per hour, and the number o f pairs worked on per hour.”
In 1913, the Bureau published union scales o f wages and hours
for 1907 to 1912 for more than 40 trades in 39 important industrial
cities. The material consisted o f time rates as stipulated in written
agreements and trade union records made available to Bureau agents
by local union officials. Later, the series was expanded to cover 56
cities in 35 States for 11 industry groups, and over 100 trades and
occupations. The Bureau also constructed index numbers o f wages in
the trades and occupations covered, which it compared to retail food
price indexes as a cost-of-living measure.
In addition to its regular reports, the Bureau was called upon for
special wage studies. In 1914, workers in fish canneries around Seattle
requested an investigation o f wage conditions which the Bureau had
to refuse because o f a lack o f funds. That same year, the Bureau
gathered data on wages and conditions in street railways when a strike
in Indianapolis pointed up the lack o f available information. During
the summer and fell o f 1915, the Bureau conducted a special investiga­
tion for the Joint Committee on Printing. The Joint Committee was
considering pay scales at the Government Printing Office, and the
Bureau surveyed wages and hours from employer payroll records in
the printing and binding trades in 179 establishments in 26 cities and
presented those findings along with the union wage rates for the same
occupations and the same cities.49
Cost-of-living studies
W hen M eeker came to the Bureau, retail price data were being used
to set wage rates for some government work, as, for example, at the
Government Printing Office and the Washington Navy Yard. In testi­
fying on the data, Meeker said, “In order to settle upon what is a fair
and reasonable wage, it is necessary to know what a dollar will buy and
this is the most accurate information available to both trades-union
men and to employers. . . . ” However, since the Bureau had last
collected expenditure data in 1901-03, the existing budget information
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Meeker: Statistics in Recession and W artime

was obsolete: “It is, in my judgment, extremely necessary that, as soon
as possible, provision be made for a new budget survey.”50
In 1914, the Senate Committee on Education and Labor reported
in favor o f authorizing the Department o f Labor to develop informa'
tion on the cost of living in the District o f Columbia. Meeker had
indicated that the proposed survey would cover only nongovernment
workers, and that existing Bureau resources would not be adequate
for the study.51 The Senate did not take further action, however. In
1916, Meeker testified that a survey would be helpful in determining a
minimum wage level but that it would also help answer the pressing
question: “W hat does it cost the American family to live?”52 Finally, in
December 1916, Congress appropriated $6,(XX) for the investigation.
The first phase of the study consisted o f the collection o f data on
budgets of 2,110 families in the District during the first half of 1917. In
the second phase, the Bureau studied the income and expenditures of
600 white women earning wages o f under $1,100 a year. A s the third
phase, in cooperation with the Office o f Home Economics o f the
Department o f Agriculture, the Bureau conducted a dietary study of
31 families.53
Beginning in October 1917, the Monthly Labor Review carried a
series of articles presenting the findings, one o f which was that w. . . a
very considerable proportion o f the low-income families of Washing­
ton do not buy enough food to maintain the family members in health
and strength.” Among the wage-earning women, the Bureau found
that the majority “were not only working at distressingly low wages,
but a very large proportion o f them were women who had been wage
earners for many years.” William F. O gbum , after an intensive exami­
nation o f 200 o f the budgets, declared that an average family of man,
wife, and three children under the age o f 10 needed an income of at
least $1,155 to say out o f debt.54 The Bureau published a cost-of-living
index for the District in 1919, and, in 1921, added it to the list o f cities
included in the national index.

Industrial relations
The Bureau investigated several major labor disputes during M eeker’s
early days in office. Secretary W ilson called on Ethelbert Stewart in
the fall o f 1913 to mediate a coal mining dispute involving the Rocke­
feller interests in Colorado. Later the same year, Meeker sent Walter
B. Palmer, who had investigated earlier troubles in Colorado and
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The First Hundred Years

Pennsylvania, into Michigan for information on a copper strike led by
the Western Federation o f Miners. But such assignments became
infrequent once the new Mediation and Conciliation Service was fully
organized and were not a regular Bureau function as they were under
The Bureau continued to report extensively on collective bar­
gaining developments. From 1913 through 1916, it published five
bulletins on the subject; four o f these were on collective bargaining in
New 'fork City—three on the garment industry and one on the build­
ing trades.
In 1915, the Bureau resumed publication o f data on the number
o f strikes and lockouts, including causes and results, based on public

Employment and unemployment
M eeker’s deep concern for the problems o f employment and unem­
ployment reflected the growing awareness that the United States
lagged far behind other industrial countries in dealing with unemploy­
ment as a broad social and economic problem. A s Neill had stated in
1912 at an international conference on unemployment, “The subject
o f unemployment has, up to the present time, received but a limited
amount o f attention in this country.”55
The recession o f 1913-14 spurred the Bureau to consider studies
on unemployment. In early 1914, Meeker met with Gom pers and
M orrison o f the A FL about possible projects on unemployment which
the Bureau could undertake. But later in the year Meeker had to
inform Gom pers that the Bureau had done no work because Congress
had failed to provide funds.56 In requesting appropriations, Meeker
had testified: “We have not anything that is worth the paper it is
written on on the question o f unemployment in this country, and, my
heavens, it is up to this B u reau... to find out the facts.”57
During the winter o f 1914-15, however, the Committee on
Unemployment formed by Mayor John P. Mitchell called upon the
Bureau for a series o f field surveys o f unemployment in New fork
City. The committee had collected data from employers on the num­
ber employed in a week o f December 1914 and for the corresponding
week o f December 1913. A t about the same time, the M etropolitan
Life Insurance Company, in cooperation with the Mayor’s Commit­
tee, had surveyed its industrial policyholders in Greater New fork. At
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Meeker: Statistics in Recession and W artime

the request o f the committee, with personnel borrowed from the U .S.
Immigration Bureau and the New York City Tenement House Inspec­
tion Service, the Bureau covered over 100 city blocks and some 3,700
individual tenement houses in January and February 1915. It found an
unemployment rate o f 16.2 percent, which approximated the 18-percent rate reported by M etropolitan. The results were published by the
Bureau in Unemployment in New York City, New Ttbrk.58
Meeker then contracted with M etropolitan for studies in 16 cities
in the East and Middle West and in 12 Rocky Mountain and Pacific
Coast cities. In August and September 1915, at the urging o f the
Mayor’s Committee, both the Bureau and M etropolitan conducted
surveys in New York City for a second time. The results o f this work
were presented in 1916 in a Bureau publication, Unemployment in the
United States.59
Meeker declared o f the program: “These studies constitute the
beginning o f what should be carried as a regular series o f reports. . . .
The Bureau o f Labor Statistics should be in a position to give the
fullest information to employers, employees, and the public as to
numbers employed and unemployed.” And he complained o f congres­
sional parsimony: “It is a great pity that no provision has yet been
made for the collection and publication of statistics o f unemployment
by the Federal Bureau o f Labor Statistics.”60
Meeker gave several reasons for the continuing unemployment,
forem ost among them being immigrant labor which had, he said,
poured into the country and had caused congestion in many labor
markets. Furthermore, he argued, many corporations followed the
deliberate policy o f keeping “40 men waiting in line outside the gates
o f their plants for every possible job that might be open in their
establishment.” In addition, “overspeeded industries” contributed
greatly to labor turnover.61
The Bureau’s work on unemployment was only a temporary
effort, overwhelmed by the demands o f wartime, which turned labor
surpluses into labor shortages. The lasting effect o f the work, how­
ever, was that the Bureau did undertake a statistical program to reflect
changes in employment levels. Beginning with five industries in O cto­
ber and November 1915, the Bureau introduced the monthly series,
“Amount of employment in certain industries,” beginning publication
in January 1916. This was the start o f the Bureau’s establishment
series on employment and total payrolls. Meeker could say later that
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The First Hundred Years

these were the only official figures on employment and unemploy­
The work on unemployment also led the Bureau to the study of
labor turnover. A s Ethelbert Stewart explained, the Secretary directed
the Bureau to study unemployment, and the Bureau found that the
problem o f unemployment was seriously complicated by “men hunt­
ing for jobs, by the shifting o f the labor force.”63
Labor turnover studies became integral elements of the Bureau’s
support o f constructive em ployment practices by management.
M eeker commented on the abysmal ignorance o f employers regarding
costs to their companies and to men and machines “o f the ill-devised
and shockingly wasteful system o f ‘hiring and firing’ men in a steady
stream with no attempt to try them out, fit them in, train them and
keep them.”64
Meeker and the Bureau actively supported those employers
exploring avenues for the regularization of employment through the
periodic national meetings o f the Conference o f Employment Manag­
ers, predecessor o f the American Management Association. The
Bureau published the conference proceedings from 1916 through
1918. Meeker said that, “Like all meritorious movements, this move­
ment to promote the more intelligent treatment o f laborers has spread
until it has become nationwide.”65 He stressed that employers could
derive the greatest benefit from their wage payments by “shortening
the working-day, providing rest periods at convenient intervals,
advancing piece and time rates, cutting out all over-time, re-creating in
the employee an interest in the job he is doing and helping him to get
the most out o f his earnings and leisure.”66
The Bureau made several additional early contributions to the
study o f turnover with work on the seasonality and irregularity of
employment in the women’s clothing industries, in support o f an
effort by those industries in New York City to obtain better informa­
tion on the question. Extensive field investigations in 1915-16 and a
wartime study in 1918 provided the basis for summaries later pub­
lished in the Monthly Labor Review as “Mobility o f Labor in American
In 1916-17, the Bureau collected information on corporate wel­
fare plans from 430 employers in an effort to spread information on
ways to reduce turnover by improving working conditions. Also, the
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Meeker: Statistics in Recession and W artime

Review carried many articles on specific plans in various companies and

Social insurance
Royal M eeker’s interest in social insurance showed in much of his
work at the Bureau, for he defined it very broadly to encompass most
forms o f protective legislation for workers. In 1916, he wrote the
President to suggest “bold action on social insurance” that would
include a model law for the District o f Columbia and Federal employ­
ees as well as protection for all workers in interstate commerce. Point­
ing to the high infant m ortality and accident rates, he urged
establishment o f national health insurance and made a strong appeal
for support for safety programs.67
Workmen's compensation. A s under Wright and Neill, the Bureau
continued to publicize and encourage experiments and improvements
in w orkm en’s com pensation program s. The Bureau regularly
presented materials in the Monthly Labor Review covering State legis­
lation and experience. In addition, it published a series o f bulletins on
workmen’s compensation laws and programs in the United States and
foreign countries.
Between 1908 and 1916, the Bureau had direct responsibility for
administering the program o f workmen’s compensation for Federal
employees. From his earliest days at the Bureau, Meeker sought to
have this responsibility transferred. Meanwhile, he suggested improve­
ments in the system. In his 1915 report to the Secretary, he listed
several administrative reforms that should be enacted. He also wrote
the President about shortcomings in the program. His complaints
included administrative confusion, in that Congress had established
three separate systems covering different groups o f Federal workers.
Yet he found “the most glaring inadequacy o f the present law” to be its
failure to include all employees o f the government. The second great­
est weakness, in his view, lay in the failure to cover occupational
diseases. In 1916, after considering several proposals, Congress created
the separate Federal Employees’ Compensation Board to administer
the system.68
Industrial safety and health. Actively continuing the efforts begun
under Neill to improve industrial safety and health conditions,
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The First Hundred Years

M eeker combined research into effects and exposures with efforts to
establish a uniform system o f statistical reporting. In a letter to Presi­
dential secretary Joseph Tumulty in February 1914, Meeker set forth
his view o f the Bureau’s role: “It seems to me imperative that the
Federal Bureau o f Labor Statistics should act as a central clearing­
house for State agencies, for the purpose o f standardizing accident and
occupational disease statistics. This Bureau should be in a position to
furnish at any time advice as to the best methods o f preventing indus­
trial accidents and occupational diseases."69
In M eeker’s opinion, the Bureau, rather than any other agency or
private firm, should be able to say where the hazard lay, just what the
danger was, and how best to remedy the situation.
M eeker and Charles H. Verrill o f the Bureau staff worked with a
committee o f the International Association o f Industrial Accident
Boards and Commissions to develop standard methods and definitions
for reporting accidents. “N o one State has yet published statistics that
are at all adequate to its own needs, and no two States have produced
results that are in any way comparable.” To help remedy the lack of
adequate statistics, the committee recommended systems for classifica­
tion by industry; by cause, location, and nature o f injury; and by
extent o f disability. The Bureau offered to tabulate and publish State
accident statistics and also provided the committee with the benefit o f
its experience in developing severity rates for the iron and steel and
machine-building industries.70
The Bureau established cooperative arrangements for reporting
accidents with the States o f M assachusetts, Ohio, and New 'fork,
hoping to extend such arrangements, and it continued the close rela­
tionship with the National Safety Council begun under Neill. Meeker
at one time served as chairman o f the Committee on Standard Forms
for Accident Reporting, and, in 1916, he was elected chairman o f the
Governmental Section.
With the cooperation o f insurance companies, Frederick L. Hoff­
man produced Industrial Accident Statistics in 1915, which presented
data from the Prudential Insurance Company as well as from the
Census Bureau, several States, and three foreign countries. In 1917,
the Bureau published Louis I. Dublin’s Causes of Death by Occupa­
tion, which gave figures from the M etropolitan Life Insurance Com ­
pany’s Industrial Department.
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Meeker: Statistics in Recession and W artime

The Bureau also continued to publish pioneering studies by Alice
Hamilton on exposure to industrial poisons, especially in the lead
industry. Hamilton also wrote on industrial poisons in the rubber and
explosives industries. The publication o f the report on the explosives
industry in 1917 proved especially opportune, coming as it did when
“the enormous expansion in the industry. . . has drawn thousands of
green workers into occupations which subject them to serious or fatal
In addition, the Bureau published a study by John B. Andrews on
anthrax as an occupational disease, a report by Lucian W. Chaney and
Hugh S. Hanna on the safety movement in the iron and steel industry,
and one by Arthur R. Perry on preventable death in cotton manufac­
Meeker acknowledged, however, that much remained to be done.
In 1920, shortly before leaving office, he told the Pennsylvania Safety
Congress, “It is a shameful confession to be obliged to make, but we
don’t know whether the net result o f our efforts to reduce industrial
accidents has been more accidents or fewer accidents, a greater or a
smaller loss in disability time.” He then urged more effort to establish
uniformity in definitions, statistics, coverage, and compensation, work
which the Bureau continued.72

The second term: Statistics for wartime needs
W hen the United States entered the war in April 1917, the state of
Federal statistics was “woefully incomplete and inadequate.” Bernard
Baruch, Chairman of the War Industries Board, later observed that
“the greatest deterrent to effective action” during the war was the lack
o f facts.73 Problems in gathering timely statistics were complicated by
the competing demands o f the many independent statistical bureaus.
The multiplication o f questionnaires became so great by mid-1918 that
complaints from respondents mounted.7^
The need for coordination became increasingly evident, but there
was debate as to which agency should have the responsibility. Both
Baruch’s War Industries Board and the Labor Department’s War
Labor Policies Board, headed by Felix Frankfurter, discussed the issue.
One proposal called for establishment o f a temporary organization in
the Bureau o f Labor Statistics to collect, compile, and distribute labor
statistics for the needs o f the various departments and war agencies.
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The First Hundred Years

However, the gathering and distribution o f industrial statistics—
including labor statistics—was placed under the charge o f the Central
Bureau o f Planning and Statistics o f the War Industries Board, with
arrangements for coordination between the Central Bureau and
Meeker.75 W hile BLS did not obtain the principal coordinating role,
its responsibility for labor statistics was recognized and enhanced.

Cost-of-living studies and standard budgets
The demands o f the wartime economy finally permitted Meeker to
achieve his long-sought goal o f a new, comprehensive consumer
expenditure survey. Throughout the war, the government was con­
cerned with the manner in which wages could be adjusted for the
rising cost o f living. Thus, the August 1917 agreement between the
Emergency Fleet Corporation and the A FL Metal Trades Department,
which established the Shipbuilding Labor Adjustment Board, stated
that the Board would “keep itself fully informed as to the relation
between living costs in the several districts, and their comparison
between progressive periods o f time.”76
G reat Britain had set an early example for revision o f cost-ofliving measurement during wartime. A t first, wage adjustments were
based on the retail prices o f food, but these were found unsuitable in a
time o f rapidly changing prices, even with more frequent publication.
In June 1916, the British Board o f Trade produced a new index
number covering all groups o f expenditures and representing the
“average cost o f living o f the working classes.”77
In the U nited States, proposals for adjustments tied to an index
figured prominently in policy discussions. Some means o f achieving
stability in purchasing power had been discussed by economists even
before the war. Meeker and Irving Fisher had corresponded on the
subject as early as 1912. A t that time, Fisher had promoted the con­
cept o f a “stabilized” or “compensated” dollar to obtain constancy in
purchasing power by adjusting “the number of grains [of gold] which
go to make a dollar.” The change would be determined, according to
Fisher, “by index numbers o f prices, such as those of. . . the United
States Bureau o f Labor.”78
Fisher again promoted the idea as the war economy heated up,
focusing on the use o f a price index to adjust wages for the increased
cost o f living. In tyiay 1917, he wrote Assistant Secretary o f Labor Post
to propose a “half-way” plan for salary adjustment. Fisher suggested
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Meeker: Statistics in Recession and W artime

that, since food prices rose twice as fast as general prices, adjustment
should be set at half the rise in the Bureau’s retail food price index
number. This would, he argued, secure “rough justice.” Meeker
rejected the assumption that all items rose at one-half the increase in
food prices, recommending instead that wages be adjusted up or down
according to the full rise or fall in the food index. That is, until a
further investigation into the retail prices o f nonfood commodities
could be made, the index numbers o f retail prices o f food should be
considered as representing changes in the cost o f living.79
In the meantime, Meeker pressed to begin work on surveys o f
the cost o f living o f families in shipbuilding centers for the Shipbuild­
ing Board. In December 1917, he estimated his need at $50,000 to
conduct the surveys, and the President allocated the sum from his
National Security and Defense Fund. In May 1918, the President
granted M eeker’s request for another $25,000 to complete the
During the early months o f 1918, the Bureau scrambled to con­
duct the surveys in 18 shipbuilding centers, covering family expendi­
tures in 1917 and 1918. The Shipbuilding Board put the results to
immediate use in setting uniform national wage rates for most o f the
skilled shipyard trades.81
In February 1918, Henry R. Seager o f the Shipbuilding Board
wrote Post that the Board relied on the Bureau o f Labor Statistics for
authoritative data on changes in the cost o f living and that it would
seriously consider using index num bers if the Bureau decided officially
to establish index numbers o f changes in the cost o f living o f wage
earners in different parts o f the country. He noted, however, that
Meeker was not yet prepared to undertake the task because o f the
technical difficulties and said that the Board would wait for the Bureau
to take the initiative.82
In March, the policy was developed under which the tripartite
National War Labor Board was to administer wartime labor-manage­
ment relations. Strikes and lockouts were prohibited, and, o f particu­
lar significance for the Bureau's programs, prevailing wages and
working conditions in localities were to be considered in fixing wages.
But the “right o f all workers, inducing common laborers, to a living
wage” was declared, with minimum rates “which will insure the sub­
sistence o f the worker and his family in health and reasonable com­
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The First Hundred Years

By August, die Secretary o f Labor supported an indexing scheme
as the way o f standardizing and stabilizing wages. He wrote the Presi­
dent, expressing the need for "properly weighted family budgets pre­
pared by the Bureau o f Labor Statistics and a record made monthly of
the changes in the cost o f living, the wage rate to rise or fall during the
ensuing month one cent per hour for each change o f eight cents per
day in the cost o f living shown by the investigations made by the
By June, the National War Labor Board was calling for nation­
wide data on the cost o f living, and the Bureau, with an allocation of
$300,000 from the President, began on the larger task. Meeker
pointed out how the new survey would provide much better informa­
tion than the earlier surveys o f shipbuilding centers. Those studies
were done in haste, he said, with time not available to calculate new
weights based on quantities consumed, so the old 1901 weights had
been used. Also, the number o f articles priced was not adequate;
miscellaneous items o f expenditure were not priced at all. Further,
specifications for individual items had not been adequately developed
to insure future pricing o f identical or closely related items. And the
shipbuilding centers were too few and too untypical to be representa­
tive o f the country as a whole.85
The national study was conducted in 1918-19. Some 12,000 fami­
lies with incomes o f about $900 to $2,500 in 92 cities in 42 States were
surveyed. M ore than 300 agents visited the homes o f wage earners and
"sm all" salaried workers, and, on the basis o f interviews with house­
wives, obtained information on expenditures and income for a 1-year
period between July 1917 and February 1919. Data were collected on
quantities purchased, as well as costs, in contrast to the 1901 expendi­
ture study, which had covered only costs. Information obtained by
interview was frequently checked against daily expense accounts main­
tained by the housewives over at least a 5-week period.
The first results o f the survey appeared in an article in the
Monthly Labor Review in May 1919, with others following for the
several regions. These presented “average yearly expense per family"
for food, clothing, rent, fuel and light, furniture, and miscellaneous,
along with "total average yearly expenses per family."
In releasing the results, Meeker acknowledged their shortcom­
ings. It was unfortunate, he said, that the study had to be conducted in
an abnormal period. "Many families not only economized on clothes
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Meeker: Statistics in Recession and W artime

and house furnishings but actually skimped themselves on food,”
Meeker stated, “both because o f the high prices and because o f the
intense Liberty Loan drives.”86
The data showed, Meeker stated, that there was no American
standard of living that provided “all the necessaries, many o f the
comforts, and a goodly supply o f the luxuries o f life.” Instead, there
were many different standards depending on the income and size of
families. The lot o f lower income families was especially hard. They
needed, he said, higher wages and cheaper food, clothing, houses,
medical treatment, and insurance. He concluded, “Let us make the
minimum living standard in America one that will support life in
decency and health.”87
W hile finding the cost-of-living report “generally illuminating,”
The New York Times disagreed with Meeker: “The Bureau o f Labor
Statistics cannot be accused of countenancing an unjust wage for the
American workman. Quite the contrary, its tendency is to raise an
ideal standard, a standard incapable o f being realized in any nation,
and especially in the present acute industrial crisis.”88
In 1919, shortly after publishing the results o f the expenditure
survey, the Bureau issued its initial report on changes in the cost of
living—its first comprehensive set o f cost-of-living indexes for the
Nation and for major industrial and shipbuilding centers. Thereafter,
indexes were issued semiannually for the Nation as a whole and for 31
cities. Pricing for 1913-17, the period preceding the expenditure sur­
vey, was based on records o f retail establishments in the 18 shipbuild­
ing centers. Beginning with December 1917, the Bureau regularly
collected data in the 31 major industrial and shipbuilding centers for
about 145 commodities and services. Washington, D .C ., was added in
Later, an academic critique of cost-of-living studies in the Journal
of the American Statistical Association concluded that, while econo­
mists had for several years debated the difficulties of constructing a
cost-of-living index, the substantial correspondence o f the Bureau’s
numbers with those o f a wartime pilot study by the National Industrial
Conference Board was the best proof that such a measure was practi­
Meeker described the purposes o f the nationwide expenditure
study as including the formulation o f standard budgets for use by
adjustment boards in setting minimum and fair wage awards. To deter­
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The First Hundred "Years

mine the adequacy of the market basket utilized in constructing the
cost-of-living indexes, he declared, “A standard minimum quantity
budget must be agreed upon which will allow a sufficiency of all
necessary commodities and services, food, clothing, housing, fuel, fur­
niture, house furnishings, and miscellaneous to enable the standard
family to live healthfully and decently.”91
After the war's end, the Joint Commission of Congress on
Reclassification of Salaries called on the Bureau to formulate standard
budgets for government employees in the District of Columbia. The
commission found, using the Bureau materials, that rates of compensa­
tion had not kept up with increases in the cost of living.92 The main
Bureau work for the commission was published in two articles in the
Monthly Labor Review in 1919 and 1920. One presented a total bud­
get, at market prices, necessary to sustain a level of health and decency
for a government employee in Washington, D.C., with a family of five.
The budget represented “a sufficiency of food, respectable clothing,
sanitary housing, and a minimum of essential ‘sundries’”; but did not
include "many comforts which should be included in a proper ‘Ameri­
can standard of living.'” No provision was made ufor savings other
than insurance, nor for vacations, nor for books or other educational
purposes.” The cost of the budget was estimated at $2,288 in October
1919. The second budget provided similar material for single men and
The data from the 1918-19 expenditure survey were further used
to develop a standard “minimum quantity budget necessary to main­
tain a worker’s family of five in health and decency.” Constructed with
the assistance of the Department of Agriculture and the National
Conference of Social Work, the standard reflected requirements for
food, clothing, housing, heat and light, furniture and furnishings, and
miscellaneous items. The costs of the budget were not calculated by
the Bureau.9*
The Bureau’s cost-of-living and budget information was cited
frequendy and used extensively by parties to wage disputes and by
Congress, Federal agencies, private companies, and international con­
ferences. Its value was recognized by such groups as the Industrial
Conference called by President Wilson in December 1919. In their
report, the conference participants stressed that “it is vitally important
that the government maintain and even extend its machinery for
investigating and reporting” on changes in the cost of living. As
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Meeker: Statistics in Recession and W artime

important as the wartime investigations were, “Exact and reliable
information is equally important during the period o f reconstruction
through which we are now passing.”95
Yet, despite appeals by President W ilson and Meeker, Congress
was determined to return appropriations to normal after the war. In
1919, the Bureau sought a deficiency appropriation o f $475,000 for
cost-of-living work. Congress allowed $12,000.96 Meeker had devel­
oped the cost-of-living and budget programs to a most promising level
of utility—only to have their future threatened by congressional bud­
get cutting in the postwar retrenchment.

The industrial survey
Wartime demands intensified the need to speed and expand the gath­
ering and tabulation o f information on wages and hours, strikes and
lockouts, and labor requirements. Requests came from various Federal
agencies and from State wage adjustment committees and departments
of labor. These requests, and especially those o f the War Department
for wage information in the vicinity o f cantonments, required sending
agents into localities not previously covered in the Bureau’s wage
surveys. M eeker’s attempts to secure funds for expanded surveys
between 1916 and 1918 were unsuccessful.
In October 1918, with the encouragement o f the Central Bureau
of Planning and Statistics o f the War Industries Board, Meeker and
others again stressed the need for more complete wage statistics. The
Bureau’s regular program permitted only about 10 industry studies on
2-year cycles, and these were largely o f “historical or antiquarian inter­
est” when finally published. Meeker proposed that 30 or more indus­
tries be surveyed at least once a year.97
Shortly thereafter, the President allotted $300,000 for an inte­
grated study o f occupational hours and earnings to reflect wartime
conditions and help resolve disputes. Almost immediately, Meeker
wrote that, while the work was being planned and organized as
quickly as possible, “it is becoming increasingly difficult since the
signing of the Armistice to get needed information from employers.”98
The information was obtained, however, and in May 1920 the Bureau
presented the results of the survey, which covered wages and hours
during 1918 and 1919 for 780 occupations in 28 industries, covering
2,365 establishments in 43 States. Unfortunately, as the Bureau
acknowledged, with the sudden change in production requirements
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The First Hundred Years

following the war’s end, the data in the report reflected the unsettled
conditions o f postwar reconstruction.
The Bureau declared that it “could render no greater service to
the country” than to have such information continuously available
and pleaded for the support o f “accurate, reliable, and strictly impar­
tial” investigations such as the industrial survey. By that time, how­
ever, Congress had already refused further appropriations to maintain
the program, and only the more limited wage survey program was

The many activities o f the Bureau under Meeker were conducted with
only modest increases in congressional appropriations (table 3). Lim­
ited funds made for low-paying job classifications and few opportuni­
ties for advancement, sources o f constant complaint by Bureau officials
and others. In surveying the Bureau’s work, Wesley C. Mitchell wrote
that the field work in collecting price and wage data was “better on the
whole than the office work o f making these data into finished bulle­
tins.” W hile the clerical force “stood on a level rather above that
common to government offices,” BLS lacked an “adequate staff of
skilled statisticians.” The weakness o f the organization, as Mitchell
explained it, arose from the fact that the Bureau could not offer a
satisfactory career to capable men.100
In 1916, Stewart stated, “The one criticism always levelled at the
Bureau o f Labor Statistics is that the value o f our material is greatly
decreased and, as some o f our very warm friends insist, destroyed by
the lapse o f time between the gathering and the final issuing o f the
material. Now, it is simply impossible for us to get our work out in
reasonable time with the office force we have.”101 And Congress
threatened action that would, in the Bureau’s opinion, make matters
worse by prohibiting employees from taking outside jobs for pay.
Stewart stated that such an amendment would force “fifty percent of
the best men in the Bureau” to resign.102
The wartime emergency increased the pressures. Late in 1917,
Stewart commented that most o f the Bureau’s positions had not been
re-rated since the founding o f the Bureau in 1885 and that “our men
who are able to supervise statistical work have left us or are leaving us
for better pay in the war agencies.” Turnover increased so much that,
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Meeker: Statistics in Recession and W artime

Table 3.

Funding for Bureau o f Labor Statistics, 1914-20
(in thousands)
F iscal year ended
Jun e 30 —


Total1 Salaries




Special Presidential


'Includes miscellaneous and deficiency appropriations, but not allocations
for printing and binding.
2$50,000 o f this was returned.
SOURCES: National Archives Record G roup 257, Bureau o f Labor Statistics,
Appropriations Ledger, 1887-1903. Legislative, Executive, and Judicial

whereas in 1916 it had been necessary to hire 150 people to fill the 101
permanent positions, in 1917, 222 people had to be hired to fill 108
The extensive wartime studies on the cost o f living and the
industrial survey had been conducted through allocations from the
President’s special fund. The Bureau lost this source after the armi­
stice and had to cut programs to meet its peacetime budget. In March
1920, a Survey article, “Let There Be Darkness,” stated, “Apparently
the Federal Bureau o f Labor Statistics is to be hamstrung by Congress.
Its appropriation has been so cut that some o f its most important work
must be stopped.”104
Both Stewart and Meeker testified in favor o f plans to solve some
o f the long-range personnel problems. In 1916, Stewart spoke in
support o f a pension system for civil servants, arguing that the govern­
ment pays elderly, inefficient employees anyway, pension or no pen­
sion. Many corporations had established pension programs, he said,
“because they had a water-logged pay roll that they had to fix up. In
other words, they had a pension roll without a pension system, and
they had to devise a pension system in self-defense.”105
Congress did pass a wartime bonus for government employees,
but M eeker noted that it did not cover the increase in the cost of
living. He argued that wages should keep pace with living costs and
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The First Hundred years

with raises in private industry. In fact, he drafted a bill to provide
automatic adjustment o f government salaries to changes in the cost of
living as measured by Bureau o f Labor Statistics cost-of-living studies
and retail price surveys.106 Congress established a pension system in
1920, but it was many years before the concepts o f comparability and
periodic adjustment for government salaries were incorporated in stat­

Meeker instituted a new publications policy in 1915 with the launch­
ing o f a monthly journal to supplement the bulletins published on an
irregular schedule. The Bureau had felt the need for some way to
present materials that were important but too brief for publication as
separate bulletins. Also, in introducing the Monthly Review, Meeker
sought to give more frequent and wider publicity to labor-related
activities. He asked officials o f Federal, State, municipal, and private
agencies to notify the Bureau o f their business so notices and reports
could be published in the Monthly Review. The periodical, he said,
would present the current work o f the Bureau, the Department, other
Federal agencies, and the various State bureaus. In addition, it would
publish materials from such bodies as State industrial commissions,
factory inspection commissions, and temporary investigatory commit­
tees. Furthermore, one o f its special features would be notes and
summaries from foreign countries, particularly valuable in providing
information on wartime labor policies and experience in the warring
European nations. To emphasize the nature o f the subject matter, the
Bureau changed the name o f the periodical to Monthly Labor Review
with the issue for July 1918.107
The Review encountered difficulties during the war. In July 1918,
the Joint Committee on Printing resolved, “That during the continua­
tion o f the war [the Public Printer] be directed to print only such
publications as are required for the essential work o f the Government
and which do not delay necessary war printing.” This attitude resulted
in cuts in the BLS printing appropriations, and also in later charges
that Congress tried to squelch publication o f information about prices
and the cost o f living. Meeker complained that the cuts could force
the discontinuance o f the Review and asked for a deficiency appropria­
tion. Secretary W ilson replied that the Department would cover the
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Meeker: Statistics in Recession and W artime

shortage from its funds rather than ask Congress for additional
Despite the emergency pressures, the Review expanded greatly
over its prewar size, publicizing the first results o f new Bureau surveys
on the cost o f living, the new budget studies, and other original work
as well much information on conditions in belligerent countries. Its
popularity prompted a change in policy. With circulation up from the
initial 8,000 in July 1915 to 19,000 in June 1920, the Review was put on
a subscription basis in July 1920. Meeker citied the shortage of paper,
the high cost of printing and supplies, and the necessity to econo­
During the war, the Bureau cooperated with another agency in
the Department, the Woman in Industry Service, in the preparation of
publications. The bulletins o f both agencies were edited by the Bureau
and issued as joint publications. Reporting on this arrangement to
Secretary Wilson, Meeker cited the saving o f cost and time and sug­
gested that other departmental units also take advantage of the “expert
Editorial Division in the Bureau o f Labor Statistics.”110

International activities
Interest in labor developments abroad, a concern o f the Bureau from
the time o f its founding, increased during M eeker’s tenure, although
efforts at developing international standards for statistics were aborted
by the war. In 1914, the Bureau issued a bulletin on labor laws and
factory inspections in six major European countries and reported on
how the start of the war affected food prices in 18 countries. From its
beginning, the Review carried articles on the effect o f the war on
wages, hours, working conditions, and prices in European countries.
In 1917, at the request o f the Council o f National Defense, the Bureau
issued a series o f bulletins on British munitions factories, covering
hours o f work, fatigue and health, welfare work, and industrial effi­
ciency, as well as on the employment o f women and juveniles and on
industrial unrest.
These and other studies provided important background material
for the establishment o f war labor agencies and policies in the United
States. The importance of the information was evidenced by the sta­
tioning o f a special representative in Great Britain to keep the Bureau
in constant touch with developments there.111
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The First Hundred Years

After the war, at Frankfurter’s request, the Bureau prepared
reports on the labor situation in foreign countries for the use o f the
U .S. delegation to the Peace Conference. Early in 1919, Meeker went
to England as economic adviser to a group o f employers for a study
sponsored by the Department o f Labor on the British reconstruction
experience. Ethelbert Stewart was also sent to England to help prepare
for the W ashington meeting o f the International Labor Conference.
The U .S. contribution to the quasi-official International Associa­
tion for Labor Legislation and its Labor Office through a congressional
appropriation to the Bureau for the purpose was continued through­
out the war. However, with the establishment o f the League of
Nations and its International Labor Office, Congress discontinued the

O n May 5, 1920, Meeker wrote President Wilson o f the “flattering
offer” he had received to head up the Scientific Division o f the Inter­
national Labor Office to perform work similar to that o f the Bureau.
He felt that this was a fine opportunity to help organize the new ILO,
a major office in the League o f Nations. A t the same time, he recom­
mended Allan H. W illett o f the University o f Pennsylvania, who had
directed the industrial survey, as his successor. In his formal letter of
resignation to the President a month later, Meeker expressed his
commitment to the W ilsonian ideal o f a League of Nations. “I regret
very much to sever myself from your Administration, but it seems to
me that I can best serve the ideals for which you stand by accepting
this position.”113
President W ilson supported Meeker’s decision to go to the ILO
but reserved his decision on his successor. The President wrote that,
after consultation with Secretary W ilson, he had “come to agree with
him that a better appointment would be Mr. Ethelbert Stewart of
Illinois.” He went on to say, “I know you would be gratified by the
terms in which the Secretary o f Labor speaks of your own work at the
head o f the Bureau.”114
In commenting on Meeker’s resignation, Secretary Wilson
described him “as an exceptionally efficient administrator o f the
Bureau o f Labor Statistics.” He cited as Meeker’s accomplishments, in
addition to the Bureau’s regular fact-gathering, which “he has handled
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Meeker: Statistics in Recession and W artime

with sound judgment and quiet determination,” first, coordination of
the Bureau’s work with that o f the States and standardization of
industrial terminology and methods; second, reorganization o f the
cost-of-living work on a family budget or market basket basis; and,
third, his wartime studies o f wages and living costs, accepted by all the
wage boards. The Secretary concluded that, while Meeker’s sympa­
thies “were always with the workers, he never allowed these sympa­
thies to distort the facts.”115

Later years
Meeker continued his activities in social and labor economics for the
next quarter century. From 1920 to 1923, he served as C hief of the
Scientific Division of the International Labor Office o f the League of
Nations in Geneva. He returned to the U nited States to serve as
Secretary o f Labor and Industry for the Commonwealth o f Penn­
sylvania under the Republican progressive Gifford Pinchot from 1923
to 1924. In 1924 also, he went to China under the auspices o f the
Institute o f Social and Religious Research o f New York as a member of
the Commission on Social Research in China. In 1926 and 1927, he
was a professor o f economics at Carleton College in Minnesota. In
1930, he became associated with Irving Fisher as president o f the
Index Number Institute in New Haven, a position he held until 1936.
During this period, he also directed a survey o f aged persons for the
State o f Connecticut and became a special agent o f the Connecticut
Department o f Labor. In 1941, he was named Administrative Assistant
and Director o f Research and Statistics o f the Connecticut Depart­
ment, from which he retired in 1946. He died in New Haven in 1953.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


Chapter V.

Ethelbert Stewart:
Holding the Fort


thelbert Stewart, appointed in June 1920, was the first Com ­
missioner o f Labor Statistics to come from the ranks. Carroll
Wright had hired him as a special agent 33 years earlier, and
he had served the Bureau in increasingly responsible posi­
tions for most o f the period. Although he was 63 when he became
Commissioner, he devoted 12 more years to the Bureau, serving dur­
ing the administrations of Woodrow W ilson, Warren Harding, Calvin
Coolidge, and Herbert Hoover.
During these years, the political climate was not a favorable one
for the Department o f Labor or the Bureau. Congressional and admin­
istration policies encouraged business interests, and the Department
o f Commerce, for 8 years headed by Herbert Hoover, grew in influ­
ence. Congress also gave some attention to the needs o f farmers, who
were suffering from depressed prices, by granting the Department of
Agriculture additional funds, mainly for agricultural statistics. Other
agencies, however, were subject to economy drives.
Following the brief recession o f 1921, there was relative prosper­
ity during much o f Stewart’s tenure, except in agriculture and in such
“sick” industries as coal and textiles. The growth o f the consumer
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Stewart: Holding the Fort

durable goods industries—automobiles, radios, refrigerators, and electrie and gas stoves—contributed substantially as mass production, low
prices, and installment credit brought these products increasingly into
American households. Even with prosperity, however, there was con­
stant unemployment, attributed largely to technological change.
For the first time in a period o f prosperity, organized labor was
unable to increase its membership or influence. A combination of
factors contributed, including antiunion policies in the growing mass
production industries, the continuing craft orientation o f the Ameri­
can Federation o f Labor, conservative Federal labor policies, and court
decisions unfavorable to labor.
W hile Stewart fought for funds to modernize the Bureau’s statis­
tical and analytical work, he was usually rebuffed. Only when concern
over unemployment mounted in the late 1920’s did Congress provide
additional funds. U nder difficult circumstances, Stewart maintained
the Bureau’s independence and objectivity, standing firm against mis­
use of its reports for political purposes. He broke new ground in the
field o f productivity measurement and, with the encouragement and
advice o f the professional organizations, achieved some gains in the
coverage and reliability o f the Bureau’s traditional employment, wage,
and occupational safety programs.

The fourth Commissioner
Bom in Cook County, Illinois, in 1857, Stewart spent his early years
on the family farm. Because o f a stammer, he was “practically barred*
from any formal schooling, but he read voraciously and received some
private tutoring. A t 20, he moved to Lincoln, Illinois, to publish the
Lincoln County Republican, but later sold his interest. After trying
several jobs, he went to work at the Decatur (Illinois) Coffin Factory.
W hile at the factory, Stewart joined a “workingmen’s club” in Decatur
and became involved in politics. In 1885, he ran for city clerk on a
workingmen’s ticket and served as an officer at the Illinois State
Trades and Labor Convention; he was blacklisted by the coffin com­
pany for his activities.1
In 1885, Governor Richard J. Oglesby appointed Stewart Secre­
tary to the Illinois Bureau o f Labor Statistics, apparently at the sugges­
tion o f Henry Demarest Lloyd, financial editor o f the Chicago
Tribune. Stewart had visited Lloyd, impressed by his attacks on the
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The First Hundred years

monopolistic power exercised by the giant oil and railroad corpora­
tions, and they had formed what was to be a lifelong friendship.
Also in 1885, Stewart became editor o f the Decatur Labor Bulk'
tin, having joined the Knights o f Labor a few months earlier. For
several years to follow, he held positions with various labor papers.
Stewart was reappointed as Secretary o f the Illinois Bureau of
Labor Statistics in 1887 and for successive 2-year terms through 1893.
In this capacity he participated in a number o f investigations o f labor
conditions in the State.
In 1887, he obtained a position as a special agent for the new
Federal Bureau o f Labor. In 1889, he wrote Wright about the possibil­
ity o f securing a permanent position, but the Commissioner appar­
ently demurred then because o f Stewart’s speech problem. He
continued to do fieldwork for the Bureau in the Midwest until 1910.
Among other major studies, he worked on Regulation and Restriction
of Output with John R. Commons. U nder Neill, he planned and
conducted the fieldwork for studies o f the telephone and telegraph
industries and the Bethlehem Steel Corporation.
In 1910, Stewart transferred to the Tariff Board and in 1912 to
the Children’s Bureau, serving as statistician o f each agency.
He returned to the Bureau o f Labor Statistics in 1913 to function
simultaneously as C hief Clerk, C hief Statistician, and Deputy Com ­
missioner, M eeker’s second in command. In addition to his extended
Bureau responsibilities, he served the Department in a variety of
capacities. Between 1913 and 1916, Secretary W ilson called upon him
to investigate and mediate strikes in coal mining, the garment indus­
try, and street railways. In 1917, the Secretary appointed him to a
board o f arbitration for wage adjustment in New Y>rk Harbor. During
the war he served as chief o f the Department’s Investigation and
Inspection Service, part o f the War Labor Administration, conducting
a number o f brief surveys. In 1919, he went to London to help plan
the League of Nations Labor Conference that met in Washington later
that year. O n returning from London, Stewart served as a technical
adviser to the Bituminous Coal Commission. In 1920, as the special
representative o f the Secretary, he investigated deportation cases and,
in that connection, advised on bail policy.2
In June 1920, the Secretary recommended Stewart to President
W ilson for the position o f Commissioner o f Labor Statistics to suc­
ceed Royal Meeker. Stewart had not been Meeker’s first choice, but
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Stewart: Holding the Fort

the Secretary thought him better qualified, and the President accepted
his judgment, issuing a recess appointment. With the change in
administrations imminent, the Republican Senate refused to confirm
any o f the Democratic President’s appointees, including Stewart. The
new Secretary, James J. Davis, renominated Stewart, writing to the
incoming President, Warren G . Harding, “The position .. . is a techni­
cal and scientific one, and I have become entirely satisfied, from con­
ferences I have held with men qualified to advise in such matters, that
Mr. Stewart measures up fully to the standard.”3 The Senate con­
firmed Stewart in April 1921.
Stewart served under Secretary Davis for 10 years and more than
fulfilled his expectations. O n Stewart’s 70th birthday in 1927, Davis
wrote him, “^bu were represented to me as a fearless fighter for right
and justice, and you have proved to be all o f that and more. . . . ” In
1930, Davis noted that he had watched the development o f the Bureau
with great interest and commented, MI am becoming more and more
impressed, not only with the breadth and scope o f the work o f that
Bureau, but by the industry, energy, and enthusiasm with which its
work is conducted.”4

Stewart’s views
Stewart emphasized the practical over the academic or theoretical.
Something o f a muckraking newspaperman early in life, he retained
that sense o f the human, o f the person behind the number. A s he
him self said, “For 30 years, I have been struggling to put some flesh
upon the bony skeleton o f mere tabulation.” He cautioned against
“this mania for statistics,” warning that “the only things that make
human life human do not lend themselves readily to the statistical
In discussing the Bureau’s cost-of-living surveys, Stewart once
said, “It is accurate by any test to which you can put figures. But, like
all similar attempts, it is o f little value because it is impossible to put
the necessities and aspirations o f any family into figures. We can easily
determine what they spend, but what they should have is a matter of
widely varying opinion.”6 Similarly, the use o f such surveys for setting
wages only “perpetuates that standard, ossifies conditions, and para­
lyzes progress.” A s he expressed it, “there is one standard o f the cost
o f living—that is the cost, whatever it may be, o f living the maximum
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


The First Hundred Years

span o f life and living it fully. This cannot be figured from the day's or
the year's grocery bill.”7
But statistics could shed light on the human condition, contribut­
ing to the understanding and remedying o f economic and social
problems. Indeed, progress had already been made. Textbooks carried
facts and figures compiled by the bureaus, and such education and
publicity stimulated passage o f legislation to improve the condition o f
Statistics could also help in other ways. Stewart explained, “In
the mad effort to produce and sell without any accurate information as
to the amount o f each commodity required by the people o f this
country or o f the world, we run factories long hours and on night
shifts, and the result is to produce unemployment and panics.” Unem­
ployment could be reduced by use o f consumption statistics to guide
production operations. The use o f wage and cost-of-living data to
establish a “fair day's work” and a “fair day's wage” could smooth
industrial relations.8
Stewart expressed his view o f the Bureau’s independent role in
replying to the Secretary regarding an editorial which had objected to
the Bureau's reporting on old-age pensions. Stewart declared, uSo
long as the subject matter is o f sufficient general interest to justify the
publication o f the facts, and so long as the Bureau o f Labor Statistics
sticks stricdy to the question o f facts, then all I have to say to this is
that anybody [who] dislikes the facts is in hard luck.”9
In reviewing the decade o f the 1920’s, Stewart pointed out the
importance o f the Bureau's studies o f the impact o f technology on
employment, observing, “Never before did mechanical and industrial
changes strike so many industries, processes, and occupations at one
and the same time. The working people o f the U nited States are
entitled to know what the changing industrial conditions are, where
they are, and the nature and extent o f the occupational readjustment
which is necessary to meet them without loss o f earning power or
industrial status.”10
Earlier, in 1924, Stewart had analyzed some o f the causes of
discontent and dissatisfaction among workers—low wages, extensive
unemployment and lost time, and plant inefficiency, or, as he put it,
“the feeling that their power and energies are being frittered away,
that their life and energy are being exhausted in inconsequential and
unnecessarily laborious to il” Capitalism, he concluded, had brought
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


Stewart: Holding the Fort

increased physical comforts but had also “rendered life more hectic,
more nerve-wracking, brain and soul wrecking, than any of the sys­
tems which preceded it.”11
He stressed the importance o f the broader social context when
considering a particular social reform. In discussing the limitations of
workmen’s compensation laws, he wrote, “If we prize individualism so
highly as an ism, let us think of the individual once in a while. . . . If
from conditions inherent in an industry, a man loses wages because of
an illness contracted by reason o f and in the course o f his employ­
ment, he is just as much entitled to compensation as if a flywheel split
in two and injured his arm.”12
Stewart favored proposed legislation to set wage standards on
Federal construction projects. “Is the government willing, for the sake
of the lowest bidder, to break down all labor standards and have its
work done by the cheapest labor that can be secured and shipped
from State to State?” And, when the Bureau developed wage data on
municipal street laborers, he found these to reflect “sweatshop condi­
tions,” even though, as he said, “It is pretty generally agreed that the
public, when it acts as an employer, should be a good employer.”13
In regard to the effect o f the minimum wage on the employment
of women, he stated, “Anybody who handles the minimum wage law
ought to realize that what we should consider is not industry, not
administration, not legislation, but the social question, society; it is the
question of whether our men are going to decrease 3 inches in height
in 25 years as the men in France did. No industry has a right to mold
women who are to be the mothers o f our men in such a way as to
deteriorate the race.”14
In the same vein, he opposed the “family wage rate,” an experi­
ment popular in some European circles, in which the worker’s earn­
ings reflected the size o f the family, arguing that this was too narrowly
focused. Society as a whole should pay its share for replacing what he
called “the raw material o f which civilization is composed,” so he
supported a “social allowance” from the “political and social institu­
tions.” Given such relief from the costs o f child rearing, more people
would marry, and fewer mothers would work outside the home,
thereby improving homelife.15
Commenting on the effects o f automatic machine production,
Stewart argued, “Let us change our point o f view as to the object of
existence. A t present, it is work, work, work; produce, produce, pro­
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The First Hundred Years

duce; and sell, sell, sell. We have no education along other lines. We
do not know what to do with our leisure.” He warned, in recognition
o f the likely effects o f technological developments, “The whole
machinery o f education should be turned at once toward a study of
leisure, and toward teaching the coming generation the use and pur­
pose o f leisure, for, take it from me, they will have plenty o f it.”16
O n the subject o f leisure, Stewart received considerable news­
paper coverage for his comments to die Second National O utdoor
Recreation Conference in 1926. In discussing the need for public
parks and the difficulties o f conducting social life in boarding houses,
Stewart observed, “I believe that a girl who works 9 hours in the
spindle room o f a cotton factory, or 8 hours a day in a boot and shoe
factory at the speed rates which now prevail, can stand a little petting.”
This prompted headlines such as "Petting in City Parks Advocated by
Labor Department Attache,” “Let ’Em Pet in the Parks,” and “Wants
More ‘Petting’ and Fewer Policemen.”17
Stewart was equally forthright in evaluating die problems con­
fronting industry. Writing on the textile industry in the American
Federationist in 1929, he pointed to overproduction, the loss o f for­
eign markets, the decline in wages, and the rise in night work, coupled
with inability to adjust readily to style changes and the hoary and
inefficient commission or agent system o f selling. H is conclusion was,
“In short, the situation in the textile industry is just as bad or worse
than it is in the bituminous coal industry, and the problem is in the
hands o f men no more competent to solve it.”18

The Bureau’s work
Although the Bureau was recognized as a valuable and capable institu­
tion by technical experts and professional societies, it found few
opportunities to modernize and improve its work during the 1920’s.
Only through increased cooperative arrangements with the profes­
sional associations and State agencies did the Bureau manage to
expand some o f its programs. Stewart maintained close relations with
the International Association o f Industrial Accident Boards and Com ­
missions, the International Association o f Public Employment Serv­
ices, and the Association o f Governmental Labor Officials, publishing
their proceedings as Bureau bulletins. The Bureau also worked with
the American Engineering Standards Committee, publishing an
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Stewart: Holding the Fort

extensive series o f its safety codes, and with the Personnel Research
Federation and the National Conference on O utdoor Recreation.
The professional societies often came to the defense o f the
Bureau when its activities were threatened, as in 1922, when the
Bureau o f Efficiency recommended centralizing government statistical
work in an enlarged Bureau o f the Census. To be retitled the Bureau
o f Federal Statistics, it would take over the BLS programs o f wages
and hours, accident statistics, and prices. BLS, much reduced in function, would become the Bureau o f Labor Economics.19
The American Economic Association and the American Statist!'
cal Association opposed the change. They pointed out that such an
increase in responsibilities might swamp the Census staff, that there
was in fact less duplication o f statistical work than a “superficial sur­
vey” might indicate, and that friends o f the Census Bureau should
concern themselves more with securing larger appropriations to
attract the best professional staff than with expanding its authority.20
Talk o f reorganization o f statistical work subsided during the rest of
the decade, and the Bureau’s functions remained intact, although
jurisdictional disputes flared from time to time.
Stewart and the Bureau also put considerable emphasis on devel­
oping cooperative relations with the State bureaus and establishing a
nationwide network o f reporting agencies. In this way, the Bureau was
able to expand some o f its programs despite congressional refusal to
increase appropriations. Late in the decade, Stewart outlined several of
the cooperative programs, specifically in employment, union wage,
building permit, and accident statistics. Joining in one or more o f the
programs were New "fork, Illinois, W isconsin, M assachusetts, Mary­
land, California, New Jersey, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.
In the business-oriented 1920’s, the Bureau’s relations with the
business community were limited, but Stewart was fairly successful in
obtaining cooperation in expanding regular, routine series on wages
and employment. H is contacts were mostly with research directors,
safety experts, and personnel managers.

Cost-of-living and price indexes
Not long after he became Commissioner, Stewart was faced with a
possible transfer o f the cost-of-living work to another agency. In 1921,
Secretary o f Commerce Hoover, with President Harding's support,
pressed to have the Census Bureau issue the cost-of-living reports.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


The First Hundred Years

Hoover claimed that the shift would result in greater accuracy, econ­
omy, and efficiency and complained that BLS was not cooperating
with the Census Bureau. W hen The New York Times reported the
proposed transfer, Secretary o f Labor Davis indicated that no decision
had been reached. Hoover, however, replied, “So far as I am aware,
there is no dispute over this matter unless it arises from minor
employees o f the government who fear that, through any reorganiza­
tion o f method, their positions and authority might be curtailed.”21
Stewart assured Secretary Davis that BLS was cooperating with
the Census Bureau and would continue to do so in every way possible.
N o action was taken on H oover's proposal.22
In appropriations hearings, Stewart regularly cited uses o f the
Bureau's cost-of-living index in wage adjustments. In 1923, he
reported that more than half the settlements in wage controversies
were based on the index. However, he was unable to obtain funds to
maintain quarterly collection and publication. In his 1923 annual
report, Stewart wrote, “It is very plain that the Bureau must continue
to make these surveys every 3 months no matter at what cost, and the
only immediate problem is how to answer the demand for such
surveys from smaller cities and from a wider geographical distribution
o f industrial centers." But the director o f the Bureau o f the Budget
responded that the President wanted BLS to live within its appropria­
tion even if the surveys had to be curtailed. In May 1925, the work
was put on a semiannual basis. 23
In 1927, Stewart set forth the need for a new family budget study
on which to base a revision o f the cost-of-living index to reflect the
changes in purchasing patterns, population distribution, and retail
establishments since the last survey. He stated, “It is a very serious
question as to whether or not the Bureau should continue to collect
up-to-date prices to be applied to a 1918 quantity distribution of
family purchases and call this an up-to-date cost o f living.” He pro­
posed a new survey to cover a better variety o f industrial centers, a
larger number o f smaller cities, a larger number o f families, and fami­
lies with a higher income level. Among the influences on consumers
which such a study would reflect would be the increased purchase of
automobiles and radios, the rise o f installment payment plans, new
types and locations o f retail stores, and the growth o f advertising.2*
Support for a new study came from outside professional organiza­
tions, but Congress would not provide funds during Stew art's term.
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Stewart: Holding the Fort

However, a limited study was conducted in 1928, when Congress
directed the Personnel Classification Board to formulate a wage scale
for the government field service. The Board asked for BLS assistance,
and the Bureau responded with a survey o f the incomes and expendi­
tures o f the families o f 506 Federal employees in Baltimore, Boston,
New 'fork, Chicago, and New O rleans.25
The Bureau also participated in an innovative cost-of-living
inquiry conducted by the International Labor Office in 1930-31. The
study originated with a request by the Ford M otor Company for
information to help in setting wage rates o f its employees in certain
European cities to ensure the same general living standard as that o f its
employees in Detroit. The Bureau conducted the work in Detroit,
covering a sample o f 100 families. The Detroit budget was then used
by the various European statistical agencies, with adjustment for differ­
ences in national consumption habits, government social insurance
payments, and other factors, to determine the cost o f living in those
cities relative to Detroit. 26
The Bureau did expand its collection o f retail prices, a less costly
and complex process than a consumer expenditure survey, so that by
1932, it included 42 articles o f food in 51 continental cities o f the
U nited States and in Honolulu. The Bureau added electricity to the
list o f items priced—gas and coal for household use were already
covered—but dropped dry goods.
The wholesale price index was revised and expanded several
times during the period. In 1921, BLS completed a two-pronged
improvement, regrouping the commodities and adding new articles
and also shifting to the 1919 Census o f Manufactures for weighting
purposes. With data for August 1927, the Bureau issued a revised
index in which the weighting base was changed from 1919 to 1923-25
and the price base was shifted from 1913 to 1926. A t the same time,
some new articles were added, such as automobiles, tires, rayon, and
prepared fertilizer, and some old ones dropped, such as New 'York
State hops and Bessemer steel billets and rails. With data for January
1932, BLS completed the third revision o f Stewart’s term, increasing
the number o f price series from 550 to 784, with adjustments back to
1926. A t the same time, the Bureau began publication o f a weekly
index along with the regular monthly figures.
The wholesale price work was very popular. In 1922, the Bureau
was providing data in advance o f publication to such agencies as the
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The First Hundred Years

Federal Reserve Board, the Bureau o f Standards, the Census Bureau,
the Bureau o f Markets, and the Federal Trade Commission. In the
private sector, the Review of Economic Statistics based part o f its Index
o f Business Conditions on BLS commodity prices.27
The wholesale price index became the focus o f legislative propos­
als for stabilizing commodity price levels. A 1922 bill inspired by
Irving Fisher would have pegged the quantity o f gold weight in the
dollar to a BLS index o f wholesale prices to maintain constant
purchasing power. In 1926, Stewart testified on a bill to amend the
Federal Reserve Act to provide for the stabilization o f the price level
for commodities in general. The “price level” was defined as the price
at wholesale as reflected in the BLS wholesale price index. Stewart
gave considerable evidence on the index and supported the proposal,
declaring that the responsibilities “are not burdensome and are
entirely acceptable to the Department o f Labor and to the Commis­
sioner o f Labor Statistics.” In 1932, Stewart again testified on a propo­
sal “for increasing and stabilizing the price level o f commodities” by
using data from the wholesale price index.28
With the onset o f the depression, private research groups pointed
out the need for better statistics on prices and living costs. In Septem­
ber 1931, the Social Science Research Council and the American
Statistical Association sponsored a conference on improving the state
o f knowledge o f price movements in the U nited States. The limits of
the Bureau’s cost-of-living index were noted, since pricing was based
on 1918-19 family expenditures, as was the need for more comprehen­
sive coverage for the retail and wholesale price indexes. The confer­
ence recommended construction o f the official wholesale and retail
price indexes by a single agency, with plans to be developed for a
comprehensive family budget study when normal economic condi­
tions were restored. Stewart agreed with many o f the recommenda­
tions but noted the time and expense involved in carrying them out.29

Wages and industrial relations
Stewart expanded the collection o f wage data, launching studies o f the
automobile, airplane, metal mining, cigarette, rayon, and Portland
cement industries, among others. In the course o f expanding coverage,
the Bureau also focused on some new areas such as bonus systems and
pay for overtime, Sundays, and holidays.
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Stewart: Holding the Fort

Stewart pointed out, however, that the limited funds permitted
surveys o f only about a dozen o f the larger industries every 2 years at
best, and that the importance o f information on wages required at
least annual reports, particularly for the newer industries. He cited the
Bureau’s embarrassment in meeting requests for data needed in tariff
discussions with old information or with none at all.30 The Bureau did
continue annual publication o f union scales o f wages and hours, now
grouped into about 12 trades and occupations in 67 cities.
A few new series were begun during Stewart’s tenure. In the late
1920’s, the Bureau started a monthly series on current general wage
changes based on questionnaires sent to establishments and unions.
Especially valuable were the series begun in 1932 on man-hours
worked per week and average hourly earnings, obtained from reports
o f the establishments furnishing monthly employment data. Previ­
ously, only payroll totals had been available. The new information was
an important addition to the Bureau's series, particularly for monthto-month changes.
Statistics on strikes and lockouts continued to be published quar­
terly until 1926, when they were issued monthly and supplemented by
an annual report.
The Bureau also published much information on developments
in collective bargaining. Bulletins on bargaining agreements were
issued annually from 1925 through 1928. The Monthly Labor Review
regularly carried information on labor agreements, awards, and deci­
sions, and reports by Hugh L. Kerwin, Director o f Conciliation, on
the conciliation work o f the Department o f Labor. O ther publications
on industrial relations included studies o f meatpacking, the West
C oast lumber industry, bituminous coal mining, and apprenticeship
systems in building construction. Studies relating to such aspects o f
welfare capitalism as the provision o f recreational facilities by employ­
ers also presented information on vacations, sick leave, medical and
hospital services, and group insurance.
Two editions o f the Handbook of American Trade Unions were
published. These listed union organizations and gave their history,
jurisdiction, apprenticeship systems, benefits paid, and membership.

Employment and unemployment
The Bureau had published a monthly series on employment and
payrolls since 1916. During the recession o f 1920-21, in the absence of
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The First Hundred Years

measures o f unemployment, the figures gained increased attention. In
August 1921, the Senate directed the Secretary of Labor to report the
number o f unemployed, and Stewart prepared a response for Secre­
tary Davis, reporting that “the best estimate that can be made from
available sources o f information is that there are at present 5,735,(XX)
persons unemployed in the U nited States.” He explained, “These
figures relate to the differences in the numbers o f employees carried
on payrolls July 1921, as compared with the peak o f employment in
1920,” thus calling attention to the fact that the series was not a direct
measure o f unemployment, reflecting only “employment shrinkage.”31
In transmitting Stewart’s figures to the Senate, Davis alleged that
die prewar unemployment situation had been worse, that more men
and more breadwinners had been out o f work in 1914. The New York
Times supported the Secretary’s position, pointing to farmhands
drawn into the cities by the lure o f silk-shirt pay but now returned to
the farms, and to women factory workers who had returned to “the
more normal life o f the home.” The New Republic however, vehemendy disagreed, saying that Commissioners Wright and Neill and
Secretary William B. W ilson had established a “tradition of accuracy
and impartiality.” It continued, “It remained for the present incum­
bent, in spite o f the high standing o f many o f his bureau chiefs, to
shatter this tradition. M anifestoes by the Secretary o f Labor are no
longer taken seriously in this country.” 32
In O ctober 1921, at the urging o f Secretary o f Commerce Hoo­
ver, President Harding called a conference on unemployment, with
Hoover as chairman. Varying estimates o f the extent o f unemploy­
ment were offered at the conference. The Bureau estimated the
“shrinkage o f employment” at 5.5 million. The U .S. Employment
Service, which had been conducting its own surveys and issuing
reports, estimated the number unemployed at 2.3 million. With such a
range o f estimates, the conference, as reported later, “merely voted to
announce to the country that the number unemployed was between
3.5 million and 5.5 million, numbers startling enough to challenge
In 1922, after the conference adjourned, Assistant Secretary E. J.
Henning directed the Employment Service to discontinue the publica­
tion o f employment statistics in view o f the function being performed
by the Bureau. But despite agreements and directives, the Employ­
ment Service continued to collect such statistics. Stewart noted that
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


Stew art• Holding the Fort

both New Jersey and Pennsylvania refused to cooperate with the
Bureau because o f the duplication o f requests from the two agencies.
“It seems imperative,” he said, “that unless the Employment Service
gets out of the field, the Bureau o f Labor Statistics must drop this
feature of its work.” In 1924, the Secretary again had to chastise the
Employment Service, however, saying that its role was to match men
with jobs, not to function as a statistical bureau. “O ur Department
already has one Bureau which devotes its energies to the gathering of
statistics which affect labor.
The matter did not end there. The Employment Service contin­
ued to issue reports on the general industrial situation, although it had
stopped collecting payroll data from firms. The American Statistical
Association warned in 1924 that these reports “tend to confuse the
public mind, particularly when they are not in agreement with the
more accurate statements based on payroll data put out by the State
and Federal Bureaus o f Labor Statistics.”35 Later, in the charged
atmosphere o f the Great Depression, such differences in unemploy­
ment estimates were to become politically explosive and were, in fact,
to hasten Stewart’s retirement.
An important outgrowth o f the President’s Conference on
Unemployment was a committee appointed by Hoover to study the
factors underlying employment and the practical measures that could
be taken to prevent or mitigate unemployment. The committee called
on the National Bureau o f Economic Research for a study o f business
cycles and on the Russell Sage Foundation for a study o f the adequacy
o f employment statistics. U nder the direction o f Wesley C. Mitchell,
the National Bureau published Business Cycles and Unemployment in
1923, a comprehensive set o f essays by noted economists. The Ameri­
can Statistical Association assumed the sponsorship o f the study o f
employment statistics and appointed a committee on measurement of
employment with Mary Van Kleeck o f the Russell Sage Foundation as
chairman. The full results o f that study were published in 1926,
representing the joint efforts and recommendations o f the three orga­
The report, Employment Statistics for the United States, was a
landmark in the development o f the role o f professional advisory
committees on government statistics. It recommended that BLS func­
tion as the coordinating agency for the publication o f “a periodic
report on employment throughout the nation,” to include data made
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


The First Hundred Years

available by other Federal agencies and the States. It urged expansion
o f the employment series to include nonmanufacturing industries,
information on hours worked, and additional data on characteristics
of workers. It also recommended careful sampling.
The report acknowledged that employment statistics did not pro­
vide a measure o f unemployment—they did not cover those who had
never obtained employment, for example. And it pointed out the need
for information on unemployment in local areas, since “the alleviation
o f distress can best be achieved in the locality where it is found.”
The Bureau had already moved to expand its employment series,
but the report served as encouragement and support for further work.
By 1927, the Bureau’s monthly reports provided employment and
total payroll information for 54 manufacturing industries, covering
about 11,000 establishments.
O utside experts were now examining the Bureau’s data closely,
and they pointed out some major shortcomings. For one thing, the
series was still limited to manufacturing establishments and the rail­
roads, and the shift o f workers into distribution and service industries
was not being captured. Further, Federal Reserve Board statisticians
found a downward bias o f nearly 2 percent a year in the factory
employment figures when comparing them with the Census o f Manu­
factures. The bias was attributed to the Bureau’s slowness in picking
up new industries, and new establishments in older industries. BLS
was urged to adjust its data to the biennial census and to apply
seasonal adjustment factors. ^
In March 1928, with ominous signs o f increasing unemployment,
the Senate passed a resolution sponsored by Senator Robert F. Wagner
calling on the Secretary o f Labor to report the extent of unemploy­
ment and to devise a plan for periodic, permanent statistics. Secretary
Davis responded, citing a BLS estimate o f 1.9 million unemployed
based on the “shrinkage in employment.” Wagner and others were
critical o f the figure, claiming that the number unemployed was three
times as large. He proposed three measures dealing with unemploy­
ment—expansion o f BLS statistical programs, establishment of a
nationwide system o f employment offices, and creation of a Federal
public works program.37
In May, Congress authorized $100,000 for expansion o f the
Bureau’s employment series. With the funds, BLS would be able to
double the number o f manufacturing establishments covered and add
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


Stew art• Holding the Fort

establishments in agriculture, mining, building construction, and
wholesale and retail trade. Data collection for some o f these industries
began in 1928.
In 1928 and 1929, the Senate held landmark hearings, chaired by
Senator James Couzens o f Michigan, on Wagner’s comprehensive pro­
posals on unemployment. Stewart testified on the "shrinkage o f
employment” and, as he had over the years, stressed that the Bureau’s
employment index was not an unemployment measure. H e stated that
a census o f unemployment was necessary, from which the employ­
ment data could be adjusted to reflect current unemployment. To
questions as to whether unemployment matters, including a count o f
the unemployed, were a State rather than a Federal Government
function, Stewart responded that, while he did not intend the latter to
assume all o f the responsibility, it was the Federal Government’s
responsibility to undertake a complete survey. He pointed out that
unemployment, in affecting purchasing power, affected commerce,
which he saw as a Federal, not a State, concern. Furthermore, techno­
logical displacement o f labor was a world problem.38
The Senate Committee had the benefit o f advice from many
technical advisers, including representatives o f the American Statisti­
cal Association. Isador Lubin, later to become Commissioner o f Labor
Statistics, was economic adviser to the committee, on assignment from
The Brookings Institution. Lubin and other technical witnesses sup­
ported Stew art's view o f the need for a census o f unemployment as a
benchmark for the employment series, approved o f the BLS effort
underway to expand the reporting sample, and agreed that coverage of
part-time employment should be added. 39
Congress authorized the census o f unemployment, and Secretary
o f Commerce Robert P. Lamont created an advisory committee to plan
it. J. Chester Bowen, BLS C hief Statistician, served on the panel, as
did William A. Berridge, o f the M etropolitan Life Insurance Company
and Arynefcs Joy, o f the staff o f the Federal Reserve B oard.40
A s public concern with unemployment intensified following the
stock market crash o f O ctober 1929, the differing reports o f the
Bureau o f Labor Statistics and the U .S. Employment Service again
became a subject o f debate. The Employment Service emphasized
hiring prospects, and its figures showed a more optimistic forecast.
The BLS data on employment and labor turnover provided a more
accurate picture, but the figures appeared after the Employment Serv­
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


The First H undred Years

ice releases. The administration highlighted the Employment Service
figures, despite criticisms from New 'fork State Industrial Commis­
sioner Frances Perkins and others, and downplayed the more objec­
tive B LS data.*1
Another incident grew out o f President Hoover’s request to
Stewart for an experimental weekly employment index. In January
1930, basing his statement on the first weekly returns, President H oo­
ver announced, “The tide o f employment has changed in the right
A number o f public figures attacked Hoover’s statement. Frances
Perkins said the numbers were based on too short a time period and
did not correspond to data collected by her office. She further noted
that the President had not quoted Stew art Secretary Davis responded,
“Unfortunately there is developing an inclination in some quarters to
make politics out o f our employment situation even to the extent o f
questioning the accuracy o f the statement that the latest figures show
an upward trend in em ploym ent* Senator La Follette, however, said
o f the administration that all it had done amounted to publishing
“optim istic ballyhoo statem ents.” In a February editorial, The New
fork Times noted that the Bureau’s regular monthly numbers for
January confirmed Perkins rather than Davis.*3
Further incidents followed. In June, Secretary o f Commerce
Lamont released some very preliminary returns from the Census o f
Unemployment conducted in April. In a protest against what he
viewed as attempts to reduce the unemployment count by separating
those laid off from those with no jobs at all, Charles E. Persons, the
man in charge o f the Census tabulations, resigned. Perkins again
complained o f misleading interpretations given to the public. In July,
following release o f preliminary data on Greater New fo rk City, Per­
kins declared that “a more accurate count* would have revealed more
unemploym ent.**
These events, and the growing crisis, spurred action on improv­
ing employment statistics. In July, Congress enacted a bill sponsored
by Senator Wagner directing the Bureau to “collect, collate, report,
and publish at least once each month full and complete statistics o f the
volume o f and changes in em ploym ent* Additional appropriations
were provided.
A t the same time, President Hoover announced the appointment
o f a committee on employment statistics to advise him “on methods by
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


Stewart: Holding the Fort

which we should set up statistics o f employment and unemployment,”
later adding the consideration o f "technological unemployment.”45
Joseph H. W illits o f the W harton School o f Finance and Com ­
merce served as chairman o f the committee, which included, among
others, the Secretaries o f Labor and Commerce, the Director o f the
Census, the Commissioner o f Labor Statistics, representatives o f the
A FL and the National Association o f M anufacturers, and academic
experts. Among the technical advisers were W A . Berridge, Meredith
Givens, Ralph Hurlin, Bryce Stewart, and Ewan Clague. Thus, the
committee constituted a “blue ribbon” panel o f government and pri­
vate compilers and users o f such statistics.
After conducting several studies, the committee issued its report
in February 1931. W hile noting the Bureau’s efforts to expand the
scope and samples o f the series, the committee called for further
improvements. In the manufacturing sector, it urged the Bureau to
adjust its series to the Census o f M anufactures to correct the down­
ward bias reported by the Federal Reserve Board statisticians. It also
called for data by city and State, especially where State agencies were
not collecting such inform ation. Sam pling coverage should be
improved to take account o f the rise o f new firms and new industries.
The committee commended BLS for launching data collection in
nonmanufacturing industries but called for further effort to include
building construction and the growing “white collar” fields. O n the
measurement o f hours worked and part-time employment, BLS
should concentrate initially on manufacturing and railroads to gain
experience for covering other industry sectors.46
The committee stressed the importance o f accurate employment
data for the measurement o f unemployment. In the absence o f some
system o f universal registration o f the unemployed, nationwide unem­
ployment censuses would provide the best measure, but these were
costly and had other shortcomings. Therefore, the committee recom­
mended the continuation o f a decennial census o f unemployment,
possibly a quinquennial census, to which the employment series, with
the recommended improvements, could be benchmarked.47
The committee gave considerable attention to the subject o f tech­
nological unemployment, noting the difficulty o f relating labor dis­
placement to specific causes. Ewan Clague, who earlier had directed
the development o f industry productivity measures by the Bureau, was
asked to prepare a preliminary survey. The committee stressed the
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


The First H undred Years

importance o f technological advance in any discussion o f employment
and unemployment, and recommended that fundamental data collec­
tion and case studies "should be a continuing part o f the responsibility
o f the Federal Government and specifically o f the Bureau o f Labor
BLS had already begun many o f the proposed programs. But the
committee gave sanction and direction to a specific, comprehensive
plan o f action, and the Bureau’s activities intensified rapidly. By 1932,
summary reports covered 64,000 establishments in manufacturing and
nonmanufacturing industries. With the assistance o f several cities and
States, the Bureau developed a series on construction industry
employment, covering some 10,000 firms. Also, the Bureau developed
a series showing the trend o f employment in States, using data from
State agencies to supplement BLS figures, as well as a series on
employment in cities with a population o f more than 500,000, cover­
ing 13 such cities by supplementing the monthly survey. However, an
experimental survey o f State, county, and city government employ­
ment and earnings proved unsatisfactory when reports declined sub­
stantially due to economy measures taken by those jurisdictions
during the depression years. Federal civil service employment was
reported beginning in 1932. The Bureau did not begin to benchmark
its employment series to the Census o f M anufactures until 1934.49

Industrial safety and health
The Bureau continued its campaign for improvement o f industrial
accident statistics. Its objective was to “do for the entire field what has
been done for the iron and steel industry”, referring to the Bureau’s
regular reports on accident rates in that industry begun in 1910. A s
M eeker had said earlier, Secretary Davis declared in 1923, “It is not
greatly to the credit o f our people that nobody knows with any
substantial degree o f accuracy how many industrial accidents occur
annually in the U nited States. No one knows even the annual number
o f industrial fatalities. The difficulty in obtaining reliable data is due
largely to the incomparability and incompleteness o f the accident
statistics published by the various States.”50
Thus, the Bureau encouraged States and industries to adopt a
uniform method o f recording and reporting accidents. Stewart urged a
strong statistical program to identify “where it will pay you to get
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


Stewart: Holding the Fort

In the late 1920’s, Stewart pushed for congressional authorization
for a Division o f Safety within the Bureau to act as a “clearinghouse
for the information the States are gathering.”52 Although the authori­
zation was never received, in 1926 the Bureau began an annual survey
o f industrial injuries in a group o f manufacturing industries, based on
State records and reports from establishments. With data for 1930
covering about 25 percent o f the workers in some 30 manufacturing
industries, it reported average frequency and severity rates.
Articles and bulletins covered a variety o f related studies,
including a survey o f health in the printing trades and the mortality
experience o f union typographers, as well as several studies o f indus­
trial hygiene and industrial poisoning.
In addition, the Bureau cooperated with the American Engineer­
ing Standards Committee to write and publish safety codes. It also
sponsored meetings such as the Industrial Accident Prevention C on­
ference that convened in W ashington in July 1926 with 33 States
represented, a major step forward in cooperation. In 1926, the Bureau
published a bulletin on phosphorus necrosis in the fireworks industry,
the result o f one o f its investigations. Following this, through agree­
ments with manufacturers, BLS was successful in eliminating the pro­
duction and sale o f small articles o f fireworks containing white or
yellow phosphorus.53

Social insurance
Social insurance and various forms o f protective legislation continued
to be an active interest o f the Bureau. In the early 1920*s, reports were
published on workmen’s compensation, family allowances, legal aid,
cooperatives, a minimum wage, women workers, and child labor. Later
in the decade, the Bureau concentrated on a relatively new field,
pension and retirement systems. Following passage o f amendments to
the Federal retirement system in 1926, the Bureau launched a survey
o f 46 State and municipal plans, publishing the results in 1929 along
with information on public service retirement systems in Canada and
Europe. It followed with many other studies o f domestic and foreign
The Bureau also published material in a related field, care for the
elderly under private auspices. The Review presented articles on
homes for the elderly operated by fraternal, religious, and nationality
organizations, including one on homes for “aged colored persons.”
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


The First Hundred Years

The Bureau also cooperated with fraternal organizations in a survey of
conditions in almshouses and “poor farms” around the country, devel­
oping the results in cooperation with the National Fraternal Congress.

Productivity and technological change
The study o f productivity and the effects o f technological change
made important strides under Stewart. The Bureau had published
studies on productivity in the lumber and shoe industries during
M eeker’s years, but, in general, as Stewart observed in 1922, “Few
statistical subjects are more discussed, there is none upon which we
know less.”54
Productivity was an issue in labor-management relations in the
1920’s. Wage adjustments recognizing the increased productivity of
American industry became a goal o f labor, formally stated by the AFL
in 1925: “Social inequality, industrial instability, and injustice must
increase unless the workers* real wages, the purchasing power o f their
wages, coupled with a continuing reduction in the number o f hours
making up the working day, are progressed in proportion to man’s
increasing power o f production.” 55
Among spokesmen for management, there were divergent views
on the role o f productivity. Some contended that there were restric­
tions and inefficiencies in the work rules sought by labor; others
reluctantly accepted the “economy o f high wages” which would make
for increased purchasing power to improve both standards o f living
and the demand for the increasing output o f American industry.56
Stewart explained that the Bureau’s work would not involve
“what a man can do or what he ought to do. It is proposed simply to
record what he does, as a matter o f statistics.” He had no sympathy
with the use o f such information “to drive men” in an “unreasonable
speed-up,” but believed that it was as important for industry to know
“the time cost o f production” as it was to know the labor cost or the
material cost.57
In 1922, Stewart signed an agreement with the Babson Statistical
Organization for a joint project on productivity, with the construction
industry as the first subject. The study could not be carried out
successfully, however, because o f the great variation in materials
among contractors and the lack o f adequate records. Several other
studies were completed and published—for longshoring and the shoe,
brick, and paper boxboard industries—but the project was abandoned
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


Stewart: Holding the Fort

in 1924 because o f a lack o f funds and a shortage o f staff equipped to
handle the complex technical work.58
The groundwork for a more sophisticated program o f industry
productivity measures was laid in 1926, when Stewart brought Ewan
Clague from the University o f W isconsin to direct a special project.
For data on output, the work drew on the biennial Census o f Manu­
factures supplemented by more current figures available from the
Department o f Commerce. Employment data came from the Bureau’s
monthly series. In 1926, the Bureau published output per man-hour
measures for the steel, automobile, shoe, and paper industries. In
1927, measures were published for 11 additional industries. More
extensive case studies o f particular industries, such as the glass indus­
try, also included output per man-hour measures.
Stewart cautioned that, while labor time was used as the unit for
measurement, this did not mean that the increased output was due to
the efforts o f labor alone, or at all. “The increased output per man­
hour in a given industry may have been due to more skillful and
efficient labor, to new inventions, improved machinery, superior man­
agement, or any one o f a number o f factors; but the Bureau in these
general summaries makes no attempt to determine the relative impor­
tance o f these factors.”59
Later, as concern grew over the effects on employment of
increased productivity and technological change, the Bureau devel­
oped information on the displacement o f workers. In the early 1930’s,
Bureau studies covered the effects o f new technology in the telephone
and telegraph industry; the amusement industry, in particular the
effect o f sound motion pictures; street and road building; agriculture;
cargo handling; iron and steel sheet production; cigar making; and the
automobile and tire industries.60

During Stewart’s 12 years, the leadership o f the Bureau changed little.
Charles E. Baldwin was Stewart’s second in command throughout,
first as C hief Statistician and C hief Clerk, then as Assistant Commis­
sioner. W hen Baldwin became Assistant Commissioner, J.C . Bowen
succeeded him as C hief Statistician. Only two men served as Chief
Editor under Stewart, Herman L. Amiss and Hugh S. Hanna. All four
had been in the Bureau since at least 1909.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


The First H undred Years

Stewart complained o f underclassification o f positions. A s C om '
missioners had before him, he testified to Congress, “Clerks competent to do the work o f the Bureau o f Labor Statistics cannot be had at
these rates." This was one reason for the relatively poor attraction of
the Bureau for young professionals in these years.61
Perversely, even congressional attempts to improve pay for govem m ent employees affected the Bureau negatively. In 1927, Stewart
informed the House Committee on Appropriations that, although
Congress had increased the per diem paid to field agents, the Budget
Bureau had granted less than half the amount needed to cover the
increase. The liberalization resulted, he said, “in still further reducing
our possible field w ork."62
O n one occasion, however, Stewart and Secretary Davis were
able to gain some ground in improving the status o f Bureau personnel.
In September 1923, Stewart wrote Davis to complain that the Personnel Classification Board had rated BLS as a “minor bureau." In turn,
Davis wrote the Board, “There are four separate counts under each of
which it would appear a distinct injustice has been done in that the
real status o f the Bureau has not been adequately considered. . . . I
cannot consent to the relegation o f the personnel and work o f the
Bureau o f Labor Statistics to a Departmental clerical status." C on­
cerned for the general treatment o f economists, sociologists, and tech­
nical statisticians, the American Statistical Association, the American
Economic Association, the American Sociological Association, and
the American Association for Labor Legislation joined in protest.
Reversing itself, the Classification Board established the “Economic
Analyst G roup" in the professional and scientific service.6^
Congress routinely refused funds for expansion o f the Bureau’s
programs. In Stewart’s first 4 years, the budget was at about its level in
1919 (table 4). In fact, Congress often reacted to Stewart’s requests for
increased appropriations with suggestions for reductions instead. He
was pressed, for example, to justify the cost o f field visits for data
collection in the wage and price programs when collection by mail
would be cheaper.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


Stewart: Holding the Fort

Table 4.

Appropriations for Bureau o f Labor Statistics, 1921-33
(in thousands)











Fiscal year ended
June 30 —

’ Includes salaries, miscellaneous, library, and deficiency and supplemental appropriations.
in c lu d es deficiency appropriations o f $119,000.
^Includes supplemental appropriation o f $140,000.
4Not available separately; total given as ‘ salaries and expenses.*
SOURCES: Legislative, Executive, and Judicial Appropriations. The Budget o f the
United States Government.

And the Monthly Labor Review was in jeopardy in 1921, when
Congress, seeking to rein in government publications, put a require­
ment in an appropriations bill for specific congressional authorization
for such journals. Approval for the Review was held up, and the need
for economy was not the only reason given. Representative Stevenson
o f South Carolina, from the Joint Committee on Printing, declared
that a Department o f Labor pursuing its “legitimate functions” and
publishing materials “legitimately to be used by the institutions o f this
country” would have no difficulties. However, “a magazine that
reviews books and prints commendations o f soviet literature and all
that sort of thing . . . we do not propose that it shall be further
published at the expense o f the voters o f the U nited States.” Never­
theless, Congress passed the necessary authorization in May 1922.64
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


The First Hundred Years

The disposition o f C ongress changed somewhat later in the decade. The Bureau’s appropriation was increased by about 20 percent in
1925, with slight additional increases until 1929, when, with a weaken­
ing economy and growing unemployment, Congress granted a sub­
stantial deficiency appropriation for work on employment and
unemployment statistics. Deficiency and supplemental appropriations
were given for this work during the next years, but they often came
too late in the fiscal year to be allocated, so that the Bureau of the
Budget would delete the amount from new requests.65

International activities
The reporting o f economic conditions abroad never flagged under
Stewart. Bureau publications frequently presented statistics and
reports on legislation and industrial developments in foreign coun­
tries. However, U .S. rejection o f membership in the League of
Nations in 1920 greatly limited BLS participation in international
agencies. The Bureau moved to drop the annual allocation o f $1,000
from its budget for the International Association for Labor Legisla­
tion. Stewart noted that the association had merged with the Interna­
tional Labor Organization, one o f the constituent agencies o f the
League o f Nations, to which the U nited States did not belong. Even
so, the Bureau maintained “a friendly cooperation” with the ILO,
especially while former Commissioner Meeker was there.66
Stewart did attend the meetings o f the International Institute of
Statistics in Rome in 1925 as a member o f the U .S. delegation. He
attended only one other international meeting, a session o f the ILO
Conference o f Labor Statisticians in 1931. Stewart was there primarily
because o f the Bureau’s work on the international study o f wages and
the cost o f living for the Ford M otor Company. Stewart explained his
reluctance to join in such functions: “If we send delegations to one of
their conferences or conventions, I do not believe that we can escape
the implication that we are as a country refusing to enter the League
o f Nations by the front door but are in fact crawling in through the
back door.”6?
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


Stewart: Holding die Fort

O n July 1, 1932, Commissioner Stewart, then 74 years old, was retired
involuntarily under the Economy Act o f 1932, which required automatic separation o f retirement-age Federal employees after July 1932
unless specifically exempted by the President. Stewart’s term ran until
December 1933, but Secretary Doak’s refusal to recommend an
exemption resulted in his termination.
Observers generally attributed his retirement to factors other
than age. The following incident, reported in Time, was also cited in
other newspapers as the main reason: “Last spring, Secretary o f Labor
Doak told newsmen that he had been supplied departmental data
which showed that employment was increasing throughout the land.
Fooled before by such cheery statements from politically minded Sec­
retaries, the reporters went to Commissioner Stewart to check up.
The white crowned, white whiskered old man telephoned Secretary
Doak that the statistics given him warranted no such declaration.
Thereupon Secretary Doak recalled the newsmen, told them to disre­
gard his earlier statement, and then, in front o f them gave Statistician
Stewart a tongue-lashing for daring to contradict his chief. It was
Secretary Doak who refused to certify Mr. Stewart’s indispensability
to the President, thereby depriving him o f his job.”68
Stewart him self wrote that he had been considering retirement
but “it was the cheap, boorish method employed that hurt me.” The
San Francisco News was more caustic: “In the city named for George
Washington, it seems they fire people for telling the truth. Stewart has
been in continuous government service for 45 years. He is recognized
as one o f the ablest men in his line in America, and his honest work
on employment is particularly needed now. But, unfortunately for
him and the country, he is too candid.”69
For a year, from July 1, 1932 until July 6, 1933, Charles E.
Baldwin served as the Acting Commissioner, and he tried to follow
Stewart’s policies.
Ethelbert Stewart died in 1936.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


Chapter VI.

Isador Lubin:
Meeting Emergency


sador Lubin was sworn in as Commissioner o f Labor Statistics in
July 1933, in the midst o f the worst depression in the Nation’s
history. The Bureau expanded greatly during his tenure, first to
meet the needs o f the New Deal agencies set up to deal with the
emergency and then to provide the information needed for guiding
the economy during the war years. Through the force o f his personal­
ity and the breadth o f his knowledge and experience, Lubin provided
the impetus for the Bureau’s development into a modem , profession­
ally staffed organization equipped to deal with the many tasks assigned.

The fifth Commissioner
Isador Lubin was bom in 1896 in W orcester, M assachusetts, the son
o f Lithuanian immigrants. Helping out in his father’s retail clothing
business, Lubin learned o f the uncertainties confronting factory work­
ers in the early years o f the century. He attended Clark College in
W orcester and, with the goal o f an academic career, accepted a fellow­
ship at the University o f M issouri. There he established a close rela­
tionship with Thorstein Veblen.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


L ubin: M eeting Emergency Dem ands

With U .S. entry into the war in 1917, Lubin, along with many
other young academicians, was drawn into government service. For
several months, he and Veblen were employed in the Food Adminis­
tration, preparing studies dealing with food production and farm labor
problems. In one study, they interviewed local leaders o f the Indus­
trial W orkers o f the World—widely viewed as radicals threatening the
war effort—and reported that some o f the grievances o f the group
were legitimate and that the agricultural workers involved were not
receiving fair treatm ent.1
Lubin then joined the War Industries Board's Price Section at the
invitation o f its head, Wesley C . Mitchell. For a year, he was involved
in studies analyzing wartime fluctuations in the prices o f rubber and
petroleum and their products, and the general effect o f wartime gov­
ernment price floors and ceilings.
After his service in Washington, Lubin received an appointment
as an instructor in economics at the University o f Michigan and later
was put in charge o f the labor economics courses. He returned to
W ashington in 1922 to teach and conduct studies at the new Institute
o f Economics, which became The Brookings Institution in 1928.
Among the studies he led were broad-gauged analyses o f the American
and British coal industries, dealing with the economic, social, and
psychological influences on mine operators and unions, including the
competitive effects o f nonunion operations, national efforts at selfsufficiency in coal production, and alternative sources o f energy.2
In the late 1920’s, Brookings was a prime source o f advice and
research on the growing problem o f unemployment. Lubin became a
leading participant in studies o f technological unemployment and of
the British experience in dealing with unemployment. In 1928, he was
assigned by Brookings to assist the Senate Committee on Education
and Labor, which was considering legislation to deal with unemploy­
ment. He became economic counsel to the committee and, working
closely with Senator James Couzens, the committee chairman, organ­
ized and directed the hearings, laying out the subject matter and
selecting representatives o f government, business, unions, and the
economics profession to testify.
Brookings then assigned Lubin, at the request o f Senator Robert
Wagner, to assist in hearings on three bills in the spring o f 1930. One
called for expanded monthly reports on employment by the Bureau of
Labor Statistics; another, for advance planning o f public works to be
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The First Hundred Years

activated during business depressions; and the third, for establishment
o f a Federal-State unemployment insurance system. Frances Perkins,
New York State Industrial Commissioner, was among the witnesses
Lubin assembled. Only the bill on employment statistics was enacted
Lubin helped organize the National Conference o f Professionals
held in W ashington in March 1931 at the call o f a bipartisan group of
Senators led by Robert M. La Follette, Jr., to discuss a legislative
program to combat the depression. The conference participants
included governors, members o f Congress, farm and labor leaders,
businessmen, economists, social workers, and others. He also worked
actively with Senators La Follette and Costigan in late 1931 and 1932
on bills proposing Federal relief and public works programs, again
serving as economic counsel.
In August 1932, Senator Wagner asked Brookings to grant Lubin
a leave o f absence to work in his campaign for reelection. Lubin’s 5
years o f experience with measures to deal with unemployment proved
valuable in Wagner’s successful campaign, in which Wagner stressed
his efforts to ease the burdens o f the depression.3
In 1933, Frances Perkins, Secretary o f Labor in the new
Roosevelt administration, was looking for a Commissioner o f Labor
Statistics to fill the vacancy created by the retirement o f Ethelbert
Stewart. Lubin was on the list o f candidates submitted by the Ameri­
can Statistical Association, and, knowing o f his broad interests and
experience, Perkins chose him as her nominee. Her biographer has
stated, “W hen she offered him the post, she told him that he had been
chosen because she thought he would remember that statistics were
not numbers but people coping or failing to cope with the bufferings
o f life.”4

Lubin’s views
Lubin was prominent among those economists who saw the need for
an increased role for government in economic affairs, particularly after
the onset o f the depression. A s early as 1929, in reporting on the
result o f the study he conducted for the Senate Committee on Educa­
tion and Labor, Lubin stressed that the so-called absorption o f the
“dispossessed” worker by “newer” industries was a “slow and painfully
prolonged process.” Further, many displaced workers were being
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Lubin: M eeting Emergency Dem ands

forced into unskilled trades, with lower earnings and consequently
reduced standards of living. “A t the same time, they are being made to
bear the burden of unemployment for which they are in no way
responsible and over which they have no control.” Lubin’s assessment
was that “unemployment is the result o f industrial organization, and
not of individual character.”5
In testifying on unemployment insurance measures in 1931-32,
Lubin stated that society was partly responsible for unemployment,
resulting as it did “from the general disorganization o f the economic
system due to the fact that those persons who direct our system are
not doing the job as well as it should be done.” National corporations
and industries and employed consumers benefiting from depressed
prices should bear their share of the burden.6
It was his view that underconsumption resulting from the inequi­
table distribution o f income had been a major factor contributing to
the Great Depression. A t the opening hearing o f the Temporary
National Economic Committee in 1938, Lubin stated, “A more equita­
ble distribution is more than an ethical problem. . . . To me it is a
problem o f keeping the gears o f the economic machine constantly in
mesh.” W hat was needed, he believed, was to so distribute income
“that it will pull into our homes, through a higher standard o f living,
the goods, that is the clothing, food, entertainment, education, and so
forth, which our economic machine must turn out at a rate considera­
bly higher than at the present time---- ”7
Lubin supported the establishment o f minimum wages and maxi­
mum hours to protect the competitive system while making it possible
for American workers to maintain a decent standard o f living. In
reviewing the industry codes established under the National Industrial
Recovery Act, he frequently protested against the inadequate provi­
sions on wages, hours, and child labor, and sought to include mini­
mum standards for health and safety in the codes. W ith the
establishment o f adequate standards, Lubin stated, “Employers with a
social conscience are assured that they will no longer be compelled to
conform to the standards o f competitors with blunted social sensibili­
A t the final T N EC hearings in 1941, Lubin stressed the need for
viewing the economy as a whole. “No set o f measures that can be
recommended will be adequate unless there is a fundamental underly­
ing and continuing commitment that the goal o f national economic
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The First H undred Years

policy is the full utilization o f our resources, both o f men and m ated'
als. . .
W hen economic progress involved losses as well as gains,
Lubin deemed it proper “that the cost o f progress, which benefits the
community as a whole, should be borne by the community. . . He
called for defense contracts to require special dismissal funds to cover
employees affected by cutbacks in defense industries in the postwar
reconversion period.9
He believed events had demonstrated that government leadership
and participation were required to meet violent economic dislocations,
whether in peace or in war, since private enterprise did not adapt
readily to such dislocations. No single program, neither the discour­
agement o f economic concentration nor the indiscriminate spending
o f public funds, would bring a solution o f these problems. “There is
no panacaea that will guarantee the creation o f full employment in a
free democracy.”10

Lubin and the New D eal years
W hen Lubin assumed the leadership o f the Bureau, he and Secretary
Perkins were in agreement that the Bureau’s staff and programs
needed to be improved to keep up with the economic and social needs
o f the times. M ore and better information on employment and unem­
ployment was o f vital importance. More price data were needed by the
agencies administering the National Industrial Recovery Act and the
Agricultural Adjustm ent Act to determine whether consumers were
being faced with unwarranted price increases. The National Recovery
Administration also needed expanded and more current industry wage
and hour studies for use in its code-formulating activities. And the
new era o f industrial relations ushered in by the National Labor
Relations Act, as well as the division between the A FL and the C IO ,
called for more information on unions and collective bargaining devel­
Lubin added another dimension to the task: “Not only must raw
data be improved but the Bureau must be enabled more fully to
analyze the material it now has, so that evidence may be available as to
where the recovery program is having the greatest effect and where it
is falling down.”11
Both Lubin and Perkins showed immediate interest in improving
the Department’s statistical program. U pon her appointment, Perkins
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L übin: M eeting Emergency Dem ands

called on the American Statistical Association to establish a committee
for advice “regarding the methods, adequacy, usefulness and general
program o f the Bureau o f Labor Statistics.” This committee, whose
membership included Ewan Clague and Aryness Joy, became part of
the broader based Committee on Government Statistics and Inform a'
tion Services (C O G SIS) sponsored by the Social Science Research
Council and the A SA .12
Lubin readily acknowledged the role o f outside experts in die
“work o f revision and self-criticism”, reporting that “the Bureau has
followed a consistent policy o f consulting with recognized technical
experts, and o f constantly soliciting the opinions o f employers and
labor union officials regarding possible improvements to provide
greater service.”13 A t an informal meeting o f labor union research staff
members in 1934, Lubin announced die creation o f a Labor Informa­
tion Service for the use o f local union officers and members. Relations
with union research staff continued on an informal basis until June
1940, when a more formal relationship was established.
In mid-1934, Perkins reported that the Department’s statistical
work “is perhaps better than at any time during its history and repre­
sents the best technical standards, as to method, coverage and inter­
Lubin and Perkins also were interested in improving the coordi­
nation o f Federal statistical work. Immediately after his appointment
in July 1933, Lubin participated in the setting up o f the Central
Statistical Board, which Roosevelt established by Executive O rder at
the end o f July. Subsequently, Lubin and Perkins endorsed legislation
for a permanent board, which was established by Congress in 1935 for
a 5-year period to ensure consistency, avoid duplication, and promote
economy in the work o f government statistical agencies. The technical
board was responsible to a Cabinet-level Central Statistical Committee
composed o f the Secretaries o f Labor, Commerce, Treasury, and Agri­
culture. Lubin urged Perkins to press her claim as chairman o f die
committee with Roosevelt, and she was so designated. Lubin served as
vice-chairman o f the technical board.
W hile Lubin worked towards the improvement o f statistical pro­
grams, Secretary Perkins encouraged a broader role for the Commis­
sioner, giving him many special assignments, among them the
chairmanship o f a labor advisory board to the Public Works Adminis­
tration. In this capacity, he dealt for almost 3 years with questions
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The First Hundred Years

relating to the referral o f union and nonunion workers to construc­
tion projects, job opportunities for Negro skilled workers in view of
their exclusion from building trades unions, observance o f arbitration
awards, and determination o f wages.
Lubin also served as chairman o f a board set up to settle a strike
o f citrus workers in Florida in early 1934. The board included repre­
sentatives o f the National Recovery Administration, the National
Labor Board, and the Department o f Agriculture. The board’s report
called on the Department o f Agriculture to insist that the marketing
agreement approved for the citrus industry include provisions encour­
aging steady employment and recognizing the right o f labor to organ­
ize and bargain collectively. In submitting the report to Agriculture
Secretary Henry Wallace, Lubin urged that he establish an office to
deal with agricultural labor problems. W hen Wallace took no action,
Lubin proposed that the Bureau study the farm labor area. The effect
o f inadequate knowledge about these workers, according to Lubin,
was their exclusion from all existing laws.15
W hen a strike threatened in the auto industry in November
1934, Leon Henderson, C hief Economist o f the National Recovery
Administration, asked Lubin’s help in an investigation. The Bureau
conducted a study o f wages in the industry, including analyses of
annual earnings, employment patterns, and seasonal fluctuations in
production. Henderson and Lubin personally interviewed industry
representatives. Among their recommendations was one accepted by
the auto manufacturers, that new models be brought out in Novem­
ber, rather than in December, to achieve greater regularization of
Early in her administration, Perkins named Lubin chairman o f a
departmental committee to promote U .S. membership in the Interna­
tional Labor Organization. A t the same time, she agreed to an ILO
request to have Lubin serve on its advisory committee on labor statis­
tics. Following U .S. entry into the ILO in August 1934, Lubin was the
first U .S. delegate to its governing body. The Bureau was given
responsibility for the administrative arrangements for continuing U .S.
representation in Geneva, with funds for the purpose included in the
Bureau budget. ^ Lubin continued to attend meetings o f the gov­
erning body.
Perkins frequently asked Lubin to participate in economic discus­
sions at the W hite House. He prepared analyses for her and for the
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Lubin: M eeting Emergency Dem ands

Central Statistical Committee she headed. Elected secretary to the
committee, Lukin regularly prepared an economic report, which was
abstracted for presentation to the National Emergency Council. In
1936, Perkins wrote the President that “the value o f this arrangement
would obviously be enhanced by Dr. Lubin’s membership in the
National Emergency Council. May I recommend and request that you
designate him?”18
Lubin was soon given other W hite House assignments. He partic­
ipated in the discussions the President held with business, labor, and
government policy officials on measures for dealing with the major
economic downturn o f 1937. Soon after, he was the first witness in
hearings on unemployment. In 1938, when Congress established the
Temporary National Economic Committee to investigate monopolistic
practices, the President asked Lubin to call off a lecture commitment
to be on hand to help with preliminary arrangements.19
Lubin was designated as the Department o f Labor representative
to the TN EC , with A. Ford Hinrichs, the Bureau's C hief Economist,
as alternate. Lubin had a large part in planning the work o f the
committee, in preparing analyses, and in making recommendations.
The Bureau prepared several monographs for the committee, with
Special Assistant Aryness Joy directing the staff work, which included
both analytical and case study approaches.
Lubin's full-time direction o f the Bureau came to an end in June
1940 when Secretary Perkins, at the request o f Sidney Hillman, head
o f the Labor Division o f the National Defense Advisory Commission,
assigned Lubin to serve as Hillman’s economic adviser. Lubin retained
his position as Commissioner. In a memorandum to Hinrichs, named
Acting Commissioner, Lubin stated, “In general, you are authorized
on your own responsibility and without reference to me to represent
the Bureau o f Labor Statistics in any matters which may arise and to
make any decisions that may be necessary either with reference to
policy or internal administration. ” However, he would continue to be
available to Hinrichs “on all matters o f fundamental policy.”20
Lubin's responsibilities grew under the Defense Advisory Com ­
mission, then under the Office o f Production Management, and later
under the War Production Board. Within a year, he was called to serve
in the W hite House as special statistical assistant to the President. O n
May 12, 1941, Secretary Perkins wrote the President, “I am very glad
to comply with your request to assign to your office and for your
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The First Hundred Years

assistance Mr. Isador Lubin____W hile Mr. Lubin will, I know, give
you great assistance, his entire staff in the Department o f Labor will be
at his disposal to assist him in the inquiries he will make for you.”21
Lubin remained as Commissioner on leave until his resignation
from government service in 1946.

Hinrichs and the war years
Hinrichs served as Acting Commissioner for 6 years, supervising the
wartime activities o f the Bureau. H e communicated with Lubin on a
regular basis, but generally to meet Lubin’s needs at the W hite House.
H is relations with Secretary Perkins were more formal than Lubin’s
had been.
A. Ford H inrichs was bom in New 'fork City in 1899. He
received his doctorate at Colum bia University and taught there and at
Brown University, where he was director o f the Bureau o f Business
Research. In 1930 and 1932, he travelled to the Soviet Union, Italy,
and Germany to study state economic planning.22
O n his entry into the Bureau as C hief Economist, Hinrichs con'
ducted a study o f wages in the cotton textile industry requested by the
National Recovery Administration for the development o f industry
codes. Later, he made a more intensive survey o f the industry for the
use o f the Wage and H our Administration. In early 1940, Hinrichs
was designated Assistant Commissioner, shortly before becoming Act­
ing Commissioner.
W hen Hinrichs took over the leadership o f the Bureau in the
midst o f the national defense buildup, it had significantly enhanced its
role as the factfinding agency o f the Federal Government in the fields
o f employment, prices, wages, industrial relations, industrial safety and
health, and productivity. It had an extensive file o f data on economic
trends and a staff trained to collect data accurately and economically.
With U .S. entry into the war, the agencies administering war
production and stabilization programs needed a vastly more detailed
body o f economic data. U nder Hinrichs, the Bureau became the
factfinding arm o f the Office o f Price Administration, the National
War Labor Board, the War Production Board, the War and Navy
Departments, the Maritime Commission, and, to a lesser extent, other
agencies. It supplied detailed information on employment conditions
and provided estimates, by occupation and region, of the amount of
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Lubin: M eeting Emergency Dem ands

labor needed to meet war production schedules. For price control and
rationing programs, it provided data on wholesale and retail prices and
the cost o f living; for wage stabilization programs, it provided data on
wages, hours, and the cost o f living. Agencies such as the OPA and the
W LB used the statistics from the Bureau to monitor the effectiveness
o f their administrative activities. The wartime work had a lasting
impact on the Bureau’s programs in improved quality, the expansion
o f regional and local data, and the development o f more advanced
statistical techniques.

The Bureau’s work
The cost-of-living index
The Bureau’s cost-of-living index figured in legislation immediately
upon Roosevelt’s entry into office. O n March 20, 1933, Congress
passed the Economy Act, which reduced Federal Government salaries
by 15 percent on the basis o f a drop o f more than 20 percent in the
cost o f living since June 1928. Later in the year, as required under the
act, the Bureau conducted a survey o f the cost o f living o f Federal
employees in the District o f Columbia, comparing prices paid in 1928
and December 1933. Grouping expenditures for those earning under
$2,500, over $2,500, and for single individuals living in rented rooms,
the study found price declines averaging about 15 percent, except for
the single individuals, for whom restaurant prices had not fallen as
much as unprepared foods used at home.23
The national cost-of-living index underwent early improvement
with the help o f the Advisory Committee to the Secretary. By 1935,
the index, still based on the 1917-19 expenditure survey, was pub­
lished quarterly, calculated from food prices in 51 cities and other
commodity and service prices in 32 o f the large cities. Beginning in
1935, the national index was calculated by applying population
weights to the data for the 51 cities. The number o f food items was
increased from 42 to 84, with a better representation o f meats, fruits,
and vegetables, and with weighting to make them representative of
other foods whose pattern o f price movements was similar. Pricing was
based on written specifications, ensuring comparability from city to
city and over time, and trained local personnel were employed on a
contract basis to collect some o f the data. The rent index was revised
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The First H undred Years

to make it more representative o f wage earners and lower salaried
Lubin pressed for authorization to conduct a new nationwide
family expenditure survey and was able to obtain a special appropria­
tion. Ethelbert Stewart had regularly, but unsuccessfully, asked for
such authorization.
The expenditure survey was conducted in 1934-36, covering
12,903 white families and 1,566 Negro families in 42 cities with a
population o f 50,000 or more. Limited funds made it necessary to
restrict the survey to large cities. The families included had incomes of
at least $500 per year, were not on relief, and had at least one earner
employed for 36 weeks and earning at least $300 or a clerical worker
earning a mmnmum o f $200 per month or $2,000 per year. The
income o f all the families averaged $1,524-$1,546 for white families
and $1,008 for Negro families.24
The results showed a significant increase in expenditures for
radios and used automobiles, and also reflected increased purchases of
readymade clothing, gasoline, fuel oil, and refrigerators, better food
and nutrition habits, better lighting in homes, use o f dry cleaning and
beauty shop services, and more automobile travel.
D ata derived from the survey were incorporated in a revised costof-living index for wage earners and lower salaried workers in 33 large
riripM* which was issued for the first quarter o f 1940. One innovation
was the inclusion o f outlets representative o f those patronized by
Negro wage earners and salaried workers in cities where they consti­
tuted an important sector o f the population.25
Alm ost simultaneously with the expenditure survey, BLS and the
Bureau o f Home Economics joined in a nationwide survey o f expendi­
tures o f urban and rural consumers for the W orks Progress Adminis­
tration. The Central Statistical Board and the National Resources
Committee sponsored the survey and led in the planning. A t the
opening o f the T N E C hearings, Lubin called attention to the evidence
from the survey that 54 percent o f the 29 million American families
had incomes below $1,250 a year.26
The requirements o f the defense preparedness programs soon
called for additional data on prices and the cost o f living. In 1940, the
National Defense Advisory Commission asked the Bureau to act as its
statistical agency in the field o f prices and to summarize price develop­
ments. Shortly thereafter, the Bureau was providing information on
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L ubiti: M eeting Emergency Dem ands

current price developments, special-purpose index numbers for warassociated products, additional pricing o f such basic items as industrial
chemicals and essential oils, cost-of-living price collection in additional
cities and more rapid issuance o f reports, and rent and housing
surveys in defense production areas. Special studies were undertaken
o f commodities in short supply during the period o f “voluntary” price
regulations by the Office o f Price Administration. The national index
was now issued monthly, based on price and rent reports for 20 o f the
34 large cities for which quarterly data were issued. By the end o f the
year, the Bureau also had initiated indexes for 20 additional represen­
tative small cities to compare changes in the cost o f living in large and
small cities.
In 1941, with the rising cost o f living, the Bureau adopted a
policy o f keeping the index as up to date as possible. In 1942, con­
sumer goods which were no longer available, such as refrigerators,
automobiles, sewing machines, and new tires, were dropped. In 1943,
the relative weights o f rationed foods were changed to take account o f
their reduced availability. A lso, com modity specifications were
changed more frequently than in normal periods, and, with the intro­
duction o f Federal rent control, the Bureau began to obtain informa­
tion from tenants rather than from rental management agencies. In
addition, the Bureau conducted tests to determine whether the prices
reported to field agents were those actually paid by consumers.
The validity o f the cost-of-living index was further tested by an
important economic study, the Survey o f Family Spending and Saving
in Wartime, notable for its use o f probability sampling techniques.
The survey was made primarily for the use o f the Treasury Depart­
ment in formulating its tax and war bond programs and for OPA and
the War Production Board for decisions on rationing, price, and allo­
cation policies. Data were obtained from a representative sample o f
1,300 city fiunilies on income, spending, and savings in 1941 and the
first part o f 1942. The survey tested the relative weights in the cost-ofliving index, establishing that they were substantially correct as o f
1941. A smiliar study in 1945, covering 1944, resulted in minor
changes in specifications and weighting patterns.2?
The cost-of-living index had come in for review at the Bureau’s
annual conferences o f union research directors from their inception
in June 1940. Originally, these were basically technical reviews o f the
shortcomings o f the index in view o f changes in the availability and
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The First H undred Years

quality o f commodities, additional expenditures by workers required
to shift work locations, and rising prices in booming localities. Some
participants called for a BLS pamphlet o f questions and answers about
the index, including what it showed and could not show. Lazare
Teper, Research Director o f the International Ladies* Garment Work­
ers’ U nion, suggested that the Bureau point out that the index under­
stated price rises due to quality deterioration and other wartime
conditions, so that employers and unions could make appropriate
adjustments in their negotiations.28
Later, when wage controls appeared imminent, some research
directors asked the Bureau to either replace the index or supplement
it by developing budgets for maintaining a working class family in
“health and decency." Hinrichs contended that this was a matter for
the War Labor Board to decide and not the Bureau. However, if the
unions wished to press their case with the board, the Bureau was
prepared to furnish them with the information on family income,
expenditures, and savings from the survey conducted in 1941 and
early 1942.29
The Bureau issued the pamphlet “Questions and Answers on the
Cost-of-Living Index" in A pril 1942. The description o f the index was
relatively simple and clear. The pamphlet described the adjustments
made for the disappearance and rationing o f civilian goods. O n the
index’s coverage, it stated, “A cost o f living index can only measure
the general change in the particular city o f the goods and services
customarily purchased by workers. It obviously cannot cover every
conceivable increased cost which individual families experience."
Among the costs which “by their nature cannot be covered in any
measure o f average living costs" were costs o f maintaining the family
at home while a wage earner worked at a distant job; commuting costs
to distant jobs; higher costs, especially o f rent and utilities, in cities to
which workers migrated for defense jobs; and inconveniences caused
by limited or disappearing goods.
Shortly after passage o f the Economic Stabilization Act, in a letter
to William H. Davis, chairman o f the National War Labor Board,
Hinrichs described the problems the Bureau freed in preparing the
index. You should be aware o f the feet that we are experiencing
considerable difficulty in the compilation o f our indexes because o f the
many changes in kinds o f consumer goods available. Moreover, as the
rationing program is extended to more and more commodities, it will
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Lubin: M eeting Emergency Dem ands

be necessary promptly to take account o f the resulting changes in
wage-earners’ spending, if the cost o f living is to be truly representa­
tive. We expect to make every effort to keep the index on the soundest
possible basis and we will wish to discuss with your staff, from Hmp to
time, some o f the policy problems which will arise in this connec­
Davis replied, “We are much concerned that the Bureau’s Costof-Living Index should not be open to attack on technical grounds.
There have already been some comments by trade union representa­
tives in cases before this Board, alleging that the index did not reflect
the full rise in the cost o f living. O ur general policy is now based on
the assum ption that the cost o f living will not rise substantially, and
we must be in a position to prove that this is in fret the case by
reference to an official index which is not open to serious question.
W hile this is a technical problem that the Bureau must handle in its
own way, it is very important to us that the index faithfully show
changes in actual prices o f wage earners’ purchases under rationing or
any other system o f control o f buying which may be instituted by the
U nions had begun to collect retail price data in 1941 to demon­
strate that tighter price controls were needed and that wage controls
would reduce workers’ real income. By late 1942, following the impo­
sition o f wage controls, the union studies were receiving much public
attention. The Bureau and the standing committee o f union research
directors discussed the studies in December 1942, at which time it was
decided to have two union research directors work with the Bureau to
keep the unions and the public generally informed on die uses and
limitations o f the index.32
The effort at public education was extended in early 1943. Aryness Joy W ickens made trips to a number o f cities where price surveys
had been done, meeting with members o f the public and union offi­
cials to explain the uses o f the index, the methods o f gathering and
compiling price data, and the BLS materials available on changes in
food prices. The Bureau gave advice on how to collect prices compara­
ble to cost-of-living figures in cities it did not cover in the index. One
result was that in Detroit, where union figures had differed substan­
tially from BLS data, a new union survey following BLS techniques
showed no significant divergence.33
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The First H undred Years

By June 1943, in view o f the 24-percent rise in the index over
January 1941, as against the 15-percent general wage increase permit­
ted by the Litde Steel wage stabilization formula, the union research
directors intensified their arguments. They now questioned the use o f
the cost-of-living index for wage adjustments, contending that what
was needed were studies o f workers’ expenditures and a determina­
tion o f the cost o f an adequate standard o f living. To those who
insisted that the shortcomings o f the index should be announced, and
specifically to the labor members o f the War Labor Board, Hinrichs
replied, “If our index carries within it such serious shortcomings as to
invalidate the policy conclusions based on it, then the thing to do is
not to announce the shortcomings o f the index, but to scrap it alto­
gether or malr* it better. O ur job is to make it better so that nobody
else will scrap it.” A s to telling the War Labor Board members about
the shortcomings, Hinrichs said he had not been invited to do so. uIf
asked, I am not going to avoid the question o f any o f the shortcom­
ings. I have, o f course, discussed our index with members o f the staff
o f the War Labor Board, but it is not our function to ask for a formal
discussion with the Board.” H e stressed that the unions should not
put “all their eggs” in the cost-of-living basket and suggested that
other B L S material could be used by the labor unions to support
rem ands before the stabilization agencies.34
A t Hinrichs* request, Secretary Perkins asked the American Sta­
tistical Association “to review and appraise the cost o f living index
with reference both to its construction and its uses.” Frederick C.
M ills, o f Colum bia University and the National Bureau o f Economic
Research, was appointed to head a committee o f experts, which heard
from labor organizations, employer associations, consumer groups,
and government agencies. The committee also conducted special field
studies and tests o f Bureau procedures, utilizing Bureau staff.
The principal conclusions o f the M ills Committee sustained the
Bureau’s position. These were: “First, that within the limitations
established for it, the C ost o f Living Index provides a trustworthy
measure o f changes in the prices paid by consumers for goods and
services. Second, that many o f the difficulties and doubts which have
arisen concerning the index have their origins in attempts to use it
uncritically for purposes for which it is not adapted.”
The committee’s assessment was that the index was useful for
public policy dependent on measuring the average trend in consumer
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L ubin: M eeting Emergency Dem ands

prices nationwide, but, for other policy uses, more specific indexes
were required. If a policy o f relating wage adjustments to actual living
costs o f workers were adopted, indexes for particular areas, industries,
population groups, and income levels would be needed.35
The M ills Committee report was released in October 1943.
Chairman Davis o f the National War Labor Board wrote to Perkins, “I
think this will be very helpful to the whole stabilization program. I
was not only gratified to have my own conviction about the index
confirmed, but I also think the committee’s statement o f the proper
use to be made o f the index will be helpful.”36
The report was only the first stage in a prolonged scrutiny of
wage stabilization policy and the cost-of-living index. With labor press­
ing for relaxation o f the wage stabilization policy, President Roosevelt
suggested that the War Labor Board set up a tripartite committee to
explore the widespread “controversy and dispute as to what the cost
o f living is,” and that agreement by such a committee could “have a
salutary effect all over the country, because today all kinds o f exagger­
ated statements are made.”37
The board acted immediately to appoint the committee, known
as the President’s Committee on the C ost o f Living, with Davis as
chairman. A t the initial meeting, the committee adopted a motion by
George Meany o f the A FL to investigate a number o f specific ques­
tions: The cost o f living in O ctober 1943 compared with January 1,
1941, May 15, 1942, and September 15, 1942; how the index figure
was arrived at; whether there were any changes in the methods of
securing or computing the figures; and concrete suggestions for
improving the securing o f figures. The Bureau promptly provided the
information, along with a description o f the preparation o f the
In January 1944, the labor members o f the War Labor Board
submitted a report stating that, by December 1943, the true cost of
living had risen at least 43.5 percent above January 1941, whereas the
BLS index had risen only 23.5 percent. The report stressed that the
BLS index understated price rises because o f deterioration o f quality
and disappearance o f low-priced merchandise. It also noted the
absence o f consideration o f room rent, food bought in restaurants,
and costs in moving from one city to another. In general, it charged
that the index was inaccurate.39
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


The First H undred Years

The Bureau submitted a comprehensive statement in reply,
observing that “there is conclusive evidence that they are absolutely
wrong in asserting that the rise in the cost o f living is nearly twice as
great as the Bureau o f Labor Statistics shows it to be.” The Mills
Committee reaffirmed the conclusions o f its October report.40
The comments on the wide discrepancy o f 20 percentage points
impelled Davis to call on a committee o f technical experts for an
unbiased study. Wesley C . Mitchell, o f the National Bureau o f Eco­
nomic Research, was designated as chairman. O ther members were
Sim on N. Kuznets, o f the War Production Board, and Margaret Reid,
o f the Budget Bureau’s Office o f Statistical Standards.
In June 1944, before the M itchell Committee was ready with its
report, the Bureau held its fifth annual conference with union
research directors. W hile in previous years only research directors had
been invited, this time other union officers also were included, among
them George Meany. Meany addressed the conference. Meany’s biog­
rapher has described what followed: “W hat he said was a bombshell,
and a well-publicized one, for advance texts went to the press.” He
charged the administration with failing to keep down living costs and
deciding that “the next best thing to do was to keep down the cost of
living index. In this policy the Bureau o f Labor Statistics obsequiously
acquiesced. We are led to the inescapable conclusion that the Bureau
has become identified with an effort to freeze wages, to the extent that
it is no longer a free agency o f statistical research.”41
Shortly after the conference, the Bureau issued its regular
monthly cost-of-living release, which now contained a brief explana­
tory statement: “The BLS index indicates average changes in retail
prices o f selected goods, rents, and services bought by families o f wage
earners and lower-salaried workers in large cities. The items covered
represented 70 percent o f the expenditures o f families who had
incomes ranging from $1,250 to $2,000 in 1934-36. The index does
not show the full wartime effect on the cost o f living o f such factors as
lowered quality, disappearance o f low-priced goods, and forced
changes in housing and eating away from home. It does not measure
changes in total ‘living costs’—that is, in the total amount families
spend for living. Income taxes and bond subscriptions are not
The release was greeted in the American Federationist with the
headline, BLS admits its index gives faulty view o f true rise in living
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


Lubin: M eeting Emergency Dem ands

costs.” The article continued, “Mr. Meany and other labor spokesmen
had exposed the injustice o f using the BLS figures as a guide to
computing living costs and as a basis for establishing wage rates.”43
The report o f the Mitchell Committee also appeared at this time,
stating, MO ur examination o f the methods used by the BLS and the
other information we have gathered . . . leads us to conclude that the
BLS has done a competent job, under very difficult market conditions,
in providing a measure o f price changes for goods customarily purchased by families o f wage earners and lower-salaried workers living in
large cities.” The committee estimated that the Bureau’s index in
December 1943 understated hidden price rises by only 3 to 4 percentage points, mainly due to quality deterioration. The committee's one
explicit recommendation was that the name o f the index be changed.44
In November 1944, Davis submitted the report he had prepared
as chairman o f the President’s Committee on the C ost o f Living. In it,
he drew on the M itchell report in finding that “the accuracy o f the
index figures for what they were intended to measure is confirmed.
They are entitled to the good reputation they have long enjoyed. . . .
They are good basic figures for use in the formulation o f fiscal and
other governmental policies and for observing the effects o f such
policies.” With the “searching” studies conducted for the committee,
“no such substantiated criticism o f BLS methods has survived.” He
did recognize that the 3 to 4 percentage points for the hidden
increases, plus 0.5 o f a point if small cities were also covered in the
index, would bring the official rise o f 25.5 percent in the index from
January 1941 to September 1944 to about 30 percent. The industry
members generally concurred in the chairman’s conclusions, but the
labor members issued separate statements. For the C IO , R.J. Thomas
strongly endorsed changing the name o f the index. For the AFL,
Meany clarified the policy issues o f the index, indicating that the A FL
had never endorsed basing wages on the cost o f living: “The estab­
lished wage policy o f this country has always been based on raising
wages as increases in productivity made this possible.”43
The findings o f the President's Committee on the C ost o f Living
were an important element in the recommendations made in February
1945 to the Director o f Economic Stabilization for maintaining the
Little Steel formula as the standard for general wage increases for wage
stabilization. In a dissenting statement, the A FL contended that wage
earners had borne the brunt o f the wartime anti-inflation program:46
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


The First H undred Years

In the early postwar period o f continuing wage-price controls,
the wage adjustment standard was relaxed. Regulations permitted
adjustments for a 33-percent rise in the cost o f living from January
1941 to September 1945, including a 5-point adjustment over the
official cost-of-living index to allow for continued deterioration of
quality and unavailability o f merchandise. The Bureau explained the 5point adjustment in its monthly release but did not include it in the
index. In February 1947, in recognition o f the disappearance o f some
o f the wartime market factors, the Bureau discontinued the explana­
Following Meany’s appearance at the research directors’ confer­
ence, Secretary Perkins ordered the annual conferences terminated.
However, informal relations with the members o f the former standing
committee continued; Hinrichs actively sought and received their
advice on Bureau programs. Formal relations were not reestablished
until 1947, when Commissioner Clague set up both labor and busi­
ness advisory councils.
Changing the name o f the cost-of-living index as proposed by the
M itchell Committee was the subject o f a conference with union
research directors in January 1945, who, as early as 1940, had raised a
question regarding the tide. They agreed on a new tide, “Consum er’s
Price Index for M oderate Income Families in Large C ities.’’ Hinrichs
submitted the proposal to Secretary Perkins, indicating that it met
with Bureau approval. Perkins opposed any change, however, pointing
out that the “C ost o f Living” tide was widely used in other countries
and was well understood. She believed that the index under the new
name would be no more acceptable to its critics and, in fact, would
create even more confusion. In a few months, Secretary Perkins was
succeeded by Lewis B. Schwellenbach, and, in July 1945, he agreed to
the new tide.47
Stan dard budgets
In 1936, the W orks Progress Administration published two budgets
giving quantities necessary for families for “basic maintenance” and for
“emergency standards o f living.” These budgets were intended to
appraise relief needs and set WPA wage rates. The Bureau updated the
budgets periodically for 33 cities by applying changes in prices and
rents reported to the Bureau for the cost-of-living index. In 1943, with
the base o f the estimates long out o f date, they were discontinued.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


Lubin: M eeting Emergency Dem ands

In 1945, the House Appropriations Committee directed the
Bureau to prepare a family budget based on current conditions, or to
“find out what it costs a worker’s family to live in large cities in the
U nited States.” A technical advisory committee o f outstanding experts
in the fields o f nutrition and consumption economics helped develop
the standards and procedures. The Bureau prepared the list o f items
and quantities to be included in the budget, priced them in 1946 and
1947, and developed dollar totals for 34 large cities. The results were
published in 1948. A s formulated, the budget for a city worker’s
family o f four was an attempt to describe and measure a modest but
adequate American standard o f living.48

Wholesale prices
Lubin called for expansion o f the Bureau’s wholesale price work in
1933 to aid in the analysis o f changes in the economy, both in specific
industries and in major economic sectors. Immediate improvements
included more detailed commodity specifications and broader com­
modity and industry coverage. In 1937, the index was changed from
the “link-chain” formula used since 1914 to the “fixed-base” tech­
nique. Between 1933 and 1939, the number o f individual commodities
priced increased from about 2,300 to 5,000; the number o f firms
reporting increased from about 750 to 1,500.
The requirements o f wartime gave a new orientation to the
wholesale price program. The extensive use o f the indexes in escalator
clauses in large war contracts and in preparing price regulations made
it necessary for the Bureau to hire price specialists with a thorough
knowledge o f particular commodity fields, to increase staff training,
and to develop new techniques o f price analysis. In a project con­
ducted with the cooperation o f the WPA, new groupings o f commodi­
ties were developed, including separate indexes for durable and
nondurable goods; producer and consumer goods; and agricultural
and industrial goods.

The long-established program o f periodic industry and union wage
surveys continued under Lubin. In addition, the monthly series on
average hourly earnings and average weekly hours in selected indus­
tries begun in 1932, based on the establishment survey, was expanded.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


The First H undred Years

The Bureau had to recast its priorities to meet the urgent
demands for information required to establish and administer the
N R A codes. In place o f the periodic studies o f major industries, the
Bureau had to conduct hurried and limited studies o f industries such
as cigars, cigarettes, tobacco, boys’ hosiery, and silk. More comprehen­
sive studies, dealing with working conditions as well as wages, covered
such diverse subjects as the cotton textile and petroleum industries,
the onion fields o f Ohio, and editorial writers on newspapers.
With the end o f the N RA , the regular program was resumed and
new studies were undertaken. A t the request o f the engineering socie­
ties, the Bureau conducted a study o f employment, unemployment,
and income in the engineering profession. Also, special analyses were
made to provide information on earnings and hours of Negro workers
in the iron and steel industry and in independent tobacco stemmeries.
In its regular industry survey program, the Bureau made efforts to
expand coverage to include annual earnings, earnings by age and
length o f service, and information on personnel policies. Annual earn­
ings data proved difficult and costly to obtain, however, and this work
was soon curtailed.
Several industry wage studies during the period included broad
analyses o f the industry’s structure, including its competitive features,
technology, demand, and profits. In his introduction to a study of
cotton goods manufacturing, Lubin observed, “The more specific the
economic application o f the facts with reference to wages, the more
intensive should be the preliminary study o f the industrial back­
The passage o f the Walsh-Healey Public Contracts Act in 1936
and the Fair Labor Standards A ct in 1938 resulted in a substantial
increase in the wage program. The Bureau provided summary data on
wages and hours to the Department’s Wage and H our and Public
Contracts Divisions for the setting o f minimum wages, and, during
1938 and 1939, developed frequency distributions of wages in about
45 industries, primarily low-wage consumer goods industries.50
Another reorientation o f the Bureau’s work was required when
the defense program got underway in 1940. With the emphasis on war
production, the Bureau shifted to occupational wage studies of heavy
industries such as mining, smelting, and fabrication o f nonferrous
metals; shipbuilding; machinery; rubber; and aircraft. In addition, a
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


Lubin: M eeting Emergency Dem ands

number o f disputes coming before the National Defense Mediation
Board required the collection o f wage data by occupation and locality.
Such data were increasingly needed by the National War Labor
Board, especially after it was given wage stabilization authority in
O ctober 1942. In May 1943, the Director o f Economic Stabilization
authorized the board to establish, by areas and occupational groups,
brackets based on “sound and tested going rates” for decisions in cases
involving interplant wage inequity claims. Wage increases above the
bracket minimum were permitted only in “rare and unusual” cases
and cases o f substandards o f living.51
By agreement with the board, the Bureau was to be “one o f the
instrum entalities” for the collection o f occupational wage rate data
within various labor markets in each o f the 12 War Labor Board
regions. The Bureau was required to establish regional offices to serv­
ice the needs o f each board, with the program in the field subject to
the general direction o f the tripa|tite regional boards. The regional
boards had authority to designate the occupations and industries to be
covered and to interpret and evaluate the data. In practice, the boards
relied substantially on the Bureau's expertise in the preparation o f
occupational patterns and job descriptions for the surveys.
The Bureau met the challenge o f the board's requirements for
occupational wage rate data by industry for virtually all U .S. labor
markets. W ithin 6 months, with board funds, the Bureau collected
data from over 60,000 establishments in 400 localities—an unprece­
dented volume o f information for such a short period o f time. By
1945, pay rates in key operations had been collected from more than
100,000 establishments, and some 8,000 reports on an industry-local­
ity basis had been transmitted to the board. The data collection
included supplementary information such as overtime and shift-work
provisions, the prevalence o f union agreements, paid vacations,
bonuses, insurance, and pensions. U sing the summary reports, the
regional boards established wage brackets covering tens o f thousands
o f board determinations in interplant wage inequity situations.
A major issue arose over the board’s proposal that “data secured
by the Bureau in carrying out this project will be used and published,
if at all, by or under the direction o f the Board.” Secretary Perkins, in
opposing the rigid limitation on the Bureau’s right to publish the
material, cited the Bureau’s mandate to make its information available
as widely as possible, its importance for maintaining good public rela­
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


The First H undred Years

tions, and the use o f its own funds for some o f the work. The matter
was finally resolved with the understanding that the Bureau would
submit any proposed release or article to the authorized representative
o f the board, seeking advice on the content and timing o f releases.
Any disagreement would be referred jointly to the Secretary o f Labor
and the chairman o f the NW LB.52
A t first, the release procedure created problems for the Bureau.
The unions contended that they needed the data in bracket-setting
cases, even though they had been submitted to the War Labor Board.
A satisfactory arrangement was developed whereby unpublished infor­
mation was sent in response to requests, with the requesting party
obliged to advise the Bureau o f the intended use o f the information in
any wage negotiations or official procedure leading to wage determina­
tion, to insure that the Bureau's position was impartial.53
The occupational wage work provided the basis for developing an
overall urban wage rate index to measure the impact o f the stabiliza­
tion program on basic wage rates. Data from the Bureau’s regular
programs were inadequate for the purpose. The weekly earnings series
for example, failed to take account o f the increased importance of
payroll deductions. W hile estimates were made for these deductions,
the series developed was affected by such factors as the effects of
overtime pay; changes in the relative importance o f regions, industries,
and individual establishments; and changes in occupational structure.
G ross average hourly earnings, subject to the same influences, were
adjusted to eliminate the effects o f overtime pay and interindustry
shifts in employment, but the resultant straight-time hourly earnings
index continued to be affected by changes in the relative importance
o f residual factors.
The urban wage rate index, first published in 1944, provided a
better measure o f basic wage rate changes. Field representatives col­
lected the data directly for specific and well-defined key occupations;
the same establishments were covered; and fixed weights were used for
each occupation, industry, and area. The index was continued until
A s the war was coming to an end in 1945, plans were made to
meet anticipated requirements for wage statistics during the reconver­
sion period. The Bureau decided to conduct a large number o f nation­
wide occupational surveys on an industry basis, including regional and
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


Lubiti: M eeting Emergency Dem ands

locality breakdowns when feasible. Between 1945 and mid-1947, 70
manufacturing and 11 nonmanufacturing industries were studied.

Industrial relations
The great impetus given to union growth and collective bargaining by
the N RA and the National Labor Relations A ct stimulated the Bureau
to gear up to provide information to ease the adjustment to new labor'
management relationships. In 1934, the Bureau began publication o f
the Labor Information Bulletin and also established a separate Indus­
trial Relations Division which began the collection and analysis o f
collective bargaining agreements. Within a few years, a file o f 12,(XX)
agreements was developed. Thereafter, efforts were made to improve
the sample and to maintain it on a current basis. Strike statistics also
were improved and made more current.
In conjunction with the National Labor Relations Board, the
Bureau undertook a study o f company unions in 1935. David Saposs,
who had just completed a study on the subject for the Twentieth
Century Fund, was hired as director o f the study. A t an informal
meeting with BLS, A FL representatives expressed some reservations
about the project, suggesting that the Bureau should place its emphasis
on studying collective bargaining agreements rather than on what they
viewed as merely “an arm o f m anagem ent”55
After the study was completed, Lubin reported to Secretary Per­
kins that union officials were urging him to issue the report as soon as
possible. “Somehow or other a rumor has been spread that the bulle­
tin may be suppressed.”56
The preliminary report, appearing as an article in the Monthly
Labor Review entitled “Extent and Characteristics o f Company
U nions,” stirred up a tempest. The National Association o f Manufac­
turers advised Lubin that some o f its members, including those who
had cooperated in supplying information to the Bureau, felt that in
many respects the study “attempts to establish standards for employee
representation plans which may result in misleading conclusions as to
their functions and operations.” They met with Lubin, and immedi­
ately thereafter the Journal of Commerce reported, “Although resent­
ment in industrial circles against the recent study on company unions
prepared by the BLS continues high, it now seems doubtful that an
organized boycott will result.”57
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


The First Hundred Years

With the war emergency, the Bureau’s ongoing analysis o f collec­
tive bargaining provisions proved valuable to government agencies,
employers, and unions as collective bargaining received encourage­
ment under wartime policies. In 1942, the Bureau published Union
Agreement Provisions (Bulletin 686). Based on the Bureau’s file of
several thousand agreements, it analyzed and provided examples of
clauses for some 28 principal labor contract provisions. The demand
for the bulletin was so great that it was reprinted four times.
During the war years, die War Labor Board called on die Bureau
for special studies on the prevalence o f certain contract provisions,
including maintenance-of-membership clauses, seniority rules, and
grievance procedures. The Bureau also developed statistics on strikes
in defense industries and for specific cases before the board. It also
provided considerable information to die War and Navy Departments,
the Conciliation Service, and the War Production Board.

Employment and unemployment
Establishment data. The Bureau’s employment statistics were o f cru­
cial importance in assessing the extent o f the industrial recovery from
the G reat Depression and, later, in monitoring the defense and war
programs. The monthly reports based on establishment payrolls were
improved and expanded, incorporating recommendations o f the Advi­
sory Committee to the Secretary o f Labor. Benchmarking to the bien­
nial C ensus o f M anufactures was finally implemented in 1934 and
carried out on a regular schedule thereafter. In 1938, State, county,
and municipal employment was included. Sampling was improved
both on an industry and regional basis. Between 1933 and 1940,
coverage increased from 70,000 representative private establishments
employing 4.5 million workers to 148,000 establishments employing
8.4 million. By 1939, 17 States were cooperating in obtaining employ­
ment and payroll data in manufacturing establishments.
In 1937, in cooperation with the Women’s Bureau, BLS began
semiannual collection o f separate data for men and women in those
industries in which large numbers o f women were employed. The
information was analyzed and published by the Women’s Bureau.
In 1940, with the growing defense program, Lubin pointed out
the likely increase in the employment o f women, as in the first World
War. He called for wider collection and more detailed analysis o f the
employment conditions and earnings o f women.58 Regular monthly
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


Lubin: M eeting Emergency Dem ands

reporting on the employment o f women in manufacturing industries
was begun in June 1943. Separate turnover figures for women also
were published.
Defense production programs required the expansion o f industry
coverage and reclassification to take account o f industries manufactur­
ing war materiel such as guns, tanks, and sighting and fire-control
equipment. Sixty-seven industries were added to the 90 manufactur­
ing industries previously covered. By 1945, reports were received from
180 industries covering 148,000 establishments and representing 12.5
million workers. Turnover rates were also compiled and analyzed for
all employees and for women employees in 125 mining and manufac­
turing industries.
To aid in dealing with recoversion problems, the Bureau received
a supplemental appropriation in 1945 permitting collection o f data in
all States for construction o f State and area employment estimates
comparable to the BLS national series. W hile the program was short
lived, it served to develop close relationships with State agencies,
facilitating establishment o f the cooperative program that replaced it.59
Throughout the 1930’s, the Bureau sought to provide additional
measures which would serve as indicators o f overall employment
trends. Beginning in 1936, two series o f estimates o f nonagricultural
employment were developed. The first, “total civil nonagricultural
employment," showed the total number o f individuals engaged in
gainful work in nonagricultural industries, including proprietors and
firm members, self-employed persons, casual workers, and domestic
servants. The second, “employees in nonagricultural establishments,”
was limited to employees only. The totals for both series were
benchmarked to the 1930 Census o f Occupations, with periodic
adjustments to the various industrial censuses and the newly devel­
oped Social Security tabulations. Persons employed on WPA and
National 'Vbuth Administration projects, enrollees in the Civilian
Conservation Corps, and members o f the Armed Forces were not
included. Beginning in 1939, similar estimates were prepared for each
o f the 48 States and the District o f Columbia.60
Census of unemployment. The Bureau participated in an experimental
census o f unemployment in 1933 and 1934. Along with the Secre­
tary’s Advisory Committee and the Central Statistical Board, the
Bureau provided professional direction for a trial household census in
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


The First H undred Years

three cities. The Central Statistical Board set up an interdepartmental
committee, chaired by Lubin, to supervise the study, which was con'
ducted with resources provided by the Civil W orks Administration.
W hile the results were not published, the study was significant for its
trailblazing application o f methods by which the theory o f sampling
could be used under practical conditions for developing Federal economic and social statistics. The experience gained was to influence the
development o f techniques for measuring unemploym ent61
Although the Advisory Committee recommended that the
Bureau be responsible for unemployment estimates, later developmen­
tal work was carried on by the WPA, which, in 1940, initiated a
national monthly sample survey o f households, “The Monthly Report
o f Unemployment** Drawing on an innovation in the 1940 census,
the survey made use o f a new concept—the “labor force**—in place of
the earlier “gainful workers’* concept The new concept included only
persons who were actually working or seeking work; formerly, persons who had had a paid occupational pursuit were included whether
or not they were at work or seeking; work at the time o f the survey.62
The Bureau contrasted the new series with its own nonagricultural employment series. It viewed the latter as providing “a means o f
throwing into proper perspective the significant fluctuations in basic
industrial and business employment, where changes are measured
currently with a high degree o f accuracy. ** The WPA monthly sample
survey o f individual households, on the other hand, was viewed as the
only satisfactory method o f directly measuring the fluctuations in the
size o f the labor force and in unemployment, including in the employment total agricultural workers and such temporary and casual
employment as the summer vacation employment o f students not
caught directly by B LS reporting techniques.63
With the termination o f the WPA in 1942, the Bureau o f the
Budget transferred the work to the C ensus Bureau, which continued
to publish the results, retided the “M onthly Report on the Labor
Force,** until 1959, when responsibility for the survey was turned over
to BLS.
Labor requirements studies. In association with its work in obtaining
reports o f employment and payrolls from contractors involved in the
vast system o f Federal public works projects, the Bureau obtained
monthly reports o f all expenditures for materials by the Federal Gov-
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


June 27, 1884.
CH A P. 127—An act to establish a Bureau o f Labor.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House o f Representatives o f the United
States o f America in Congress assembled, That there shall be established
in the Department of the Interior a Bureau of Labor, which shall be
under the charge of a Commissioner of Labor, who shall be appointed by
the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate. The
Commissioner of Labor shall hold his office for four years, and until his
successor shall be appointed and qualifed, unless sooner removed, and
shall receive a salary of three thousand dollars a year. The Commissioner
shall collect information upon the subject of labor, its relation to capital,
the hours of labor, and the earnings of laboring men and women, and the
means of promoting their material, social, intellectual, and moral pros­
perity. The Secretary of the Interior upon the recommendation of said
Commissioner, shall appoint a chief clerk, who shall receive a salary of
two thousand dollars per annum, and such other employees as may be
necesary for the said Bureau: Provided, That the total expense shall not
exceed twenty-five thousand dollars per annum. During the necessary
absence of the Commissioner, or when the office shall become vacant,
the chief clerk shall perform the duties of Commissioner. The Commis­
sioner shall annually make a report in writing to the Secretary of the In­
terior of the information collected and collated by him, and containing
such recommendations as he may deem calculated to promote the effi­
ciency of the Bureau.
Approved, June 27, 1884

On June 27, 1884, President Chester A. Arthur signed the bill
establishing a Bureau of Labor in the Department of the Interior.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

William H. Sylvis, president of the iron
molders union, first set the goal of establish ing a national labor bureau at the 1867
convention of the National Labor Union.

Terence V. Powderly, as G rand Master
Workman of the Knights of Labor, cam ­
paigned for establishment of a national
bureau and sought the post of Commissioner.

Representative Jam es H. Hopkins of
Pennsylvania sponsored the bill establish­
ing the Federal Bureau during the
Presidential election year of 1884.

Samuel Gompers, president of the A m eri­
can Federation of Labor, counseled with
and supported the Bureau while leading the
fight to establish the Department of Labor.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Carroll D. Wright, Commissioner,
Kellogg Building, first home
of the Bureau of Labor
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Charles P. Neill, Commissioner, 1905-13
National Safe Deposit Building,
home for 20 years, 1890-1910

G. W.W Hanger, Acting Commissioner,

Royal Meeker, Commissioner, 1913-20

BLS administration and finance office, 1920
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Ethelbert Stewart, Commissioner, 1920-32

Department of Labor Building, 1917-35
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Charles E. Baldwin, Acting Commissioner,

lsador Lubin, Commissioner, 1933-46

BLS tabulating room, about 1935
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

A. Ford Hinrichs, Acting Commissioner,

Lubin and Senator O ’Mahoney opening hearings
of Temporary National Economic Committee, 1938
Top BLS staff, July 1946
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Ewan Clague, Commissioner, 1946-65

Clague explains chart on wholesale prices.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Aryness Joy Wickens, Acting Commissioner,
1946 and 1954-55

Faith Williams (second from left),
Chief of the Office of Foreign Labor Conditions,
meeting with Swedish statistical group, 1950’s
BLS tabulating room, 1950’s
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Arthur M. Ross, Commissioner, 1965-68

Geoffrey H. Moore, Commissioner,

Ben Burdetsky, Acting Commissioner,
1968-69 and 1973
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Julius Shiskin, Commissioner, 1973-78

Janet L. Norwood, Acting Commissioner
and Commissioner, 1978 to present
Norwood presents economic data
to Joint Economic Committee.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

U S Dei
Bureau <
August 1

relation w c a p ^ n- and ^ raTprospenty^ ^ p t e t ó d » “ nJ£d u c
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JUL - 9

Commemorating the centennial, Congress recognized the contributions
of the Bureau of Labor Statistics with a Joint Resolution,
featured on the cover of the Monthly Labor Review for August 1984.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


Lubin: Meeting Emergency Dem ands

em m ent or government contractors, in order to estimate the employment created by such public expenditures. O ut o f this developed
studies o f the indirect labor involved in the fabrication o f certain basic
materials, including steel, cement, lumber and lumber products, and
bricks. O ther studies covered the electrification o f the Pennsylvania
Railroad, several power projects, and houses constructed by the Ten­
nessee Valley Authority.84 The records o f almost 40,000 federally
financed construction projects completed between 1935 and 1940
were analyzed to determine the types and cost o f labor and materials
required to carry out a given dollar volume o f construction contracts.
The techniques developed in these studies proved useful in projecting
labor requirements for planned expenditures for defense facilities.65
Occupational outlook studies. The defense effort also spurred the
establishment o f the Bureau’s occupational oudook program. The
original impetus came from the recommendation, in 1938, o f Presi­
dent Roosevelt’s Advisory Committee on Education that an occupa­
tional outlook section be set up in the Bureau to provide information
to aid in career counseling. In 1940, under congressional authoriza­
tion, the Occupational O utlook Service was established.
Soon, however, it was occupied with developing projections of
manpower supply and needs for defense industries, including the
aircraft industry. Calling attention to the need for authentic informa­
tion on demand and supply o f certain labor skills Mto avoid all sorts of
wild schemes which we may not be able to forestall and which may
later rise to plague us,” Lubin indicated that the recently authorized
funds for occupational outlook investigations could be used legiti­
mately for this purpose. In mid-1940, at Sidney Hillman’s request, the
President asked Congress to provide the Bureau with an additional
$150,000 for the development o f data on occupational skills needed by
private industry in meeting military procurement needs.66
After the war, the occupational outlook program began to revert
to its original function—studies for the guidance o f young people.
With demobilization, requests for oudook information came from the
Army, the Navy, the Office o f Education, and others. The Veterans
Administration called on the Bureau for appraisals o f the employment
outlook for use in counseling veterans at its guidance centers. The
Bureau developed analyses o f over 100 occupations. Studies were also
made o f the occupational realignments during the war, which were
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


The First Hundred Years

used in planning the demobilization o f the 11 million members o f the
Armed Forces and the 12 million workers in the munitions industries.
Research on postwar employment problems. The study o f postwar labor
problems was begun as early as 1941, when the House Appropriations
Committee provided funds for research on the provision o f jobs for
workers displaced from war production. A division for research on
postwar problems was established in the Bureau, which initially conducted studies o f the impact o f the war effort on employment in
individual localities and industries. Subsequently, in the study o f post­
war full employment patterns, a major technical innovation—the
“input-output” concept—was utilized. This involved the study of
interindustry relationships throughout the economy in 1939, the last
year before the expansion o f munitions production. Funded by the
Bureau, the work was conducted at Harvard University in 1942 and
1943 under Wassily Leontief and was then transferred to Washington.
The input-output tables and techniques were utilized in developing
both wartime attack targets and subsequent reparations policies for
Germany; for estimates o f postwar levels o f output and employment in
U .S. industries; and to forecast capital goods demand. The results of
the program were published in 1947 as Full Employment Patterns,
1950. The study spread knowledge o f the input-output concept within
the government.67

Productivity and technological change
In 1935, the Bureau applied to the WPA for funds to conduct studies
o f productivity in 50 industries. The American Federation o f Labor
supported the proposal as filling a gap which had been experienced in
developing the N R A codes and as necessary in collective bargaining
for dealing with the problem o f technological unemployment.68 At
about the same time, the WPA developed its own program. In cooper­
ation with the WPA National Research Project on Reemployment
O pportunities and Recent Changes in Industrial Techniques, the
Bureau conducted several labor productivity surveys in important
industries. By 1939, all o f the surveys were completed.
Lubin’s annual report for 1939 stated, “The Bureau expects to
carry on further researches in the important field o f labor productiv­
ity, in which it was a pioneer.”69 This resolve was underscored when,
at the urging o f the unions, Congress authorized the Bureau to “make
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


L ubiti: M eeting Emergency Dem ands

continuing studies o f labor productivity” and appropriated funds for
the establishment o f a Productivity and Technological Development
Division, which was organized at the start o f 1941. One o f its earliest
activities was to update the indexes constructed by the National
Research Project.
During the war years, the division maintained annual indexes of
productivity for some 30 industries and compiled collateral information on technological developments and other factors affecting
employment and production in various industries. It provided infor­
mation on technological developments in a monthly summary for the
use o f U .S. agencies and those o f allied governments. Industrial estab­
lishments in 31 war industries were surveyed on the extent o f absen­
teeism, with a monthly series continued for almost 2 years. Also, in
the face o f shortages, surveys o f productivity were made in the rubber
and gasoline industries.

Industrial safety and health
Compilation o f data on the frequency and severity o f industrial inju­
ries had begun in 1926. W hen Lubin became Commissioner, about
1.4 million workers in 7,000 establishments were being covered. By
1944, 57,000 establishments were reporting annually. The much larger
volume o f reports was still being handled by the same number o f staff
members as in 1926; the enlarged coverage was made possible by
radical changes in the methods o f collecting and processing the data.
The impact o f industrial accidents on war production, with the
resultant loss o f manpower, produced demands for more current
information. The annual schedule on which reports had been issued
previously could not meet this need. In 1942, the Bureau undertook
to collect and publish monthly data on injuries in almost 10,(XX)
establishments in industries o f particular wartime importance. These
were used by government agencies to pinpoint the plants and indus­
tries with high accident rates.
Several special studies were conducted during the war, including
an examination o f the effect o f long work hours on efficiency, output,
absenteeism, and accidents. A study o f operations at the Frankford
Arsenal in 1941 showed that, when extended hours required exertion
beyond the normal physical strength o f the workers, there were more
accidents, greater spoilage o f material, greater turnover, and decidedly
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


The First Hundred Years

less production in the extended hours than in the regular hours.70
Further studies were made in 1943 and 1944.
The Bureau conducted detailed studies o f accidents in the
foundry, longshoring, and slaughtering and meatpacking industries.
The Bureau’s data were made available to the Department’s Labor
Standards Division, and to the Maritime Commission for safety drives.

The Bureau grew substantially under Lubin’s direction. W hen he
took over in 1933, the Bureau’s budget had just been reduced in a
govemmentwide economy drive. Emergency funds made up for a
further reduction in the regular budget in 1934. In succeeding years,
congressional appropriations and funds transferred from other agen­
cies permitted expansion and improvement o f the Bureau’s programs.
By 1941, the regular budget had increased to over $1 million, more
than double its level in 1934, and the staff had grown from 318 full­
time employees to 810 (690 in W ashington and 120 in the field).
There was a large increase in funding for the Bureau’s activities
during the war (table 5). Between 1942 and 1945, Bureau resources
doubled, and at one point the number o f full-time employees totaled
almost 2,000. Congress maintained the regular appropriation for sala­
ries and expenses at close to the prewar level but granted supplemen­
tal and national defense appropriations. In 1945, the Bureau received
funds to expand its regional offices for the collection o f State employ­
ment and payroll data comparable with national figures and also to
cover occupational wage studies previously financed by the National
War Labor Board. Both o f these activities were terminated in 1946,
however, when Congress failed to provide further funding.
A s the war neared an end, the Bureau began planning for a
reduction in its operations, and by 1946 had cut its staff by about 12
percent from the wartime peak. Supplemental appropriations, granted
for expansion o f work on foreign labor conditions, industrial rela­
tions, and productivity, partially made up for the reduction in wartime
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


L ubin: M eeting Emergency Dem ands
Table 5.

Funding for Bureau o f Labor Statistics, 1934-46
(in thousands)

Fiscal year ended
Jun e 30 —


S alaries an d expenses


$ 440

$ 414




N ation al defense




'In clu d es special an d w orkin g fu n d s in addition t o app ropriation s for
salaries an d expenses.
in c lu d e s special appropriation fo r revision o f the co st-o f-liv in g index.
SOURCE: The Budget o f die United S tates Government.

In the early days o f the New Deal, the Bureau found itself without ,
adequate staff to meet the vastly increased demand for data. W hen the
National Recovery Administration called upon the Bureau for infor­
mation needed to develop and assess the industry codes, personnel
had to be detailed from inside and outside the Department. A s Secre­
tary Perkins stated at an appropriation hearing in 1933, “The Bureau
o f Labor Statistics has turned itself inside out in order to get this
information and to make it available. . . in a form that was easily
understood and readily used by people who had the responsibility of
taking some action.” Lubin added that every labor group involved in
any N RA code had had to go to the Labor Department for informa­
Lubin indicated the lengths to which ingenuity had to be applied
to make up for the shortage o f staff: “I do not want to appear to boast,
but I think I am one o f the few officials who have actually gone out
and borrowed people from other departments o f the Government and
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


The First Hundred Years

put them to work during their spare time getting materials for which
we would otherwise have to pay.**72
In appropriation requests and in public statements, Lubin
stressed the need to improve the professional qualifications o f the
Bureau’s staff and to establish professional job categories at adequate
levels to assure recruitment and retention o f such personnel. He
pointed out that he was the only trained economist on the Bureau’s
staff. The work o f the Bureau’s “highly efficient technical statisti­
cians,” he wrote the House Appropriations Committee, required the
addition o f economists to permit full analyses o f the current economic
problem s facing the country.73
Lubin was always on the alert for capable staff. He brought into
the Bureau persons o f outstanding professional capacity who were
authorities in their fields. M ost had had advanced graduate study at
top universities. A. Ford Hinrichs, director o f Brown University’s
Bureau o f Business Research, came as the Bureau’s C hief Economist;
Aryness Joy joined the staff from the Central Statistical Board.
Throughout the period, there was internal training o f the staff o f a
quality equal to that in the best American universities.
Lubin encouraged young economists to seek employment in gov­
ernment. Before the American Economic Association, he proselytised
for the role o f government economists. He contrasted the circum­
scribed environment o f the academic researcher with the opportuni­
ties offered by Federal economic research for breaking down the
barriers between economics, sociology, and political science.74

As a measure of his success in improving the Bureau’s staff, he
was able to report as early as 1937 that “more liberal appropriations by
a Congress sympathetic with its work made possible a very considera­
ble strengthening of its personnel.”75
O rganization
Lubin made several organizational changes just before he went on
leave in 1940. To distribute the workload more evenly and reduce the
pressure on top officials, he reorganized the Bureau into three, rather
than two, principal areas. The former line positions o f C hief Econo­
mist and C hief Statistician, each responsible for the activities o f all the
divisions o f the Bureau in his field, were altered, with the C hief
Statistican made a staff position and the other eliminated. Instead, the
divisions were grouped under three branch chiefs who were to be
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


Lubin: M eeting Emergency Dem ands

responsible to the Assistant Commissioner, a new position. The three
branches were Employment and Occupational O utlook, Prices and
C ost o f Living, and W orking Conditions and Industrial Relations.
During the war, when Hinrichs was Acting Commissioner, the posi­
tion o f Assistant Commissioner was not filled, however, and Hinrichs
relied on the branch chiefs directly.
Wartime requirements resulted in the establishment o f field
offices. Before 1941, the only full-time field staff were those involved
in the collection o f retail prices. Between December 1941 and mid1942, 8 field offices were established for price collection and 12 for
wage analysis. All the activities in each region were consolidated under
one regional director in 1944. Early in 1945, the collection o f employ­
ment statistics was added to regional office duties, but this was discon­
tinued in 1946 when Congress failed to renew appropriations. By the
end o f the war, the permanent value o f the regional offices was well

Cooperation and consultation
Lubin’s facility for inspiring confidence and gaining cooperation was
o f great value to the Bureau. H is open and straightforward approach
in his dealings with labor and business groups and the press made him
influential in all o f these areas. He maintained personal relationships
with many corporate executives, and they exchanged views frankly on
major issues o f the day. He was intimately involved in resolving issues
which might threaten the Bureau’s activities, and, generally, his direct­
ness and persuasiveness kept the incidence o f such occurrences low.
For example, he played a major role in resolving reporting
problems arising from the role permitted trade associations by the
National Recovery Administration. Companies were submitting their
data directly to these associations, and some were refusing to continue
to submit reports to the Bureau and other government agencies.76
W hen, at Lubin’s request, Secretary Perkins brought the problem to
the attention o f the N RA director General Hugh Johnson, Johnson
ordered industries under N RA codes to furnish data directly to the
Bureau and the Federal and State agencies cooperating with the
Some industry representatives questioned the order, contending
that the code authorities—the trade associations—should be
encouraged to get the information and provide it to the government.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


The First Hundred Years

Lubin addressed a meeting o f trade association executives and
explained that direct government collection was necessary in the interest o f uniform and timely reporting.78 Further, meeting with represen­
tatives o f State governments and interested Federal agencies on the
N RA order, Lubin cautioned on the need for maintaining and
improving reporting relationships based on the established practices of
voluntarism and confidentiality in reporting. W hile “under this order
we have for the first time legal authority to secure these data,” Lubin
stated, “we don’t want to use that pow er. . . , we would rather it would
be a cooperative venture. . . . We have no intention o f imposing any
burdens on them that they couldn’t easily handle. We expect, how­
ever, to continue on the old basis o f absolute confidence. These data
are confidential and not to be used for enforcement purposes.”79
In another episode, in January 1936, the Automobile Manufac­
turers’ Association advised the Bureau that information for individual
companies in the industry would no longer be furnished directly to
the Bureau, and that individual plants would not be identified, except
by a code to make monthly comparisons for individual plants. The
arrangement was a source o f constant irritation to the Bureau.
Lubin wrote the association that he viewed this “as a one-way
proposition, with the Bureau being placed in the position where it can
have only what the association says it should have and not what it feels
it needs for its own use. It seems queer that after 15 years o f a
cooperative relationship with the leading firms in the industry, they
should suddenly stop giving us reports on their own initiative. It is
hard for us to believe that they were not specifically told not to give us
the reports.” He went on to state, “I frankly cannot continue in the
uncomfortable position I find myself in o f warding off questions con­
cerning our automobile figures.” Lubin continued to press the matter.
The problem was finally resolved at the end o f 1937, when the
Automobile M anufacturers’ Association authorized the forwarding of
the individual reports to the Bureau. “I am sure this arrangement will
prove to our mutual advantage,” Lubin wrote.80 Through his wide
contacts with industry executives, he was also able to overcome other
occasional reporting problems.
Lubin also worked to maintain good relations with labor groups.
Early in his administration, he asked labor union research staff mem­
bers to meet with BLS and the Advisory Committee to the Secretary
o f Labor. Relations with union research staff members continued on
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


Lubin: M eeting Emergency Dem ands

an informal basis until June 1940, when a formal advisory relationship
was established.
Perkins and Lubin set the keynote for the relationship. Perkins
saw this avenue o f exchange o f information as helping trade unions
“to make contributions to the . . . solving o f the industrial problem
and the economic problem o f the nation as a whole.” Lubin urged the
importance o f continuing the relationship “so that we will have direct
access to the people who are using our data.”81
Annual conferences were held between 1940 and 1944. A stand'
ing committee was appointed each year and there were frequent dis­
cussions o f the concerns o f the research directors. The arrangement
worked satisfactorily under Hinrichs until it came to an abrupt end in
the midst o f the controversy over the costof-living index.

Lubin and Hinrichs depart
Lubin resigned as Commissioner o f Labor Statistics in January 1946,
giving “personal obligations” as his reason for leaving government
service. President Truman accepted his resignation but stated that he
would continue to regard him “as a public servant whom I shall feel
free to call upon whenever the occasion warrants___ For 13 years you
have, without hesitation, given o f your time and energy to the service
o f your government. You built up the Bureau o f Labor Statistics into
an institution that has commanded the respect o f all recognized lead­
ers in the field o f economics and statistical science, as well as o f labor
and management throughout the country.”82
Truman shortly appointed Lubin as the U .S. representative to the
U N Economic and Social Council. In 1955, New Y>rk Governor
Averell Harriman called on Lubin to serve as State Industrial Com ­
missioner. In 1960, Lubin joined the economics faculty at Rutgers
University. He served as economic consultant to the Kennedy and
Johnson administrations, and to the Twentieth Century Fund. Lubin
died in 1978 at the age o f 82.
Ford Hinrichs had continued as Acting Commissioner during
1945 at the request o f Secretary Perkins’ successor, Lewis Schwellenbach. He had considered resigning when press reports cited the
new Secretary as being critical o f BLS, but Schwellenbach denied
these as inaccurate and persuaded him to stay on. In September 1945,
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


The First H undred Years

Schwellenbach indicated he would recommend Hinrichs for the com '
missionership when Lubin left.83
O n Lubin’s resignation the following January, Philip Murray of
the C IO submitted the name o f Murray Latimer for the commission'
ership. A FL President William Green and some railway officials also
supported Latimer. Som e press reports indicated that Hinrichs was
being replaced by a union-supported candidate; the cost-of-living con'
troversy o f 2 years earlier figured prominently in these stories and
There was a groundswell o f support o f Hinrichs from the profes­
sional and academic community. Lubin urged Schwellenbach to nomi­
nate Hinrichs, advising, “Failure to nominate Hinrichs will, in my
opinion, be grossly unfair to him as well as an admission by this
administration that it has no faith in the Bureau.” He also stressed that
the commissionership had never been considered a political posi­
tion.85 Wesley M itchell and Frederick C . M ills reiterated the findings
o f their technical committees on the Bureau’s “highly competent”
work under Hinrichs on the cost-of-living index, in the face o f the
“extraordinarily difficult” wartime conditions. M itchell’s description o f
Hinrichs’ performance was characteristic: “H is courage in countering
the criticisms made by the labor union statisticians commanded my
respect H e is a man o f rare competence in his field and o f rare
H inrichs again considered resigning but, at the urging o f the
Bureau staff, stayed on to avoid serious consequences to the Bureau’s
budget and operations. Schwellenbach also requested that he stay,
again stating that his personal preference was to nominate Hinrichs,
but that this was not immediately possible. In May, Hinrichs indicated
that he could not appear before the Appropriations Committee in
support o f crucial postwar budgetary actions unless there were assur­
ances that the forthcoming selection o f the Commissioner would be
based on professional competence and not on support by a special
interest group. Schwellenbach responded in terms proposed by
Hinrichs, giving “my full assurance that I will not recommend to the
President the name o f any person concerning whose professional
competence and integrity there will be the slightest doubt, and that
such recommendation will only be made after consultation with the
President o f the American Economic Association and the American
Statistical Association.”87
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


Lubin: M eeting Emergency Dem ands

O n July 1, 1946, Hinrichs tendered his resignation to Schwellenbach. In it, he noted that he had continued to maintain satisfactory
informal relations with a number o f unions, and that the establish'
ment o f a formal consultation procedure required careful consider'
ation, one o f the im portant problem s calling for the prom pt
appointment o f an excellent Commissioner. In accepting the resigna'
tion, Schwellenbach acknowledged that Hinrichs’ appointment as
Commissioner unow is not possible.” H e reiterated his assurance of
the selection o f the next Commissioner, “given as the result o f firm
conviction on my part that the Bureau o f Labor Statistics shall be free
and independent and one upon which everyone can rely.”88 A t a press
conference on his retirement, Hinrichs stressed the importance of
maintaining the Bureau’s nonpolitical and impartial position: “\b u
can’t run this organization under any political obligation from the
outside. The man must be selected from the inside for his ability and
competence. Later he should be cleared with the unions to be sure he
enjoys their confidence.”89
The search for the new Commissioner was already underway,
with Edwin E. Witte o f the University o f W isconsin canvassing the
professional associations regarding the several men under consider'
ation. By the end o f July, there was agreement on Ewan Clague.90
Hinrichs subsequendy served in the Economic Cooperation
Administration and its successor agencies, as statistical adviser to the
governments o f Pakistan and Taiwan, and, later, as Director o f Gradu­
ate Business Studies at Syracuse University. He died in 1979.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


Chapter VII.

Ewan Clague:
An Expanding Role
for Economic Indicators


wan Clague took office in August 1946, a difficult time for
the Bureau. T he legacy o f wartime controversies, the
appointment o f a new Secretary o f Labor, and the departure
o f Lubin and Hinrichs had created a stressful transition.
Then the sweep o f the Republican Party in the fall congressional
elections brought government budget reductions in which the Bureau
shared heavily. About 700 o f its 1,700 employees had to be dismissed,
a loss which removed a generation o f middle management personnel.
The economy also was undergoing the strains o f transition. With
the end o f the war, as workers faced reduced earnings and uncertainty
over employment prospects, labor-management difficulties mounted,
leading to the highest strike activity on record in 1946. The onset of
inflation in 1947 after the removal o f price controls intensified the
economic uncertainty.
New opportunities as well as problems accompanied Clague into
office. With passage o f the Employment Act o f 1946, Congress had
created two agencies—the Council o f Economic Advisers in the Exec­
utive Branch and the congressional Joint Economic Committee—
which were to introduce the regular scrutiny o f economic indicators
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


C lague: An Expanding Role for Economic Indicators

to the highest levels o f policymaking and thus heighten the impor­
tance of the Bureau’s work. Further, the innovative agreement
between General M otors and the United Auto W orkers in 1948
calling for the use of the Consum er Price Index and productivity
measures for adjusting wages increased public concern with the
Bureau’s statistics.
The growing use o f statistics for government and private actions
affecting millions o f Americans was the subject o f the 1952 presiden­
tial address to the American Statistical Association by Aryness Joy
W ickens, the Bureau’s Deputy Commissioner. She warned that the
statistical profession was “scarcely prepared, and certainly not organ­
ized, to meet the serious responsibilities placed upon us by these new
uses o f statistics.” She contrasted these “awesome” uses with the
purely descriptive and analytical purposes for which they were cre­
ated, and called upon the statistical and related professions not merely
to be competent, fair, and honest, but “to be able to prove to a
statistically unsophisticated public that, in fact, our statistics are trust­
Maintaining public confidence was a paramount consideration for
Clague as he adapted and extended the Bureau’s programs to meet
changing needs during his long tenure. Almost immediately upon his
appointment, he established formal advisory relations with the trade
unions; contacts with the unions had been curtailed as a result o f the
wartime controversy over the cost-of-living index. And shortly there­
after, following expressions o f interest from business organizations, he
formed a business advisory committee. The committees consisted pri­
marily o f technicians in the fields o f economics, statistics, and labor
relations. Clague later suggested that it was through their experience
with these advisory groups that General M otors and the Auto Work­
ers gained sufficient confidence in the Bureau’s statistics to adopt the
CPI for wage escalation in 1948.2
Clague’s success in keeping the Bureau’s statistics trustworthy
was attested by the findings o f the various commissions, committees,
and teams o f experts which examined the Bureau during his many
years in office and upheld the integrity and impartiality o f its work.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


The First Hundred Years

The sixth Commissioner
Commissioner Clague came to office as a trained economist and an
experienced civil servant, an outsider but one with roots and connec­
tions in the Bureau. H is ties with the Bureau extended back some 20
years when he had joined the BLS staff to conduct pioneering produc­
tivity studies. In the early 1930’s, he had participated in major exami­
nations o f Bureau activities, serving on President Hoover’s Advisory
Committee on Employment Statistics and Secretary Perkins’ Advisory
Committee to the Secretary o f Labor.
Clague was bom in Prescott, Washington, in 1896, the son of
immigrants from the Isle o f Man. He attended the University of
Washington and, after serving as an ambulance driver during World
War I, moved on to the University o f W isconsin where he studied
under John R. Commons. O n Commons’ recommendation, Commis­
sioner Ethelbert Stewart brought him to the Bureau in 1926 to help
develop productivity indexes.
W hen that project ended, Clague worked under W.A. Berridge at
the M etropolitan Life Insurance Company. He then joined the Insti­
tute o f Human Relations at Yale University, where he studied the
effects on workers o f the shutdown o f rubber mills in Hartford and
New Haven. He moved to Philadelphia as Director o f Research and
Professor o f Social Research at the Pennsylvania School o f Social
Work. W hile in Philadelphia, he made a number o f studies for the
Lloyd Committee on Unemployment Relief and the Philadelphia
County Relief Board.
In 1936, Clague returned to Federal employment, serving first as
Associate Director o f Research and Statistics o f the new Social Secur­
ity Board and then as Director. In 1940, he became Director o f the
Bureau o f Employment Security, a post he held until his appointment
as Commissioner o f Labor Statistics.

The Bureau’s role
Clague gave as his first priority for the Bureau in 1947 “maintenance
o f the many recurrent statistical series,” but he also noted the Bureau’s
continuing responsibility for a wide variety o f comprehensive investi­
gations dealing with many phases o f American labor and industry.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


C lague: A n Expanding Role for Economic Indicators

And he referred to the Bureau's role as a special statistical service
agency for Congress and other government agencies.3
H oover Com m ission
Early in his administration, Clague's view o f the role o f the Bureau
was affirmed and strengthened by the findings o f the Hoover Commission—the Commission on Organization o f the Executive Branch o f
the Government—established by Congress in 1947. The commission
was set up to examine the amalgam o f emergency agencies and
expanded programs developed under the New Deal and during the
war, with the charge to recommend organizational arrangements to
provide economy, efficiency, and improved service.
The commission called on the National Bureau o f Economic
Research for a study o f the various statistical agencies, which was
conducted by Frederick C . M ills and Clarence D. Long. Mills and
Long praised the cooperative program in which the Bureau, the Social
Security Administration, and the State agencies joined to produce the
employment statistics. They also spoke well o f the reimbursable work
the Bureau performed for other agencies which solved some problems
o f overlapping jurisdiction. However, they pointed out duplication in
other areas and noted the competition between BLS and the Bureau
o f the C ensus over the monthly report on the labor force.*
The commission generally accepted the recommendations o f the
National Bureau. It called on the Office o f Statistical Standards in the
Bureau o f the Budget to designate the responsibilities and fields of
operation o f each o f the major special-purpose statistical agencies.
Census was recommended as the service agency for the primary col­
lection and tabulation o f statistics on a repetitive basis "for which
highly specialized knowledge o f the subject matter is not required in
the collection process." For the special role o f BLS, the commission
recommended transfer to the Bureau o f the "prevailing wage” surveys
conducted by other agencies in setting the pay o f government bluecollar workers.3
Clague wrote the U nder Secretary that the Bureau stood to gain
from the recommendations and urged that he take action to secure
the prevailing wage and labor force surveys. O n the other hand, he
strongly opposed any transfer to Census o f responsibility for collect­
ing statistics on the volume o f construction, rents, or food prices.**
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The First Hundred Years

The Bureau in a growing Department
The Hoover Commission also provided support for the growth o f the
Department o f Labor over the following decade. Following the com­
mission’s recommendations to restore lost functions and delegate new
responsibilities to the Department, Congress transferred three agen­
cies into the Department from the Federal Security Administration—
the U .S. Employment Service, the Bureau o f Unemployment Com ­
pensation, and the Employees’ Compensation Appeals Board. The
reorganization also strengthened the Secretary’s authority over all the
Department’s agencies. Clague supported the reorganization and saw
it as a formalization o f existing operating relationships between the
Bureau and the Secretary’s office.
Soon after Secretary M itchell's appointment in 1953, he set up a
team o f consultants to evaluate the Department’s programs, adminis­
tration, and organization. The team included J. Douglas Brown of
Princeton University; Clark Kerr o f the University o f California; Eli
Ginzburg o f Colum bia University; and Cyrus Ching, former Director
o f the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.
Reporting late in 1954, the consultants made extensive recom­
mendations on the Departm ent's programs. For BLS, they called for
enhancement o f the Bureau's series, increased appropriations for its
work, and the designation o f the Commissioner as the Secretary’s
chief statistical adviser. But, in commenting on the role o f the Bureau
in the Department, they observed that, while the Bureau devoted
much o f its efforts to the development o f statistical materials which
had some bearing on important departmental programs, “it has also
proceeded in terms o f its history, traditions, and inclinations, with the
result that much o f its work is not closely geared into the major
programs o f the D epartm ent”7
For better coordination within the Department, the consultants
recommended the establishment o f a Committee on Statistics and
Research, to be headed by the U nder Secretary. The committee would
centralize decisionmaking and work towards eliminating duplication
in statistical work. The committee was established but apparently met
only twice. M itchell did make Clague his statistical adviser, as recom­
M itchell gave his own view o f the Bureau in an article which
followed the consultants’ report. He pointed to the “high regard” and
“fine reputation” which the Bureau had earned with employers, work­
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C lague: An Expanding Role for Economic Indicators

ers, and the general public. But he also stressed that “facts and figures
must meet the growing needs o f the country and the economy” and
cautioned against “stagnation and self-satisfaction,” concluding, “O ur
goal must be constantly to increase the usefulness o f the work o f the
Bureau o f Labor Statistics to all our people.”9
A t various times, Department officials suggested the establish'
ment o f a periodical which would absorb the Bureau's periodical, the
Monthly Labor Review, arguing for a “popular” journal representing all
the Department’s activities. In 1957, following the report o f another
team o f consultants which had stated, “We have encountered frequent
expressions o f hope that the M LR could be made more flexible and
provocative o f new ideas,” George C . Lodge, Director o f the Depart­
ment's Office o f Information, proposed recasting the Review as the
Department’s monthly periodical.10
Clague, expressing the view o f the BLS executive staff, opposed
the proposal on the grounds that it was inappropriate for the Office o f
Information to direct a research joum aL The U nder Secretary
accepted this view while directing that the Review planning board
include representatives from other agencies in the Department, which
should be encouraged to publish in the Review. He later established a
departmental publications committee to set general guidelines and
provide oversight.11
The issue o f making the Review a departmental publication arose
again in the 1960's during a comprehensive review o f departmental
publications for reducing costs. In January 1964, Secretary Wirtz
advised the Director o f the Bureau o f die Budget, “The Monthly Labor
Review, heretofore a BLS publication, is being made a departmental
publication.” The move, he said, would save money by eliminating
pressure for new periodicals and facilitating the consolidation o f
existing releases and rep o rts.12
A ssistant Secretary Daniel Patrick Moynihan, as chairman o f the
Department’s advisory committee on publications, pursued the idea
through various formulations. In December 1964, he reported to the
Secretary's staff meeting that “a new proposal” had been developed
“for transfer o f the Monthly Labor Review" to the Office o f the A ssis­
tant Secretary for Policy, Planning and Research. The Review, Moyni­
han argued, had become too closely associated with BLS and faced the
danger o f humming isolated from the rest o f the Department.1^
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The First H undred Years

Clague successfully opposed such a shift, charging that it would
ruin the Review’s reputation for objectivity, as it would become a
policy and program organ for the Department. He did accede, how­
ever, to the creation o f an expanded planning and advisory committee
to counsel the Commissioner and the editor.
Meanwhile, the Department was expanding as Congress, con­
cerned with manpower and labor relations issues in the late 1950’s,
passed the Welfare and Pension Plans Disclosure Act in 1958 and the
Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure A ct in 1959—legislation
for which the Bureau had conducted much o f the early research. To
administer the 1959 act, the Department created the Bureau o f Labor
Management Reports. B LS proposed a broad program o f labor-man­
agement research, but the Commissioner o f the new bureau decided
instead to encourage private research by universities, a position from
which BLS could not move him .14
In 1962, when the establishment o f the Labor-Management Serv­
ices Administration was under consideration in Secretary Arthur J.
Goldberg’s term, Clague again asserted the Bureau's role in basic
factfinding in the field o f labor-management relations. Later on, the
Bureau was called upon for support services on a reimbursable basis.15
The formation o f new agencies within the Department aroused
heated controversy over jurisdiction, especially after the creation of
the Office o f Manpower, Automation, and Training and passage o f the
Manpower Development and Training A ct o f 1962. In 1963, Clague
put the issue in stark terms. In referring to a draft o f a departmental
order establishing the Manpower Administration, he expressed the
belief that BLS “has a most vital role to play in making certain that the
new organization operated successfully” but that the proposed order
“appears to be an attempt to restrict severely the role o f this Bureau.”
Continuing, he posed the choice: The new agency could be primarily
a coordinating and promotional organization or it could combine
coordination with substantive research responsibilities. If the Depart­
ment chose the latter, he argued, it faced the prospect that the agency
would arrogate to itself “functions, personnel, and budget to the
detriment o f other Bureaus in the Department.”16
A s Robert J. Myers, Clague's Deputy Commissioner, described it
later, the discussions resulted in an improved, although not entirely
satisfactory, statement o f BLS responsibilities. The establishment in
1964 o f the Coordinating Committee on Manpower Research “has
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C lague: An Expanding Role for Economic Indicators

been quite useful in resolving jurisdictional questions and other
problems that have arisen.” Congress also had become concerned
about jurisdictions, and a subcommittee o f the House Appropriations
Committee asked for a comprehensive statement from the Department. In February 1964, in “Programs in Manpower Research and
Statistics,” the Department laid out the responsibilities o f the various
With the launching o f the “war on poverty” in 1964, the Depart­
ment again gained new responsibilities, To meet the policy and admin­
istrative needs o f the poverty programs, it called on the Bureau for
data on the characteristics o f the unemployed and the nature and
extent o f poverty. The Department considered cutting funds for the
Bureau’s regular programs, presumably without eliminating “abso­
lutely essential economic data,” to provide the resources for concen­
trating on the problem o f unemployment.18 The Bureau did establish
an Office o f Economic Research to examine such social issues as
poverty and the condition o f minorities. The office contributed sub­
stantially to Assistant Secretary Moynihan’s much publicized report
on the Negro family.
In 1965, the Department proposed another survey o f BLS admin­
istrative procedures and programs. Clague asked for emphasis on the
program aspect o f the study, stressing that, for many years, the Bureau
had faced competing demands from the Department o f Labor, other
Federal agencies, Congress, and the general public. The strain on the
Bureau’s resources had been intensified, Clague stated, by employ­
ment ceilings and limitations on average salaries and the number o f
supervisory personnel.19
A study was conducted by the management consultant firm o f
Booz-Allen and Hamilton, who later reported that Department offi­
cials had become “quite critical o f the Bureau’s capacity to respond to
current economic and manpower problems and to supply innovative
program ideas for their solution.” Therefore, the report called for a
“thoroughgoing examination o f the Bureau with the objective o f
bringing its product more in line with the thrust and emphasis o f
current lines o f social and economic advance.”20
The climate within the Department at the time is suggested by
Secretary W illard Wirtz’s final report, for fiscal 1968, which provided
an assessment o f the Department’s policies, programs, and administra­
tion over his 5-year term. The activist emphasis in the manpower
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The First Hundred "Years

program is evident in the following excerpt from his report: “Infinitely
more than before, most o f the gain was atmospheric, attitudinal:
reflected in the identification o f a 'manpower program’ instead o f an
‘employment service,’ in attacking not just ‘unemployment’ (as an
economic fact) but ‘poverty* (which is human) and in striking (even if
only for one administrative generation) the phrase ‘labor market* from
the Department lexicon. It was, in any event, the unifying and dignify'
ing theme in the history o f the Department o f Labor, 1963 to 1968,
that wage earners—and those seeking that status—are people. Not
statistics, not drones.**21
Wirtz’s appraisal o f the administration o f the Department also
commented on the relationship between the “two governments’* in
the Federal Executive Branch—the political and the professional. It
concluded: “(1) that a stronger central executive authority over both
‘policymaking* and ‘operations’ was required, and (2) that better com '
munications had to be developed between the two governments.**
A s Wirtz described the communications problem, particularly in
regard to research activities, “Various efforts to develop a flow o f ideas
and suggestions up the lines have been largely unsuccessful. The
prevailing notion is still that what is asked for will be supplied, but
that volunteering anything is not worthwhile. Attempts by the Secre­
tary’s office to draw on the ideas incubating in the Bureau o f Labor
Statistics and in the research unit o f the Manpower Administration
are still disappointing. A first staff draff o f testimony for a congres­
sional committee hearing is characteristically sterile. **22
Although these criticisms reflected the dissatisfaction o f top pol­
icy officials with the Bureau’s stance, and its position in the Depart­
ment in terms o f staff and budget was relatively diminished, the
Bureau’s reputation for integrity and technical competence was

The Bureau’s work
Employment and unemployment statistics
The Bureau had published national employment figures since 1916,
based on surveys o f payrolls o f a sample o f nonfarm establishments. In
1945, as part o f the reconversion statistics program, the Bureau began
to develop a national series that would yield estimates for each State.
In some States, State agencies collected the data; in others, BLS
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Clague: An Expanding Role for Economic Indicators

regional offices compiled the figures. All the data were sent to Wash­
ington for construction o f the national series.
However, with the budget cuts o f 1947, the Bureau shifted to
complete compilation by State agencies under cooperative agreements.
By 1949, all States were participating. BLS provided the technical
guidance and standards and reimbursed the State agencies for half the
direct personnel cost of the program. The Bureau o f Employment
Security also shared in the cost. In 1954, the program took over from
the Federal Reserve Board the preparation o f seasonally adjusted esti­
mates of employment.23
Another source o f data on employment was the monthly survey
o f the labor force, a survey o f households which the Census Bureau
had conducted since 1942. This survey, unlike the payroll survey,
provided a direct measure o f unemployment as well as employment.
Increasingly, the publication and analysis o f data from these two
surveys, differing in concept and method, caused confusion and con­
troversy. The substantial rise in unemployment in 1953 focused atten­
tion on the lack o f coordination between the different agencies
responsible for the figures. The matter came to a head when the
Census Bureau had to reduce and restructure its survey program
because o f a cut in funds, and discrepancies cropped up even between
its own new and old unemployment figures.
Noting these difficulties, the American Federation o f Labor urged
that BLS be given responsibility for the unemployment count, con­
cluding, “We believe issuance by the Bureau o f Labor Statistics o f a
single figure based upon statistically sound procedure will restore
confidence in the measurement o f unemployment and bring to an end
the present uncertainty.” The Joint Economic Committee called for
better coordination and the Council o f Economic Advisers also
expressed concern. The confusion contributed to the formation o f the
Federal Statistics U sers’ Conference.24
The controversy also gave momentum to efforts to issue a joint
monthly news release, a course urged, for example, by W ickens and
Clague in February 1954. Secretary o f Labor Mitchell and Secretary of
Commerce Weeks agreed to a unified release, planned with the assist­
ance of the Council o f Economic Advisers and the Bureau of the
Budget. The new report on employment and unemployment appeared
in May 1954 with data for April. For the next 5 years, representatives
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


The First Hundred Years

o f BLS, the Bureau o f Employment Security, and the Census and
Budget Bureaus met monthly to produce the release.25
A lso in 1954, the Bureau moved to establish a Federal-State
cooperative program for labor turnover statistics. For a number of
years, BLS had published a national series based on turnover rates for
selected industries which reported directly to the Bureau. U nder the
new agreements, as in the employment statistics program, the State
agencies collected the data and transmitted the figures for the national
series to BLS; BLS provided guidance and money; and the Bureau of
Employment Security also allocated funds. The system proved popu­
lar, producing figures useful in both analysis and operations, and
within 10 years all States were participating.
The recession o f 1957-58 again stirred criticism o f the occasional
divergence o f the figures o f the various agencies in the unemployment
release, and, in 1959, BLS finally achieved a long-sought goal. Secre­
tary Mitchell negotiated an exchange between BLS and Census in
which BLS gained responsibility for financing and analyzing the
household survey (Current Population Survey) and publishing the
results, while Census took over the BLS surveys on housing and
construction activity.26 Census continued to conduct the Current
Population Survey under a contract with BLS. That same year, BLS
instituted a formal press conference to release the monthly employ­
ment and unemployment figures.
With recurrent recessions, pressure mounted for a reexamination
o f the whole program o f employment and unemployment statistics. In
November 1959, the A FL-CIO complained that part-time and dis­
couraged workers did not appear in the monthly totals and that,
moreover, a national figure masked conditions in the severely
depressed areas. In May 1960, Senator Gale W. M cGee o f Wyoming,
speaking for the Senate Special Committee on Unemployment
Problems, supported the BLS request for increased appropriations to
expand surveys and conduct studies, citing the need for data on parttime and discouraged workers; on frictional, structural, and cyclical
causes o f unemployment; on the composition o f the labor force; and
on the effect o f foreign trade on employment.27
Unemployment became a major issue in the 1960 election cam­
paign. W hen organized labor and the Democrats blamed the incum­
bent Republicans for the high rate, Secretary Mitchell responded by
pointing to the record level o f employment and arguing that teenagers
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C lague: An Expanding Role for Economic Indicators

and those idled for short periods added considerably to the count of
unemployed. Both Senator Henry M. Jackson o f Washington, chair'
man o f the Democratic National Committee, and George Meany,
president o f the A FL'C IO , asked the Department to release the O cto­
ber figure before the general election. Mitchell refused, saying that the
normal schedule would call for a later release date.2®
However, the October unemployment figure did became public
before the election. Bernard D. Nossiter, writing in The Washington
Post on November 3, 1960, noted that, in fact, in 1954, 1956, and
1958, President Eisenhower had announced favorable figures before
the voting. Then Nossiter stated—correctly, as it turned out—that
unemployment had reached 6.4 percent, the highest since the reces­
sion year o f 1958.29
Clague promised a review o f procedures “to develop better ways
o f keeping the confidentiality o f the data under better control.” And,
during 1961, the Department began announcing the release dates for
each month a year in advance.3®
With unemployment mounting to almost 7 percent in 1961, Sec­
retary o f Labor Arthur J. Goldberg proposed various legislative pro­
grams to deal with the unemployment problem, focusing even more
attention on the BLS figures. In the fall o f 1961, Reader’s Digest
published an article accusing the Department o f manipulating the
data, charging that the Bureau exaggerated the figures to build support
for the legislative agenda.31 This prompted the Joint Economic Com ­
mittee to call hearings and moved President Kennedy to establish the
President’s Committee to Appraise Employment and Unemployment
Statistics. U nder the chairmanship o f Robert A. Gordon o f the U ni­
versity o f California, the committee made an extensive study o f techni­
cal and program issues, including concepts and definitions, sampling,
seasonal adjustment, State and local statistics, labor force dynamics,
and comparison and reconciliation o f the various series.
The Gordon Committee report, Measuring Employment and
Unemployment, was issued in 1962. O n the charge o f manipulation,
the committee "unanimously and categorically concluded that doubt
concerning the scientific objectivity o f the agencies responsible for
collecting, processing, and publishing employment and unemploy­
ment statistics is unwarranted.’’ The committee commended the
Bureau for its policy o f publishing release dates in advance, but it also
called for a sharper distinction between the release o f the statistics,
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


The First Hundred Years

with technical explanation and analysis, and policy-oriented comment,
stressing the need to “publish the information in a nonpolitical con­
For the household survey, the Gordon Committee also recom­
mended implementation o f sharper definitions and collection of more
data on persons not in the labor force. It suggested developing ques­
tions to determine if a person had taken specific jobseeking steps
within a definite time period and that BLS publish data on those
working part time and whether that was voluntary.
For the establishment survey, the committee called for improve­
ments in the benchmark data, strengthened sampling techniques, and
preparation o f estimates o f standard error. In addition, the committee
urged improvement o f State and local statistics and development of
job vacancy and occupational employment series.33
In January 1963, BLS and the Bureau o f the Census added ques­
tions to the Current Population Survey designed to refine information
concerning family relationships and availability for part-time work. In
addition, BLS and Census undertook several research programs to
develop and test other proposed changes.
Early in 1963, following up on the committee recommendation
for a greater separation between technical explanations and policyoriented comment, the Department announced that Bureau profes­
sionals would release the figures and that administration officials
would make separate political statements.
Clague was obliged to protest to Secretary Wirtz on several occa­
sions when President Johnson commented on favorable employment
figures before their official release. O n one such occasion, Gardner
Ackley, Chairman o f the Council o f Economic Advisers, wrote mem­
bers o f the W hite House staff urging them to avoid “accidental prema­
ture” release and to respect the BLS procedures as recommended by
the G ordon Committee, thus avoiding any political implications.3*

Job vacancy statistics
Beginning in the 1950’s, BLS conducted several studies to determine
the feasibility o f collecting statistics on job vacancies—twice at the
urging o f Arthur Bum s, Chairman o f the Council o f Economic Advis­
ers. In 1956, the Bureau surveyed about 100 plants to determine
whether such information was available. Since only six were maintain­
ing job vacancy data, it was found impractical to initiate a program.35
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Clague: An Expanding Role for Economic Indicators

In the early 1960’s, Bum s returned to the idea, supported by a
recommendation from the G ordon Committee, and in 1964 the
Bureau again undertook feasibility studies. Clague personally surveyed
programs in Israel and Great Britain, and the Division o f Foreign
Labor Conditions investigated reporting systems in Great Britain, the
Netherlands, West Germany, and Sweden. In the summer o f 1964,
Secretary Wirtz proposed to the President and received approval for a
series o f pilot surveys on job vacancies in 20 labor market areas. BLS
cooperated with the Bureau o f Employment Security and State agen­
cies to conduct the surveys, after which it concluded that collection
was feasible and technical problems could be solved.36
The National Bureau o f Economic Research and the National
Industrial Conference Board actively supported the effort with their
own conferences and projects. However, some criticisms o f the pro­
gram were voiced. The Bureau o f the Budget, for example, objected to
the combining o f operating and statistical programs, the increased
reporting burden on employers, and the high cost and hasty plan­
The BLS Business Research Advisory Committee pointed to diffi­
culties in establishing objective definitions and in obtaining accurate
reports from employers and strongly opposed collaboration with the
Bureau o f Employment Security. The BLS Labor Research Advisory
Committee expressed similar concern for defining terms and concepts
and argued that vacancy statistics would be misused to “deflate” unem­
ployment figures. The AFL-CIO opposed increased appropriations for
the program, calling instead for continued research and investigation
at the current level o f funding.38
Secretary Wirtz responded to the allegation that the program
provided “a device to centralize control o f all job hiring in the U .S.
Employment Service or to police compliance with Title V II o f the
Civil Rights A ct o f 1964.” He stated that workers would be referred to
employers only in response to a specific request, as in the past. The
program, as Wirtz expressed it, had only one purpose—“to help
reduce the still-too-high burden o f unemployment on all sectors of
our society.”39
The request to expand the program was not approved by C on­
gress, but the Bureau continued the experimental program and
explored additional techniques.
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The First Hundred Years

Labor force studies
The many demands for new measurements and for improvements in
concepts and methodology reflected increasing concern for man'
power, or labor resource, issues. In the mid-1950’s, analysts suggested
that the traditional cyclical problems o f the economy were being
compounded by long-term structural problems o f technological
change and economic dislocation.40 Secretary Mitchell encouraged
research directed at the changing composition o f the labor force,
particularly the emerging problems o f youth. In 1955, the Department
published O ur Manpower Future, 1955-1965, and, in 1960, its sequel,
Manpower—Challenge of the Sixties. In 1960, the Bureau issued the
results o f a joint study with the Department, School and Early Employ­
ment Experiences of Youth. Also, at the request o f the Senate Commit­
tee on Labor and Public Welfare, the Bureau updated and expanded
Employment and Economic Status of Older Men and Women, which it
had initially published in 1952. Moreover, BLS produced a number of
studies as part o f the Department’s older worker program.41
In addition to its work on youth and older workers, BLS under­
took studies o f labor resource issues such as job mobility, the second­
ary labor force, labor surplus areas, and plant closings. Also, in line
with its responsibility for the Monthly Report on the Labor Force, the
Bureau began publishing data from the Current Population Survey on
educational attainment, marital and family characteristics o f workers,
and multiple jobholders, among other topics.42
Meanwhile, at the request o f the Armed Forces, the Bureau
produced two projections o f military manpower requirements. It also
conducted several surveys o f personnel resources in the sciences in
cooperation with the Defense Department. Expanding activities in
space research and technology, spurred by the Soviet challenge
embodied in the launching o f Sputnik in 1957, increased the demand
for such information. In 1959, the Bureau joined with the National
Science Foundation to launch an annual canvass o f scientific and
technical personnel.43

Consumer prices
Soon after the war, as goods reappeared on store shelves, BLS adjusted
the weights and components o f the Consum er Price Index. It also
revised its calculations o f food prices and, during the postwar infla­
tionary surge, conducted special weekly telegraphic surveys o f food
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Clague: An Expanding Role for Economic Indicators

prices for prompt release. However, as a result o f budget cuts in 1947,
the Bureau dropped a number o f cities, eliminated some items, and
reduced the frequency o f pricing.'**
The Bureau was saved from a further slash in its appropriation
the following year by the General M otors-United Auto W orkers con­
tract, which stipulated the use o f the Consumer Price Index for wage
escalation. The importance o f the Bureau’s product to stability in this
crucial industry was apparent even to congressional budget cutters.
In 1949, Congress approved funds for a major revision o f the
CPI. An important feature o f the revision was a survey o f dwelling
units to correct for the acknowledged understatement o f the rental
component o f the index arising from its failure to cover new units.
The Bureau o f the Budget proposed that BLS contract with the Cen­
sus Bureau for the fieldwork in the dwelling unit survey, in line with
the Hoover Commission recommendation that agencies use the Cen­
sus Bureau to collect primary data. In response, BLS pushed for
formulation o f a govemmentwide policy and posed three specific
objections: The loss o f training experience, the threat to confidential­
ity, and the delay the change would cause. Department support for the
BLS position apparently settled the question for 20 years/5
Before the CPI revision was well underway, the outbreak o f the
Korean War and the subsequent rapid inflation required a change in
the Bureau’s plans. In October 1950, to avoid a repetition o f the
World War II controversy over the use o f the CPI in adjusting wages,
the Bureau announced a program for a temporary revision. It would
draw on the field surveys already conducted on rents to ensure ade­
quate coverage o f new rental units and also on the results o f several
continuing expenditure surveys conducted between 1947 and 1949.
The Bureau held emergency discussions with its labor and busi­
ness advisory committees, as well as with the American Statistical
Association’s technical advisory committee to BLS on prices. All
agreed that the interim revision should produce improvements in the
index, but there were differences on the particulars. The A SA and the
business advisers suggested that the interim revised index should be
linked to the existing series as o f January 1950; the labor advisers
asked for June 1950 and also preferred a more comprehensive revi­
sion. The Bureau adopted the January 1950 linking date and issued
the interim revised indexes in February 1951, reflecting revision o f city
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The First Hundred Years

population weights, correction o f the rent index, addition o f new
items, and revision o f market basket weights.46
Shortly thereafter, in April, the United Electrical, Radio and
Machine W orkers, an unaffiliated union since its expulsion from the
C IO for Communist domination, issued the “U E C ost o f Living
Index,” threatening a repetition o f the World War II cost-of-living
controversy and disruption o f the stabili2ation program. Attacking the
“fundamental pro-employer, anti-labor character o f the BLS index,”
the U E charged that the BLS index still had the shortcomings alleged
in the earlier controversy and understated the substantially higher
price level calculated by the union.47
A s a result o f the charges, the House Committee on Education
and Labor established a special subcommittee to study the CPI, under
the chairmanship o f Representative Tom Steed of Oklahoma. The
subcommittee heard testimony from Bureau officials and a variety of
government, academic, business, and union representatives, including
members o f the Bureau’s advisory committees. The hearings became a
comprehensive examination o f the development, concepts, construc­
tion, and use o f the CPI. The relationship between the interim revi­
sion and the comprehensive revision was brought out, and there was a
full discussion o f the unresolved issues, including population coverage
and the treatment o f taxes, housing costs, quality changes, and new
Before the subcommittee issued its report, Soviet delegates to the
U nited Nations Economic and Social Council in Geneva attacked the
CPI, citing the U E report. U .S. delegate and former Commissioner
Isador Lubin informed the Council o f the situation. And Clague,
writing to Representative Steed, pointed to Communist attacks on
cost-of-living indexes in several western countries and predicted their
continued criticism o f such measures as part o f the “party line.”48
In its report, issued in O ctober 1951, the Steed subcommittee
noted several technical problems with the CPI and made a number of
suggestions, including the development o f estimates o f place-to-place
differences, annual sample surveys o f family expenditures, and direct
measures o f homeowner costs. The report specifically rejected the U E
criticisms, stating that the index was “the most important single statis­
tic issued by the Government,” meriting “the widespread confidence
which the users have expressed in it.” It concluded, “It is imperative
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C lague: An Expanding Role for Economic Indicators

that adequate financial support be given to the Bureau o f Labor Statis­
tics for this work.”49
The Bureau came up against another problem when the time
arrived to publish the new CPI and discontinue both the "interim
index” and the “old series.” In January 1953, in issuing the figures for
December 1952, Clague noted that this was the last appearance o f the
old series, which had been published along with the interim index.
The A FL, the railroad unions, and a number o f manufacturers called
for continuation o f the old series to allow adequate time for parties to
escalation agreements to convert to the new measure. The UAW,
however, seeking to reopen the automobile contracts, opposed exten­
sion o f the old series; the automobile manufacturers supported exten­
sion. The dispute finally came to President Eisenhower, who directed
BLS to carry the old series for another 6 months and provided the
Later in 1953, BLS introduced the revised CPI. It covered a
modernized market basket and an increased number o f items. In
addition, coverage had been expanded to include small urban places.
Towns with a population as small as 2,500 were now included in the
sample o f cities priced; previously, no cities with a population under
50,000 had been included.
The treatment o f housing costs also had been changed. The
Bureau previously had used the rent index to approximate all changes
in the cost o f shelter, but, by 1950, 49 percent o f the wage-earner and
clerical-worker families owned their homes—up from 30 percent at
the time o f the previous survey in the 1930’s—and the homes were
much better equipped with “m odem conveniences.” Therefore, the
Bureau began to measure all items connected with acquisition and
operation o f a home and calculated a housing index.51
The Bureau went to some lengths to make available to the public
the detailed information from the consumer expenditure survey con­
ducted as part o f the revision program. W hen Congress rejected
requests for appropriations to publish the results, the Bureau sought
private financing and secured a grant from the Ford Foundation for
work by the W harton School, which published 18 volumes o f statisti­
cal data.52
In 1953, to provide the opportunity for questions and clarifica­
tion o f the monthly CPI data, the Bureau began to hold a formal press
conference for release o f the figures.
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The First Hundred Years

In the late 1950’s, shifting demographic and buying patterns
prompted renewed criticisms o f the CPI, especially as prices began to
creep upward. Further, labor disputes in the steel industry, the 195758 recession, and debates over ‘‘administered” prices all focused atten­
tion on the index.53
Business economists, for example, complained that BLS included
too many luxury items: “Actually, the index represents what the aver­
age urban family spends to live, not what it actually costs to supply its
reasonable needs.” In the process, the critics continued, BLS ignored
the bargain-hunting and substitution habits o f American consumers.
They pointed to specific problem areas, such as treatment o f quality
change and introduction o f new products.54
In view o f these and other concerns—and just as BLS was start­
ing another major revision—the Bureau o f the Budget sponsored a
comprehensive review o f government price statistics by a committee
o f the National Bureau o f Economic Research headed by George J.
Stigler o f the University o f Chicago. The committee surveyed the
Consum er Price Index, the W holesale Price Index, and the Indexes of
Prices Received and Paid by Farmers, studying such technical aspects
as weight revision, specification pricing, sampling, and seasonal adjust­
ment. In regard to the CPI, the committee discussed a broad range o f
issues such as the basic concept, population coverage, and treatment
o f quality change, government services, and taxes.55
The committee’s report, issued in 1961, recommended periodic
weight revisions, increased use o f probability sampling, more prompt
introduction o f new commodities, and more funds for research. The
committee also advocated restructuring the W holesale Price Index
and emphasizing actual transaction prices. A s a major field o f expan­
sion, the group suggested the need for export and import price
For the CPI, the panel urged inclusion o f single persons and
nonfarm rural workers and renewed the call for development o f a
more comprehensive index for the entire population. Inclusion of
single persons had been considered by BLS during planning for the
1953 revision but had been rejected because o f the great heterogeneity
within that population group.56
The committee also recommended additional research on two
controversial and complex aspects o f the CPI. First, it suggested that
BLS investigate the feasibility o f constructing an index based on rental
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C lague: An Expanding Role for Economic Indicators

housing units, but representative o f owner-occupied houses, which
could be substituted for the homeownership components introduced
in the previous revision. This prompted a union economist to argue
that the homeownership components measured “prices prevailing in
the marketplace” and that use o f a rental equivalent would introduce
“subjective estimates.”57
The second research area concerned the committee’s recommen­
dation to modify the CPI “in the direction o f a welfare index”; that is,
from the fixed-market-basket concept to the constant-utility or welfare
or “true cost o f living” approach. The committee urged research to
develop such an approach to account more accurately for the intro­
duction o f new products; changes in product quality, consumer tastes,
and relative prices; and product substitution by consumers. W hile
recognizing that the complexities involved might require die produc­
tion o f both the CPI and a “true cost o f living” index, the committee
favored the continuous modification o f the CPI to the extent that a
welfare index could be produced on a monthly basis. Clague and the
Bureau staff opposed outright any alteration o f the CPI fixed market
basket or replacement by a welfare index. They stressed the necessity
o f maintaining the CPI as a pure price index in view o f the many
purposes it served, arguing that hybridization by shifting toward the
welfare concept would destroy “the usefulness o f the index as an
acceptable, unambiguous measure o f change in consumer prices.”
However, Clague saw a welfare index, if one could be developed, as
complementary to the C P I.58
By the time the committee made its report, BLS was deep into its
revision program, but it did incorporate some o f the committee’s ideas
in the new index issued in March 1964. It expanded population cover­
age to include single-person families, introduced probability sampling
techniques in selecting items for pricing, and developed a system for
measuring sampling error. It also established a division o f price and
index number research. And it returned to many o f the unresolved
issues in planning for the next CPI revision in the late 1960’s.59
The usual local concerns arose during the planning for the 1964
revision. Writing to Clague in 1960, a top officer o f the Department
pointed to a particular difficulty. Noting that 32 cities would be
dropped in the new sample, he pointed out that 8 o f these were in
districts which had Congressmen on the appropriations committee. “I
have explored thoroughly the probability sampling technique, and I
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


The First Hundred Years

am not impressed by its purity to the extent that a little practicality
cannot also be taken into consideration in the selection o f cities.” The
official reminded the Commissioner o f “the problems we encountered
when cities were changed as a result o f the last revision.”60
Many letters over the period concerned New Orleans, San Diego,
Phoenix, Denver, and others. A s one response, BLS frequently tried
to arrange for a local university to continue the work with BLS
assistance. This avenue was used in responding to requests from
Scranton and Portland in the early 1960’s, but, after much discussion,
the Secretary directed BLS to continue those surveys itself.
A t one point, in view o f the continuing controversies, Secretary
Wirtz suggested eliminating all city indexes. In response, Clague noted
that the national series depended on the city data, in that BLS first
prepared the city indexes and then combined them to derive the
national figure. The Commissioner recommended studying the issue
in planning for the next comprehensive revision.61

Standard budgets
In 1945, the House Appropriations Committee had directed BLS to
determine the living costs o f workers in large cities and the differences
between cities. In 1948, the Bureau published Workers’ Budgets in the
United States, reporting “a modest but adequate standard o f living” for
families o f 4 persons in 34 cities in 1946-47. BLS priced the budget
several times before discontinuing it in 1951, when the list o f goods
and the quantities had become obsolete.
In 1959, Congress authorized BLS to update its standard budgets.
The Bureau priced its revised list o f articles in the fall o f the year in 20
large cities then included in the Consum er Price Index, publishing
interim budgets for a city worker’s family and a retired couple in 1960.
Although based on a new list o f commodities, the revisions were
considered interim because the basic data reflected patterns in the
1950 consumer expenditure survey, soon to be replaced by the I96061 survey.
In 1963, recognizing the need to examine basic standard budget
concepts while adjusting to the results o f the more recent survey, BLS
established the Advisory Committee on Standard Budget Research
with representatives from industry, labor, State agencies, and academic
and private research organizations. Publication o f a new and greatly
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C lague: A n Expanding Role for Economic Indicators

expanded series began in 1966 with City Worker’s Family Budget (Bub
letin 1570'l).62

Wholesale prices
During Clague’s tenure, the Bureau regularly produced three measures o f price movements in primary markets—the comprehensive
monthly index, a weekly estimate o f trends in the monthly series, and
a daily commodity index. The Bureau completely revised the monthly
program in 1952 and changed weights in 1955, 1958, and 196L BLS
had introduced the daily data for the Treasury Department during the
1930’s and developed them into a series covering 28 commodities.
With the 1952 revision, it issued a new series reporting prices for 22
items, either raw materials or commodities very close to the initial
stage o f production.63
In February 1952, BLS issued a revised W holesale Price Index.
Assisted by the advisory committee o f the American Statistical Associ­
ation, the Interagency Price Committee o f the Bureau o f the Budget,
and its own business research advisory committee, the Bureau more
than doubled the number o f commodity series and shifted the base
period from 1926 to an average o f 1947-49. In the process, BLS added
new major groups, split other groups into their component parts, and
added new special-purpose indexes.
During the 1950’s, BLS twice developed industry-sector price
indexes—in 1953 as part o f the input-output project and in 1959 for
the Census Bureau.
In its 1961 report, the Stigler Committee criticized the W holesale
Price Index as having a universe that was never clearly defined, with
ease of collection a major determinant o f which prices to include. To
provide a more meaningful concept for economic analysis, the com­
mittee proposed a revision to achieve three major objectives: To cover
every important sector o f the economy dealing in commodities; to
provide maximum detail in price reporting; and to develop price
indexes for the subgroups o f commodities most useful in economic
analysis. After the Stigler Committee recommendation, BLS launched
a program to develop a time series o f industry prices.64

Wages and industrial relations
For many decades, BLS had conducted studies o f wage rates by occu­
pation and industry, but experience during World War II emphasized
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The First Hundred Years

the need for local labor market data. Thus, after the war, industry
surveys gave greatly increased attention to local area information.
Following the budget cuts o f 1947, however, BLS severely reduced the
number o f industry surveys and restructured the program to produce
two types o f surveys: The longstanding industry surveys and a new
series o f community or area surveys. The industry surveys provided
data on occupational levels and trends for the Nation as a whole and
regions, while the community surveys covered several occupations
common to a number o f industries in a metropolitan area.65
In 1959, the Bureau announced a revamped and enlarged wage
program. In the industry series, BLS proposed to cover 50 manufac­
turing and 20 nonmanufacturing industries on a regular cycle. The
area program, previously limited to about 20 major labor markets,
would be expanded to 80 areas chosen to represent all Standard
M etropolitan Statistical Areas.
A stimulus for this expansion was the proposal for a pay compara­
bility program for Federal civil service and postal employees which
would require national data on white-collar salaries in private indus­
try. A n interagency committee established by the Bureau o f the Bud­
get concluded that the 80-area survey design was appropriate, and, in
1960, BLS conducted a survey o f professional, managerial, and clerical
occupations. With the enactment o f the Federal Salary Reform A ct of
1962, this National Survey o f Professional, Administrative, Technical,
and Clerical Pay, or "white collar” survey, was used as a basis for
comparing the pay o f Federal and private sector employees.66
A lso as part o f the community wage survey program, BLS pro­
vided other Federal agencies with information to assist in determining
rates for blue-collar workers. In the late 1940’s, concerned for duplica­
tion among various Federal wage-setting boards, the Bureau o f the
Budget had suggested that BLS serve as the collecting agency in com­
munities where it made wage surveys. State and local governments
used such data, too.67
The Bureau conducted a number o f studies on the effect o f the
Federal minimum wage. After the rate rose from $0.40 to $0.75 per
hour in January 1950, BLS worked with the Wage and H our and
Public Contracts Divisions o f the Department on a project to survey
the economic effects, covering industries such as southern sawmills,
fertilizer, wood furniture, seamless hosiery, and men’s dress shirts.
W hen the rate rose to $1.00 in 1956, the Bureau again cooperated in a
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C lague: An Expanding Role for Economic Indicators

study. In the late 1950’s, the two agencies sponsored a broad program
o f industry wage studies as part o f a continuing appraisal o f minimum
wage legislation by the Wage and H our Division and Congress.68
Congress called on BLS for a special study o f earnings in retail
trade to help in determining whether the industry should be covered
by the Fair Labor Standards A ct and, if so, what the minimum rate
should be. Congress acted to increase the minimum wage but did not
extend coverage. BLS published the results o f its retail trade survey in
late 1957.69
Health and other employee benefit plans were a growing area of
study for the Bureau. During World War II and its aftermath, supple*
mental or “fringe” benefits increasingly were used to raise workers’
pay. Wage controls restricted direct cash increases, and congressional
failure to raise Social Security contributions prevented the system
from providing health and other benefits. Therefore, labor unions
pressed for health and welfare benefits in collective bargaining negotia­
Early BLS benefit studies were largely descriptive rather than
statistical. In the late 1940’s, the Bureau conducted several sample
surveys o f health, insurance, and retirement plans as part o f a joint
program with the Social Security Administration and the Public
Health Service. In 1953, BLS contracted with the National Bureau of
Economic Research for a feasibility study on supplementary benefits.
By 1959, the Bureau had worked out technical and conceptual
problems to begin a program on employer expenditures for supple­
mentary compensation. Starting with individual industries, reports
later covered all employees in the private nonfarm sector. In the
1960’s, as benefits continued to grow in importance, the Council of
Economic Advisers asked for more frequent and detailed surveys.
With departmental support, BLS put forward a plan to expand and
refine its program, which was pending on Clague’s retirement.70
In 1959,'when Congress passed the Welfare and Pension Plans
Disclosure Act, BLS expressed concern over whether the administra­
tive regulations would assign the Bureau “responsibility for the con­
duct o f substantive research in the field o f employee benefits and
pension plans, a responsibility which we now have and exercise in a
modest way to the benefit o f the Department.’’71 Reports filed under
the act with the Department’s Bureau o f Labor Standards provided a
wealth o f information. In cooperation with Labor Standards, BLS
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The First Hundred Years

launched a regular program o f sample studies o f pension and retire*
ment plans filed. It also published digests o f health and welfare and
pension plans derived from its industrial relations activities and analy­
ses o f collective bargaining agreements.
The provision o f information on collective bargaining increased
during Clague’s tenure. With the rapid increase in prices and wages
after the war and the need for the most current information on
collective bargaining developments, the Bureau began to issue a
monthly report, Current Wage Developments, which listed by com­
pany and union the negotiated changes in wages and supplementary
benefits. In 1953, the list was limited to agreements affecting 1,000 or
more production and related workers. Beginning in 1954, a statistical
summary o f wage changes was prepared on a quarterly basis to supple­
ment the listing. In 1959, another statistical summary was introduced
covering changes in wages and benefits in manufacturing for both
union and nonunion workers.
The Bureau introduced a series o f wage chronologies in 1948,
each providing detailed information on changes in wages and benefits
o f a specific company and union, whether through collective bargain­
ing or unilateral management decisions. During the Korean emer­
gency, the Wage Stabilization Board found these and the Current
Wage Developments reports particularly useful in their review o f wage
Throughout the period, the Bureau maintained a file o f collective
bargaining agreements, as required by Section 211 (a) o f the Labor
Management Relations A ct o f 1947. Even before passage o f the act,
BLS had begun publication o f in-depth studies on provisions o f collec­
tive bargaining agreements, the Bulletin 908 series, continuing
through 19 collective bargaining subjects before ending in 1950. Hav­
ing issued many individual studies o f contract provisions in the
meantime, BLS launched a major new series in 1964 with a study of
grievance procedures in major collective bargaining agreements (Bulle­
tin 1425-1). In succeeding years, the Bureau produced studies on such
subjects as severance pay, supplemental unemployment benefit plans,
seniority, safety and health provisions, and wage-incentive provisions.

Productivity and technology
U nder Clague, the Bureau resumed its work on productivity indexes
for selected industries which had been interrupted by the war. A new
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Clague: An Expanding Role for Economic Indicators

program o f detailed industry reports, based on direct field surveys,
supplemented the series. However, funding cuts in the early 1950’s
forced the Bureau to drop field collection and to rely on available
secondary sources.
The General M otors-United Auto W orkers contract o f 1948,
with its provision for wage adjustment based on an annual "improve*
ment factor” as well as on the Consum er Price Index, was a major
stimulus to the development o f productivity measures for the economy as a whole. It was also a harbinger o f the “guideposts” policy set
forth by the Council o f Economic Advisers in the 1960’s. Both the
Council and the Joint Economic Committee «p re sse d continuing
interest in the measurement o f national productivity. The Bureau of
the Budget and the A FL also pressed for such measures.
The Bureau’s development o f productivity measures for the
economy was a long and arduous process, partly because productivity
measurement was a very sensitive area o f labor'management relations.
Concern with the policy implications o f the figures, in addition to the
novelty and complexity o f the technique and the lack o f adequate
data, made for extended discussions with the Bureau’s business and
labor advisory groups. One issue was the effect on collective bargaining o f comparisons between economywide productivity indexes and
the productivity developments in specific industries, particularly in the
automobile and steel industries. Both labor and management in the
auto industry were critical o f the emphasis given to the broad meas­
ures, but the consensus within both o f the Bureau's advisory groups
was finally that such productivity measures were needed.
In 1955, the Bureau published its first productivity indexes for
the manufacturing sector as a whole, reflecting the relationship o f
output to man-hours o f production workers for the period 1939-53.
Building on this experience, the Bureau worked toward development
o f indexes for the total private economy. These were published in
1959, covering the period 1909-58.72
The importance o f productivity measurement was heightened in
1962, when the Council o f Economic Advisers, in its annual report to
the President, offered wage and price guideposts for noninflationary
behavior in collective bargaining, basing them on the Bureau’s data.
The wage guidepost suggested was that “the rate o f increase in wage
rates (including fringe benefits) in each industry be equal to the trend
rate o f over-all productivity increase.” O n the price side, the Council
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The First Hundred Years

suggested that price increases were warranted only if an industry’s
productivity rose less than the average for the economy.73
The labor requirements program authorized by Congress in 1959
added a significant new project to the Bureau’s productivity work. In
this program, BLS estimated the employment generated by—or labor
hours required for—various types o f government, or governmentfinanced, construction, such as schools, hospitals, public housing, and
college housing. This expanded the work begun in the 1930’s to
measure the volume o f employment created by new construction.7*
The role o f labor costs in international trade was another subject
o f study for the Bureau. Increased competition in foreign trade, bal­
ance o f payments problems, the outflow o f gold, and other factors
raised the question o f whether the U nited States was pricing itself out
o f world markets. Bureau studies examined unit labor costs at home
and abroad and the effects on collective bargaining and employment.
A s part o f its activities, BLS also prepared materials for the "Kennedy
Round" o f tariff negotiations.
The Bureau was also called upon to study the effects of—and
adjustments to—automation and technological change. It conducted a
series o f case studies on the introduction o f automatic technology and
also produced two major studies o f office automation. Then, for the
President’s Advisory Committee on Labor Management Policy, it pre­
pared a major study on technological trends in 36 industries. The
Bureau also studied retraining programs and published case studies of
workers displaced by the new technologies.
The continuing sensitivity o f the productivity issue in labormanagement relations was reflected in the Bureau’s difficulty in con­
ducting the automation studies despite the approval o f its advisory
groups. Management in the railroad and automobile industries proved
reluctant to arrange for them. And Clague wrote o f difficulties with
union research directors who, feeling labor had an important stake in
automation studies, demanded review o f texts, participating compa­
nies, and other aspects o f the work. In 1959, the research director of
the A uto W orkers attacked the BLS “surrender to big business" in the
development o f productivity materials, charging that the Bureau had
succumbed to business pressures to “downgrade, obscure, and con­
ceal" the facts, urging the Joint Economic Committee to investigate.75
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Clague: A n Expanding Role for Economic Indicators

Industrial safety and health
Continuing its long interest in industrial safety and health, BLS
expanded its annual series o f injury-frequency and injury-severity
measures covering manufacturing and nonmanufacturing industries,
and its monthly series (collected quarterly) for manufacturing. By
1966, the annual program covered over 650 industries and industry
groups, and the monthly (quarterly) covered 140 manufacturing and
industry groups. BLS also conducted intensive studies o f injury rates
and accident causes in selected industries, surveying about one indus­
try a year.
Amendments to the Longshoremen’s and Harbor W orkers’
Compensation A ct passed in 1958 provided more work for BLS.
These amendments authorized the Secretary o f Labor to issue regula­
tions protecting the health and safety o f employees, including require­
ments to maintain records. The Secretary delegated the administrative
functions to the Bureau o f Labor Standards, and BLS acted as its agent
in collecting and compiling data.76

International activities
During the late 1940’s, the Bureau cooperated with various overseas
projects o f the U .S. Government. W orking with the European Recov­
ery Program, it planned and conducted a number o f productivity
studies and gave technical assistance to European governments for
developing their own economic statistics. During 1950 and 1951,
about 80 European labor statisticians took 3-month courses with BLS
under arrangements made by the Organization for European Eco­
nomic Cooperation and the Economic Cooperation Administration.
The Gift of Freedom, a Bureau publication which presented a
wide range o f statistics on the economic and social status o f American
workers, was reprinted in several foreign languages for distribution
The Bureau published information on foreign labor conditions
and statistics, introducing the monthly publication, Labor Developmerits Abroad, in 1956 and a series on labor law and practice in various
countries in 1961. The Bureau also developed a considerable amount
o f material in collaboration with the International Cooperation
Administration/Agency for International Development, including
descriptions o f labor conditions—primarily in developing countries—
and a Foreign Labor Information Series. These were intended for the
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The First Hundred Years

use o f Foreign Service staff, labor specialists assigned abroad, and
participants in technical and exchange programs, as well as business­
men and others.78 BLS also developed several technical manuals, in
cooperation with IC A /A ID , to help foreign countries develop statisti­
cal programs relating to consumer prices and the labor force.79
In the early 1960’s, BLS and the Department’s Bureau o f Interna­
tional Labor Affairs collaborated to publish Labor Digest, a series of
brief notes on labor conditions around the world.

Economic growth studies
Since the 1930’s, BLS had worked with Wassily Leontief o f Harvard
to develop “input-output" or interindustry analysis. Following the
war, with W. Duane Evans heading the project, the Bureau projected
employment patterns to 1950. Congress showed special interest in the
BLS projections for steel, made in 1947.
A t the initial request o f the National Security Resources Board
and the military establishment, the Bureau joined a cooperative pro­
gram with other Federal agencies, universities, and research institu­
tions which was later financed by the A ir Force. A s part o f the project,
BLS produced a 450-sector input-output table based on the 1947
Census o f M anufactures.8®
During the Korean War, the program became controversial when
some employers called it state planning, a step toward a planned
economy. With the armistice, the new administration sought ways to
cut the defense budget, and A ir Force funding was halted. Evans and
BLS tried without success to arrange private financing for continuing
studies. But in the late 1950*s there was renewed interest in inputoutput studies as a means o f analyzing economic problems.81
In 1962, the Bureau joined with other government agencies and
private organizations in a wide-ranging program o f studies for the
analysis and projection o f economic growth trends. The program
represented an effort to develop a more comprehensive and integrated
framework than had previously been available for analyzing the impli­
cations o f long-term economic growth, particularly the implications
for employment.
O ther participants in the research program included the Office of
Business Economics o f the Department o f Commerce, the Depart­
ment o f Agriculture, the Bureau o f Mines of the Department o f the
Interior, Harvard University, George Washington University, the
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C lague: An Expanding Role for Economic Indicators

Council o f State Governments, and the National Planning Associa­
tion. Guidance was provided by an interagency coordinating commit­
tee consisting o f representatives from the Departments o f Labor and
Commerce, the Budget Bureau, and the Council o f Economic Advis­
ers. The chairman o f the Council headed the committee.82
A s one aspect o f the research, BLS developed projections o f the
industrial distribution o f employment based upon the input-output
tables prepared by the Commerce Department. In late 1966, the
Bureau published the 1970 projections o f demand, interindustry rela­
tionships, and employment developed by BLS and the other partici­
pating agencies.83

After recovering from the slash in fiscal year 1948, the Bureau’s regu­
lar appropriations for salaries and expenses showed litde if any
increase in the early 1950’s. They began to rise in die late 1950’s, then
grew substantially in the 1960’s with the expansion in the Bureau’s
programs (table 6). Congress provided separate funds for two revisions
o f the CPI within the period.
O utside funds, also called working funds or intragovemmental
advances and reim bursem ents, added considerably to Bureau
resources as other agencies funded statistical work done on their
behalf. Normally providing from 4 to 7 percent o f the Bureau’s total
budget, these payments mounted during the Korean War and later, in
the 1960’s, when the Department undertook new programs. The
Atomic Energy Commission, the Air Force, the Office o f Naval
Research, the National Security Resources Board, the Veterans
Administration, and the National Science Foundation, among others,
underwrote Bureau activities.

A s had happened before in the Bureau’s history, in 1950 Congress
had occasion to investigate complaints lodged by employees and for­
mer employees o f the Bureau. They alleged that the Division o f Prices
and C ost o f Living “was overstaffed, poorly supervised, and steeped in
an atmosphere o f employee discontent.” In the report presenting its
findings, the House Subcommittee on Overstaffing in the Executive
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


The First Hundred Years

Table 6.

Funding for Bureau o f Labor Statistics, 1947-65
(in thousands)
F iscal year ended
Ju n e 30 —


an d expenses













•in cludes appropriation s for C P I revision (1950-52 and 1960-64) and
m iscellaneous, w orking, and tru st funds.
^Includes $15,000 for a study o f conditions in H aw aii
SOURCE: The Budget o f the United States Governm ent

Departments and Agencies concluded that funds for the revision of
the CPI had been “dissipated through gross overstaffing, inferior plan'
ning, untrained supervision, and improvident administration.”8*
Secretary Tobin immediately wrote the subcommittee chairman
o f “the overall efficiency and economy o f the Division’s work” in
turning out some o f the country’s “most important and most closely
scrutinized statistics.” W hile challenging the charge o f dissipation of
funds, Tobin acknowledged some problems o f administration, which
had been compounded by congressional delay in funding. He stated
that, after great effort, the revision program was now back on sched­
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C lague: An Expanding Role for Economic Indicators

ule, and was urgendy needed to avoid die controversy which had
developed during World War II. Clague pointed out that an attitude
survey had demonstrated that the vast majority o f BLS employees
were satisfied. U pon assurance that the Bureau would improve its
management, the matter was dropped.85
R econiirm adon
Clague’s administration was interrupted for about a year when Secre­
tary M itchell proposed his reappointment for a third term in 1954.
Since Clague was a legal resident o f Pennsylvania, his nomination
required the assent o f both Pennsylvania Senators, but Senator
Edward Martin, the senior Senator, objected.
Senator M artin’s objection centered on two pieces o f information
he had received about Clague’s activities in the early 1930’s—a news­
paper clipping quoting Clague as saying that the economic future of
the country would be state socialism, and his contribution to a college
which the Attorney General had later listed as a Communist institu­
Delayed by M artin’s objection, the appointment also became
entangled with difficulties surrounding the appointment o f another
Department official, and confirmation proceedings were held up for
almost a year. In the interim, Secretary Mitchell named Clague as his
special assistant, and Aryness Joy W ickens, Clague’s Deputy Commis­
sioner, served as Acting Commissioner. A highly respected statistician,
W ickens had had a long career in government before joining the
Bureau in the late 1930’s. U nder Lubin, Hinrichs, and Clague, she
had moved steadily upward, from C hief o f the Price Division to
A ssistant Com m issioner to Deputy Commissioner. During the year o f
Clague’s absence, the work o f the Bureau went on largely unaffected.
In July 1955, Clague finally had his confirmation hearing, and he
was able to reply to Senator M artin’s implied charge o f association
with radical causes. He informed the committee that the remark
quoted—from an extemporaneous speech—was intended as a chal­
lenge to the audience and not as an espousal o f socialism. H is contri­
bution ^o the college had been pledged in the 1920’s to help provide
education for poor students.86
Senator Martin had already informed the committee that he was
no longer going to oppose the nomination. In addition, the committee
had received letters from supporters. Stephen M. DuBrul, Executive-
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


The First Hundred Years

in-Charge o f the Business Research Staff at General M otors, praised
Clague’s integrity, open-mindedness, courage, and determination.
William F. Sullivan, President o f the Northern Textile Association,
noted Clague’s "splendid record o f accomplishment” as well as his
objectivity and impartiality. Leo Teplow, Industrial Relations Consult­
ant to the American Iron and Steel Institute, commented that Clague
enjoyed “the wholehearted confidence o f both management and
labor.”87 Earlier, A FL President George Meany had spoken with Sec­
retary M itchell in support o f reappointment.88 Newspaper columnists
and editorials also supported Clague. H is confirmation took only half
an hour.

Early in his tenure, Clague reaffirmed the voluntary nature o f the BLS
reporting process and the necessity for strict confidentiality o f the data
provided by respondents. He saw the Bureau’s dependence on volun­
tary cooperation as “a great asset in a democracy” rather than a limita­
tion, as some others had viewed it .89
In the early 1960’s, a serious challenge arose to the Bureau’s
policy o f confidentiality. U nder the provisions o f the Public Contracts
A ct o f 1936, government suppliers were required to pay at least the
locally prevailing minimum wage, and the Secretary o f Labor had been
making determinations o f the prevailing minimum in various indus­
tries from data collected in BLS wage surveys. Interested parties had
won the right to judicial review o f the Secretary’s decisions. The
Baldor Electric Company and 10 other suppliers in the electrical
machinery industry brought the Department to court, challenging the
Secretary’s determination on the grounds that they had been denied
access to documents underlying the BLS tables.
Throughout, the Bureau, supported by the Department, argued
its fundamental policy that it operated on the basis o f voluntary
reporting, that granting access would break confidentiality and endan­
ger its whole system o f data collection. The Federal District C ourt and
the C ourt o f Appeals for the District o f Colum bia upheld the manu­
facturers, ruling that refusal o f access to BLS documents breached
their legal right to rebuttal and cross-examination.90
Rather than imperil the foundation o f the Bureau’s data gather­
ing system, the Secretary revoked his determination, and none have
been issued since. Over the years, the policy o f confidentiality has
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Clague: An Expanding Role for Economic Indicators

been maintained, and other influences on wages, such as minimum
wage setting under the Fair Labor Standards A ct and the general
extension of collective bargaining, have lessened the importance o f the
Public Contracts Act. It now serves mainly as a statement o f the
government’s intent to be a good employer.91

O n September 14, 1965, Secretary Wirtz announced Ewan Clague’s
retirement, saying, “Ewan Clague has built his ideals and his compe­
tence and integrity into the traditions and strength o f the Bureau of
Labor Statistics and the Department o f Labor. He stands preeminent
in his field. H is colleagues have paid him every honor they command.
. . . The staff o f the Bureau is both his compliment and his legacy to
the future.”92
Clague later described the understanding he had had with Secre­
tary Wirtz: “W hen I was confirmed for a fifth term in August 1963,
Secretary o f Labor W. W illard Wirtz and I reached an agreement that
we should be on the lookout for a successor. W hen Professor Arthur
M. Ross o f the University o f California at Berkeley, one o f the names
on our joint list, became available in the summer o f 1965,1 submitted
my resignation, and Ross was appointed Commissioner.”93
Observers praised Clague and his accomplishments. Senator Wil­
liam Proxmire, a close observer o f BLS from his post on the Joint
Economic Committee, referred to his “ 19 immensely productive
years,” noting the “steady improvement in quality and the constantly
more accurate and detailed picture o f our economy” provided by BLS
data during Clague’s tenure. A t Ross’ nomination hearing, Senator
Wayne M orse, veteran o f economic stabilization programs and major
labor-management crises, commented that he could always place com­
plete reliance on Clague’s work.94
The New York Times declared, “Integrity has been the dominant
characteristic o f the Bureau’s approach to all its assignments.” Under
Clague, it continued, the Bureau had achieved “a remarkable degree of
professional detachment and trustworthiness.” The Washington Post
editorialized in the same vein, commending Clague for his probity—
his determination “to maintain the integrity o f the BLS as an objective
agency at times when there were pressures to twist results in conform­
ity with political preconceptions.”95
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The First H undred l&ars

Clague had an active career for many years after his retirement.
Initially, he served as a consultant to Secretary Wirtz. Later, he con­
ducted and published research studies on labor force subjects,
including the all-volunteer army, older workers, and coal miners. He
has continued to be active in civic affairs.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


Chapter V ili.

Four Commissioners:
An Economy Going
by the Numbers


here were four Commissioners o f Labor Statistics in the
two decades following Clague’s departure as a variety of
circumstances produced limited terms for Arthur M. Ross,
Geoffrey H. Moore, and Julius Shiskin. Janet L. Norwood
was well into her second term in 1984. W hatever the length o f service,
the head o f the Bureau faced relentless demands as public interest in
the Bureau’s statistics heightened with continuous inflation, rising
unemployment in four recessions, and the increased use o f BLS data
in evaluating national economic policies and distributing public and
private funds.

The economic climate and escalating uses of statistics
In 1966, the chairman o f the Joint Economic Committee stated, in
introducing the hearings on government price statistics, that they
would cast some light on “whether or not we have inflation.. . The
annual rate o f increase in consumer prices at that time was about 2
percent.1 By the end o f 1968, there was no longer any doubt about
inflation—consumer prices had risen almost 5 percent over the year.
The inflationary boom o f the late 1960’s was accompanied by a
drop in unemployment, which fell below the 4-percent goal set in the
early 1960’s. In 1969, however, unemployment started to rise, and the
economy began to suffer from both inflation and high levels o f unem­
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


The First Hundred Years

ployment at the same time. Moreover, labor disputes in longshoring,
steel, and railroads compounded the problems.
In August 1971, when less drastic measures had failed to stem the
inflation, President Nixon, having already moved to restrain excessive
price and wage increases in the construction industry, imposed direct
wage and price controls. During the freeze and the ensuing control
period, the Bureau was called upon frequently to supply data to the
stabilization agencies—the C ost o f Living Council and the Pay Board.
Controls lapsed in 1974, and inflation resumed its upward course,
accompanied by rising unemployment, as the oil embargo and world­
wide food shortages helped push the country into the steepest reces­
sion in the postwar period. A s the Council o f Economic Advisers
described the decade o f the 1970’s, “Each time inflation accelerated...
a temporary boost in employment was achieved at the cost o f a subse­
quent recession. Moreover, the recessions became more serious.”2
In recognition o f these economic conditions, Congress passed
several countermeasures to stimulate the economy and enacted the
Full Employment and Balanced Growth A ct o f 1978, which reaffirmed
and enlarged on the commitment o f the Employment A ct o f 1946.
The 1978 act obligated the Government to reduce the rate o f inflation
while also reducing unemployment to 4 percent.3 Meanwhile, another
increase in oil prices led to a third inflationary wave, which lasted into
1982 before moderating.
The economy was also undergoing a variety o f structural changes
during the period. Commissioner Norwood, during her years in office,
highlighted these trends: The larger number o f young workers and
the dramatic increase in the participation o f women; the continued
employment expansion in the service-producing sector and in whitecollar occupations; the decline in the automobile, steel, and textile
industries; and the general slowdown in productivity growth.4
The economic and social developments added to the importance
o f the Bureau’s work in monitoring changes in the economy. And still
other uses for the Bureau’s data were developing which directly
affected the pocketbooks o f millions o f Americans. With mounting
inflation, pressures increased for indexation—tying money payments
to price indexes—as a means o f ensuring fairness. A s President Nixon
stated in 1969 in reference to social security benefits, “The way to
prevent future unfairness is to attach the benefit schedule to the cost
o f living.. . . We remove questions about future years; we do much to
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Four Commissioners: An Economy Going by the Numbers

remove this system from biennial politics; and we make fair treatment
o f beneficiaries a matter o f certainty rather than a matter o f hope.”5
A s early as 1962, Congress had linked Federal civil service retire'
ment benefits to changes in the Consum er Price Index. This was
followed by indexing arrangements for a growing number o f Federal
programs. All major retirement and disability plans came to be
adjusted on the basis o f the CPI, and components o f the CPI were
used to adjust payments for the food stamp program, the rent subsidy
program, school meals, and nutrition programs for the elderly. In
1981, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that “almost a third
o f Federal expenditure is direcdy linked to the CPI or related price
measures. . . . A one'percent increase in the CPI will automatically
trigger nearly $2 billion o f additional Federal expenditures, at 1981
program levels.”6
In addition, wages o f millions o f workers under collective bar'
gaining agreements were linked to the CPI. Also, under 1981 legisla­
tion, Federal income tax rate brackets were scheduled for linkage to
the CPI beginning in 1985.
The Bureau’s data also were used in Federal wage determinations.
U nder acts passed in 1962 and 1970, changes in the pay levels
recorded in the BLS annual survey o f professional, administrative,
technical, and clerical pay in the private sector entered into the Fed'
eral pay-setting process. Area wage survey data played a role in setting
wage rates for Federal blue'collar workers and for employees o f govem m ent contractors. The BLS measure o f changes in national average
wages affected some benefits under the social security program and
workers’ compensation payments for longshore and harbor workers.
In 1980, the Minimum Wage Study Commission recommended index'
ing the Federal minimum wage to this BLS measure.7 Further, unem­
ploym ent rates estim ated by the States according to Bureau
specifications determined the eligibility o f States and local areas for
funding under various Federal programs.
Additional proposals for indexation were made, although not
everyone supported the automatic adjustment procedure. Its growth
alarmed some policymakers and legislators, who held that indexing
reinforced inflation and m ultiplied the problem s arising from
mushrooming Federal budget deficits. W hether or not indexation
would continue to be adopted, the uses already established by legisla­
tion focused the public’s attention on the Bureau’s measures.8
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


The First Hundred Years

The four Commissioners
The four Commissioners responded to the challenges facing the
Bureau in different ways. Ross, a professor o f labor-management rela­
tions, saw it as his mandate to shake up and modernize a staid, old-line
organization, and he sought to develop more data and analysis perti­
nent to social policy. M oore, a foundation research economist and
expert business cycle analyst, emphasized production o f sound figures
and their neutral, objective release. Shiskin, a civil servant with long
experience in government economic and statistical activities, stressed
maintenance o f the integrity o f the data and independence for BLS
from the policy concerns o f the Departm ent Norwood, also a career
civil servant, protected and enhanced the quality and scope o f the
Bureau’s core programs in the face o f widespread budget cuts. With
inflation mounting substantially and consequent controversy over the
Consum er Price Index, Norwood addressed the criticisms on their
technical merits, applying the findings o f the Bureau’s long-term study
o f the CPI in making revisions in the homeownership component.
She stressed the impartial and independent public-service role o f the
Bureau in meeting these difficult problems, while giving the Bureau a
more “human” face in her increased attention to data on minorities
and women.

Arthur Ross, October 1965—July 1968
Arthur M. Ross succeeded Ewan Clague in October 1965. Ross had
been a professor o f industrial relations at the University o f California
at Berkeley and had served as director o f its Institute o f Industrial
Relations from 1954 to 1963. For over 20 years, he had served on
various public and private boards and commissions and as an arbitra­
tor in several industries. Less o f a bureaucrat than other Commission­
ers, one who had been a user rather than a producer o f statistics, his
philosophy was reflected in his comment that BLS products “will not
simply be raw data but will be usable to labor, management, and to
other custom ers.”9 Personally, Ross brought a concern for the disad­
vantaged and a commitment to social programs, pressing for research
and surveys to identify and measure problems in slum areas.
From the beginning, Ross projected a new style and direction. In
remarks at his swearing-in ceremony, he outlined six principal tasks
for the Bureau, including maximum service to the Department;
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


Four Commissioners: An Economy Going by the Numbers

increased analysis and interpretation; programs matched to new trends
in the economy and labor force; improved technical quality, especially
with enhanced computer capability; more effective communication of
BLS activities; and development o f new data and analysis on social
issues and policy problem s.10 Supported by Secretary Wirtz in this
determination to reinvigorate the Bureau, Ross used the results of
extensive management surveys by the private firm o f Booz-Allen and
Hamilton to reorganize the Bureau’s operations..
Ross’ views made for a crowded agenda o f activities for the program offices, ranging from new measures o f poverty and related
problems to a “master plan” to integrate and improve all the Bureau’s
price programs. The reorganization made for delay in putting the
plans into practice, however, and they were not far along when, in the
summer o f 1968, Ross decided to return to academic life and accepted
a post at the University o f Michigan.
Rather than submit a new nominee in an election year, Secretary
Wirtz named Deputy Commissioner Ben Burdetsky as Acting Com '
missioned Burdetsky had been with the Department since 1955, and
Ross had brought him into the Bureau in 1966 to manage the reorgan'
ization. Burdetsky served as Acting Commissioner until March 1969,
when Geoffrey Moore was designated Commissioner.

Geoffrey Moore, March 1969-January 1973
Geoffrey H. Moore came to the Bureau from the National Bureau of
Economic Research, where he had been the Vice President for
Research. The immediate past president o f the American Statistical
Association, Moore had also lectured on economics at New Tibrk
University and Colum bia University.
Throughout his term, Moore worked closely with Arthur Bum s
and Julius Shiskin. Bum s was Counselor at the W hite House and,
later, Chairman o f the Federal Reserve Board, while Shiskin was
C hief Statistician o f the Office o f Management and Budget. Bum s had
been M oore’s teacher at Rutgers. Shiskin and Moore had been class'
mates there and, afterwards, professional collaborators in the develop'
ment o f the Index o f Leading Indicators.
Early in his tenure, Moore stated his aims for the Bureau: BLS
data should be relevant, timely, accurate, and impartial. In keeping
with these guidelines, M oore listed specific program s needing
improvement, including local area data, public sector labor relations,
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


The First Hundred Years

the W holesale Price Index, occupational safety and health statistics,
and construction industry series. He also called for the development
o f a general wage index.11
Moore was able to make progress on many o f these objectives
during his term and, in addition, to integrate into the Bureau four
programs on employment statistics that were transferred from the
Manpower Administration in a govemmentwide reorganization o f sta­
tistical activities. But, as described later, he was faced with a succession
o f events during his last 2 years in office that put the Bureau and its
staff in the midst o f a political maelstrom.
Moore left office in January 1973, shortly before his first term was
to end. President Nixon accepted his pro forma resignation, which
had been requested along with those o f other political appointees,
including Secretary o f Labor Hodgson, at the start o f Nixon’s second
With M oore’s departure, Ben Burdetsky again served as Acting
Commissioner. Moore returned to the National Bureau o f Economic
Research. W hile at the National Bureau, he also served as adjunct
scholar at both the Hoover Institution and the American Enterprise
Institute. In 1979, M oore started the Center for International Busi­
ness Cycle Research at Rutgers University as part o f the School of
Business. In 1983, he moved the center to Columbia University as
part o f the Graduate School o f Business. Moore has continued to
write and testify on the quality o f BLS data.

Julius Shiskin, July 1973-October 1978
Julius Shiskin, an economist and statistician, was appointed Commis­
sioner in July 1973. He was already familiar with BLS operations and
problems through his earlier work in the Office o f Management and
Budget and the Census Bureau. A s head o f the Office o f Statistical
Policy o f OM B, he had sought to establish procedures for ensuring
that the release o f statistical data would be free o f political considera­
tions. He had also proposed the guidelines for the reorganization of
government statistical activities in 1971.
A t his nomination hearing, called upon for his view o f the Com ­
missioner’s independence, Shiskin cited the 4-year term and prom­
ised, “I would not resign before that upon request.” Later, in refusing
to submit a pro forma resignation when Gerald Ford succeeded to the
Presidency, Shiskin again noted the 4-year term and likened the posi­
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Four Commissioners: A n Economy Going by the Num bers

tion to that o f Federal Reserve Governors. He reminded the commit'
tee that charges o f politicization had followed the replacement of
Moore and pointed out that Ewan Clague had served under four
Presidents without submitting a resignation.12
Shiskin committed him self to improving the basic data and
expanding the analytical work o f the Bureau while maintaining the
highest professional standards. In addition, he re-emphasized tradi­
tional BLS neutrality, observing, "Policy is not a role for professional
Shiskin served under three Presidents and four Secretaries o f
Labor. He encountered new and difficult problems, largely as a result
o f the Bureau’s assumption o f responsibility for local area unemploy'
ment statistics. He also faced contention on concepts and methodol'
ogy in the revision o f the Consum er Price Index.
Shiskin followed a policy o f openness and full discussion o f the
Bureau’s data and methods. Faced with charges o f inadequacies in the
unemployment data, he campaigned for a national commission to
conduct a comprehensive review o f employment and unemployment
statistics, and he appeared before the Joint Economic Committee
almost every month to provide the opportunity for questions about
the Bureau’s latest figures. He was closely associated with the estab­
lishment and funding o f the program o f continuing consumer expen­
diture studies.
Shiskin’s success in improving the data and in maintaining the
credibility o f the Bureau was reflected in the support for his renomination in 1977.14 With his reappointment by President Carter, Shiskin became the first Commissioner since Clague to start a second
term. After a long period o f illness, he died in office in October 1978.

Janet Norwood, May 1979—
Secretary Ray Marshall named Janet L. Norwood the Acting Commis­
sioner during Shiskin’s illness, and President Carter nominated her
for Commissioner in March 1979. She was confirmed in May. A
graduate o f Douglass College o f Rutgers University, Norwood
received a Ph.D. at Tufts University. Subsequently, she taught at
Wellesley and conducted research in international economics at Tufts.
The first woman to serve as head o f the Bureau, Norwood was
also the first Commissioner since Ethelbert Stewart to be appointed
from the ranks. She had worked in the Bureau since 1963, primarily
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


The First Hundred Years

in the price office, where she renewed and redeveloped the interna­
tional price program and managed the consumer price program.
M oore had named her Associate Deputy Commissioner for Data
Analysis in 1972, and, under Shiskin, she had become, first, Deputy
Commissioner for Data Analysis in 1973 and, then, in 1975, the
Deputy Commissioner. The Department recognized her professional
accomplishments with the Secretary’s Award for Distinguished
Achievement (1972), the Secretary’s Special Commendation (1977),
and the Philip Am ow Award (1979). In 1984, the American Society
for Public Administration and the National Academy o f Public
Administration honored Norwood with their National Public Service
Norwood stated that her role was not to theorize or predict the
future, but to provide accurate statistics that were relevant to the
country’s economic and social needs. She warned the Bureau against a
“built-in bias against change.” “We ought to be the ones who are out
there letting people know o f changes which we think could be consid­
During her tenure, the economic and political climate has kept
public attention focused on BLS statistics. In her first term, inflation
accelerated and unemployment rose to its highest level in more than
40 years. Members o f the Carter administration criticized the Bureau’s
method o f computing the CPI, claiming that it overstated the true rate
o f inflation. Candidate Reagan charged the President with “jimmying”
the Producer Price Index, and President Reagan, referring to the
seasonal adjustment o f unemployment figures, complained that the
statisticians in Washington had “funny ways o f counting.”17
Norwood was forced to rethink program priorities as both the
Carter and Reagan administrations launched drives to cut government
expenditures and employment. During fiscal year 1982, the Bureau
suffered a 12-percent budget cut and lost about 10 percent o f its work
force through attrition. Norwood protected the Bureau’s core pro­
grams—those relating to major national concerns—by winnowing out
programs o f more limited application, some o f which required sub­
stantially more funding to bring up to Bureau standards o f validity and
A t the same time, Norwood obtained the resources needed to
proceed with long-range plans for improving the scope and quality of
data on consumer prices, producer prices, employment and unem­
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Four Commissioners: An Economy Going by the Numbers

ployment, and wage and benefit costs. She put into effect many major
recommendations o f the National Commission on Employment and
Unemployment Statistics. Moreover, she began work on two concep­
tually complicated programs—multifactor productivity measures and
another comprehensive revision o f the CPI. Also, under her leader­
ship, the Bureau assum ed responsibility for adm inistering the
resources for national labor market information programs.
In 1983, Norwood was reappointed by President Reagan, and the
Senate confirmed her by voice vote without holding hearings. Secre­
tary Donovan hailed the action as assuring that “the work o f the
Bureau will continue under the highest standards o f professionalism
and integrity.” Facing her new term, Norwood commented, “The
challenges will be even greater over the next 4 years.”18

Public release of statistics
During Clague’s tenure, the procedures for releasing BLS data had
been changed from informal arrangements—primarily news releases
and occasional press briefings at no set dates—to formal press confer­
ences for the major Bureau series on dates scheduled in advance.
Despite these new procedures, separating the release o f BLS data from
political considerations remained a continuing concern.
Just at the time Moore became Commissioner in 1969, Arthur
Bum s, as President Nixon's adviser, addressed the need to preserve
the credibility o f government statistics. Bum s’ view was reflected in a
memorandum the President sent to the Office o f Management and
Budget within 3 weeks after taking office, stating, “The prompt release
on a regular schedule o f official statistics is a matter o f vital importance
to the proper management o f both private and public affairs.” In
addition, it stipulated that Mas a rule, new figures should be released
through the statistical officer in charge.”19
This program was vigorously pursued by the head o f the Office of
Statistical Policy o f OM B, Julius Shiskin, who called for a rule, to be
followed in all agencies, “that the written press release must come out
at least 1 hour before any policy commentary.”20
The BLS press conferences for technical briefings were also con­
sidered. M oore, Bum s, and Shiskin agreed that these briefings should
be discontinued, since they invited questions on economic policy and
outlook—matters beyond the responsibility o f career service statistical
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


The First Hundred Years

officers. Shiskin drafted a memorandum recommending discontinu­
ance, arguing, “The confidence o f the public in the integrity o f the
statistical agencies o f the government can best be maintained if all the
statistics are routinely released on schedules in advance, in the form of
written press releases without press conferences.” However, press
officers at the W hite House and the Department o f Labor argued that
discontinuance during a period o f inflation would be construed as
politically motivated, and the press conferences were continued.21
The issue took on new dimensions beginning in late 1970, when,
with the continuing rise in unemployment, the Bureau’s assessment of
the contribution o f the General M otors strike to an increase in the
unemployment rate differed from that o f the administration. Then, in
February 1971, at the BLS monthly press briefing, a Bureau spokes­
man labeled the decline in the unemployment rate—from 6.2 to 6.0
percent—as “marginally significant.” Secretary Hodgson, in a press
release issued simultaneously, characterized the decline as o f “great
significance.” The next month, the Secretary’s press release called a
0.2 percentage point decline in the unemployment rate “heartening”
while the Bureau described the situation as “sort o f mixed,” since
employment and hours worked were also down.
Shortly after, Secretary Hodgson announced that there would be
no more monthly BLS press briefings. A s Moore outlined the new
procedures, the statistics would be issued in written releases, reporters
could phone technicians to ask questions, and the Secretary would
wait at least an hour to make his statement.22
M oore and Shiskin, along with Hodgson, explained that these
arrangements would preserve the neutrality and objectivity o f the
statistics and put the Bureau in conformity with the practices o f other
statistical agencies.23 However, there were immediate charges of
politicization, and these set off a round o f congressional hearings and
reports, as well as investigations by the Joint American Statistical
Association/Federal Statistics U sers’ Conference Committee and by
the Industrial Relations Research Association.
Several other events also raised the charge o f politicization. In
July 1971, now functioning without the press briefing, the Bureau
issued the unemployment data for June. The release warned that the
published figures possibly overstated the decline in unemployment
because o f technical problems with the seasonal adjustment factors.
The warning, according to a later report o f the Industrial Relations
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Four Commissioners: A n Economy Going by the Numbers

Research Association, "evoked dismay and anger within the Adminis­
tration. These reactions were duly reported in the press, and the
Department o f Labor was privately told o f President Nixon’s anger
concerning the incident.” Subsequently, the unemployment figures
calculated with the revised seasonal adjustment factors showed a drop
o f half that originally reported.24
Shortly after the July incident, the Office o f Management and
Budget issued guidelines for the reorganization o f Federal statistical
activities, citing the proliferation o f such activities and the recent
recommendations o f the President’s Advisory Council on Executive
Organization.25 In the fall o f 1971, in response to the OM B directive,
M oore announced several changes in the Bureau’s organization and
personnel. The Office o f Manpower and Employment Statistics,
whose chief had been the Bureau spokesman at press briefings on the
employment situation, was split into two separate units. In line with
the OM B guidelines, the Bureau abolished the positions o f C hief
Economist and C h ief Statistician, and the incumbents left the Bureau.
In their place, two new offices were established, each headed by a
Deputy Commissioner. The Deputy Commissioner for Statistical
Operations and Processing was a Bureau staff member. The Deputy
Commissioner for Data Analysis was new to the Bureau, having come
from the President’s Commission on Federal Statistics.
M oore characterized the reorganization as an effort to improve
the management o f the Bureau’s programs and a refinement o f earlier
organizational changes made by Ross. But, coming on the heels o f the
termination o f press briefings, the changes were attacked as politically
inspired. Lawrence F. O ’Brien, chairman o f the Democratic National
Committee, alleged that the W hite House was attempting to stack
BLS with “political appointees.” The Washington Post editorialized,
“The Nixon Administration is bringing hand-picked political appoin­
tees into the Bureau o f Labor Statistics.’’ A s the Post noted, the
reorganization appeared to many as retribution.26
With the termination o f the press briefings, the Joint Economic
Committee began monthly hearings on the employment situation. A t
the first several o f these, the committee heard testimony from officials
o f the Bureau, the Department, and the Office o f Management and
Budget relating to the press briefings and the reorganization. It
received reports from the American Statistical Association and the
Industrial Relations Research Association, and also called upon Ewan
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


The First H undred 'Years

Clague and Robert A. Gordon, who had been chairman o f the Presi­
dent’s Committee to Appraise Employment and Unemployment Sta­
tistics in the early 1960’s.
The House Committee on Government Operations concluded,
based on a study and hearings by a subcommittee, that the reasons
given for terminating the press briefings were unpersuasive and rec­
ommended that Hodgson immediately reinstitute the briefings and
“make it clear in a departmental directive that the traditional objective
role o f the BLS must be maintained.” In "additional views,” 4 o f the
committee’s 16 Republican members supported M oore’s view that the
new procedures should be given an opportunity to be tested before
reaching final judgment on the termination.27
The Committee on Post Office and Civil Service also issued a
report, following an investigation by the staff o f its Subcommittee on
Census and Statistics. The staff had interviewed 65 individuals inter­
ested in Federal statistics, including present and former employees of
government agencies, users o f Federal statistics, labor representatives,
news media, and members o f congressional staffs. W hile accepting the
subcommittee finding that there was "no supportive evidence o f conspiratory politicization o f Federal statistics,’' the committee held that
an incumbent administration under the decentralized statistical system
could "politically influence and utilize the various statistical agencies.”
This warranted "constant vigil, to insure the continuation o f public
confidence in the reliability and validity o f Federal statistics and to
avoid creating a credibility gap in government information.” The staff
also recommended studying "the feasibility and desirability o f estab­
lishing one central independent agency to. . . reduce the opportunity
for an incumbent administration to exercise a partisan effect,” among
other reasons.28
M oore welcomed the report as supporting the Bureau "on every
point that had been raised.” Hodgson reiterated his commitment to
the “scientific independence and integrity” o f the Bureau and pointed
to the procedures established to protect them.29
Shortly thereafter, however, Moore was involved in a political
issue which was unprecedented for a BLS Commissioner. In Novem­
ber 1972, following his landslide reelection victory, President Nixon
called on all Presidential appointees to submit their resignations.
Although his term extended to March 1973, M oore, believing he had
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Four Commissioners: An Economy Going by the Numbers

no option, submitted his. Contrary to his expectations, it was
accepted, becoming effective in January.
M oore’s removal caused an immediate outcry. Senator Proxmire,
pointing to the traditionally nonpolitical nature o f the commissioner'
ship, warned, “If the preparation o f our basic statistics becomes further tainted with suspicion o f political manipulation, it could lead to a
serious credibility crisis.” The Industrial Relations Research Associa­
tion viewed the acceptance o f M oore’s resignation “with particular
con cern .. . because this termination under these circumstances repre­
sents a sharp break with the long-established tradition that this posi­
tion has not been regarded as a political appointment.”30
The Committee on the Integrity o f Federal Statistics, a joint
committee o f the American Statistical Association and the Federal
Statistics U sers’ Conference, reported, “During the past 2 years, the
integrity o f the Federal statistical system has come into question. . . .
Specific steps should be taken to allay the growing fears concerning
politicization. . . and to ensure and maintain a high level o f credible,
professional, statistical work.” Among the specific recommendations
were that “heads o f statistical agencies should be career professionals
o f demonstrated competence. . . free o f political influence,” and that
they have direct control o f their program planning, budgetary priori­
ties, and publications.31
Soon after these events, the Office o f Management and Budget
developed further the requirements for separating the technical
release process from policy and political statements through a succes­
sion o f directives added to the one first issued in 1969. The rule
requiring a 1-hour delay between the technical release and any policy
statement, already widely in effect, was formally stipulated by OM B in
April 1972, along with the requirement for written releases. In O cto­
ber 1974, the circulation o f data before their official release (BLS data
had been given in advance to the W hite House and several agencies)
was restricted to the Chairman o f the Council o f Economic Advisers
specifically for briefing the President; other principal advisers would
be notified at the same time as the media, subject to the 1-hour rule on
political comment. These provisions were continued in later revisions
o f the directive.32
The procedure for clearance o f Bureau releases within the
Department o f Labor paralleled the OM B requirements. In 1969, the
Bureau was given authority for final clearance, although in the early
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The First Hundred Years

1970’s departmental officials participated in the clearance procedure.
In 1970, for example, Secretary Hodgson asked Moore to hold review
meetings in the Secretary’s office as a convenient way to “keep himself
informed.” After several months, the meetings were moved to the
Commissioner’s office, with the departmental group attending.33
Then, in 1974, in a move complementing a revision o f the origi­
nal OM B directive, Secretary Brennan specified that data should not
be “available to me or any other official o f the Department o f Labor
outside the BLS until it is released to the press about one hour before
public release.” In 1981, an OM B directive specifically included the
Secretary as one o f the principal economic advisers to receive indica­
tors at the same time as the press. Norwood testified in 1979, “There is
no further review outside the Bureau.

The Bureau’s work
Consumer prices
In 1964, under Clague, the Bureau had completed a major revision of
the CPI. In 1966, Commissioner Ross presented to the Joint Eco­
nomic Committee’s Subcommittee on Economic Statistics a “master
plan” for a comprehensive system o f price indexes which included
improvements in the CPI to fill gaps, update statistical techniques, and
extend coverage to the entire population. In addition, the proposal
provided for review—between major revisions—o f such elements as
outlet and reporter samples and item and specification samples, with
appropriate reweighting. Furthermore, it called for experimentation
with new approaches to shelter costs, substitution, new products,
quality change, taxes, and annual consumer surveys.35 Planning for
the next CPI revision, started in 1968, reflected extensive discussion of
such issues.
The issue o f quality change had already been brought to Ross’
attention in several controversies involving the automobile industry.
The U nited A uto W orkers, with automatic cost-of-living adjustments
in their contracts, kept close watch on the CPI. In 1966, with con­
tracts up for renewal the following year, UAW President Walter
Reuther attacked the “Big Three” automakers for their use of BLS
data for “unjustified price increases” and called for improvement in
the BLS technique o f adjusting the CPI for quality change.36 In 1967,
Senators Warren Magnuson and Walter Mondale also questioned the
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Four Commissioners: An Economy Going by the Numbers

BLS technique in their efforts to determine the cost o f higher safety
and pollution standards for automobiles. They also criticized the posh
tion o f the manufacturers in maintaining that they could not provide
Congress with cost estimates, although they had furnished them to
the Bureau. The Bureau refused to give Congress details and specific
figures because the industry had submitted them in confidence, but it
did offer summary data. In addition, it moved to refine the quality
adjustment process with a continuing research program.37
Implementation o f the plans for the CPI revision began under
M oore. In 1970, the Office o f Management and Budget directed that
the Census Bureau—rather than BLS, as before—conduct the prereq­
uisite consumer expenditure survey, hoping that this would increase
efficiency since the Census Bureau was the agency specializing in the
collection o f data from households. In another change from previous
procedures, data were collected at quarterly intervals during the year
rather than in a single annual review on the assumption that consum­
ers would be more likely to recall details o f their expenditures over
the shorter time span. The quarterly interviews involved about 20,000
families. A separate sample o f about 20,000 families was asked to
complete a 2-week diary to provide additional detail. These innova­
tions and other factors complicated and delayed the project, and data
collection was not completed until 1973—approximately 2 years later
than planned. A “point-of-purchase” survey, to improve item and
outlet samples by determining where people bought various goods and
services, was conducted in 1974, covering some 23,000 families.
Commissioner Shiskin had to resolve several major conceptual
problems before the revision o f the CPI could be carried through.
One concerned the population to be covered. From its inception, the
CPI had been based on the expenditures o f urban wage earners and
salaried workers. There had been proposals, notably from the Stigler
Committee, for extending coverage to the entire urban population, in
view o f the expanded use o f the CPI as a broad economic indicator.
The growing use o f the CPI for indexation also pointed up the need
for wider coverage.
In April 1974, Shiskin announced plans to proceed with an index
representing all urban consumers and to drop the traditional index.
The announcement sparked a lively controversy. The BLS Labor
Research Advisory Council, while not opposing the broader index,
strongly objected to the discontinuance o f the traditional measure.
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The First Hundred Years

The Business Research Advisory Council supported the broader concept but suggested that the Bureau explore the possibility o f publish'
ing more than one index.38
George Meany o f the A FL-C IO criticized Shiskin’s decision,
maintaining, “The CPI should remain firmly grounded in the experi­
ence and needs o f low- and middle-income workers. . . . We have no
objection to the Bureau o f Labor Statistics developing a separate index
covering additional occupational categories, if funds are available.”
Leonard W oodcock, o f the U nited Auto W orkers, also attacked the
decision and further complained o f the “secretive” way in which BLS
reached its determination, alleging that the labor advisory group had
only been given one opportunity to discuss the question.39
Senator Proxmire introduced a bill requiring BLS to produce the
traditional CPI, whether it compiled other indexes or not. Citing the
role o f the CPI in collective bargaining, he stated, “If the BLS is
allowed to dismantle the present Consum er Price Index in favor o f a
more broadly based index, it will create absolute chaos.” Shiskin,
while acknowledging the problem, responded that, after all, the
unions would have 3 years to adjust agreements to the new index.
Moreover, he continued, BLS would produce “a whole family of
indexes” if Congress would provide the money.40
The Subcommittee on Economic Statistics o f the Council on
Economic Policy supported the broader coverage and recommended
that BLS compile both the broad and the traditional CPI for a period
o f 3 years before deciding the next step.
Shiskin then sent the Secretary a revised plan for congressional
action to allow for the production o f two indexes, a new Consumer
Price Index for A ll U rban Consum ers (CPI-U ) and the traditional
Consum er Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical W orkers
(CPI-W ), both to be calculated for at least 3 years. Congress provided
an increased appropriation for the additional work in the fiscal year
1976 budget.41
In 1978, the Bureau published the new C P I-U along with the
traditional, though revised, CPI-W . The CPI-W was based on the
buying patterns o f about 40 percent o f the civilian noninstitutional
population; the C P I-U , on about 80 percent. The C P I-U added
coverage o f the self-employed; professional, managerial, and technical
workers; short-term and part-time workers; and the unemployed,
retirees, and others not in the labor force.
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Four Commissioners: An Economy Going by the Numbers

Even before the work was completed, the Office o f Management
and Budget sought legislation making C P I-U the index for govern­
ment programs, arguing that it Mis the best measure that we now have
in the country in a technical sense.” And later, the General Account­
ing Office also recommended the change. Congress did require use of
the C P I-U to escalate tax rate brackets starting in 1985. However,
most Federal programs and collective bargaining agreements contin­
ued to make use o f the traditional CPI-W .*2
Another thorny problem facing Shiskin was the method o f mea­
suring homeownership costs. In the 1953 revision, the Bureau had
changed from a rent-based method to an “asset” formulation based on
five specific costs associated with homeownership: House prices, mort­
gage interest, property taxes, insurance, and maintenance and repair
costs. Then, the Stigler Committee had recommended investigating
the development o f an index based on rental housing representative o f
owner-occupied homes.
The Bureau was already studying the issue o f which method to
use for the upcoming revision when, in the late 1970’s, house prices
and mortgage interest rates rose more than other market-basket costs.
This focused increasing attention on die BLS method o f measure­
ment. Critics felt that the investment aspects o f homeownership
should be removed from the cost o f shelter. Furthermore, BLS found
that the data provided by the Federal Housing Administration on
home prices and interest covered only 6 percent o f the housing mar­
ket—a small and unrepresentative sample.
In planning the revision, the Bureau explored alternatives to
measure only the “flow o f services” and to exclude the investment
aspects o f homeownership. One alternative, the so-called user-cost
approach, included the prices for all five components but adjusted the
result for appreciation and the cost o f equity. Another approach,
rental equivalence, provided for a survey o f a sample o f rented homes
similar in type and location to owned homes, using the rental price to
represent the cost o f shelter.*3
Neither o f the Bureau’s research advisory groups found these
proposals acceptable. A s one labor adviser wrote in 1975, “To price
only the ‘services’ is to price an abstraction which has no concrete
existence and for which there are no market transaction prices.” Such
a procedure, the economist continued, was at variance with die char­
acter o f the index and even with the treatment o f other durable goods.
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The First Hundred Years

Specifically, she contended that the rental equivalence measure
depended on faulty assumptions, since the rental market and the
home-purchase market differed gready. And the user-cost measure
also rested on many theoretical assumptions.44
During 1976, at the Commissioner’s request, the Bureau’s advi­
sory groups formed a Joint Technical G roup on Homeownership in
the Revised CPI. The panel met four times between March and
December 1976, and its spokesman reported to Shiskin: “We believe
BLS has not yet found a satisfactory user-cost approach. . . . Further
research on user cost should be continued.’’ The Subcommittee on
Economic Statistics also failed to reach a consensus. In April 1977,
citing “widespread disagreement,’* Shiskin announced that BLS would
continue the existing treatment while also continuing research.45
In 1978, soon after the revised CPI was issued, the Bureau
received authorization and funds for a continuing, rather than a peri­
odic, consumer expenditure survey, a goal it had sought for 25 years.
It also was able to institute a continuing point-of-purchase survey,
planned to cover one-fifth o f the CPI areas each year, thereby updat­
ing the entire sample o f outlets for pricing within 5 years.46
Labor advisers had expressed fears that a continuing consumer
expenditure survey would be used to revise the CPI market basket too
frequently, violating the concept o f a fixed market basket. They
argued that, out o f economic necessity in periods o f rapid inflation,
workers would substitute products—“trade down”—and, therefore,
frequent revision would “understate price increases.’’47 Responding to
this argument, Shiskin saw the continuing survey as having both
immediate pertinence and a longer range use in deciding when a major
revision o f the CPI would be called for. He insisted that the data
would only be used for a revision after an appropriate number of
years. He also urged the continuing survey as a means o f avoiding the
substantial startup costs o f periodic surveys. The Subcommittee on
Economic Statistics o f the Council on Economic Policy gave the proj­
ect top priority, saying that a continuing survey would facilitate revi­
sion o f the CPI, help keep weights and market baskets more current,
assist in revising family budget estimates, and provide valuable data for
analysis o f spending patterns.48
The resurgence o f inflation in 1978—about the time Norwood
became Acting Commissioner—and its acceleration in the following 2
years intensified concern about the rising costs of the indexation
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Four Commissioners: A n Economy Going by the Numbers

process. Attention centered on the CPI, and specifically on its hom e'
ownership components. In 1979 and 1980, the Council o f Economic
Advisers pointed out that shelter costs, which had a substantial weight
in the index, were rising faster than most other components o f the
CPI and questioned the Bureau’s treatment o f the purchase o f homes
and the associated costs o f home financing. The Council described the
Bureau’s exploration o f alternative treatments o f this component and
the fiulure o f any o f these to satisfy major users o f die CPI. It sug­
gested that using a rent index to represent the costs o f using the
services o f a house might provide a better measure o f changes in the
cost o f living to the average consumer, particularly in periods o f sharp
changes in costs o f homes and home financing.'49
A t hearings o f the House Budget Committee’s Task Force on
Inflation in December 1979, government, labor, and management wit­
nesses discussed the housing component. In her testimony, Commis­
sioner Norwood discussed the problems o f altering the index at that
time. The following month, Norwood announced that, although no
change would be made in the official index, the Bureau would publish
five experimental measures for the CPI in the monthly release, using
alternative approaches to homeownership costs. Based on the exten­
sive staff analysis for the CPI revision, these included three flow-ofservices measures—one based on rent substitution and two on out­
The treatment o f homeownership continued to be debated. Some
members o f Congress urged President Carter to appoint a special
panel o f economists to study the homeownership issue. Others, espe­
cially in the Senate, suggested shifting from the CPI to some other
measure as the indexing mechanism. Alfred Kahn, chairman o f the
Council on Wage and Price Stability, frequently attacked both the
homeownership component and congressional inaction on severing
the linkage» between the CPI and the entitlement programs.51 Presi­
dent Carter’s last economic report in January 1981 stated that the CPI
had overstated significantly the actual rise in the cost o f living because
o f the way it treated housing and mortgage interest costs.52
The New York Times exhorted Carter to change the housing
measure: “Since the index has been overstating inflation, it has trig­
gered billions in excessive increases in wages and pensions. Thus the
index not only measures inflation but contributes to it.” Early in 1981,
the General Accounting Office recommended that BLS substitute for
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The First Hundred Years

the homeownership component some measure o f the cost o f consum­
ing housing services—either rental equivalence or nominal outlays.53
Norwood testified before several congressional committees examing the effect o f the CPI on Federal expenditures. During the debate,
she maintained: “It is for the Congress—Congress and the administra­
tion—to determine what the purpose o f the indexation should be.”
She noted that escalation “sometimes produces results that were not
anticipated.” A s to the CPI itself, she pointed out that BLS had raised
the housing issue during the revision process but had been unable to
obtain a consensus among its advisory groups and users. Summarizing,
she concluded, “Some people would like an index that doesn’t go up
so much, and other people would like an index that goes up more.
And when they don't have that which they want, they feel there must
be something wrong with the indicator itself.”54
In O ctober 1981, Norwood announced that BLS would shift to
the rental equivalence approach for the housing component. Noting
that B LS had called attention to the issue over a period o f 10 years,
she cited immediate factors requiring implementation o f the change
before the next overall revision o f the index. There had been changes
in the financial markets affecting the availability, arrangement, and rate
o f mortgage money. In addition, the FH A sample caused increasingly
serious estimation problems. Furthermore, the Economic Recovery
Tax A ct o f 1981 directed use o f the C P I-U to adjust income tax
brackets. This, Norwood said, obliged the Bureau to produce “a CPI
which reflects the experience o f consumers to the fullest extent possi­
The change, Norwood said, would be implemented at different
times in the two CPI's. It would be introduced into the C P I-U with
the data for January 1983, largely because the Economic Recovery Tax
A ct mandated advance announcement o f tax bracket changes by
December 15, 1984, based on C P I-U data for the prior 2 years. For
the CPI-W , widely used in collective bargaining, the shift would be
delayed until January 1985 to provide time to adjust the provisions of
labor-management contracts.56
Both the change and the split timetable sparked controversy.
Alm ost immediately, bills were introduced in Congress, one requiring
continuance o f the current methods for 5 years beyond the change
dates and another requiring congressional approval o f changes that
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Four Commissioners: An Economy Going by the Numbers

would cause “reduction o f benefits to retirees and disability programs.”57
Business spokesmen generally supported the changes as “a web
come improvement in the accuracy o f the CPI that is long overdue.”
The BLS Business Research Advisory Council favored the shift but
recommended that the Bureau produce “one single measure at the
earliest possible date.” Labor union representatives, still critical o f the
rental equivalence approach, welcomed the 2-year grace period that
allowed further study and evaluation.58
The com plete im plem entation o f the rental equivalence
approach, following full public discussion and improvement o f the
rental sample, was carried out on schedule and without further con­
In fiscal year 1984, the Bureau received funds to begin another
major revision o f the CPI, scheduled for completion in 1987. A s
planned, the CPI for January 1987 would include a new market basket
and reflect data from the 1980 Census o f Population; improved meas­
ures o f price change, especially homeownership and rental costs; mod­
ernization o f the computer system; and enhanced error measurement
and quality control.59

Standard budgets
BLS issued new standard—or family—budgets during 1967 and 1968
for a family o f four and for a retired couple, using data from the
1960-61 consumer expenditure survey. Bach o f these budgets was
calculated at three levels—a medium or moderate standard, a lower,
and a higher. Federal and State governments wrote the budgets into
legislation on social security, unemployment insurance, public welfare,
and employment and training programs.
The Bureau, however, increasingly questioned its role in making
the normative judgments underlying the series. A s Moore wrote in
1969, “I do not think the BLS should set itself up as an authority on
what is adequate or inadequate, what is a luxury and what is not, etc.,
no matter how reasonable the position may seem to us.” Thus, in
1971, Moore proposed to suspend preparation o f the estimates for a
few years until data from the next consumer expenditure survey
became available. A t that time, suggested Moore, the Bureau would
“expand its program o f publishing and analyzing data on actual spend­
ing patterns for families o f different sizes and types at different
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The First Hundred Years

incomes and expenditure levels and for different regions and sizes of
“Consistent and considerable pressure” forced BLS to continue
issuing estimates for use in a variety o f social programs. For example,
Nelson A. Rockefeller, Governor o f New 'fork, wrote, “The possibil­
ity that the Bureau o f Labor Statistics will discontinue periodic publi­
cation o f family budget data threatens New fo rk and many other
States with the loss o f a valuable, irreplaceable administrative tool.”
Therefore, M oore suggested that either the Office o f Management and
Budget or an interagency committee set the standards for which BLS
could collect the prices. Later, Shiskin argued that an operating
agency such as the Department o f Health, Education, and Welfare
should develop the standards, rather than a statistical agency.
Although OM B accepted the idea, HEW refused to take the responsi­
Moreover, a lack o f funds compounded the problem. Shiskin
posed the dilemma faced in 1974: “The Bureau’s professional reputa­
tion and credibility are dependent on the maintenance o f data o f high
quality, fot, in this case, the Bureau has no resources with which to
protect the quality o f this program.”62
In 1978, after considering a number o f alternative approaches to
the standards issue, the Bureau contracted for a complete review o f
the family budget program with the W isconsin Institute for Research
on Poverty, which then appointed the Expert Committee on Family
Budget Revision. In its 1980 report, the committee, recognizing the
problem confronting the Bureau, recommended four new budget
standards to be defined on the basis o f actual expenditures o f families
at different income levels, rather than the older procedure based on
judgments as to the adequacy o f quantities and expenditures. In 1981,
however—as part o f a substantial program reduction required during
the fiscal 1981 budget cycle—Norwood decided to halt the production
o f these data for lack o f the additional resources needed either to
implement the recommendations o f the Expert Committee or to bring
the quality o f the budgets up to Bureau technical standards.63

Wholesale prices
In 1976, BLS started the first comprehensive revision o f the W hole­
sale Price Index by surveying index users to determine their needs and
their views o f shortcomings in the measure. The Bureau had substan­
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Four Commissioners: A n Economy Going by the Numbers

tially revamped procedures twice, in 1914 and 1952; it had instituted a
major expansion and reclassification in 1967; and it had most recently
reweighted the index in January 1976. But BLS wanted a “general
price index” that would be more broadly based and more accurate,
utilizing probability sampling.6*
Critics had pointed to inadequacies from time to time. Jules
Backman and Martin Gainsbrugh, in 1966, had noted several short'
comings. O thers wrote o f out-of-date weights, double and triple
counting, and list (rather than transaction) prices. Also, such groups as
the National Association o f W holesaler Distributors pushed for a
change o f name to more accurately describe the data. In 1975, Albert
Rees, director o f the Council on Wage and Price Stability, attacked the
index for presenting “totally inadequate data” and announced that
Richard Ruggles o f Yale would lead an examination. Ruggles issued
his report in 1977, proposing a number o f improvements in the pro­
The outside recommendations for improvement in the index
were taken into account in the extensive planning for the multiyear
revision o f the series. To set the measure on a firmer theoretical
foundation, the revision plans were based on a model o f a fixed-input
output price index. The new system consisted o f four major compo­
nents: Industry output price indexes, detailed commodity price
indexes, stage-of-processing price indexes, and industry input price
indexes. It rested on collection o f actual transaction prices, expansion
o f coverage, and elimination o f multiple counting o f price changes.66
In 1978, to emphasize that the index was a measure o f change in
selling prices received by producers at the level o f the first significant
commercial transaction in the U nited States, the Bureau changed its
name from W holesale to Producer Price Index.
The Bureau continued to introduce new producer price indexes,
with the goal o f covering all 493 industries in the mining and manu­
facturing sectors. By 1983, the Producer Price Index Revision program
covered 191 industries, accounting for almost 60 percent o f the value
o f all domestic mining and manufacturing production, with over
18,000 price quotations for over 3,500 commodities. BLS used
probability sampling techniques to select companies by size and loca­
tion and to identify individual items and transaction terms for the
firms. Estimates o f sample error were also being constructed. Budget
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The First Hundred Years

cuts, however, postponed completion o f the project as well as further
developmental work on new indexes for the services sector.
Petroleum prices. O n several occasions during 1973, when major
petroleum exporting countries imposed an oil embargo, the New
England congressional caucus complained to the Secretary o f Labor of
the failure o f BLS to provide “adequate wholesale or retail price data”
on petroleum products—even at a time o f acute shortages. The Secre­
tary initially responded by noting that BLS had been working on the
problem for more than a year, contacting companies and helping them
develop reporting procedures, but that response had so far been disap­
pointing. In December, the Secretary reported that the first data
would soon be published. Indeed, on December 21, with the release of
CPI figures for November, BLS presented the expanded and improved
gasoline component, along with monthly retail gasoline price meas­
But continued difficulties in developing voluntary reporting from
the companies—especially on wholesale prices—at a time of shortages
and embargoes encouraged those demanding mandatory reporting of
energy statistics. In March 1974, the Joint Economic Committee rec­
ommended, “U nless corporations producing petroleum products pro­
vide full and immediate cooperation with the requests o f the Bureau
o f Labor Statistics, Congress should provide BLS with authority to
require submission o f corporate data with appropriate safeguards to
prevent competitive injury.”68
However, following considerable discussion, the Bureau’s Busi­
ness Research Advisory Council upheld the principle o f voluntary
reporting and offered to encourage increased participation. The petro­
leum industry representative to the Business Advisory Council on
Federal Reports made a similar offer.69
In June 1974, in presenting the W holesale Price Index for May,
the Bureau introduced improved data for refined petroleum products.
Even so, the New England congressional caucus still complained of
the lack o f detail specific to their region. Commissioner Shiskin
explained that more detail was not feasible, as BLS collected statistics
from a sample and would not issue numbers that would identify
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Four Commissioners: An Economy Going by the Numbers

Export and import prices
Following World War II, BLS had started development of indexes of
prices for U .S. exports and imports, but had terminated the work in
1948 due to budget cuts. Research on concept and methodology
resumed in the late 1960’s. The Bureau published export price indexes
in 1971 and import price indexes in 1973. A s o f June 1982, coverage
accounted for 71 percent o f the value o f exports and 96 percent of the
value o f imports. By the end of 1983, BLS had expanded coverage to
100 percent o f the value o f products in U .S. foreign trade—but with
less detail than originally planned because o f budget reductions.71

Employment and unemployment statistics
The Gordon Committee—set up in 1961 to review employment and
unemployment data—had called upon the Bureau for major improve­
ments in its statistics. During the next 20 years, recurring recessions
and the legislation passed to alleviate them increased the demand for
more detailed and accurate employment data. In addition, the reorgan­
ization of government statistical activities gave the Bureau added
responsibilities; in 1972, it took over from the Manpower Administra­
tion the preparation and publication o f local area unemployment sta­
tistics, occupational employment statistics, employment and wage data
for workers covered by unemployment insurance, and data on the
characteristics o f the unemployed. The Bureau also expanded its anal­
ysis and publication o f labor force data relating to minorities, women,
and families.
In the 1980’s, the Bureau worked to carry out the recommenda­
tions o f another group o f experts empaneled to review the govern­
ment’s statistics—the National Commission on Employment and
Unemployment Statistics. The National Commission, headed by Sar
Levitan, issued its report, Counting The Labor Force, in 1979, after
extensive public hearings, preparation o f 33 background papers, and
much discussion. “By and large,” the commission stated, “the most
important national statistics are timely, objective, and reasonably accu­
rate, and they have unquestionably played a crucial role in guiding
policy formulation. The commission’s review o f existing data, how­
ever, has led it to several areas in which the information system might
be improved.” The commission’s 90-odd recommendations covered all
the Bureau’s employment and unemployment statistics programs.72
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The First Hundred Years

Secretaries o f Labor Ray Marshall and Raymond Donovan, as
required by the law establishing the commission, submitted reports to
Congress evaluating the desirability, feasibility, and cost o f each recommendation. U nder Norwood, a number o f major recommendations
were put into effect, but others were found to be too costly or imprac­
tical, and implementation o f others awaited the results o f testing and
the development o f programs.
Current Population Survey. In January 1967, the Bureau put into effect
some o f the major recommendations o f the Gordon Committee for
the CPS. It introduced sharper definitions; a minimum age o f 16,
rather than 14; and a larger sample.
One element o f the new definitions proved controversial. Under
the new terminology, persons were classified as unemployed only if
they had searched for work within the previous 4 weeks and were
currently available for work. If no job search had been conducted, a
person was classified as “not in the labor force” rather than unem­
U nion economists charged that the new procedure, which had
been tested in a survey o f 13,000 households in September 1966,
would aggravate the “existing undercount” o f unemployment by
excluding those who were discouraged—those who were no longer
searching because they believed no work was available. They advo­
cated increased efforts to identify and learn more about discouraged
workers. Although the new definition o f unemployment remained in
force, the Bureau did add a series o f questions to the CPS designed to
collect data on discouraged workers. The results were published quar­
terly thereafter.73
The size o f the CPS sample, increased in 1967, had to be
decreased in 1971, but the Bureau obtained funds to increase it sub­
stantially in 1978 and again in 1980, largely to provide the detail
needed to improve State and local estimates. In 1981, the sample had
to be reduced again but remained considerably higher than it was
before 1980. New methods o f seasonal adjustment were introduced in
1973 and refined in 1980.
In 1976, the Bureau—to allay outside criticism o f the unemploy­
ment concept—began to publish in its monthly release on the employ­
ment situation an array o f unemployment rates, U - l through U -7,
each based on a different definition. The U -5 rate remained the official
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Four Commissioners: An Economy Going by the Numbers

definition, but, as Shiskin explained, “No single way o f measuring
unemployment can satisfy all analytical or ideological interests.”74
A s the National Commission had recommended, the Bureau
added military personnel stationed in the U nited States to the
national labor force and employment figures, although not to the State
and local data, and included them in the computation o f the overall
unemployment rate. Further, all industry and occupational data in the
CPS were classified according to a new system developed for the 1980
census. In addition, the estimation methods were revised along the
lines the commission had recommended.
BLS also added monthly questions to the CPS on the school
attendance o f 16- to 24-year-olds, another recommendation o f the
commission, to learn more about their work and school choices and
their labor market attachment. The commission had also recom­
mended improving the identification o f discouraged workers by col­
lecting more specific information on recency o f job search, current
availability, and desire for work, but the Bureau postponed this work
indefinitely because tests o f the feasibility o f introducing pertinent
questions into the CPS questionnaire were inconclusive. Discouraged
workers continued to be counted as outside the labor force and
excluded from the official unemployment figure, in line with the com­
mission’s recommendation reached after much debate.
The commission had called upon BLS to prepare an annual
report containing national data on economic hardship associated with
low wages, unemployment, and insufficient participation in the labor
force. The Bureau issued the first report, Linking Employment
Problems to Economic Status, in January 1982, with annual reports
thereafter. Congress, in the Job Training Partnership Act o f 1982
(PL97-300), specifically authorized the Secretary o f Labor to develop
such information.
In the early 1980’s, the Bureau started a major project to redesign
the CPS in cooperation with other Federal sponsors o f household
surveys and the Census Bureau. By July 1985, an entirely new sample
will have been phased in, based on materials from the 1980 census.75
Establishment survey. The Bureau continued to expand its monthly
series on employment, hours, and earnings in nonagricultural estab­
lishments. In 1965, it had covered a sample o f 135,000 establishments;
by 1975, the sample had grown to 160,000 and by 1983, to 190,000.
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The First H undred Years

In 1979, the National Commission criticized the sample design
and other basic statistical underpinnings o f the establishment survey,
but urged caution in making major changes that might disrupt eco­
nomic series essential for current analyses and as building blocks for
important indicators. Basic shortcomings noted by the commission
included inadequate sample size, poor documentation, and lack of
quality control measures. With the support o f the Secretary, BLS
established a long-range project for a full-scale modernization o f the
survey. M ajor changes would await development o f an overall system­
atic redesign.
The commission specifically recognized the inadequacy o f indus­
try detail for the large and growing service-producing sector o f the
economy, and the Bureau moved to improve the sample. Cooperating
State agencies responded with a buildup o f coverage so that, by 1984,
BLS expanded publication o f industry detail in the service sector by 82
additional industries.76
Occupational employment statistics. The Vocational Education Act of
1963 required the States to develop information on future occupa­
tional requirements for use in planning education and training pro­
grams. To help State officials, the Bureau prepared a series of
occupational projections for the year 1975, published in Tomorrow's
Manpower Heeds (1969).
Also, at the urging o f the G ordon Committee, the Bureau began
to develop occupational statistics through industry studies. Then, in
1971, BLS mailed questionnaires to 50,000 manufacturing establish­
ments, marking the start o f the Occupational Employment Statistics
survey conducted in cooperation with the Employment and Training
Administration and the State employment security agencies. Between
1971 and 1981, the Bureau completed three survey cycles for manufac­
turing; various nonmanufacturing and service industries; and govern­
ment services. By 1982,48 State agencies had joined the effort.
Since 1980, the survey has been an important source o f data for
the Bureau’s national industry-occupational matrix, one o f its basic
tools for occupational employment projections and occupational out­
look studies.
Local area unemployment statistics. Among the Bureau’s most intrac­
table problems has been the inadequacy o f local area unemployment
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Four Commissioners: An Economy Going by the Numbers

data. Before the program was turned over to the Bureau, the figures
had been used primarily to identify areas o f labor shortage or surplus
by the Bureau o f Employment Security and its successor agencies.
They had been developed through a complicated series o f computa­
tions—the 70-step or Handbook method—relying heavily on data
derived from administrative records o f the unemployment insurance
system. Beginning with passage o f the Comprehensive Employment
and Training Act (CETA) in 1973 and later under additional legisla­
tion, these data were incorporated in the formula used for the regular
and direct distribution o f Federal funds to States and local areas. The
Bureau, assigned technical and publication responsibility for the data,
found them o f questionable quality for the new purpose.
Shiskin summarized the difficulties: “These unemployment statis­
tics have been severely criticized because they lack conceptual uni­
formity and consistency, are o f uneven reliability, and cannot be fully
reconciled with data from the national survey o f employment and
unemployment. ”77
In 1974, BLS instituted new procedures to improve the data,
including benchmarking the annual estimates to the Current Popula­
tion Survey and improving the Handbook procedures to provide
greater uniformity among the States in concepts and methods. States
facing reduced C ETA funding challenged the new procedures. New
Jersey attacked the methodology, Maryland attacked the implementa­
tion, and both charged specifically that the Secretary o f Labor, in
instituting the changes, had violated the advance-notice requirement
o f the Administrative Procedures A ct and had exceeded his authority.
The Bureau’s statistical methods were upheld in the New Jersey
case. In the Maryland case, a lower court upheld the Department
position that it was not required to give advance notice in the Federal
Register o f changed methods for gathering unemployment statistics,
but the decision was reversed by the U .S. Court o f Appeals for the
District o f Columbia. In so ruling, the court found that “the develop­
ment o f statistics no longer serves merely informational purposes” in
view o f their use in allocating billions o f dollars under the C ETA
The Bureau continued efforts to improve the data, although it
recognized the limited possibilities in view o f the lack o f funds. Shiskin acknowledged many shortcomings, stating in 1977, “W hen you
get to those very small areas we’re talking about, we worry about
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The First Hundred Years

whether we’re giving any better than random numbers.” He estimated
that accurate State-by-State figures would require an additional annual
appropriation o f $40-$50 million—which still would not provide
dependable city and county data.79
In 1978, BLS again introduced improvements. The monthly
unemployment rates for 10 States and 2 metropolitan areas were now
drawn directly from the Current Population Survey. With these revi­
sions, Congress, in reauthorizing C ETA , provided that the Secretary
should ensure that areas within Standard M etropolitan Areas and
central cities would not lose funds as a result o f changes in statistical
methodology.80 In addition, the Bureau and the States began work to
standardize the underlying unemployment insurance claims data to
provide greater consistency with the concept o f unemployment used
in the CPS.
In 1979, after reviewing the local area unemployment statistics
program, the National Commission concluded, “There is no way, at
reasonable cost, to produce accurate employment and unemployment
statistics for thousands o f areas every month.” Thus, it suggested
“only incremental” improvements: Expansion o f the CPS, enhance­
ment o f the Handbook procedures, and congressional review o f the
allocation formulas.81
The very large sums o f money required for a major overhaul
constituted a critical obstacle. Even so, in 1982, Norwood commented,
“The local unemployment statistics program is one which clearly
needs more w ork.”82 The Bureau continued an intensive research
Job vacancy statistics. The Bureau continued its efforts to develop job
vacancy statistics, although methodological and conceptual problems
and budget restraints plagued the program from the beginning. In
1967, the Bureau began collection o f job vacancy data in Phoenix and
Oklahoma City in connection with the regular labor turnover survey.
A t about the same time, however, funding for the turnover program
was cut in half as part o f general budget reductions.83
Shortly after assuming office in January 1969, President Nixon, at
the urging o f A rthur Bum s, directed BLS to develop plans for a
national system o f job vacancy statistics. Building on the Bureau’s
earlier efforts, Commissioner Moore developed a Federal-State coop­
erative program o f statistics on job openings and labor turnover. The
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Four Commissioners: An Economy Going by the Numbers

first data on job openings were published in 1970. BLS had to termi­
nate the program in 1974, however, after the Manpower Administra­
tion withdrew its supporting funds on the basis that the data were not
useful to the placement activities o f the State employment security
In the late 1970’s, Congress authorized the Bureau to plan for a
survey o f job openings. A pilot study demonstrated that, while a
national program could be developed, the cost would be “in excess of
$25-$30 million a year”—twice the budget for the national household
survey. Then, the labor turnover program, which had been the vehi­
cle for the pilot study, became a casualty o f the 1982 budget cut, in
view o f its overall technical limitations, particularly its failure to cover
service industries, where turnover rates were highest.85
This checkered history reflected the difficult and controversial
nature o f job vacancy statistics. The Labor Research Advisory Council
expressed grave reservations because o f the difficulty in defining basic
terms and the belief that industry would use vacancy statistics to
“deflate” unemployment figures. Somewhat more supportive o f the
program, the Business Research Advisory Council nevertheless
opposed connections with local employment offices and sought assur­
ances that the Employment Service would not use vacancy data to
direct referrals. In its report, the National Commission “found no
evidence that useful job vacancy statistics can be collected in a costeffective manner.”86
Poverty and urban problem s
BLS accomplished some o f its most innovative work in special surveys
related to poverty and urban problems. In February 1966, the Bureau
canvassed food prices in six large cities for the National Commission
on Food M arketing and also for Esther Peterson o f the President’s
Committee on Consum er Interests on the question, “Do the Poor Pay
A t about the same time, the Bureau launched a new quarterly
series o f data on conditions in urban poverty neighborhoods. Begin­
ning with data from the Current Population Survey o f March 1966,
the Bureau compiled special tabulations o f poverty tracts and com­
pared the findings with characteristics o f other city dwellers. Census
had developed the classification system for the Office o f Economic
Opportunity, basing it on 1960 census data for cities o f 250,000 popu­
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The First Hundred Years

lation or more and for a range o f variables such as income, education,
skills, housing, and family conditions.
Then, in response to a directive o f Secretary Wirtz that the
Bureau and the Manpower Administration "provide the information
necessary for a concerted attack on individual and social problems,”
the agencies conducted a series o f pilot projects. The Manpower
Administration financed a joint BLS-C ensus survey o f slum areas in
six large cities covering the period July 1968 through June 1969, a
study specifically designed for use in the President's Concentrated
Employment Program o f jobs and training activities. In October 1969,
BLS published Urban Employment Survey: Employment Situation in
Poverty Areas of Six Cities, following with special articles in the
Monthly Labor Review. The Bureau conducted a second urban
employment survey but, despite its desire to continue the work, was
unable to reach agreement with the Manpower Administration on
methodological issues and policy priorities.88
In 1971, M oore announced that BLS would suspend production
o f the quarterly series on poverty areas the following year to improve
accuracy by allowing for introduction o f 1970 census data when they
became available. The suspension was criticized by Senator Hubert
Humphrey and George Meany because it would occur in a Presiden­
tial election year. Roy W ilkins, chairman o f the Leadership Confer­
ence on Civil Rights, wrote the Secretary, “The BLS has enjoyed a
deserved reputation for integrity. Recent developments have raised
doubts. . . . The decision to abandon the ghetto unemployment data
. . . reinforces these doubts and raises new questions o f political
interference with B L S.”89 In 1973, once data from the 1970 census
had been introduced, BLS resumed publication o f the quarterly data
but based solely on an income definition o f poverty.

Earnings statistics
Since 1947, BLS had published a series on gross and spendable average
weekly earnings based on the establishment survey. Spendable earn­
ings were derived by adjusting average gross weekly earnings o f all
production or nonsupervisory workers for Federal taxes and Social
Security payments for a worker with no dependents and for one with
three dependents. Adjusted by changes in the CPI, “real” gross and
spendable earnings series were developed to indicate changes in the
purchasing power o f money earnings. In 1982, the spendable earnings
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Four Commissioners: An Economy Going by the Numbers

series was discontinued because o f conceptual inadequacies. Many
critics—among them former Commissioner M oore—had faulted the
series as “misleading” because it rested on the unwarranted assump­
tion that a worker with three dependents had the same weekly earn­
ings as the average for all workers. The National Commission had
recommended discontinuance, explaining, “This hybrid figure does
not measure what it purports to measure.”90
Instead, the commission urged development o f earnings statistics
derived from the Current Population Survey. BLS then published
quarterly reports o f median earnings o f workers and their families
derived from the CPS. Some observers characterized these statistics as
“soft,” noting that they were based on subjective, oral responses, in
contrast to the “hard” numbers derived from establishment reports.
Furthermore, the CPS samples were rather small, with a substantial
nonresponse rate, and the statistical variance for earnings was rela­
tively high.91
Earnings data were also derived from the reports filed by employ­
ers covered by the unemployment insurance program. From these
reports, BLS developed and published statistics on average annual pay
by State and industry. The data were used by the Employment and
Training Administration and State agencies to construct projections of
total and taxable wages and by the Commerce Department in develop­
ing the personal income estimates in the gross national product
For a number o f years, up to data for 1975, BLS also published
another series on annual earnings, developed from a 1-percent ran­
dom sample o f the records o f the Social Security Administration and
the Railroad Retirement Board.
W ages, benefits, an d industrial relations
In 1965, the Bureau’s wage program included three principal types of
surveys which produced occupational wage information: Area wage
surveys, in dustry wage surveys, and the national survey o f
professsional, administrative, technical, and clerical pay (the PATC or
white-collar survey). Although differing in industrial, geographic, and
occupational coverage, and originating for different purposes at differ­
ent times, they were developed into an integrated program based on
common concepts and definitions, a common set o f administrative
forms, and a single manual of procedures.
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The First Hundred Years

In the area wage survey program, statistical techniques were
improved in the early 1970’s. By 1982, the program included about 70
Standard M etropolitan Statistical Areas, statistically selected to rep'
resent all metropolitan areas o f the U nited States, excluding Alaska
and Hawaii.
The Bureau also conducted wage surveys in 86 areas on behalf of
the Employment Standards Administration for use in administering
the Service Contract A ct o f 1965. The act required payment o f the
prevailing wage by employers providing services to the Federal Gov­
ernment under contracts o f $2,500 or more.
For several years after World War 13, BLS added detail to its area
wage surveys for use by the Department o f Defense and other agencies
in setting wage rates for their blue-collar employees. However, in
1965, President Johnson directed the Civil Service Commission to
work towards developing a uniform system for all Federal agencies. In
the negotiations that followed, BLS rejected proposals that it actively
participate in these surveys, noting a potential conflict o f interest and
violation o f confidentiality, since representatives o f employee unions
and agency management customarily participated in the detailed plan­
ning and conduct o f the surveys. Therefore, under the Coordinated
Federal Wage System, established administratively in 1968 and enacted
into law in 1972, BLS provides some statistical support, but local wage
survey committees, consisting o f management and labor representa­
tives, conduct the studies.92
Various groups have suggested that BLS become the data collec­
tion agency for both the white- and blue-collar pay systems. This was
the recommendation o f the Federal Job Evaluation and Pay Review
Task Force in 1971. In 1979, the General Accounting Office recom­
mended that BLS work with the Office o f Personnel Management to
improve the system.93
Industry wage surveys, conducted in each industry on a 3- or 5year cycle, covered about 40 manufacturing and 25 nonmanufacturing
industries by 1982. Following the budget cuts for fiscal year 1982, the
program was reduced to 25 manufacturing and 15 nonmanufacturing
The PATC survey was made the basis for carrying out the princi­
ple o f comparability o f Federal and private-sector pay under legislation
passed in 1962 and 1971. The Bureau acts as the data collector for the
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Four Commissioners: An Economy Going by the Numbers

President’s Pay Agent, which sets the specifications for the survey and
makes the recommendations on pay adjustment.94
Several investigations o f the Federal pay system have touched on
matters relevant to the Bureau’s role. In 1973, the General Account'
ing Office, after a review o f the comparability process, emphasized the
need to expand the coverage o f the PATC survey and to clarify the
definitions and terminology. In 1975, the President’s Panel on Federal
Compensation (Rockefeller Panel) called for the inclusion o f data from
State and local governments, a change which would require amending
the Federal pay laws. A lso at that time, the Council o f Economic
Advisers urged the separation o f managerial or political interests—
those o f the President’s Pay Agent and the Federal Employees Pay
Council—from the technical side o f pay comparability, with the
Bureau assigned responsibility for developing a mechanism for deter'
mining the wage rates and benefits o f workers doing "comparable
work” to that o f government employees.95
With increases in appropriations, BLS extended the occupational
coverage o f the PATC survey from 72 occupational work levels in
1975 to approximately 100 such categories in 1982. However, critics
still complained that the survey covered mainly large, high paying
firms, and also objected to the continued exclusion o f State and local
government workers.96
The review groups also had recommended that the Federal pay
comparability system be expanded to include benefits. The Office o f
Personnel Management, in developing its Total Compensation Comparability project, called on the Bureau to gather data on benefit plans
in the private sector. The Bureau conducted a pilot project in 1979
and then developed an annual survey o f the incidence and characteris­
tics o f employee benefit plans in medium and large firms.
The Bureau added another type o f occupational wage survey in
1970 with a program o f surveys o f wages and benefits o f municipal
government employees. The series eventually covered 50 occupations
in 27 large cities before it was eliminated in the budget cuts o f fiscal
year 1981.
Economic policymakers had long felt the need for a current,
broadly based measure o f change in wage costs in the economy, com '
parable in scope to the consumer price and employment measures.
The urgency increased with the wage-price spiral o f the Vietnam era.
In 1969, the Bureau asked Albert Rees o f Princeton University to
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The First Hundred Years

make recommendations for improving its measures o f wage change.
W hile questioning whether a new series could be developed on a cost'
effective basis, Rees suggested that the Bureau develop an index from
the «risfing data on average hourly earnings in the establishment
survey, adjusted to exclude overtime payments in manufacturing and
employment shifts between high' and low-wage industries. He also
stressed the importance o f obtaining information on the changes in
the earnings o f government employees.97
The Hourly Earnings Index was developed in 1971, responding
to the Rees suggestion. W hile it represented a step forward, the index
was limited to earnings o f production workers, excluded supplemen­
tary benefits, did not adjust for part-time workers, and did not provide
separate detail for occupational groups.
Pressure continued for the development o f a broad, general wage
measure to serve as an economic indicator. Shiskin explained that
government officials responsible for monitoring the economy and
evaluating the effectivenesses o f economic policies had pressed BLS to
produce a measure which included benefits. Although the labor advis­
ers questioned the proposed measure, complaining o f the lack o f tfa
well-constructed, theoretical framework,” they participated in the
technical, development o f what came to be called the Employment
C ost Index.98
The Employment C ost Index, measuring quarterly changes in
wages and salaries, was first published in 1976. Designed as a fixed
weight index at the occupational level, it eliminated the effects of
employment shifts among occupations. Developed in stages, the ECI
included benefits in 1980 and, by 1981, presented indexes by occupa­
tional group and industry division for State and local government
workers as well as for the private nonfarm sector. It also provided
detail by collective bargaining status, region, and area size. In October
1980, the Office o f Management and Budget designated the ECI a
“Primary Federal Economic Indicator.”99
The series on current changes in wages and supplementary bene­
fits agreed to in collective bargaining continued as an indicator in this
more limited but significant sector. Since 1982, BLS has followed
about 1,900 bargaining situations involving actions covering 1,000
workers or more. Initially limited to wage adustments, the series now
covers changes in total compensation in agreements covering 5,000
workers or more in all industries and 1,000 workers or more in
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Four Commissioners: A n Economy Going by the Numbers

construction. Also, beginning with 1979, BLS has published data on
total compensation under negotiated agreements covering 5,000 w ork'
ers or more in State and local government employment.
Bureau wage programs o f long standing were eliminated during
the budget tightening o f 1979-82, however. The series o f wage chro­
nologies, which provided a continuous record o f wage and benefit
changes negotiated in about 30 major firms or associations o f firms,
was discontinued, along with the series on union wage rates and
benefits in the building and printing trades, in local transit and truck­
ing, and in grocery stores.
Industrial relations programs were also substantially affected. The
Bureau's file o f collective bargaining agreements was maintained only
for contracts covering 1,000 workers or more, and, while the file
continued as a basis for BLS reports on wage negotiations, in-depth
studies o f contract provisions were no longer conducted. The direc­
tory o f unions and employee associations was discontinued, and strike
statistics were reduced in coverage.
Productivity an d technology
Economic conditions focused increasing attention on the productivity
o f U .S. industry and its workers. Concern over the consequences o f
technological change and foreign competition, the use o f productivity
improvement factors in collective bargaining agreements, and the
implementation o f wage-price guidelines as national economic policy
gave productivity measurement heightened importance. With the slow
rate o f productivity increase during the 1970's, productivity measures
remained in the spotlight.
To meet the demand for more information, the Bureau's ongoing
work on productivity measures was expanded. The number o f indus­
tries for which BLS prepared productivity indexes increased to 116
over the period, reflecting in part extended coverage in trade and
services. Productivity measures for the economy as a whole and major
sectors, first published on an annual basis in 1960, were introduced
quarterly in 1968.
Innovative work was stimulated by the National Academy o f
Sciences Panel to Review Productivity Statistics, which recommended
in 1979 that BLS “experiment with combining labor and other inputs
into alternative measures o f multifactor productivity." The General
Accounting Office seconded the suggestion in a 1980 report.10®
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The First Hundred Years

In 1983, die Bureau published its first multifactor productivity
indexes for major sectors o f the private economy, covering the period
1948-81. These estimates measured the annual change in output per
unit o f combined labor and capital input. The Bureau explained that
this “more inclusive measure” represented the first step in trying to
quantify the contribution o f a number o f major factors underlying
productivity change. Comparing movements o f the multifactor index
with those o f the more familiar measure—output per hour o f all
persons—would indicate how much o f the growth or falloff in output
per hour was due to changes in the use o f capital—capital productiv­
ity—and how much was due to a combination o f the other factors, Le.,
changes in technology, shifts in the composition o f the labor force,
changes in capacity utilization, and so forth.101
The Bureau also played a leading role in developing statistics on
productivity in the Federal Government. The Joint Economic Com ­
mittee initiated the project in 1970 by asking the General Accounting
Office, the Office o f Management and Budget, and the Civil Service
Commission to establish a task force to collect information and con­
struct indexes. B LS provided assistance and, in 1973, assumed full
responsibility for collecting data and developing measures. By 1982,
the program covered about 450 organizational units in almost 50
Federal departments and agencies.102
Meanwhile, BLS continued its interest in the impact o f automa­
tion and technological change. In 1966, it released an expanded and
updated version o f its study o f 36 major industries. It followed with
new studies on computers, railroads, and energy, while continuing to
update the earlier work in a series o f publications.
The Office o f Productivity did lose one o f its programs in the
latter part o f the period. Since 1959, the Bureau had surveyed various
types o f federally assisted construction to determine labor and materi­
als requirements in order to estimate the total employment generated.
O ver the years, it had conducted some 28 studies, covering, for exam­
ple, highways, hospitals, college housing, Federal office buildings, and
sewers—extending the scope to include private housing construction.
The data were used in projecting training needs and occupational
outlook, shortages and surpluses in labor supply, material demands,
and input-output matrixes. During the 1982 budget austerity, BLS
eliminated the program, largely because o f the time lag between survey
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Four Commissioners: An Economy Going by the Numbers

dates and publication and the extensive use o f estimation and imputation.103
Econom ic grow th and em ploym ent projections
Since the 1960’s, the Bureau had produced projections of the labor
force, industry output, and employment. The Bureau prepared projec­
tions on a 2-year cycle covering five areas: Labor force, aggregate
economic performance, industry final demand and total production,
industry employment levels, and occupational employment by indus­
The Bureau continued to publish revised editions of the Occupational Outlook Handbook, a comprehensive reference volume for
career guidance first produced in 1949 at the urging o f the National
Vocational Guidance Association and with the financial support of the
Veterans Administration. In 1957, BLS had added the Occupational
Outlook Quarterly to supplement the biennial Handbook.
The projections work was coordinated with the occupational
outlook programs, although the functions were located in separate
offices. In November 1979, the Bureau brought the work together
under the umbrella o f the Office o f Economic Growth and Employ­
ment Projections, making for closer integration o f the work on labor
force, industry output, employment, and occupational projections.105
Industrial safety and health
Historically, BLS had conducted frequent studies o f occupational
safety and health problems and had worked closely with safety and
inspection groups. By 1966, it was publishing both quarterly and
annual statistics on the frequency and severity o f work injuries in
many industries.
Passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Act o f 1970 greatly
altered the field of industrial safety statistics. The act directed the
Secretary o f Labor to issue regulations requiring covered employers to
maintain accurate records o f work-related deaths, injuries, and ill­
nesses. In 1971, the Secretary delegated to BLS the responsibility for
developing the underlying statistical system, in coordination with the
Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health.
The Bureau moved quickly to construct a cooperative FederalState program to gather statistics necessary under the new law, provid­
ing grants to States for planning and development. The specialized
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The First Hundred Years

treatment formerly accorded the collection o f data on occupational
injuries o f longshore workers was discontinued, superseded by the
more comprehensive program. By 1976, the annual survey o f occupa­
tional injuries and illnesses had become the largest annual sample
survey conducted by the Bureau. In the following years, BLS sought
to reduce the reporting burden on employers while refining the sur­
vey. In 1982, it sampled about 280,000 establishments in 48 participat­
ing States.
The Bureau also developed procedures to provide additional
information from State workers' compensation records on the charac­
teristics o f the injuries and illnesses and the workers involved. The
Supplementary Data System, introduced in 1976, became fully opera­
tional in 1978, and by 1982,34 States were participating in the cooper­
ative program .106
h i addition, to help fill gaps in the knowledge o f how and why
on-the-job accidents occur, in 1977 the Bureau began a series o f direct
surveys o f injured workers. Each survey in the Work Injury Report
program was designed to cover a specific type o f accident being studied
by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. From 1978 on,
the Bureau conducted four such studies each year, publishing, for
example, Accidents Involving Eye Injuries and Back Injuries Associated
with Lifting.

International activities
In the 1960’s, with the growing importance o f foreign trade and
concern for competition in world markets, the Bureau published two
studies presenting international comparisons o f unit labor costs, one
for the manufacturing sector as a whole and the other covering the
iron and steel industry. The Bureau also participated in a joint project
o f the Department o f Labor and the Japanese Ministry o f Labor, a
comparative study o f wages in Japan and the U nited States. Janet
Norwood, as C hief o f the Wage and Labor C ost Section o f the Office
o f Foreign Labor and Trade, led B LS activities for the project.107
However, in 1969, B LS dismantled the Office o f Foreign Labor
and Trade and distributed its constituent units throughout the
Bureau. Then in 1972, as a result o f budget cuts and staff reductions,
one o f the units was abolished and the periodical Labor Developments
Abroad, begun in 1956, was suspended. To fill the gap, the Monthly
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


Four Commissioners: An Economy Going by the Numbers

Labor Review expanded its coverage o f foreign labor conditions. The
Office o f Productivity and Technology continued the work on interna'
tional comparisons o f employment, earnings, and productivity.
The Bureau continued to provide training and technical assist'
ance to developing countries. The training programs for foreign tech'
nicians were restructured in the early 1970’s, when it became apparent
that the developing countries no longer needed basic statistical train'
ing as much as they needed more advanced training on practical
applications. A t the recommendation o f a 1972 task force representing
the U .S. Agency for International Development and the Department
o f Labor, BLS instituted short-term seminars on specific topics in
applied labor statistics. By the early 1980’s, about a dozen seminars o f 4
to 8 weeks duration were being held each year. Moreover, the BLS
international training program held two seminars overseas in 1977.
Since then, about 20 such seminars have been conducted throughout
the world on various topics in labor statistics.

Generally, the Bureau’s budget fared relatively well until Federal
appropriations tightened in the 1980’s. BLS appropriations increased
about eightfold between 1966 and 1985, although this reflected man­
dated salary increases in addition to growth in programs and person­
nel (table 7). The number o f staff positions increased by one-third over
the period. In 1983, the Bureau was given full financial responsibility
for the labor market information system, and an initial sum o f $20.4
million in unemployment insurance trust funds was included in the
Bureau’s budget for fiscal year 1984.
With the tightening o f the Federal budget in the 1980’s, Nor­
wood gave priority to assuring the quality and adequacy o f the Bureau
programs providing major national indicators. O ther programs were
trimmed to accommodate to the loss o f funds. In fiscal year 1982,
when Congress added a cut o f 4 percent to the 12 percent proposed
by the administration, the Bureau considered furloughing its work
force as other agencies had done, but managed to avoid that step
through advance planning o f new hires and replacements. With sup­
port from labor and business groups and the Joint Economic Commit-
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


The First Hundred Years

Table 7.

Funding for Bureau o f Labor Statistics, 1966-85
(in thousands)
F iscal year ended —
Jun e 30 —

September 30 —


S alaries an d expenses





’Through fiscal year 1984, includes the direct appropriation together with
advances and tran sfers o f Federal funds and paym ents from trust funds. For
fiscal years 1984 and 1985, includes, in addition to the direct appropriation,
the trust fund supplem ent o f $20.4 m illion transferred to B L S for managem ent o f the labor m arket inform ation program . The 1985 figure does not
include other advances and transfers.
^Includes funds fo r transition quarter.
SOURCE: The Budget o f the U nited States Government.

tee, Congress appropriated supplemental funds to restore the initial
administration levels.

In 1966, Secretary Wirtz’s management consultants, Booz-Allen and
Hamilton, recommended that BLS become “a more integral part of
the Department.” Also, characterizing BLS as too compartmentalized
and inflexible to meet new demands, the consultants suggested
stronger central leadership for the Bureau, with a C hief Economist
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


Four Commissioners: An Economy Going by the Numbers

responsible for products and planning and a C hief Statistician responsible for standards and techniques.108 Ross accepted these recommen­
dations and put them into effect, also separating the operations
functions from the program and planning functions in the Bureau’s
regional offices.
Implementing another Booz-Allen recommendation, the Bureau
established a central Office o f Publications to help the Commissioner
and the program offices plan, prepare, and disseminate public informa­
tion. The Office used computer languages created by the Bureau’s
systems staff to generate photocomposed statistical tables, charts, and
text, making the Bureau a pioneer in the photocomposed production
o f statistical publications from existing data bases.109 Moreover, BLS
now makes available major data series at the time o f initial release
through electronic news releases and, more comprehensively, through
magnetic tape.
Indeed, the Bureau had emphasized improving its electronic
information systems. Booz-Allen had stressed the need for broader
and more aggressive use o f electronic data processing and had recom­
mended the centralization o f all data collection and processing, which
were then being conducted separately in the various program offices.
BLS had installed a second-generation computer system in 1963.
U nder Ross, the Bureau encouraged computer language training for
its professionals to promote expanded use o f the computers for analy­
sis and interpretation and worked with the Department to plan a
system based on a third-generation facility.
During the early 1970’s, the Office o f Systems and Standards
developed Table Producing Language (TPL), a system designed to
select, restructure, cross-tabulate, and display data. Installations
around the world have acquired this tabulating system, including com­
mercial enterprises, State and municipal agencies, major universities,
and other national statistical agencies. In fiscal year 1978, BLS initiated
LA BSTA T (LABor STATistics), its greatly expanded data base or
general pool o f statistical information which gives users direct on-line
computer access to more than 150,000 time series.
Meanwhile, the Bureau had moved into time-sharing on main­
frame computers at the National Institutes o f Health and, later, with a
commercial computer center. This boosted processing capabilities in
major programs and greatly increased opportunities for analytical
research, while also facilitating transmissions between BLS headquar­
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


The First Hundred Years

ters and the field offices—without committing scarce resources to
expensive and soon-outdated equipment.
Having already reorganized under Ross, the Bureau largely con­
formed with proposals issued by the Office o f Management and Bud­
get several years later for improving the organization o f all Federal
statistical activities. In 1971, when OM B called for centralized data
collection and processing activities within the statistical agencies and
the establishment o f separate units for planning and data analysis,
M oore replaced the positions o f C hief Economist and C hief Statisti­
cian with two Deputy Commissioners, one in charge o f data analysis
and the other in charge o f statistical operations. Shiskin altered the
arrangement somewhat by establishing a single Deputy Commissioner
in 1975.110
During her term, Norwood refined the BLS organizational struc­
ture. She enlarged the role o f the Office o f Research and Evaluation,
which she expanded in 1982, reflecting increased interest in mathe­
matical statistics and concern for improving the quality o f the Bureau’s
data. In 1982, she also created the position o f Deputy Commissioner
for Administration and Internal Operations. In 1983, she announced
the recombination o f the two program offices dealing with employ­
ment statistics, forming the Office o f Employment and Unemploy­
ment Statistics.111

Field operations
The tremendous growth in demand for local data and the accompany­
ing expansion o f Federal-State cooperative programs enhanced the
role o f the Bureau’s regional offices. In 1967, as part o f the Depart­
ment’s effort to establish uniform regional organizations and bounda­
ries, BLS changed the location o f one o f its regional offices from
Cleveland to Kansas City. In 1968, it established new offices in Phila­
delphia and Dallas, for a total o f eight.
The incoming Nixon administration pushed decentralization of
government activities, prompting the Department to issue orders to its
agencies to delegate authority to the field. In 1973, when the Bureau’s
regional directors were designated Assistant Regional Directors, Shiskin complained o f the “apparent subordination o f the Bureau staff to
political appointees,” namely the Department o f Labor Regional
D irectors.112 In 1975, Secretary Dunlop made a change, establishing
Regional Commissioners along with Regional Solicitors and Regional
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


Four Commissioners: An Economy Going by the Numbers

Administrators. A t about the same time, Shiskin created the position
o f Assistant Commissioner for Field Collection and Coordination in
the national office.
The regional offices now exercise several basic functions: They
collect and process primary data required for the Consum er Price
Index, the Producer Price Index, the Employment C ost Index, the
international price program, and the occupational wage survey program. They supervise and assist cooperating State agencies in collect'
ing labor force and occupational safety and health statistics and also
assist in the preparation o f area estimates o f labor force, employment,
and unemployment. In addition, they disseminate Bureau publications and data. The Regional Commissioners represent the CommiS'
sioner and the Bureau in the regions and advise the Department’s
Regional Director.
A dvisory groups
The Business and Labor Research Advisory Councils, established in
1947, continued to play active roles as advisers and disseminators of
the Bureau’s data. M ost recently, Norwood has stressed the im por'
tance o f their role and her desire to see that they become more helpful
to the Bureau in carrying out its mission.
Over the years, there have been proposals for extending the
Bureau’s formal advisory arrangements. Moore proposed setting up
some means o f obtaining advice from the staffs o f universities and
research institutes, but these were not implemented. In 1979, the final
report o f the National Commission on Employment and Unemploy­
ment Statistics contained a proposal for a panel “broadly representa­
tive o f the data-using community.” In his comments on the report,
Secretary M arshall noted that BLS sought means o f obtaining advice
from State, county, and municipal leaders, as well as C ETA prime
sponsors, State employment security agencies, and others interested in
State and local statistics. However, in his report on the National
Commission recommendations, Secretary Donovan rejected the sug­
gestion for a “new permanent advisory council.”113
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


Chapter IX.

History as Prologue:
The Continuing Mission


he mission o f the Bureau o f Labor Statistics since its found'
ing 100 years ago has been to collect information on eco'
nomic and social conditions and, in the words o f Carroll
Wright, the first Commissioner, through “fearless publica­
tion o f the results,” to let the people assess the facts and act on them.
It was the belief o f its founders that dissemination o f the facts would
lead to improvement o f the life o f the people.
O n the occasion o f the Bureau's centennial, Janet L. Norwood,
the tenth Commissioner, summed up the Bureau’s past—and continu­
ing—role: “The Bureau stands for—
—Commitment to objectivity and fairness in all o f its data gathering
and interpretive and analytical work;
—Insistence on candor at all times;
—Protection o f confidentiality;
—Pursuit o f improvements;
—W illingness to change; and
—Maintenance o f consistency in the highest standards o f perform­
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


History a s Prologue: The Continuing Mission

These principles, Norwood stressed, must be steadfastly applied
in monitoring “our programs to ensure that they remain accurate,
objective, and relevant. We must modernize our statistical techniques
because a statistical agency that does not constandy move ahead in the
use o f new techniques quickly moves backward.”
A s an institution, the Bureau has evolved from the original and
sole labor agency in the Federal Government, with a broad factfinding
scope, to one among many specialized labor agencies. Serving as a
quasi-Department o f Labor during its first two decades, it was called
upon to study and report on issues such as the violent strikes and
lockouts o f the period and the harsh conditions o f employment for
women and children. Today, the Bureau is a general-purpose statistical
agency, gathering, analyzing, and distributing information broadly
applicable to labor economics and labor conditions.
W hile the focus and perspectives o f Bureau studies have changed
over the years, most areas o f investigation have remained germane—
the course o f wages and prices, the state o f industrial relations,
problems o f unemployment and the effects o f technological and demo­
graphic change, and safety and health conditions in the workplace.
Some areas o f study, such as child labor, have been rendered unneces­
sary by legislation. In others, newer, specialized agencies have taken
over the work the Bureau began.
The Bureau’s role has been to provide data and analyses that
contribute to the development o f policy without crossing the line into
policy formulation, but the line is a fine one. Certainly Neill and
Lubin, through their personal relations, advised Presidents and Secre­
taries on specifics o f labor and economic policy. A nd at times the
Bureau has found itself in the midst o f controversy, its findings and
objectivity challenged by one set o f partisans or another. Wright’s
wage and price studies were attacked as products o f political manipula­
tion, and, during World War II, labor unions challenged the cost-ofliving index because o f their dissatisfaction with the government’s
wage stabilization policies.
Professional integrity is essential to a government agency which
provides information for public and private policy needs, and the
Bureau’s institutional probity has been a constant concern o f the
Commissioners and their staffs. Over the years, the Bureau’s objectiv­
ity has been affirmed and reaffirmed upon review o f its work by
congressional committees, Presidential commissions, and professional
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


The First Hundred Years

associations o f economists and statisticians. A ll noted areas needing
improvement, but none found reason to question the independence
and integrity o f the Bureau.
For the first half-century o f its existence, the Bureau’s appropria­
tions changed only when special funding was provided for particular
programs, such as the woman and child study o f 1907-09, and devel­
opment o f a cost-of-living index during World War I. The emergency
demands o f the depression o f the 1930’s and the accompanying social
legislation also led Congress to increase appropriations to expand and
improve the Bureau’s statistics. And, similarly, World War II needs
generated increased resources and programs.
After the war, the climate was vastly different. Government pol­
icy concerns required data produced on a frequent and regular basis.
The Employment A ct o f 1946, which established the congressional
Joint Economic Committee and the Council o f Economic Advisers,
epitomized the new conditions. A s government social and economic
policies developed and expanded, legislation frequently incorporated
Bureau statistics as escalators or other administrative devices. There
was now a regular demand for new and improved statistics, with
support for resources to make them available. W hile increases in
resources have not always been forthcoming, and programs have been
cut on occasion to make room for new and expanded series, the
postwar trend has been one o f provision o f funds for such expansion
and improvements.
Bureau programs have changed to meet changing conditions.
Ongoing statistical series such as the Consum er Price Index have been
adjusted periodically to assure that concepts and coverage reflect
altered societal patterns. Along with regular planned revisions, the
Bureau has made interim revisions, as in the case o f the treatment of
the homeownership component in the CPI. New series, including the
Employment C ost Index and the multifactor productivity indexes,
have been developed.
Meeting these vastly increased requirements has been made possi­
ble through the development o f sophisticated statistical techniques of
sampling and the computerization o f statistical operations. Bureau
personnel now include mathematical statisticians, computer program­
mers, and computer systems analysts as well as economists and clerical
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


History a s Prologue: The Continuing Mission

In addition, close coordination with other Federal agencies and
with the States, evolving from Wright’s early efforts, has improved the
quality o f the data and efficiency in collection and processing.
Bureau respondents generally have given their full cooperation
because o f the assurance o f confidentiality for reported information, a
guarantee which has been assiduously enforced. In its communication
with the public, the Bureau has emphasized frankness regarding limi­
tations o f the data and the provision o f detailed information on con­
cepts and methods. There has been a constant striving to improve the
timeliness, regularity, and accuracy o f the data and their public presen­
W hile well established, the principles have needed regular reiter­
ation, particularly during unsetded times. There have been many
occasions when the messenger has been buffeted by the storms of
rapid economic and social change. This has been especially true when
the Bureau’s data have been used in implementing and monitoring
policy, as in the wartime use o f its cost-of-living index for wage stabili­
zation. O n other occasions, Bureau staff efforts to explain technical
limitations have collided with policymakers’ unqualified use o f the
data. In such circumstances, the Bureau has been sustained by the
widespread recognition that its nonpartisanship and objectivity must
be assured and protected. Congress, successive Secretaries o f Labor,
the Bureau’s labor and business advisory groups, the professional
associations, and the press have supported the independence and
impartiality o f statistical research in government agencies.
The roots o f this independence and professionalism are deep and
strong. The tradition o f impartiality has been underwritten by both
Democratic and Republican administrations over die century o f the
Bureau’s existence, during which Commissioners have been selected
for their technical competence without regard to partisan considera­
The Bureau faces great challenges in the years ahead as the phe­
nomena it measures grow in complexity in the dynamic economy of
the U nited States. It will require openness to new methods and
techniques and adherence to the standards already set to carry out its
mission during the next century.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



BLS Publications


rom its beginning, the Bureau o f Labor Statistics has com
ducted a substantial publications program. Initially, the
Bureau published annual reports, issuing 25 volumes for the
years 1885-1910. Each presented the comprehensive findings
o f a specific survey or study, covering such topics as strikes and
lockouts, convict labor, industrial education, and technological dis­
placement o f workers.
Supplementing these, the Bureau conducted special investiga­
tions, frequently at the direction o f Congress, producing 12 special
reports between 1889 and 1905. These covered such subjects as mar­
riage and divorce, slum condititions, social insurance, and labor legis­
The Bureau also provided Congress with reports on such topics
as labor disputes and pension systems, later published as House or
Senate documents. Two notable examples were the 19-volume Report
on Condition of Woman and Child Wage-Earners in the United States
(1910-13) and the 4-volume Report on Conditions of Employment in the
Iron and Steel Industry (1911-12).
From 1895, when Congress authorized publication o f a periodi-
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


Appendix: BLS Publications

cal, until 1912, the Bureau issued the bimonthly Bulletin. This
presented original work, digests o f State reports, summaries and
digests o f foreign labor and statistical papers, and summaries o f cur­
rent legislation and court decisions.
In 1912, the Bureau discontinued the annual reports and the
bimonthly Bulletin, issuing instead a series o f bulletins, published
irregularly, each covering a specific program area. In 1915, BLS intro­
duced the Monthly Review, changing the name to Monthly Labor
Review in 1918.
Over the years, BLS added such periodicals as Labor Information
Bulletin and Labor Developments Abroad and published such special
volumes as Activities of the Bureau of Labor Statistics in World War II
(1947), The Gift of Freedom (1949), and BLS Centennial Album (1984).
A t present, BLS publishes bulletins, numbered continuously
from 1895; reports, a series started in 1953; and one quarterly and five
monthly periodicals. These periodicals, reflecting the importance of
the major recurring statistical series, are CPI Detailed Report, Current
Wage Developments, Employment and Earnings, Monthly Labor Review,
Occupational Outlook Quarterly, and Producer Price Indexes.
In addition, BLS issues some 200 national and 1,300 regional
news releases each year and summaries o f survey results in advance of
fuller publication in bulletins, providing timely distribution o f the
Bureau’s latest data.
There have been several special sections in the Monthly Labor
Review giving historical perspective: “50 'fears’ Progress o f American
Labor” (July 1950), “Seventy fears o f Service—The Story o f B L S”
(January 1955), and “Fifty fears o f the M LR” (July 1965). The Bureau
has published subject indexes for the M LR—Bulletins 695 (1941), 696
(1942), 1080 (1953), 1335 (1960), 1746 (1973), and 1922 (1976). In
addition, there are indexes to each volume, now presented annually in
the December issue.
The Bureau also has produced numerical listings and subject
indexes for the bulletins and reports, including BLS Publications,
1886-1971, Bulletin 1749 (1972) and BLS Publications, 1972-77, Bulle­
tin 1990 (1978).
Periodically, BLS has published bulletins explaining its statistical
methods and procedures, beginning with Methods of Procuring and
Computing Statistical Information of the Bureau of Labor Statistics,
Bulletin 326 (1923). In the 1950’s, the Bureau issued two editions of
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


The First Hundred Years

Techniques of Preparing M ajor BLS Statistical Series, Bulletin 993 in
1950 and Bulletin 1168 in 1954. U nder the title BLS Handbook of
Methods, the Bureau continued with Bulletins 1458 (1966), 1711
(1971), 1910 (1976), and 2134-1 (1982) and 2134-2 (1984).
BLS published Handbook of Labor Statistics, Bulletin 439, in 1927
as a compendium o f historical data, issuing the most recent edition,
Bulletin 2217, in 1985.
In sheer volume, the largest number o f bulletins have presented
wage data, published currently as Industry Wage Surveys and Area
Wage Surveys (previously Occupational Wage Surveys). Two major
series on contract provisions were the 19-volume set, Collective Bargaining Provisions, Bulletin 908 (1947-50), and the 21-volume series,
M ajor Collective Bargaining Agreements, Bulletin 1425 (1964-82). In
1947, the Bureau issued the first Directory of Labor Unions in the
United States, Bulletin 901, publishing the last edition in 1980.
One o f the Bureau’s most popular bulletins is the Occupational
Outlook Handbook, which it revises every 2 years—most recently as
Bulletin 2205 (1984).
In recent years, BLS has expanded its analysis and publication of
labor force data on women, minorities, and families. For example, in
1978, it introduced the quarterly report Employment in Perspective:
Working Women and, in 1980, another quarterly report, Employment
in Perspective: Minority Workers, with data on blacks and Hispanics.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


Source Notes
C h a p te r 1.

O rig in s

1Jam es C . Sylvis, The Life, Speeches, Labors an d Essays o f W illiam H. Sylvis
(Philadelphia: Claxton, Remsen & Haffelfinger, 1872), p. 74.
2 Terence V. Powderly, Thirty Years o f L abor (Colum bus, Ohio: Excelsior Pub­
lishing H ouse, 1889), pp. 302-303.
3 U . S. C ongress, H ouse, Select Com mittee on D epression in Labor and Busi­
ness, Investigation Relative to the C au ses o f the G eneral Depression in Labor an d
Business (46C, 2S, 1879), pp. 8-9,118-119.
4 American Federation o f Labor, Proceedings, 1881, p. 4, and Proceedings, 1883, p.
14; Joseph P. Goldberg and William T. Moye, “The A FL and a National B L S,”
Monthly L abor Review, M arch 1982, pp. 21-29.
5 U . S. Congress, Senate, Com m ittee on Education and Labor, L abor an d C ap i­
tal (48C, 1885), Vol. I, pp. 8 7 ,2 7 1 ,327,382,790-791,1142.
6 Ibid., pp. 570-571; ibid., Vol. m , pp. 278-280.
7 Congressional Record (48C, IS), Apr. 19,1884, p. 3140.
8 Congressional Record (48C, IS), Mar. 7, 1884, pp. 1675-1676; Apr. 19, 1884, p.
3139; May 14,1884, p. 4157.
9 The New York Times, Feb. 10,1884, p. 6; Apr. 10,1884, p. 8.
10Jou rn al o f U nited Labor, May 25, 1884, p. 702; Powderly, Thirty Years, pp.
11 National Archives Record G roup (NARG) 48, Secretary o f the Interior,
Appointm ents Division, Powderly to President A rthur, June 30,1884.
12 N A R G 48, Secretary o f the Interior, Appointm ents Division, Anonymous, re.
labor question and appointm ent o f a Com m issioner, stam ped received Mar. 16, 1885;
The New York Times, July 24, 1884, p. 4; July 29, 1884, p. 4; Aug. 15, 1884, p. 5; Nov.
27,1884, p. 1.
13 A FL, Proceedings, 1884, p. 14.
^ The New York Times, July 1,1884, p. 4.
15 N A R G 48, Secretary o f the Interior, Appointm ents Division, Henry Feuer­
bach to President A rthur, Aug. 14,1884.
16 N A R G 48, Secretary o f the Interior, Appointm ents Division, W right to Secre­
tary, Aug. 26, 1884; Anonym ous, Mar. 16, 1885; and National Labor Convention, July
30, Chicago, received O ct. 18,1884.
17 The New York Times, Jan. 20,1885, p. 4.

Chapter II.

Carroll Wright

1James Leiby, Carroll Wright and Labor Reform: The Origin of Labor Statistics
(Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1960), pp. 204-205.
2Joseph Dorfman, The Economic Mind in American Civilization, Vol. Ill,
1865-1918 (New \fork: Viking Press, 1949), pp. 123-130.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


The First Hundred Years

3 W endell D . M acdonald, "T he Early H istory o f Labor Statistics in the U nited
States,” Labor History, Spring 1972, p. 275; Read Bain and Joseph Cohen, "Trends in
A pplied Sociology,” in George A . Lundberg, Read Bain, and N ek A nderson, eds.,
Trends in American Sociology (New ìb rk : H arper and Brothers, 1929), p. 350.
4 C arroll D . W right, The Relation of Political Economy to the Labor Question
(Boston: A . W illiams and C o., 1882), pp. 11-12,16-17.
5 M assachusetts Bureau o f Statistics o f Labor, Eighth Annual Report, 1877, p- vii;
W right, Popular Instruction in Social Science (Boston: G eo. E. C rosby & C o., 1886), p.

6 W right, "T he Factory System as an Element o f Civilization,” Journal of Social
Science, Decem ber 1882, p. 125; M assachusetts Bureau, Sixteenth A nnual Report, 1885,
p. 26.
7 W right, “Factory System ” (1882), p. 110.
8 W right, Outline of Practical Sociology (New "fork: Longm ans, G reen and C o.,
1909, seventh edition, revised), pp. 251,256-257.
9 W right, "T h e Relation o f Invention to Labor,” The Liberal Club, Buffalo (Buf­
falo: The M atthews-Northup C o., 1893), p. 32; W igh t, "T he Factory as an Element in
Social Life,” Catholic University Bulletin, January 1901, p. 64.
10 W right, Relation of Political Economy, pp. 25, 27; W igh t, “W hy Women Are
Paid Less Than M en,” Forum, July 1892, p. 637.
11 W right, “D oes the Factory Increase Immorality?” Forum, May 1892, pp.
12 W right, Outline, p. 295.
13 W igh t, The Battles of Labor (Philadelphia: G.W . Jacobs & C o., 1906), pp. 174,
14 W igh t, Batdes of Labor, p. 186; W right, Outline, p. 299.
15 M assachusetts Bureau, Eighth Annual Report, 1877, p. v i
16 W right, “T he W orking o f the U nited States Bureau o f Labor,” Bulletin (54),
Septem ber 1904, p. 978.
17John R. Com m ons, M yself (New Tbrk: T he M acmillan C o., 1934), p. 93.
18 W alter F. W illcax, "Developm ent o f the American C ensus Office since 1890,”
Political Science Quarterly, Septem ber 1914, p. 11; S.N .D . N orth, “The life and Work
o f C arroll Davidson W right," Am erican Statistical A ssociation Journal, June 1909, p.
19 W right, “T he W orking,” pp. 976-977.
20 G reat Britain, Royal Com m ission on Labour, Fourth Report, 1893-1894, Voi.
X X X IX , Pt. 1, Minutes of Evidence (c.7063.1) (London: H er Majesty’s Stationery
Office, 1893), pp. 478,491,493.
21 W right, “T he W orking,” p. 977.
22 N ational A rchives Record G roup 257, B LS, Telegrams, 1897-1902, W right to
J. B. C rockett, Mar. 30,1896.
23 E.R .L. G ould, “The Progress o f Labor Statistics in the U nited States,” Interna­
tional Statistical Institute Bulletin (Rome, 1892), p. 188.
24 W right, “A Basis for Statistics o f C ost o f Production,” A SA Journal, June 1891,
p. 258.
25 American Federationist, June 1897, p. 76.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


Source Notes

26 W right, “The W ork o f the U .S. Bureau o f Labor,” A ssociation o f Officials o f
Bureaus o f Labor Statistics, Proceedings, 1885, pp. 129,132-133.
27 Leiby, Carroll Wright, pp. 80-82.
28 H enry Jones Ford, The Cleveland E ra (New Haven: Yale University Press,
1921), pp. 131-132; D enis Tilden Lynch, Grover Cleveland (New "fork: H orace Liveright, Inc., 1932), p. 328.
29 N ational Labor Tribune, Feb. 25, 1888, p. 1; June 30, 1888, p. 1; Journal of
United Labor, Sept. 20,1888, p. 2702.
30 Terence V. Powderly, The Path I Trod, ed. by Harry J. Carm an, Henry David,
and Raul N. Guthrie (New Y>rk: Colum bia U niversity Press, 1940), pp. 230-232;
Journal of United Labor, May 5,1888, p. 2672.
31U . S. Congress, H ouse, Select Com m ittee on the Tenth C ensus, Result of the
Tenth Census (House Report 2432, 48C , 2S, 1884), p. 3; H ouse, Com m ittee on the
C ensus, Permanent Census Bureau (House R ep t 262, 57C , IS , 1902), A ppendix A,
Part 1, H istorical Summary.
32 W right with W illiam C . H unt, The History and Growth of the Untied States
Census (Washington: Governm ent Printing Office, 1900), p. 81; U .S. Congress, Senate
(52C, IS , 1891), Senate Executive Docum ent No. 1, Letter from the Secretary o f the
Interior, A Permanent Census Bureau, pp. 65-66.
33 W illcox, “Developm ent,” pp. 444-445.
34 S.N .D . N orth, “T he Life," p. 459.
35 W illcox, “Developm ent,” p. 443.
36 Ibid., pp. 445-446; W right and H unt, The History and Growth, pp. 82-83;
H ouse, Com m ittee on Appropriations, Hearings, Permanent Census (54C, 2S, 1897),
pp. 3, 7 ,11.
37 Senate, Com m ittee on the C ensus, Permanent Census Service (54C, 2S, 1897),
p. 28; H ouse, Com m ittee on A ppropriations, Report The Twelfth and Subsequent
Censuses (House R ep t 2909, 54C , 2S, 1897), p. 2; H ouse, Com m ittee on the Census,
Permanent Census (House R ep t 262), H istorical Summary.
38 Congressional Record (55C, 2S), Jan. 5,1898, p. 316; Feb. 21,1898, p. 1965.
39 Ibid., pp. 1965,1967.
40 Ibid., p. 1965.
41 W right and H u n t The History and Growth, p. 84.
42 A lbert K. Steigerwalt, The N ational Association o f M anufacturers, 1895-1914
(Ann A rbor: Bureau o f Business Research, Graduate School o f Business Adm inistra­
tion, U niversity o f Michigan, 1964), pp. 83-84.
43 Am erican Federation o f Labor, Proceedings, 1896, p. 81; Proceedings, 1897, p.
22; Library o f C ongress, American Federation o f Labor Papers, Sam uel Gom pers
Letterbooks, Gom pers to Frank H all, New O rleans, Feb. 10,1899.
44 U .S. Departm ent o f Com m erce and Labor, Organization and Law of die
Department of Commerce and Labor (Washington: Governm ent Printing Office,
1904), pp. 501 and 520; Henry F. Pringle, Theodore Roosevelt (New Y>rk: H arcourt,
Brace & C o., 1931), pp. 244-246; Thom as Beer, H anna (New Y>rk: O ctagon Books,
1973), p. 275.
45 A FL, Proceedings, 1901, p. 27; Congressional Record (57C, IS), Jan. 22,1902, p.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


The First Hundred Years

46 H ouse, Com m ittee on Interstate and Foreign Com merce, Hearing, Department
of Commerce (57C, 1902), pp. 30 ,4 0 ,1 0 5 .
47 Ibid., p. 34.
48 Ibid., pp. 6 ,2 2 .
49 Ibid., pp. 506,547-548,552.
50 Ibid., p. 501.
51 Ibid., pp. 492, 495; N A R G 257, B LS, Letters Sent, Wright to Fawcett, Jan. 31,
52 Francis E. Rourke, “T he Departm ent o f Labor and the Trade U nions," The
Western Political Quarterly, 1954, p. 660.
53 The Works of Theodore Roosevelt, Presidential Addresses and State Papers (New
\o rk : RF. C ollier & Son Publishers), VoL HI, pp. 126-127.
54 W right, “The W orking* (1904), p. 975.
55 W right, “T he W orking o f d ie Departm ent o f Labor," Cosmopolitan, June 1892,
p. 236.
56 H ouse, Com m ittee on A ppropriations, Hearings, Legislative, Executive, and
Judicial Appropriations, F Y 1897 (54C, 1896), p. 83; ibid., F Y 1903 (1902), p. 290.
57 U .S. Com m issioner o f Labor, First Annual Report, Industrial Depressions
(1886), pp. 290-293.
58 W right, “T he W orking," Cosmopolitan, p. 233.
59 A FL, Proceedings, 1887, p. 9.
60 Richm ond Mayo-Smith, “The National Bureau o f Labor and Industrial
D epressions,” Political Science Quarterly, Septem ber 1886, p. 441.
61 Com m issioner o f Labor, First A nnual Report, p. 291; Alvin H. Hansen, Busi­
ness Cycles and N ational Income (New York: W.W. N orton &. C o., Inc., 1951), pp.
62 Com m issioner o f Labor, Thirteenth A nnual Report, H and and Machine Labor
(1898), pp. 5-6.
63 M acdonald, “C arroll D . W right and H is Influence on the B L S," Monthly Labor
Review, January 1955, p. 8.
64 Locomotive Firemen’s M agazine, A ugust 1896, pp. 99-100.
65 Locomotive Firemen’s M agazine, Septem ber 1903, pp. 457,460-461.
66 Senate, A Report on Labor Disturbances in the State of Colorado, from 1880 to
1904, Inclusive (Senate Doc. 1 22,58C, 3S, 1905). A lso, N A R G 257, BLS, Letters Sent,
May 17 to July 20, 1904, G . W. W. H anger to President, June 15, 1904; and July 21 to
Sept. 24,1904, W right to President, S e p t 8,1904.
67 Com m issioner o f Labor, Eleventh Special Report, Regulation and Restriction of
Output (1904), p. 27.
68 Clyde O . Fisher, Use of Federal Power in Settlement of Railway Labor Disputes,
Bulletin 303 (Bureau o f Labor Statistics, 1922), pp. 18-19.
69 U . S . Strike Com m ission, Report on the Chicago Strike of June-July, 1894
(1895), pp. 194-201.
70 Ibid., p. 52.
71 American Federationist, December 1894, p. 231.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


Source Notes

72 H ouse, Com m ittee on Labor, Carriers Engaged in Interstate Commerce (House
Rept. 1754, 53C, 3S, 1895), W right to L. E. M cGann, Feb. 1, 1895, p. 4; Locomotive
Firemen’s M agazine, M arch 1895, p. 262.
73 H ouse, Labor, Carriers (1895), p. 4.
74 Congressional Record (54C, 2S), Feb. 26,1897, pp. 2388-2389.
73 H ouse, Com m ittee on Labor, Carriers Engaged in Interstate Commerce and
Their Employees (House Rept. 4 5 4 ,55C, 2S, 1898), pp. 2-3.
76 U nited M ine W orkers o f Am erica Journal, Sept. 11,1902, pp. 1, 2 ,4 .
77 “O ur Splendid Labor Com m issioner,” Current Literature, December 1902, p.
689; “Colonel W right’s Inconsistent Awards,” American Federationist, November
1903, p. 1156; UMW A Journal, A pril 21,1904, p. 4.
78 Com m issioner o f Labor, Fourth Annual Report, Working Women in Large Cities
(1888), p. 10.
79 Ibid., pp. 70, 73.
80 A ssociation o f Officials o f Bureaus, Proceedings, 1895, p. 21.
81 Com m issioner o f Labor, Eleventh Annual Report, Work and Wages of Men,
Women and Children (1895-96); H . L. Bliss, “Eccentric Official Statistics, HI,” Ameri­
can Journal of Sociology, November 1897.
82 Com m issioner o f Labor, Seventeenth Annual Report, Trade and Technical Edu­
cation (1902), p. 10.
83 Congressional Record (52C, IS), May 20,1892, p. 4474.
84 W right, Relation of Political Economy, p. 33.
85 Com m issioner o f Labor, Fourteenth Annual Report, Water, G as, and ElectricLight Plants Under Private and M unicipal Ownership (1899), p. 7; A ssociation o f
Officials o f Bureaus, Proceedings, 1902, p. 77.
^W righ t, “The Industrial Progress o f the South,” A ssociation o f Officials o f
Bureaus, Proceedings, 1897, p p . 116-117; Leiby, Carroll Wright, p. 107.
87 N A R G 257, B LS, Letters Sent, Jan. 2 to Feb. 26, 1901, W right to Reuben S.
Sm ith, W ashington, D .C ., Feb. 8,1901.
88 N A R G 257, BLS, Letters Sent, Aug. 11 to O c t 28, 1903, W right to D u Bois,
Aug. 24,1903.
89 Dorfm an, The Economic Mind, pp. 350-351.
90 John Higham, Strangers in the Land (New 'fork: Atheneum , 1971), pp. 90-91.
91 Senate, Com m ittee on Finance, Retail Prices and Wages (Senate Rept. 986,
52C, IS , 1892), p. I.
92 25 Stat. 183.
93 Senate, Com m ittee on Finance, Retail Prices and Wages; and Wholesale Prices,
Wages, and Transportation (Senate Rept. 1394,52C, 2S, 1893).
94 “Retail Prices under the M cKinley A c t" Quarterly Journal of Economics, O cto­
ber 1892, p. 105; “N otes and M emoranda,” Quarterly Journal of Economics, O ctober
1893, p. 104; Frank W. Taussig, “Results o f Recent Investigations on Prices in the
U nited States,” A SA Journal, December 1893, pp. 487-488; Mayo-Smith, Science of
Statistics, part II, Statistics and Economics (New Tfork: Colum bia University Press,
1899), pp. 207,316-317.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


The First Hundred Years

95 Frederick C . Waite, Prices and Wages (Washington, 1894), pp. 7-12. A n
address delivered before the N ational Statistical A ssociation at the Colum bian U n i'
versity in Novem ber 1894.
96 Roland P. Falkner, “W holesale Prices: 1890 to 1899," Bulletin (27), March 1900,
p. 270; Taussig, in "N otes and M emoranda,” Quarterly Journal of Economics, May
1900, p. 432.
97 “C ourse o f W holesale Prices, 1890 to 1901," Bulletin (39), M arch 1902, p. 234.
96 W esley C . M itchell, “The M aking and U sing o f Index Num bers,” Index Num­
bers of Wholesale Prices in die United States and Foreign Countries, Bulletin 284
(Bureau o f Labor Statistics, 1921), p. 127.
99 Com m issioner o f Labor, Eighteenth A nnual Report, Cost of Living and Retail
Prices o f Food (1903); “Retail Prices o f Food, 1890 to 1904," Bulletin (59), July 1905.
100 Com m issioner o f Labor, Nineteenth Annual Report, Wages and Hours of
Labor (1904); “Wages and C ost o f Living,” Bulletin (53), July 1904, p. 703; “Wages and
H ours o f Labor in M anufacturing Industries, 1890 to 1904,” Bulletin (59), July 1905,
pp. 1-3; H arry M. Douty, The Development of Wage Statistics in the United States
(Ithaca: C ornell University, New fo rk State School o f Industrial and Labor Relations,
Bulletin N o. 64,1972), pp. 11,18-19.
id “W ages and C ost Living,” 1904, pp. 722-723; The New fork Times, Aug. 8,
1904, p. 5; UMW A Journal, Dec. 29, 1904, p. 4; Amalgamated M eat C utters and
Butcher W orkmen, Official Journal, A ugust 1904, p. 22.
102 International A ssociation o f M achinists, Machinists’ Monthly Journal, Septem ­
ber 1904, pp. 776-777,823.
103 Ernest Howard, “Inflation and Prices,” Political Science Quarterly, March
1907, p. 81.
104 M itchell, “M ethods o f Presenting Statistics o f W ages,” A SA Journal, Decem­
ber 1905, pp. 328, 330; and “The Trustworthiness o f the Bureau o f Labor’s Index
Num ber o f W ages,” Quarterly Journal of Economics, May 1911, p. 613; National Civic
Federation, Monthly Review, Sept. 15,1904, p. 8.
103 E. H . Phelps Brown and M argaret H . Browne, “C arroll D. W right and the
Developm ent o f British Labour Statistics,” Economica, A ugust 1963, pp. 279-280.
106 W right, “The Evolution o f W ige Statistics,” Quarterly Journal of Economics,
January 1892, pp. 185-186; G.W.W. Hanger, “Bureaus o f Statistics o f Labor in Foreign
C ountries,” Bulletin (54), Septem ber 1904, p. 1023.
107 G reat Britain, Royal Com m ission (c.7063.1), Minutes of Evidence, pp.
108 Brown and Browne, “C arroll D . W right,” p. 283; H ouse, Com m ittee on
Labor, Report, Bulletins of die Department of Labor (House Rept. 1752, 53C, 3S, 1895),
W igh t to L. E. M cGann, Feb. 1,1895, p. 1.
109 Jam es M yers, “American Relations with the International Labor Office,
1919-1932,” A nnals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, March
1933, p. 135.
110 Hanger, “Bureaus o f Statistics,” pp. 1080-1086; Historical Survey of Interna­
tional Action Affecting Labor, Bulletin 268 (Bureau o f Labor Statistics, 1920), pp. 54,
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


Source Notes

111 M assachusetts, Com m ittee on Relations Between Employer and Employee,
Report (1904).

112 M assachusetts, Com m ission on Industrial and Technical Education, Report
(1906); W right, “The W ork o f the National Society for the Promotion o f Industrial
Education,” A n n als o f the A m erican A cadem y o f Political an d Social Science, January
1909, p. 13.
113 Wright, “The W orking” (1904), pp. 987-989.

Chapter III.

Charles Neill

1 Theodore Roosevelt, The Letters of Theodore Roosevelt, selected and edited by
Elting E. M orison and others (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1952), Vol. V I, p.
1301, to P. H. Grace, O ct. 19,1908.
2 U . S. President, Message, Beginning of die First Session of the Fifty-ninth Congress
(Dec. 5,1905), pp. 14-15.
3 President, Message, Beginning of the First Session of die Fifty-seventh Congress
(Dec. 3,1901), pp. 10 and 12.
4 President, M essage, Beginning of the Third Session of die Fifty-eighth Congress
(Dec. 6,1904), p. 5.
5 W illiam Howard Taft Papers, M anuscript Division, Library o f Congress,
C harles P. Neill to Rudolph Forster, A ssistant to Secretary to President, S e p t 12,
6 U .S. Congress, H ouse, Com m ittee on Agriculture, Hearings: Beveridge Amend­
ment (59C, IS , 1906), pp. 94-95.
7 G eorge M. Kober, com piler, Charitable and Reformatory Institutions in the
District of Columbia (69C, 2S, Senate Docum ent 207, 1927), pp. 9-11, 20; Constance
M cLaughlin Green, Washington, Capital City, 1879-1950 (Princeton: Princeton U ni­
versity Press, 1962), p. 73.
8 Catholic University, C harles P. Neill Papers, Neill—A rticles, Neill, “The Eco­
nomic Evolution o f Soceity,” in “The Evolution o f Industry” (Washington: The
University Extension Com m ittee, Civic C enter Lectures, 1900); Green, Washington,
p. 71; W alter F. Dodd, The Government of the District of Columbia (Washington: John
Byrne & C o., 1909), p. 269.
9 Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt, An Autobiography (New \b rk : The Macmillan
C o., 1919), p. 509; Richard G . Balfe, “C harles P. Neill and the U nited States Bureau o f
Labor,” Ph.D. dissertation (University o f N otre Dame, 1956), pp. 38-39.
10 Balfe, “C harles P. N eill,” p. 58; Catholic University, Neill Papers, C orrespon­
dence, 1895-1942, Edward A . M oseley to M arshall Cushing, Nov. 22, 1904; and
Review of Reviews, January 1905, p. 9.
11 National Conference o f Charities and Correction, Proceedings, 1901, p. 376.
12 Neill, “Standard o f Living,” Charities and Commons, July 22, 1905, pp.
13 N eill, “C hild Labor at the National C apital,” in Annals of the American A cad­
emy of Political and Social Science, M arch 1906, pp. 270 ft; Charities and Commons,
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


The First Hundred Years

Mar. 3, 1906, pp. 795 ff.; and National C hild Labor Com mittee, Child Labor, A
M enace to Industry, Education, and Good Citizenship: Proceedings, 1906, pp. 12 ff.
14 N eill, “The Prospects o f Industrial Peace," Collier’s Weekly, Aug. 22,1903, p. 9.
15 N eill, “Som e Ethical A spects o f the Labor M ovem ent," in his The Social
Application of Religion (Cincinnati: Jennings and Graham , 1908), pp. 6 9 -7 0 ,7 6 ,8 3 .
16 Review of Reviews, July 1906, pp. 6-12; and William H . Harbaugh, Power and
Responsibility, The Life and Times of Theodore Roosevelt (New 'fork: Farrar, Straus and
Cudahy, 1961), pp. 255-260.
17 Roosevelt, The Letters, V ol V , p. 190, to Jam es W ilson, Secretary o f Agricul­
ture, Mar. 22, 1906; Theodore Roosevelt Papers, M anuscript Division, Library o f
Congress, Roosevelt to “My D ear Com m issioner N eill,” Mar. 22,1906; Balfe, “Charles
P. N eill,” pp. 79-82.
18 Current Literature, July 1906, pp. 1-9.
19 U . S. Congress, H ouse, Special Com m ittee to Investigate the Conditions in
the Stock Yards o f Chicago, Conditions in Chicago Stock Yards (59C, IS , H ouse Doc.
873,1906); H ouse, A griculture, Hearings: Beveridge, pp. 261-271.
20 H ouse, A griculture, Hearings: Beveridge, p. 128.
21 Current Literature, July 1906, p. 8.
22 American Federationist, May 1906, pp. 293-296; Roosevelt, The Letters, Vol. V ,
pp. 190-191, to Frank M orrison, Mar. 22,1906.
23 Roosevelt, The Letters, VoL V , pp. 379-380, to Neill, Aug. 21, 1906; Theodore
Roosevelt Papers, Neill to the President, Aug. 16, 1906, and Press Release, Sept. 19,
1906; Taft Papers, Neill to Taft, Aug. 28,1907.
24 Amalgamated M eat C utters and Butcher W orkmen, Butchers’ Journal, Septem ­
ber and O ctober 1906, p. 1.
25 International A ssociation o f M achinists, M achinists’ Monthly Journal, Novem­
ber 1906, p. 981.
26 Roosevelt, The Letters, V ol V , p. 323, to Neill, June 28, 1906; and Balfe,
“Charles P. N eill," pp. 116-119.
27 Naom i W iener Cohen, A D ual Heritage, The Public Career of O scar S. Straus
(Philadelphia: T he Jewish Publication Society o f America, 1969), pp. 158-160; O scar
S. Straus Papers, M anuscript Division, Library o f Congress, Correspondence,
Roosevelt to Straus, Jan. 18,1907.
28 Straus Papers, Diary M aterials, Vol. I, 1906-1907, p. 54, Mar. 12; Balfe,
“C harles P. N eill,” pp. 116-118.
29 Taft Papers, N eill to C harles D . H illes, Secretary to the President, Apr. 10,
1911; H ouse, Com m ittee on Appropriations, Legislative, Executive, and Judicial
Appropriation Bill for 1910, Hearings, p. 12.
30 American Federation o f Labor, Proceedings, 1907, p. 40.
31 U . S. Departm ent o f Com merce and Labor, Labor Conference (Washington:
Governm ent Printing Office, 1909), p. 26; Neill, “D istribution o f Im migrants,”
N ational Civic Federation Review, M arch-A pril 1907, p. 10.
32 Taft Papers, Neill to the President, Sept. 11,1909.
33 U . S. Com m issioner o f Labor, “Third Report o f the Com m issioner o f Labor
on Hawaii,” Bulletin (66), Septem ber 1906, p. iii; and "Fourth Report o f the Com mis­
sioner o f Labor on Hawaii,” Bulletin (94), May 1911, pp. 762-763.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


Source Notes

34 Selig Perlman and Philip Taft, History of Labor in the United States, 1896-1932,
Vol. IV , Labor Movements (New \b rk : The M acmillan C o., 1935), pp. 262-265; The
New York Times, Sept. 7,1909, p. 1, and Sept. 11,1909, p. 1.
35 A FL, Proceedings, 1909, p. 209.
36 Perlman and Taft, Labor Movements, pp. 139-143; Taft Papers, Neill to the
President, Sept. 11,1909, and Taft to Neill, S e p t 13,1909.
37 U .S. Bureau o f Labor, Report on Strike at Bethlehem Steel Works, South Bethle­
hem, Pennsylvania (61C, 2S, Senate Doc. 521,1910), pp. 10-16.
38IAM , Monthly Journal, June 1910, p. 499; The New York Times, May 12, 1910,
p .9 .
39 Bureau o f Labor, Report on Conditions of Employment in the Iron and Steel
Industry (62C, IS , Senate Doc. 110).
40 IAM , Monthly Journal, Septem ber 1911, p. 836.
41 “Report on Wages and H ours in the Iron and Steel Industry, Issued by the U .
S. Bureau o f Labor,” American Federationist, M arch 1912, p. 227; Sam uel Gom pers,
Seventy Years of Life and Labor (New 'fork: E. P. D utton, 1925), V ol II, pp. 129-130.
42 Bureau o f Labor, Report on the M iners* Strike in Bituminous Coal Field in
Westmoreland County, Pa. in 1910-11 (62C, 2S, H ouse D oc. 847, 1912), pp. 5-10,
43 Bureau o f Labor, Report on Strike of Textile Workers in Lawrence, M ass, in 1912
(62C, 2S, Senate Doc. 870, 1912), pp. 7-9; H ouse, Com m ittee on Rules, The Strike at
Lawrence, M ass., Hearings (62C, 2S, 1912), p. 3.
44 Balfe, “C harles P. N eill,” p. 150.
45 Survey, Dec. 30, 1911, p. 1407; Jan. 13, 1912, p. 1563; Mar. 9, 1912, p. 1898;
President, Message Concerning the Work of die Interior Department and Other M atters
(Feb. 2, 1912), pp. 11, 12; H ouse, Com m ittee on Labor, Hearings: Industrial Commis­
sion (62C, 2S, 1912), pp. 25-26.
46 Timothy Shea, “The Southern Pacific Strike,” Brotherhood o f Locom otive
Firemen and Enginemen, Locomotive Firem en an d Enginem en’s M agazine, February
1907, p. 265.
47 H ouse, Com m ittee on Interstate and Foreign Com merce, The Erdm an Act,
Hearings on Amendments (62C, 2S, 1912), p. 38; Sam uel P. O rth, "T he Battle Line o f
Labor,” The World’s Work, Novem ber 1912, p. 60.
48 M artin A . Knapp, “Governm ent M ediation in Railroad Labor D isputes,”
National Civic Federation, Proceedings, 1912, pp. 29,31.
49 D ept, o f Com merce and Labor, Reports, 1912, pp. 15-16; Neill, “M ediation and
A rbitration o f Railway Labor D isputes in the U nited States,” Bulletin (98), January
1912, p. 26.
50 H ouse, Com m ittee on Interstate and Foreign Com merce, Erdm an Act (1912),
pp. 21,42.
51 Frederick L. Hoffman, “Industrial A ccidents,” Bulletin (78), Septem ber 1908, p.
52 National Safety Council, Transactions, 1912, pp. 3-8; and 1913, pp. 75-79 and
53 International A ssociation for Labor Legislation, Report o f the 5th General Meet­
ing, Lucerne, 1908, A ppendix N o. 1, “Report o f the Board,” p. 47.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


The First Hundred Years

54 N ational A rchives Record G roup 40, D ept, o f Com merce, Office o f the Secretary, Secretary Cortelyou to Dr. H . Scherrer, President, International A ssociation for
Labor Legislation, May 2,1904.
55 John B. Andrews, “Phosphorus Poisoning in the M atch Industry in the U nited
States,” Bulletin (86), January 1910, pp. 31, 145-146; H ouse, Com m ittee on Interstate
and Foreign Com m erce, Hearings: Health Activities of die General Government (61C,
2S, 1910), p t V I, p .4 0 8 .
56 N A R G 40, D ep t o f Com merce, Office o f d ie Secretary, Nagel to Neill, Apr.
57 Survey, June 11, 1910, p. 427; D e c 23, 1911, p. 1397; N A R G 40, D ep t o f
Com m erce, Office o f the Secretary, Taft to Nagel, May 16, 1910, and P. Tecumseh
Sherm an to Neill, May 27,1910; and D on D . Lescohier, Working Conditions, Voi. m
o f History of Labor in the United States, 1896-1932 (New "fork: The Macmillan
Com pany, 1935), pp. 361-362.
58 Survey, Apr. 13,1912, p. 86; and Lescohier, Working Conditions, p. 362.
59 International A ssociation for Labor Legislation, Report, Lugano, 1910, p. 14;
Andrews, "R eport o f W ork: 1910, Am erican A ssociation for Labor Legislation,"
American Labor Legislation Review, January 1911, pp. 96-98.
60 A FL, Proceedings, 1910, pp. 41 and 274.
61 Isaac M. Rubinow, “A ccident Com pensation for Federal Em ployees,” Survey,
Aug. 16,1913, pp. 624-627.
62 N A R G 257, B L S, General Letter Book, V oi I, Jan. 3, 1905-M ay 16, 1905, p.
303, Neill to Lawrence O . M urray, Mar. 21,1905; VoL m , O c t 2 8 ,1905-M ay 5,1906,
pp. 209-210, Neill to Sophonisba P. Breckinridge, Jan. 29, 1906; and H ouse, A ppro­
priations, Legislative, Executive, and Judicial Bill for 1907, Hearings (Feb. 24,1906), pp.
63 H ouse, A ppropriations, L E J for 1907, p. 621.
64 Roosevelt Papers, ca. Jan. 15,1907, C . P. Neill, “Memo on C hild Labor."
65 H ouse, A ppropriations, L E J for 1907, p. 617; Congressional Record (59C, 2S),
Jan. 21,1907, p. 1458.
66 H ouse, A ppropriations, L E J for 1907, pp. 617-618.
67 Congressional Record (59C, 2S), Jan. 21,1907, pp. 1457-1458.
68 Balte, “C harles P. N eill,” p. 130.
69 Roosevelt, The Letters, V oi V , pp. 594-595, to O scar S. Straus, Feb. 20,1907.
70 N A R G 40, D ep t o f Com m erce, Office o f the Secretary, Straus to Tawney,
Feb. 21,1907.
71 The New York Commercial, May 22, 1907, p. 1, quoted in Balte, “C harles P.
N eill,* p. 133.
72 National C hild Labor Com m ittee, Third Annual Report, 1907, p. 11; American
Federation of Labor Records: The Sam uel Gompers E ra (Microfilming Corporation o f
America, 1979), Convention Files, 1909 Convention, Res. 67, Woman and C hild
Labor, G om pers to Executive C ouncil, D e c 21,1909.
73 Bureau o f Labor, Report on Conditions of Woman and Child W age-Earners in
the United States (61G, 2S, Senate D oc. 645), Voi. I, Cotton Textile Industry (1910), pp.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


Source Notes

74 Catholic University, Neill Papers, Bureau o f Labor Data, Mary McDowell to
Neill, Sept. 28,1907.
75 Summary of the Report on Condition of Woman and Child Wage Earners in the
United States, Bulletin 175 (Bureau o f Labor Statistics, 1915), p. 32.
76 Ibid., pp. 28-29.
77 Report on Condition, Vol. X V I, Fam ily Budgets of Typical Cotton'M ill Workers
(1911), p. 9.
78 Ibid., pp. 25,133-137, and 178.
79 Thom as R. Dawley, Jr., The Child that Toileth Not, The Story of a Government
Investigation (New York: Gracia Publishing C o., 1912); Daniel J. B. M itchell, “A Furor
O ver W orking Children and the Bureau o f Labor,” Monthly Labor Review, O ctober
1975, pp. 34-36.
80 Judson M acLaury, “A Senator’s Reaction to Report on W orking Women and
C hildren,” M LR, O ctober 1975, pp. 36-38; Congressional Record (62C, 3S), Jan. 24,
1912, p. 1249, and Feb. 26,1912, p. 2438.
81N A R G 174, Dept, o f Labor, Charges vs. Chas. P. Neill, O riginal Transcript,
Mar. 15,1913, pp. 36-41.
82 Ibid., p. 30.
83 Congressional Record (62C, 3S), Jan. 24,1912, p. 1249.
84 “M ore Reports Needed,” Survey, Aug. 5,1911, p. 638.
85 W arren M. Persons, “Recent Publications on Women in Industry,” Quarterly
Journal of Economics, May 1911, pp. 601,602,608.
86 A FL, Proceedings, 1911, p. 35.
87 “Seventh A nnual Report, 1911,” Child Labor Bulletin, June 1912, p. 200.
88 N A R G 174, D ep t o f Labor, Charges vs. Chas. P. Neill, Original Transcript, p.
89 Ibid., p. 48.
90 Ibid., pp. 46-51; Retail Prices, 1890 to 1911, Bulletin 105, part 1 (Bureau o f
Labor, 1912), p. 4; Retail Prices, 1907 to December 1914, Bulletin 156 (Bureau o f Labor
Statistics, 1915), p. 359.
91 Retail Prices, Bulletin 105, pp. 4-6; Retail Prices, 1890 to June 1912, Bulletin 106
(Bureau o f Labor, 1912), pp. 5-6; The Consumer Price Index, History and Techniques,
Bulletin 1517 (Bureau o f Labor Statistics, 1966), p. 2.
92 N A R G 174, D ep t o f Labor, Charges vs. Chas. P. Neill, Original Transcript, p.
93 Ibid., pp. 51-52.
94 N A R G 40, D ept, o f Com m erce, Com m ittee on Statistical Reorganization,
“Replies to the Q uestions o f the Interdepartm ental Statistical Com m ittee,” p. 7.
95 N A R G 257, B LS, General Correspondence, 1908-15, probably by Neill in
January 1910.
96 N A R G 40, D ep t o f Com merce, Office erf the Secretary, A ssistant Secretary
and Solicitor to Secretary, Dec. 13,1909.
97 N A R G 174, D ept, o f Labor, Charges vs. Chas. P. Neill, Exhibits, Exhibit A ,
G eo. A. Traylor to Sen. Lee S. Overman, Mar. 3, 1913, with “Summary o f Charges
Preferred A gajnst Charles P. N eill.”
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


The First Hundred Years

98 N A R G 174, D ep t o f Labor, Charles P. N eill, W illiam S . Waudby to William B.
W ilson, Mar. 11,1913.
99 N A R G 174, D ep t o f Labor, Charges vs. Chas. P. N eill, Tillm an to W. B.
W ilson, Mar. 8,1913; and N eill, Overm an to President Mar. 21,1913.
100 N A R G 174, D ep t o f Labor, Charges vs. Chas. P. Neill, Report, "prelim inary”
dated Mar. 20,1913, and "final” dated Mar. 27,1913.
101A FL Records (M CA), Executive C ouncil Records, M inutes, Jan. 22, 1913, p.
42; N A R G 174, D ep t o f Labor, Neill, A . B. G arretson, telegram to W. B. W ilson,
Mar. 7,1913.
101 N A R G 174, D ep t o f Labor, Neill, editorial, Washington Times, Mar. 11,1913.
103 Ibid., A . J. McKelway, telegram to President Mar. 11, 1913; National Child
Labor Com m ittee, Proceedings, 1913, p. 155.
10* Taft Papers, President to Sen. Borah, Feb. 27,1913.
105 N A R G 174, D ep t o f Labor, N eill, Ralph M. Easley, telegram to W. B. W ilson,
Mar. 6,1913.
106 Ibid., C linton Ahrord, President W orcester Loom Com pany, to the Presi­
d en t Mar. 15,1913.
107 W oodrow W ilson fbpers, M anuscript Division, Library o f Congress, W ilson
to B. R. Tillm an, Mar. 21,1913; N A R G 174, D ep t o f Labor, Neill, Com m ission, dated
Mar. 22,1913.
106 W oodrow W ilson Papers, Tillm an to W ilson, Mar. 24, 1913; Catholic Univer­
sity, N eill Papers, Correspondence re Charges, B. R Tillman to Prof. D. D . Wallace,
Mar. 13,1913; N A R G 174, D ep t o f Labor, N eill, Jam es M. Barker, Secretary, Senate,
May 1,1913.
109 The New York Times, May 14, 1913, p. 2; N A R G 174, D ep t o f Labor, Neill,
N eill to the President May 12,1913, and Neill to the Secretary o f the same date.
110 N A R G 174, D ep t o f Labor, Neill, Secretary to Neill, May 14,1913.
111 Isaac F. M arcosson, M etal M agic, The Story of the American Smelting &
Refining Company (New Tfork: Farrar, Straus and Com pany, 1949), p. 264.
112 National Civic Federation, N ational Civic Federation Review, Dec. 1, 1913, p.


113 M arguerite G reen, The N ational Civic Federation and the American Labor
Movement, 1900-1925 (W ashington: The Catholic U niversity o f Am erica Press, 1956),
pp. 456,457; Review o f Reviews, Novem ber 1922, p. 467.
114 A nthracite Board o f Conciliation, Addresses by John L. Lewis and J. B. Warriner a t 50th Anniversary Dinner, delivered O c t 1, 1953 (Hazleton, Pennsylvania), pp.
115 C atholic University, Neill Papers, Correspondence, 1895-1942, Suprem e
C ourt o f the D istrict o f Colum bia to Dr. C harles P. Neill, Jan. 9,1920.
116 John O ’Grady, Catholic Charities in the United States, History and Problems
(W ashington: National Conference o f Catholic Charities, 1930), pp. 336-338 and
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


Source Notes

Chapter IV.

Royal M eeker

1 Royal M eeker, “The Relation o f Workmen’s Com pensation to O ld Age,
Health, and Unem ployment Insurance,” International A ssociation o f Industrial A cci'
dent Boards and Com m issions, Proceedings, 1916, Bulletin 210 (Bureau o f Labor
Statistics, 1917), p. 248.
2 W oodrow W ilson Papers, M anuscript Division, Library o f Congress, M eeker to
W ilson, May 10, 1905; W ilson to M eeker, S e p t 13, 1911, and Jan. 3, 1912; and
National Archives Record G roup 174, D ep t o f Labor, M eeker, M eeker to W. B.
W ilson, Aug. 21,1913, and Aug. 28,1913.
3 W ilson Papers, W ilson to M eeker, Dec. 3, 1912; M eeker to the President, Mar.
21, 1913; and the President to M eeker, Mar. 26, 1913; also Ray Stannard Baker,
Woodrow Wilson, Life and Letters: President, 1913-1914 (Garden City, New \fork:
Doubleday, Doran &. C o., Inc., 1931), pp. 146-147.
4 W ilson Papers, President to M eeker, June 23,1913.
5 The New York Times, July 23, 1913, p. 6; N A R G 257, Bureau o f Labor Statistics,
General Correspondence, 1908-15, C . H . Verrill to M rs. Elizabeth L. Otey, O c t 10,
6 N A R G 174, Dept, o f Labor, M eeker, M eeker to W. B. W ilson, June 23,1913.
7 Ibid., M eeker to W. B. W ilson, July 7, 1913; W ilson Papers, President to
M eeker, June 23,1913.
8 M eeker, “The Promise o f American Life,” Political Science Quarterly, Decem­
ber 1910, pp. 689,695,697,699.
9 M eeker, “The Work o f the Federal Bureau o f Labor Statistics in Its Relation to
the Business o f the C ountry,” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social
Science, January 1916, pp. 265 and 271.
10 Ibid., pp. 263 and 265.
11 Ibid., p. 264.
12 M eeker, “A ddress,” Proceedings of die American Association of Public Employ­
ment Offices, Bulletin 192 (Bureau o f Labor Statistics, 1916), pp. 42-47.
13 U . S. Congress, Joint Com m ittees on Labor, Hearings, N ational Employment
System (66C, IS , 1919), pp. 326, 333.
14 M eeker, “Social Insurance in the U ntied States,” National Conference of
Social W ork, Proceedings, 1917, pp. 528, 534-535; comments, Proceedings of die Con­
ference on Social Insurance, Bulletin 212 (Bureau o f Labor Statistics, 1917), p. 912; and
“Distributing the Burden o f Sickness,” American Labor Legislation Review, June 1918,
p. 158.
15 M eeker, comments, Proceedings of die Conference on Social Insurance (212), pp.
16 Congress, H ouse, A ppropriations Com mittee, Legislative, Executive, and Judi­
cial Appropriation Bill, 1915, Hearings, p. 770; M eeker, “Lacks in Workmen’s Com ­
pensation,” American Labor Legislation Review, March 1919, pp. 35, 39-44; “Social
Insurance,” National Conference, Proceedings, 1917, pp. 531-533; and “The Relation
o f W orkmen’s Com pensation,” pp. 245-247.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


The First Hundred Years

17 M eeker, “Minimum Requirem ents in Com pensation Legislation," IA IA BC,
Proceedings, 1919, Bulletin 273 (Bureau o f Labor Statistics, 1920), p. 14 (also in
Monthly Labor Review, Novem ber 1919, pp. 280 ff).
18 Senate, Com m ittee on the D istrict o f Colum bia, Hearings, Child Labor in the
District of Columbia (66C, 2S, 1920), pp. 5 9,61.
19 M eeker, “Com pulsory C ivic Service," The New York Times, Apr. 6,1913, V , 4.
20 M eeker, “The Connection o f O ur School System and O ur Prison System ,”
n.d., pp. 5-6.
21 M eeker, “Com pulsory C ivic Service."
22 M eeker, “A Plan for M ore Effective Cooperation Between State and Federal
Labor O ffices," A ssociation o f Governm ental Labor Officials o f the U nited States and
Canada, Proceedings, 1915, p. 83; “T he Promise o f American Life,” p. 697.
23 M eeker, “Em ployees’ Representation in Management o f Industry,” American
Economic Review, M arch 1920 (Supplem ent), pp. 96 and 101.
24 N A R G 174, D ep t o f Labor, Departm ent Com m ittee on Correlation, M inutes
o f M eeting, Apr. 1, 1914, p. 2; Interm ediate Report N o. 2, May 28, 1914, p. 2;
M emorandum, W. B. W ilson, Secretary, Aug. 14,1914.
25 Senate, Report, Bureau of Labor Safety (Senate R ep t 712, 63C , 2S, 1914);
H ouse, Com m ittee on Labor, Report, Bureau of Labor Safety (House R ep t 44, 64C,
IS , 1916), p. 1; N A R G 174, D ep t o f Labor, Bureau o f Labor Safety, “A ctivities o f the
Federal Governm ent A long the Lines o f Safety and Sanitation,” apparently by F. H.
Bird, m arked C . M. E. 12.15.14.
26 N A R G 174, D ep t o f Labor, Bureau o f Labor Safety, Secretary to Rep. David J.
Lewis o f M aryland, Aug. 27,1913.
27 N A R G 174, D ep t o f Labor, W omen's Bureau, Secretary to M iss Agnes Nestor
o f N ational Women’s Trade U nion League, May 24, 1916: M iss Zip S . Falk to the
Secretary, July 19, 1916; Edith A bbott, review, Summary of die Report on Condition of
Woman and Child Wage Earners in the United States (that is, BulL 175, 1916),
American Economic Review, Septem ber 1916, pp. 663-664.
28 N A R G 174, D ep t o f Labor, Women’s Bureau, Stew art to Secretary, June 27,
1916, transm itted by Secretary to Rep. Lewis, June 28.
29 N A R G 174, D ep t o f Labor, Women’s Bureau, Secretary to Rep. Lewis, July
30 H ouse, Com m ittee on Labor, Woman’s Division in Department of Labor
(House R ep t 1205,64C , 2S, 1916), pp. 3-4.
31 N A R G 257, B L S, General Correspondence, 1916-24, M eeker to Mary Van
Kleeck, Dec. 15,1916.
32 H ouse, A ppropriations, LE J for 1918, p. 495; Joint Com m ittees on Labor,
Hearings, Women’s Bureau (66C, 2S, 1920), p. 40.
33 W ilson Papers, M eeker to Tumulty, O ct. 20,1913.
34 H ouse, A ppropriations, L E J for 1915, p. 750; W ilson Papers, M eeker to Presi­
d en t Aug. 15,1914; Senate, A ppropriations, L E J for 1916, p. 227.
35 N A R G 174, D ep t o f Labor, D ep t Com m ittee on Correlation, Stew art
“Report on Jurisdictional Conflict Between the Bureau o f Labor Statistics and the
Public H ealth Service, A Bureau in the Treasury D epartm ent” pp. 1, 7, 14; Advisory
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


Source Notes

Council, M eeker, for the Secretary, June 24, 1918; Senate, A ppropriations, L E J for
1916, p. 228.
36 W ilson Papers, M eeker to Tumulty, Feb. 4 and Feb. 6,1914.
37 N A R G 174, D ept, o f Labor, C hild Labor Law, Stewart to Secretary, Sept. 12,
38 W ilson Papers, M eeker to President, Feb. 16,1915.
39 U . S. D ept, o f Labor, Report Relating to Section 10 of Act Creating die Department of Labor (64C, 2S, H ouse Docum ent 1906,1917).
^ M eek er, “A ddress," National Safety Council, Proceedings, 1914, p. 76; com­
ments, “The Statistical W ork o f the U nited States Governm ent," American Economic
Review, M arch 1915 (Supp.), p. 173.
41 M eeker, “A Plan for M ore Effective Cooperation,” p. 80.
42 M eeker, “Introduction,” IA IA BC , Proceedings, 1916 (210), p. 6.
43 M eeker, “A ddress,” American Association of Public Employment Offices (192),
pp. 46-47.
44 M eeker, comments, “The Statistical W ork," p. 174.
45 Retail Prices, 1907 to December 1914, Bulletin 156 (Bureau o f Labor Statistics,
1915), pp. 357,364.
46 Irving Fisher, assisted by Harry G . Brown, The Purchasing Power of Money
(New York: Macmillan C o., 1913), pp. 203,228; Wesley C . M itchell, “The Making and
U sing o f Index Num bers,” Bulletin 173 (Bureau o f Labor Statistics, 1915), pp.
47 M eeker, “O n the Best Form o f Index Num ber,” American Statistical A ssocia­
tion Journal, Septem ber 1921, p. 915.
48 Senate, Appropriations, LE J for 1915, p. 92; W ilson Papers, M eeker to Presi­
dent, Mar. 23, and July 8,1914.
49 N A R G 174, D ep t o f Labor, Stew art to Secretary, Jan. 9, 1914; Senate A ppro­
priations, LE J for 1916, p. 185; Union Scale of Wages and Hours of Labor, M ay 1,
1915, Bulletin 194 (Bureau o f Labor Statistics, 1916), p. 222; H ouse, Appropriations,
Further Urgent Deficiency Bill, F Y 1916 (64C, IS , 1916), p. 240.
50 H ouse, A ppropriations, LE J for 1915, pp. 741,743.
51 Senate, Com m ittee on Education and Labor, Report, Cost of Living in the
District of Columbia (Senate Rept. 3 7 7 ,63C , 2S, 1914), pp. 1-2.
52 H ouse, Com m ittee on the D istrict o f Colum bia, Hearing, Authorizing and
Directing the Department of Labor to M ake an Inquiry into the Cost of Living in the
District of Columbia (64C, IS , 1916), p. 25.
53 H ouse, Com m ittee on the D istrict o f Colum bia, Hearings, Minimum Wage for
Women and Children (65C, 2S, 1918), p. 14.
54 “C ost o f Living in the D istrict o f Colum bia, Second A rticle: Summary o f
Family Expenditures,” M LR, Novem ber 1917, p. 2; “C ost o f Living in the D istrict o f
Colum bia, Fourth A rticle: W age-Earning Women, W ho They A re and W hat They
D o.” M LR, January 1918, p. 7; W illiam F. O gbura, “A nalysis o f the Standard o f Living
in the D istrict o f Colum bia in 1916,” A SA Journal, June 1919, p. 389.
55 International A ssociation on Unem ployment, Reports, Ghent: Statistics of
Unemployment, pp. 83-84.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


The First H undred Years

56 Am erican Federation o f Labor Papers, Sam uel Gom pers Letterbooks, Manu­
script D ivision, Library o f Congress, G om pers to M eeker, S e p t 9 and S e p t 12,1914.
57 H ouse, A ppropriations, L E J for 1915, p. 759.
58 “Com m ittee to D eal with Unem ploym ent," Survey, Dec. 12, 1914, p. 281;
"New "fork's Program for Unem ploym ent,” Survey, Dec. 26, 1914, p. 329; Unemploy­
ment in New folk City, New fork, Bulletin 172 (Bureau o f Labor Statistics, 1915), pp.

6- 8.
59 Unemployment in die United States, Bulletin 195 (Bureau o f Labor Statistics,
1916), p. 6; N A R G 257, B L S, G eneral Correspondence, 1908-15, Shillady to Stewart,
July 7,1915.
60 M eeker, "T he W ork," Annuls, January 1916, p. 268; "A Problem in Eclipse,”
The Annalist, Jan. 3,1916, p. 9.
61 H ouse, Com m ittee on Labor, Hearings, N ational Employment Bureau (64C,
IS , 1916), pp. 29-30; Proceedings of die Conference on Social Insurance (212, 1917), p.
62 M eeker, "T h e C ost o f Industrial A ccidents," M LR, A pril 1920, p. 9.
63 Stew art, "Inform al Rem arks,” Proceedings of die Conference of Employment
M anagers’ Association of Boston, M ass., Held M ay 10, 1916, Bulletin 202 (Bureau o f
Labor Statistics, 1916), p. 8.
64 M eeker, “T he W ork,” Annals, January 1916, p. 267.
65 M eeker, “Introduction,” Proceedings of Employment M anagers’ Conference,
Bulletin 1% (Bureau o f Labor Statistics, 1916), p. 5.
66 M eeker, “Introduction,” Proceedings of the Employment M anagers’ Conference,
Philadelphia, Pa., April 2 and 3, 1917, Bulletin 227 (Bureau o f Labor Statistics, 1917),
p. 5.
67 W ilson lepers, M eeker to President, Mar. 3,1916.
68 H ouse, Com m ittee on the Judiciary, Hearings, Federal Employees’ Compensa­
tion (63C, 2S, 1914), p. 19; Hearings, Federal Employees’ Compensation (64C, IS ,
1916), pp. 29-30; D e p t. o f Labor, Reports of the Department of Labor, 1915, pp. 97-98;
W ilson Papers, M eeker to President, Nov. 15,1915.
69 W ilson Papers, M eeker to Tumulty, Feb. 6,1914.
70 M eeker, "Introduction,” IA IA BC, Proceedings, 1916 (210), p. 5; Report of Com­
mittee on Statistics and Compensation Insurance Cost, Bulletin 201 (Bureau o f Labor
Statistics, 1916), pp. 8-9; D ep t o f Labor, Reports of die Department of Labor, 1916, pp.
71 D ept, o f Labor, Reports of the Department of Labor, 1917, p. 167.
72 M eeker, "T he C ost o f Industrial A ccidents,” p. 4.
73 Joseph Dorfm an, The Economic M ind in American Civilization, Vol. HI,
1865-1918 (New fo rk : V iking Press, 1949), p. 477.
74 N A R G 1, War Labor Policies Board, War Industries Board, Memorandum
Regarding Conference on Industrial Survey, O ct. 5,1918; Bernard M. Baruch, Ameri­
can Industry in the War, A Report of die W ar Industries Board (Washington: Govern­
ment Printing Office, 1921), p. 45.
75 N A R G 1, W LPB, Com m ittees, Statistics Com m ittee, M eetings o f June 5, 13,
and 19, 1918; Bureau o f Labor Statistics, etc., Frankfurter to Gay, June 29, 1918; and
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


Source Notes

Zenos L. Potter, “The C entral Bureau o f Planning and Statistics,” A SA Journal,
March 1919, pp. 275-276.
76 W illard E. H otchkiss and Henry R. Seager, History of the Shipbuilding Labor
Adjustment Board, 1917 to 1919, Bulletin 283 (Bureau o f Labor Statistics, 1921), p. 10.
77 George E. Barnett, “Index Num bers o f the Total C ost o f Living,” Quarterly
Journal of Economics, February 1921, p. 241.
78 W ilson Papers, Fisher to M eeker, O ct. 7, O ct. 24, Nov. 1, Nov. 9, Nov. 12,
Nov. 22, and Dec. 11, 1912; Fisher, “A Com pensated D ollar,” Quarterly Journal of
Economics, February 1913, pp. 214, 220-221.
79 N A R G 174, D ept, o f Labor, Fisher to Post, May 15,1917; M eeker to A ssistant
Secretary, July 21,1917.
80 W ilson Papers, M eeker to President, Nov. 27, 1917; Nov. 28, 1917; Dec. 1,
1917 with initials “W W ” dated Dec. 5, 1917; and May 8, 1919; N A R G 257, BLS,
A ppropriations Ledger, 1913-19.
81 H otchkiss and Seager, History (283,1921), pp. 24, 33, 39, and 44; U . S . Ship­
building Labor Adjustm ent Board, Decision as to Wages, Hours and Other Conditions
in Pacific Coast Shipyards (Oct. 1,1918), pp. 1 ,3 ,5 -6 .
82 N A R G 174, D ep t o f Labor, Seager to Post, Feb. 27,1918.
83 N ational W ar Labor Board, Bulletin 287 (Bureau o f Labor Statistics, 1921), pp.
84 N A R G 174, Dept, o f Labor, Wage Stabilization Conferences, Secretary to
President, Aug. 7,1918; Secretary to John R. A lpine, A cting President, A FL, S e p t 13,
1918; and Frankfurter to Secretary, O c t 15,1918.
85 M eeker, “The Possibility o f Com piling an Index o f the C ost o f Living,” Ameri­
can Economic Review, M arch 1919 (Supp.), pp. 109-115.
86 M eeker, “W hat Is the Am erican Standard o f Living?” National Conference o f
Social W ork, Proceedings, 1919, p. 165.
87 Ibid., p. 172.
88 “The Am erican Standard,” editorial, The New York Times, O c t 29,1919, p. 12.
89 H ugh S. Hanna, “Summary o f Increased C ost o f Living, July 1914 to June
1919,” M LR, O ctober 1919, pp. 989-996; “Index Num bers o f Changes in Wages and
C ost o f Living,” M LR, November 1919, pp. 191-193; “Changes in C ost o f Living in
the U nited States,” M LR, June 1920, pp. 76-79.
90 Barnett, “A C ritique o f Cost-of-Living Studies,” A SA Journal, Septem ber
1921, p. 909.
91 M eeker, “W hat Is the Am erican Standard?” National Conference, Proceedings,
1919, pp. 164-165; “Need for and U ses o f a Standard Minimum Quantity Budget,”
National Conference o f Social W ork, Proceedings, 1920, p. 83.
92 H ouse, Congressional Joint Com m ission on Reclassification o f Salaries, Report
(66C, 2S, 1920, H ouse R ep t 686), pp. 40-41,178-179,196.
93 “Tentative Q uantity-Cost Budget Necessary to Maintain Family o f Five in
W ashington, D .C .,” M LR, December 1919, pp. 22-25; “Q uantity-Cost Budget Neces­
sary to M aintain Single Man or Woman in W uhington, D .C .," M LR, January 1920,
pp. 35 ff.
94 “Minimum Quantity Budget Necessary to M aintain a W orker’s Family o f Five
in H ealth and Decency,” M LR, June 1920, pp. 1-18.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


The First Hundred Years

95 D ep t o f Labor, A nnual Report, 1920, p. 263.
96 U . S. President, Address, The Cost of Living (Aug. 8, 1919), p. 8; Senate,
Secretary of die Treasury, Letter: Estimate of Appropriation to Investigate Cost of Living
(Senate R ep t 108, 66C , IS , 1919), p. 2; N A R G 174, D ep t o f Labor, M onthly Report
o f Bureau, Louis F. Post, M emorandum for die Secretary, S e p t 27,1919.
97 N A R G 1, W LPB, War Industries Board, M eeker and Lam son, “Memorandum
in re the N eed for M ore Com plete Wage Statistics,” O ct. 28,1918.
96 Ibid., Secretary o f Labor and Chairm an, War Industries Board, to President,
Nov. 4, 1918, and M eeker to Secretary, Nov. 5, 1918; Bureau o f Labor Statistics, etc.,
M eeker to Gay, Nov. 26,1918.
99 Industrial Survey in Selected Industries in the United States, 1919, A Preliminary
Report, Bulletin 265 (Bureau o f Labor Statistics, 1920), pp. 5 ,24.
100 W. C . M itchell, comments, "T he Statistical W ork,” American Economic
Review, M arch 1915 (Supp.), p. 182.
101 H ouse, A ppropriations, L E ] for 1918, pp. 490-491.
102 N A R G 257, B L S, General Correspondence, 1916-1924, Stewart to Hon.
Reed Sm oot, Feb. 15,1917.
103 H ouse, A ppropriations, L E J for 1919, pp. 1011-1013; LE J for 1920, p. 589.
104 Survey, Mar. 27,1920, p. 798.
105 H ouse, Com m ittee on Reform in the C ivil Service, Hearing, Retirement of
Employees in the Federal Classified Service (64C, IS , 1916), pp. 7-8.
106 N A R G 257, B L S, General Correspondence, 1916-1924, M eeker to Senate
Com m ittee on A ppropriations, Jan. 22,1919.
107 “Introductory,” M LR, July 1915, p. 6.
108 The Official Bulletin, July 8, 1918, p. 9; N A R G 174, D ep t o f Labor, Secre­
tary’s Cabinet, M eeker, Memorandum for the Secretary, Aug. 10, 1918; Bureau o f
Labor Statistics, 1916-21, Secretary, Memo for the Com m issioner, O ct. 5,1918.
109 N A R G 257, B L S, General Correspondence, 1916-1924, M eeker to Secretary,
May 15,1920; M eeker, "Announcem ent,” M LR, July 1920, p. ii.
110 N A R G 174, D ep t o f Labor, M eeker to Secretary, May 24,1919.
111 D ept, o f Labor, Reports of die Department of Labor, 1919, pp. 216-217.
112 H ouse, A ppropriations, LE J for 1922, p. 1275.
113 W ilson Papers, M eeker to President, May 5, 1920; M eeker to President, June
114 W ilson Pipers, W. W ilson to M eeker, June 19,1920.
115 “A nnouncem ent," M LR, A ugust 1920, p. H.

Chapter V.

Ethelbert Stewart

1 C hester M cA. D esder, “A Coffin W orker and the Labor Problem, Ethelbert
Stew art and Henry Dem arest Lloyd,” L ab or History, Summ er 1971.
2 National A rchives Record G roup 174, Departm ent o f Labor, C h ief C lerk’s File,
Louis F. Post, A ssistant Secretary, to A ll Officers and Employees o f the Bureau of
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


Source Notes

Im migration and Immigration Service in the Departm ent o f Labor, Mar. 11,1920, and
various correspondence between Post and Stewart in M arch and A pril 1920.
3 W arren G . H arding Papers, M anuscript Division, Library o f Congress, O hio
H istorical Society Microfilm, Jam es J. Davis to the President, Mar. 17,1921.
4 Ethelbert Stew art Papers, University o f N orth Carolina, Southern H istorical
C ollection (Microfilm), General Correspondence, Apr. 22,1927; Jam es J. Davis Papers,
M anuscript Division, Library o f Congress, "Introductory Statem ent o f Secretary o f
Labor Jam es J. Davis before the M eeting o f the Advisory Com m ittee on Employment
Statistics, O ct. 22,1930."
5 Stewart, "T he Value o f Labor Statistics,” International A ssociation o f G overn'
mental Labor Officials, Proceedings, 1918, pp. 64-65.
6 G ilbert E. Hyatt, "A Human Statistician,” The Locomotive Engineers Journal,
January 1927, p. 17.
7 Stew art Papers, Speeches and Essays, Undated, "C ost o f Living For W hat?” pp.
4 ,6 .
8 Stewart, “The Value,” IA G LO , Proceedings, 1918, pp. 62-63; “The Future o f
Labor Statistics,” IA G LO , Proceedings, 1921, pp. 1 5,19,21.
9 N A R G 257, Bureau o f Labor Statistics, Correspondence with Secretary o f
Labor, 1925-27,1929, Com m issioner, Memo for Secretary, Aug. 8,1929.
10 Stew art, "N eed for Statistics as a M easure o f Industrial Changes,” American
Federationist, January 1930, pp. 89-90.
11 Stewart, “T he Value,” p. 64; “The Wastage o f M en," IA G LO , Proceedings,
1924 (also Monthly Labor Review, July 1924), p. 4; Stewart Papers, Speeches and
Essays, Undated, “The Wage System and the Interest System ,” pp. 3-4.
12 Stewart, “O ccupational D iseases and Workmen’s Com pensation Laws,” MLR,
February 1930, p. 95.
13 Stewart, “Long W orking H ours o f C ertain M unicipal Em ployees," M LR,
A ugust 1929, p. 1; U .S. Congress, H ouse, Com m ittee on Labor, Employment of Labor
on Federal Construction Work, Hearings (71C, 2S, 1930), pp. 16-17.
14 Stewart, “D iscussion: Women and Children in Industry," IA G LO , Proceedings, 1923, p. 41.
15 Stew art, “A Family W age-Rate vs. A Family Social Endowment Fund,” Social
Forces, Septem ber 1927, pp. 121,123-125.
16 Stewart, “Ultim ate Effects o f Autom atic Machine Production,* M LR, March
1929, p. 49.
17 Stew art Papers, Speeches and Essays, “Report to Second National O utdoor
Recreation Conference,” p. 6; Baltimore Sun, Jan. 21, 1926; Washington Daily News,
Apr. 16,1926; Jefferson County Union, Fort A tkinson, Wts., Apr. 23,1926.
18 Stewart, “Present Situation in Textiles," American Federationist, June 1929, p.
19 Bureau o f Efficiency, Report on die Statistical Work o f the United States Government, 1922, pp. 5-16.
20 “Final Report o f the Joint Com m ittee o f the American S tatistical and the
American Economic A ssociations to the D irector o f the Census, 1922,” American
Statistical A ssociation Journal, M arch 1923, pp. 641-642.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


The First H undred Years

21 The New York T im «, May 11, 1921, p. 3; Jan. 11, 1922, p. 11; “The Labor
Departm ent A ttacked,” Survey, June 25,1921, pp. 426-427.
22 N A R G 174, Departm ent o f Labor, C h ief C lerk’s File, H erbert H oover to the
Secretary, June 18, 1921; Stew art, Memorandum for the Secretary, June 20, 1921;
Secretary to the Secretary o f Com m erce, June 21,1921.
23 Departm ent o f Labor, A nnual Report, 1923, p. 59; N A R G 174, D O L, C hief
C lerk’s File, Lord to Secretary, May 22, 1925, and Stew art to C h ief C lerk, May 26,
24 D ept, o f Labor, Annual Report, 1927, pp. 59-61.
25 U .S. Personnel Classification Board, Closing Report of Wage and Personnel
Survey, 1931, pp. 231-232; Report of Wage and Personnel Survey, Field Survey Division
(70C, 2S, H ouse D oc. 602,1929), pp. 365-367.
26 H ugh S. Hanna, “T he International C ost o f Living Inquiry,” Annuls of the
American Academy of Political and Social Science, M arch 1933, pp. 162-164.
27 H ouse, A ppropriations, Departments of Commerce and Labor Appropriation
Bill, FY 1923, Hearings (67C, 2S, 1922), p. 780; W arren M. Persons and Eunice S.
Coyle, "A Com m odity Price Index o f Business Cycles,” The Review of Economic
Statistics, Novem ber 1921; and articles in subsequent years.
28 H ouse, Com m ittee on Banking and Currency, Stabilization, Hearings (69C, IS,
1926), pp. 605, 615, 619-621; Stabilization of Purchasing Power of Money, Hearings
(67C, 4S, 1922); Stabilization of Commodity Prices, Hearings (72C, IS , 1932), p. 262.
29 “A C onstructive Program for Price Statistics,* A SA Journal, M arch 1932, pp.
74-78; Senate, Com m ittee on M anufactures, Establishment of N ational Economic
Council, Hearings (72C , IS , 1931), pp. 583 ff.
30 Com m issioner o f Labor Statistics, A nnual Report, 1930, p. 26.
31 Congressional Record (67C, IS), Aug. 5, 1921, p. 4695; N A R G 174, D O L,
C h ief C lerk’s File, Stew art to Secretary, Aug. 12, 1921, and Secretary to President o f
the Senate, Aug. 12,1921.
32 The New York Times, S e p t 15,1921, pp. 14 and 29; “‘Normalcy* in Unem ploy­
m ent,” New Republic, O c t 11,1922, p. 163.
33 Ralph G . H urlin and W illiam A . Berridge, eds., Employment Statistics for the
United States (New fo rk : R ussell Sage Foundation, 1926), pp. 24-30.
34 N A R G 174, D O L, C h ief C lerk’s File, H enning to D irector General o f
Employment Service, June 3, 1922, and Secretary, M emorandum for Mr. Jones, Mar.
4,1924; N A R G 257, B L S, G eneral Correspondence, 1916-1924, Stew art to Henning,
Aug. 2,1922.
35 “Com m ittee on Governm ental Labor Statistics o f the American Statistical
A ssociation, Report for 1924,” A SA Journal, M arch 1925, p. 96.
36 foul H . D ouglas, review o f Employment Statistics for die United States, Journal
of Political Economy, A ugust 1928, p. 523; Royal M eeker, "T he Dependability and
M eaning o f Unem ployment and Employment Statistics in the U nited States,”
H arvard Business Review, July 1930, p. 396; Miriam E. West, Employment Indexes in
die United States and C an ad a (American Statistical A ssociation, Com m ittee on G ov­
ernm ental Labor Statistics, 1929), p. 8; “M iscellaneous N otes,” A SA Journal, Septem ­
ber 1928, pp. 324-325; Berridge, “Employment and the Buying Power o f Consum ers,”
The Review of Economic Statistics, Novem ber 1930, pp. 1 8 6 ,187n.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


Source Notes

37 Congressional Record (70C, IS), Mar. 26, 1928, pp. 5337-5338; The New 'York
Tim es, Feb. 16,1928, p. 2; Mar. 27,1928, p. 1; Mar. 28,1928, p. 13; and Apr. 21,1928,
p. 16.
38 Senate, Com m ittee on Education and Labor, Unemployment in the United
States, Hearings (70C, 2S, 1929), pp. 179-187; also Causes of Unemployment, Report
(70C, 2S, Sen. R ep t 2072,1929), p. XV.
39 Senate, Education and Labor, Unemployment, pp. 491-517.
40 The New York Times, July 14, 1929, p. 20, and July 16, 1929, p. 12; DepL o f
Labor, Annual Report, 1930, p. 89.
41 Joseph W. Duncan and W illiam C . Shelton, Revolution in United States Govern­
ment Statistics, 1929-1976 (U .S. Departm ent o f Com merce, Office o f Federal Statisti'
cal Policy and Standards, 1978), pp. 23—24; John Bruce Dudley, “Jam es J. Davis,
Secretary o f Labor U nder Three Presidents, 1921-1930," Ph.D. dissertation (Ball
State University, 1971), p. 275.
42 The New Ybrk Times, Jan. 22, 1930, p. 1; Mary V m Kleeck, "Employment
Statistics,” IA G LO , Proceedings, 1931, pp. 77-78; Berridge, "T he Employment Situa­
tion,” New York Times Annalist, Feb. 21,1930.
43 The New Ybrk Times, Jan. 23,1930, p. 11; Jan. 24,1930, p. 35; Feb. 9,1930, p. 1;
Feb. 20,1930, p. 24.
44 The New York Times, June 28, 1930, p. 17; July 16, 1930, p. 15; “A n Expert on
H oover’s ‘Experts,’* Neu; Republic, Aug. 20, ,1930, p. 4.
45 The New Ybrk Times, July 30,1930, p. 5; Aug. 3,1930, p. II, 18; Aug. 4,1930, p.
14; Aug. 21,1930, p. 40.
46 U .S. Advisory Com m ittee on Employment Statistics, Report, 1931, pp. 6-7,
47 Ibid., pp. 19,22.
48 Ibid., pp. 24-25.
49 Com m issioner o f Labor Statistics, Annual Report, 1932, pp. 1-5; Revised
Indexes of Factory Employment and Payrolls, 1919 to 1933, Bulletin 610 (Bureau o f
Labor Statistics, 1935).
50 D ep t o f Labor, A nnual Report, 1923, pp. 59,61.
51 Stewart, "N eed o f a M ore Definite Background for Statistics in the Chem ical
Industry," National Safety Council, Transactions, 1926, pp. 541, 544; Charles E.
Baldwin, “How to Make Statistics U niform ," IA G LO , Proceedings, 1925, p. 149.
52 H ouse, Com m ittee on Labor, Division of Safety, Hearings (69C, IS , 1926), p.
53 Congressional Record (69C, 2S), Jan. 27,1927, p. 2392.
54 Stewart, .“Efficiency o f Am erican Labor,” IA G LO , Proceedings, 1922, p. 7.
55 Irving Bernstein, The Lean Years: A History of the American Worker,
1920-1933 (Boston: H oughton Mifflin, 1960), p. 103; American Federation o f Labor,
Proceedings, 1925, p. 271.
56 D on D . Lescohier, Working Conditions, VoL III o f The History of Labor in the
United States, 1896-1932 (New 'Ybrk: The Macmillan C o., 1935), p. 334; Joseph
Dorfman, The Economic Mind in American Civilisation, VoL IV , 1918-1933 (New
Ybrk: V iking Press, 1959), pp. 66-67.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


The First Hundred Years

57 Stewart, “Efficiency o f Am erican Labor," p. 7, 17; “Labor Efficiency and Pro­
duction,” M LR, A ugust 1922, p. 110.
58 Stewart, “Labor Productivity and C osts in Certain Building Trades,” MLR,
Novem ber 1924, p. 1; D ep t o f Labor, A nnual Report, 1924, p. 155.
59 D ep t o f Labor, A nnual Report, 1927, p. 61.
60 Com m issioner o f Labor Statistics, Annual Report, 1932, pp. 6-11.
61 H ouse, A ppropriations, Hearings, Legislative, Executive, and Judicial Appropri­
ation BUI, 1922 (66C, 3S, 1920), p. 1272.
62 H ouse, A ppropriations, Appropriations, Department of Labor, 1928, Hearings
(69C, 2S, 1927), pp. 22-23.
63N A R G 257, BLS, General Correspondence, 1916-1924, Com m issioner to
Secretary, Sept. 17, 1923; Secretary to F. J. Bailey, Chairman, Personnel Classification
Board, Jan. 21, 1924; “Classification o f Statistical W orkers in Governm ent Service,”
A SA Journal, M arch 1924, pp. 91-92; “Report o f the Com mittee on Personnel
Classification in the Federal Governm ent,” A SA Journal, March 1925, p. 118.
64 “The Labor Departm ent A ttacked,” Survey, June 25, 1921, p. 426; Congres­
sional Record (67C, 2S), Dec. 7,1921, p. 119.
65 H ouse, A ppropriations, Department of Labor Appropriation Bill for 1933, H ear­
ings (72C, IS , 1932), pp. 31-34.
66 H ouse, A ppropriations, Appropriation, 1922, p. 1275.
67 N A R G 174, D O L, C h ief C lerk’s File, Stewart, Memorandum to The Acting
Secretary, June 2,1928.
68 “The Cabinet: Tin C an,” Time, July 11, 1932, p. 7; “Looking for a Job, Ethelbert Stew art Retired A fter 45 'fears," The Evening Star (Washington), July 2, 1932; The
New York Times, July 3,1932, p. 3.
69 Stew art Papers, General Correspondence, Stewart to von Klein Smid, undated
draft, July 1932; Clippings, “H onesty Penalized,” San Francisco News, July 14,1932.

Chapter V I.

Isador Lubin

1 Isador Lubin, “Recollections o f Veblen,” in C .C . Qualey, e d , Thorstein Veblen:
The C arleton College Veblen Sem inar Essays (New "fork: Colum bia University Press,
1968), pp. 139-141.
2 Lewis Lansky, “Isador Lubin: The Ideas and C areer o f a New Deal Labor
Econom ist,” Ph.D. dissertation (Case W estern Reserve University, 1976), pp. 50-60;
Isador Lubin, M iners’ W ages an d the C ost o f C oal (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1924);
Lubin and H elen Everett, The British C oal D ilem m a (New fe>rk: The Macmillan C o.,
3 Lansky, “Lubin,” pp. 100-102.
4 George M artin, M adam Secretary: Fran ces Perkins (Boston: H oughton Mifflin
C o., 1976), pp. 302-303.
5 U .S. C ongress, Senate, Com m ittee on Education and Labor, Unemployment in
the United States, H earings (70C, 2S, 1929), pp. 491-517.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


Source Notes

6 Senate, Select Com m ittee on Unem ployment Insurance, Unemployment Insur­
ance, Hearings (72C, IS , 1932), pp. 475-486.
7 U .S. Congress, Temporary National Economic Com mittee, Investigation of Con­
centration of Economic Power, Hearings, Part 1, Economic Prologue (75C, 3S, 1939), p.
79; The New York Times, Dec. 21,1938.
8 Senate, Education and Labor, F air Labor Standards Act of 1937, Joint Hearings
(75C, IS , 1937), pp. 309-363.
9 T N EC , Investigation of Concentration of Economic Power, Final Report and
Recommendations (77C, IS , Senate Doc. 35,1941), pp. 517-557.
10 Ibid., pp. 51-52.
11 Departm ent o f Labor, Annual Report, 1933, p. 41.
12 Advisory Com m ittee to the Secretary o f Labor, "Interim Report," A pril 1934,
pp. 1-2; Social Science Research Council, Com mittee on Governm ent Statistics and
Inform ation Services, Report on Government Statistics (New \b rk : SSR C , 1937), pp.
13 Dept, o f Labor, Annual Report, 1935, p. 64.
14 Dept, o f Labor, A nnual Report, 1934, p. 9.
15 National Archives Record G roup 257, Bureau o f Labor Statistics, Lubin letters
to Secretary Wallace, Mar. 26, Apr. 13, Apr. 16,1934.
16 "R eport on Labor Conditions in the Autom obile Industry,” Monthly Labor
Review, M arch 1935; Lewis L. Lorwin and A rthur W ubnig, Labor Relations Boards
(W ashington: The Brookings Institution, 1935), pp. 367,380-381; N. A . Tolies and M.
W. LaFew er, "Wages, H ours, Employment and Annual Earnings in the MotorVehicle Industry, 1934,” M LR, M arch 1936, pp. 521-553; Senate, Education and
Labor, F air Labor Standards, p. 336.
17 N A R G 257, BLS, Lubin to Perkins, Nov. 22,1933; The New York Times, Aug.
21, 1934; Jan. 30, 31, 1935. T his continued for a dozen years, until a separate Bureau
o f International Affairs was established in the Departm ent in 1946.
18 N A R G 174, Departm ent o f Labor, Perkins Files, Perkins to Roosevelt, Mar.
19 The New York Times, Nov. 9, 11, 14, 1937; Jan. 4, 5, 1938; N A R G 257, BLS,
Roosevelt to Lubin, June 16,1939.
20 N A R G 257, B LS, Lubin to H inrichs, July 1,1940.
21 N A R G 174, D O L, Perkins File, Perkins to President Roosevelt, May 2,1941.
22 A. Ford H inrichs and W illiam A . Brown, Jr., “The Planned Economy o f Soviet
R ussia,” Political Science Quarterly, Septem ber 1931, pp. 362-402.
23 “Adjustm ent o f Federal Salaries to the C ost o f Living,” M LR, February 1934,
pp. 376-379.
24 Faith M. Williams and A lice C . H anson, Money Disbursements of Wage Earners
and Clerical Workers, 1934-36, Summary Volume, Bulletin 638 (Bureau o f Labor
Statistics, 1941), p. 1.
23 "Changes in C ost o f Living from December 15, 1939 to M arch 15, 1940,”
M LR, July 1940, p. 139; "T he Bureau o f Labor Statistics, New Index o f C ost of
Living,” M LR, A ugust 1940, p. 383.
26 T N EC , Hearings, p. 79; The New York Times, Dec. 21,1938.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


The First Hundred Years

27 Fam ily Spending and Saving in Wartime, Bulletin 822 (Bureau o f Labor Statis­
tics, 1945); “Expenditures and Savings o f C ity Fam ilies in 1944," M LR, January 1946.
28 Bureau o f Labor Statistics A nnual Conference with Research D irectors of
National and International U nions, Proceedings, 1941, p. 62.
29 B LS A nnual Conference with Research D irectors, Proceedings, 1942, pp. 43,
30 N A R G 257, B LS, H inrichs to William H . Davis, O ct. 16,1942.
31 N A R G 257, B LS, Davis to H inrichs, O c t 21,1942.
32 Kathryn S. A m ow , The Attack on the Cast-ofiLiving Index (Washington, D .C .:
Com m ittee on Public Adm inistration C ases, 1951), p. 61.
33 Ibid., pp. 61-62.
34 B LS A nnual Conference with Research Directors, Proceedings, 1943, p. 64.
35 Special Com m ittee o f the Am erican Statistical A ssociation, “A n A ppraisal o f
the U .S. Bureau o f Labor Statistics Cost-of-Living Index, Released O ct. 10, 1943,”
Am erican Statistical A ssociation Journal, December 1943, pp. 387-405.
36 N A R G 257, B LS, Davis to Perkins, O ct. 19,1943.
37 Office o f Economic Stabilization, Report of die President's Committee on the Cost
of Living, 1945, p. 2.
38 Ibid.
39 Ibid., p. 3; G eorge Meany and R. J. Thom as, Cost of Living, Recommended
Report for the Presidential Committee on the Cost of Living (Washington: C ongress of
Industrial Organizations, 1944), p. 4.
40 Office o f Economic Stabilization, Report, pp. 3-4.
41 Joseph C . G oulden, Meany (New fo rk : Atheneum Publishers, 1972), pp.
42 “C ost o f Living in Large C ities, May 1944,” M LR, July 1944, p. 180; Am ow,
The Attack, p. 134.
43 American Federationist, Weekly News Service, June 20,1944.
44 “Report o f the Technical Com m ittee A ppointed by the Chairman o f the
President's Com m ittee on the C ost o f Living, June 15, 1944,” in Office o f Economic
Stabilization, Report, pp. 261-263 and 295.
45 Office o f Econom ic Stabilization, Report, pp. 12-35.
46 William Green, “Am erica’s Wage Policy,” American Federationist, March 1945,
pp. 3-4.
47 N A R G 257, B LS, H inrichs to Perkins, Jan. 31, 1945; Perkins to H inrichs,
Memo o f February 8,1945.
48 Workers’ Budgets in the United States: City Fam ilies and Single Persons, 1946
and 1947, Bulletin 927 (Bureau o f Labor Statistics, 1948).
49 A . F. H inrichs, Wages in Cotton-Goods M anufacturing, Bulletin 663 (Bureau o f
Labor Statistics, 1938), p. X I.
50 D ep t o f Labor, A nnual Report, 1936, p. 77; 1939, pp. 74-75.
51 Federal Register, May 18,1943, p. 6490.
52 N A R G 174, D O L, Perkins Files, Davis to Perkins, June 1,1943, and Perkins to
Davis, June 16,1943.
53 N A R G 257, B LS, Standing Com m ittee o f U nion Research D irectors, Subcom ­
mittee on the Release o f Wage Inform ation, Aug. 26,1943.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


Source Notes

54 Robert J. Myers, Harry O ber, and Lily Mary David, “Wartime Wage Move­
m ents and U rban Wage-Rate C hanges,” M LR, O ctober 1944, pp. 684-705; Activities
of the Bureau of Labor Statistics in World W ar II (Bureau o f Labor Statistics, 1947), pp.
90-92; H . M. Douty, “A Century o f Wage Statistics: The B LS Contribution,” M LR,
Novem ber 1984, p. 21.
55 N A R G 257, B LS, A . F. H inrichs to Lubin, Apr. 2,1935.
56 N A R G 257, B L S, Lubin to Perkins, S e p t 3,1935.
57 “Extent and Characteristics o f Com pany U nions: Preliminary Report,” M LR,
O ctober 1935, pp. 865-876; N A R G 257, B LS, N oel Sargent, Secretary, National
A ssociation o f M anufacturers to Lubin, O c t 11, 1935, and Lubin to Sargent, O c t 14,
1935; Journal of Commerce, O c t 15,1935.
58 D ept, o f Labor, A nnual Report, 1940, p. 100.
59 Procedures Used in Compiling Monthly Statistics Relating to Employment and
Pay Rolls (Bureau o f Labor Statistics, May 1945), p. 1; D ep t o f Labor, A nnual Report,
1946, p. 57.
60 Handbook of Labor Statistics, Bulletin 694 (Bureau o f Labor Statistics, 1942),
pp. 182-183.
61 Joseph W. Duncan and W illiam C . Shelton, Revolution in United States Govern­
ment Statistics, 1926-1976 (U .S. Departm ent o f Com merce, Office o f Federal Statisti­
cal Policy and Standards, 1978), p. 38.
62 Lester R. Frankel and J. Stevens Stock, “O n the Sam ple Survey o f Unem ploy­
m ent,” A SA Journal, M arch 1942; John E. Bregger, "T h e C urrent Population Survey,
A H istorical Perspective and B L S’ R ole,” M LR, June 1984, pp. 8-9.
63 Handbook, pp. 183-184.
64 For example, Herman B. Byer, “Employment Created by PWA C onstruction,”
M LR, O ctober 1936, pp. 838-845.
65 D ept, o f Labor, Annual Report, 1941, pp. 82-83.
66 N A R G 257, B LS, Lubin to Secretary, Jan. 26,1940; President to Secretary, Jan.
26,1940; William H. M cReynolds to Sidney Hillm an, June 21,1940.
67 Jerom e Cornfield, W. Duane Evans, and M arvin Hoffenberg, “Full Employ­
ment Patterns, 1950,” Part 1, M LR, February 1947; ftr t 2, M LR, M arch 1947; Duncan
and Shelton, Revolution, pp. 109-111; Activities in World W ar II, pp. 81-84.
68 N A R G 257, B LS, Boris Shishkin to Lubin, Aug. 23, 1935, enclosing copy o f
letter from William G reen to Perkins, Aug. 20,1935.
69 D ept, o f Labor, Annual Report, 1939, p. 77.
70 Activities in World W ar II, p. 144.
71 H ouse, A ppropriations Com m ittee, Department o f Labor Appropriation Bill for
1935, Hearing (73C, 2S, 1934), p. 11.
72 Ibid., p. 55.
73 Ibid., pp. 71-72.
74 Lubin, “Governm ent Employment as a Professional C areer in Econom ics,”
American Economic Review, M arch 1937 (Supplement).
75 D ept, o f Labor, Annual Report, 1937, p. 77.
76 N A R G 174, D O L, Perkins Files, Secretary to die President, Aug. 23, 1933;
Secretary to Hugh Johnson, Aug. 7, 1933; Resolution o f the Central Statistical Board,
Aug. 14, 1933.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


The First Hundred Years

77 R uth A ull, The Content o f NIRA A dm inistrative Legislation, Part A , Executive
an d A dm inistrative O rders (Office o f National Recovery Adm inistration, Division o f
Review, W ork M aterials No. 35,1936), p. 18.
78 N A R G 257, B LS, Roscoe Edlund, A ssociation o f American Soap and Glycer­
ine Producers, Inc., to Lubin, Mar. 22,1934; Lubin to Edlund, Apr. 4,1934.
79 N A R G 257, B LS, transcript o f meeting May 19,1934.
80 N A R G 257, B LS, Lubin to Andrew C ourt, Apr. 13, 1936; Lubin to Stephen
DuBrul, General M otors, Apr. 13, 1936; D uBrul to Lubin, July 28, 1937; Lubin to
D uBrul, July 30, 1937; C ourt to Lubin, Aug. 17, 1937; Lubin to C ourt, Aug. 21 and
Sept. 11,1937; Lubin to W. J. Cronin, Dec. 2,1937.
81 B LS A nnual Conference with Research Directors, Proceedings, 1940, p. 1.
82 N A R G 174, D O L, Schwellenbach Files, Lubin to President, Jan. 22, 1946, and
President replies, Jan. 24,1946.
83 M artin, M adam Secretary, pp. 464-465; N A R G 257, BLS, Office o f Publica­
tions, Statem ent o f Lewis B. Schwellenbach for release Sept. 6,1945.
84 N A R G 174, D O L, Schwellenbach Files, M urray to Schwellenbach, Jan. 29,
1946; The New York Tim es, Jan. 26, 1946; Mar. 29, 1946, p. 42; Mar. 30, 1946, p. 14;
New York H erald Tribune, Feb. 25,1946.
85 N A R G 174, D O L, Schwellenbach Files, Lubin to Schwellenbach, Feb. 26,
1946; and Lubin to Jim Abraham son, Feb. 27,1946.
86 N A R G 174, D O L, Schwellenbach Files, Letters to Schwellenbach from Wes­
ley C . M itchell, Feb. 27, 1946; Frederick C . M ills, Feb. 28, 1946; other letters from
Royal M eeker, Mar. 13, 1946; W illiam A . Berridge, M etropolitan Life Insurance C o.,
Mar. 4, 1946; Senator Wayne M orse, Mar. 29, 1946; J. J. M oran, American U nion o f
Telephone W orkers, Apr. 2, 1946; and M orris L. C ooke to the President, Mar. 19,
87 N A R G 174, D O L, Schwellenbach Files, M emorandum from Hinrichs to the
Secretary, May 22,1946; Schwellenbach to H inrichs, May 23,1946.
88 N A R G 174, D O L, Schwellenbach Files, H inrichs to Schwellenbach, July 1,
1946; Schwellenbach to H inrichs, July 2,1946.
89 The W ashington Post, July 3,1946.
90 N A R G 174, D O L, Schwellenbach Files, Edwin E. W itte to Schwellenbach,
July 26,1946.

Chapter V II.

Ewan Clague

1Aryness Joy Wickens, "Statistics and the Public Interest,” American Statistical
Association Journal, March 1953, pp. 1-14.
2 Ewan Clague, The Bureau of Labor Statistics (New 'fork: Frederick A. Praeger
Publishers, 1968), p. 26.
3 Clague, “The Program of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics,” International
Statistical Conference, Proceedings: International Statistical Institute, 1947, pp.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


Source Notes

* Frederick C . M ills and Clarence D. Long, The Statistical Agencies of the Federal
Government (New "fork: National Bureau o f Economic Research, 1949), pp. 54, 57-59,
97-99, and 128-129.
5 U .S. Com m ission on Organization o f the Executive Branch o f the Govern­
ment, Department of Labor, March 1949, pp. 16-17.
6 National Archives Record G roup 257, Bureau o f Labor Statistics, Ewan Clague
to the U nder Secretary, Feb. 10,1950.
7 N A R G 174, U .S. Departm ent o f Labor, M itchell, 1954, Leo W erts to John J.
Gilhooley, Nov. 4, 1954, covering “Recommendations o f Program &. Organization
Consultants, 1954,” including “Recommendations Concerning Employment and
Unem ploym ent Statistics (9/13/54).”
8 N A R G 174, U SD O L, Deputy U nder Secretary, M itchell, Secretary’s Instruc­
tion N o. 57, “Responsibility for Statistical Standards,” July 14, 1955; Records o f
Deputy U nder Secretary M illard C ass, Sam uel R. Pierce, Jr., to C ass, Aug. 31, 1955,
and U nder Secretary to C ass, May 12, 1960, covering “B LS Statem ent on C onsult­
ants’ Recom m endations.”
9 Jam es P. M itchell, “A Prefatory N ote,” Monthly Labor Review, January 1955, p.


10 N A R G 257, BLS, D ep t o f Labor Publications Program, “The Scope o f this
Report” (apparently Novem ber 1956) and Lodge and C ass, “Departm ent o f Labor
Publications Program ,” Feb. 26,1957.
11 N A R G 257, B LS, M LR Planning Com m ittee, 1951—, U nder Secretary to
Clague, “Monthly Labor Review," O ct. 18,1955; D ep t o f Labor Publications Program,
Lawrence R. Klein to Philip A m ow , “O ct. 3, 1957, M eeting o f the Departmental
Publications Com m ittee,” O ct. 4,1957.
12 N A R G 174, U SD O L, W. W illard Wirtz, 1964, “Introduction, The C ost o f
Departm ental Publications” (apparently John W. Leslie, Jan. 8, 1964); N A R G 257,
BLS, Dept, o f Labor Publications Policy, Wirtz, memorandum for Kermit Gordon,
D irector, Bureau o f the Budget, Jan. 23,1964.
13 N A R G 174, U SD O L , Wirtz, 1964, “N otes on Secretary’s Staff M eeting, Dec.
28, 1964”; N A R G 257, B LS, Monthly Labor Review, “M inutes o f D iscussion on
Proposal Relating to M onthly Labor Review, M arch 17,1965.”
w N A R G 257, B L S, Robert J. Myers to A ssistant Secretary Daniel P. Moynihan,
Nov. 3, 1964, “The Research Program o f BLM R”; Clague to M orris Weisz, Mar. 12,
1965, “BLM R H istory —your memorandum o f D ec 30.”
15 N A R G 257, B LS, D ivision o f Wages and Industrial Relations, 1951-1964,
Clague to W erts, “Labor-M anagement Relations Program for the Departm ent,” Sept.
16 N A R G 257, B LS, Clague to Werts, "D raft No. 3—Manpower Administration," Jan. 21,1963.
17 N A R G 257, B LS, M yers to A rthur M. Ross, “Secretary’s O rders Governing
Manpower Research,” O ct. 8, 1965; U .S. Congress, H ouse, Subcommittee o f A ppro­
priations, Hearings, Departments of Labor and Health, Education, and Welfare Appro­
priations for 1965 (88C, 2S, 1964), pp. 291 ff, “Programs in Manpower Research and
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


The First Hundred Years

18 N A R G 174, U SD O L , W lrtz, 1964, M oynihan, M emorandum for the Secre­
tary, Nov. 27,1964.
19 N A R G 257, B LS, Clague to W erts, Feb. 23 and May 7,1965.
20 Booz-Allen and H am ilton, Bureau of Labor Statistics, General Review (confi­
dential report), 1966, pp. 7 and 14.
21 U .S . D ep t o f Labor, A nnual Report, 1968, p. 23.
22 Ibid., p. 6.
23 John P. W ymer, "Industry Employment Statistics in the U nited States, Fifty
"fears o f Developm ent," Employment and Earnings, January 1966, pp. viii-x.
24 H ouse, Subcom m ittee o f A ppropriations, Hearings, Departments of Labor and
Health, Education, and Welfare Appropriations for 1955: Testimony of Members of
Congress, Interested Organizations, and Individuals (83C, 2S, 1954), p. 37, statement o f
National Legislative Com m ittee, Am erican Federation o f Labor; N A R G 174,
U SD O L , M itchell, 1954, Clague to Secretary, "Statistics o f employment and unem­
ploym ent," Mar. 15,1954.
25 N A R G 257, B L S, D iv. o f Manpower and Employment Statistics, Clague for
the Secretary, Feb. 12, 1954, and News Release, "Com bined Employment Release
A nnounced,’' fo r A pril 25,1954; Office o f Program Planning, W ickens to Clague, Feb.
26 M itchell, General O rder No. 99, May 18, 1959, "O peration o f the M onthly
Report on the Labor Force”; N A R G 257, B LS, M RLF—H istorical File on Com bined
Release and Transfer o f Functions to B L S, M aurice H . Stans, Bureau o f the Budget,
Memorandum for Secretary Strauss and Secretary M itchell, "C onstruction and Labor
Force Statistics,” signed by M itchell and Strauss on Nov. 18, 1958; U SD O L , BLS,
News Release (U SD L 2864), July 14,1959, "T he Employment Situation: June 1959.”
27 N A R G 257, B L S, Productivity, Clipping, Wail Street Journal, Nov. 20, 1959,
"Agency U rged to Revise W xf It Figures Jobless”; Senate, Subcom m ittee o f A ppropri­
ations, Hearings, Labor-Health, Education, and Welfare Appropriations for 1961 (86C,
2S, 1960), pp. 1034,1037-1039; Daily Labor Report (230), Nov. 25,1959, p. BB1; (133),
July 12,1961, pp. B1-B3.
28 The New York Times, following dates in I960: Aug. 2, p. 20, Aug. 17, p. 64-,
S e p t 21, p. 26; O ct. 16, p. 1; O c t 29, p. 12; Nov. 2, p. 80; Nov. 4, p. 23; Nov. 8, p. 19;
Nov. 11, p. 1.
29 Bernard D . N ossiter, "D elay Seen for Unem ployment Report,” The Washing­
ton Post, Nov. 3, 1960, p. 25; dipping, "Delayed Report Show s R ise in Unem ploy­
m en t”
30 N A R G 257, B LS, Clague to the U nder Secretary, Nov. 9, I960; and Release o f
Statistics I, Clague to the U nder Secretary, Feb. 20,1961.
31 Jam es Daniel, "Let’s Look at Those ’Alarming’ Unem ployment Figures,”
Reader’s Digest, Septem ber 1961.
32DLR (219), Nov. 13, 1961, pp. A 5 and A 7; U .S. President’s Com m ittee to
A ppraise Employment and Unem ploym ent Statistics, M easuring Employment and
Unemployment, 1962, pp. 12,20, and 212.
33 M easuring Employment, pp. 14-1 5 ,1 7 ,2 3 ,2 5 -2 6 ,1 5 1 -1 5 2 .
34 N A R G 174, U SD O L , W. W illard Wlrtz, 1964, Wlrtz, Memorandum for the
President, not sent, filed June 4,1964; Wlrtz, 1965, Clague to Secretary, June 10,1965,
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


Source Notes

and G ardner Ackley, M emorandum for Members o f die W hite H ouse Staff, July 2,
35 N A R G 257, BLS, Job Vacancy Statistical Program I, Seym our L. W olfbein to
Clague, Jan. 12, 1956, and Clague to Charles Stewart, Nov. 6, 1956, covering Clague
to U nder Secretary, Nov. 6,1956.
36 Ibid., Clague to Moynihan, July 18, 1963; Clague to Moynihan, O ct. 28, 1963;
Myers to M oynihan, July 7, 1964; and Wirtz to the President, July 28, 1964; Presi­
dent’s Com m ittee, M easuring Employment, pp. 199-202; Raymond A . Konstant and
Irvin F. O . W ingeard, “Analysis and U se o f Job Vacancy Statistics, Part I,” M LR,
A ugust 1968, pp. 22-23; “Part II,” Septem ber 1968, p. 21.
37 N A R G 257, BLS, Job Vacancy Statistical Program I, Clague to Moynihan, Dec.
17,1963; Kermit G ordon to Wirtz, Sept. 5,1964.
38 Ibid., BLS statement, “Job Vacancy Research Program ," June 9, 1964, and Van
Auken, Memorandum to the Job Vacancy Files, Nov. 9, 1964; DLR (112), June 11,
1965, pp. A 4-A 5.
39 N A R G 257, B LS, Job Vacancy Statistical Program I, Secretary, Memorandum
to A ll Employers, Nov. 5,1964.
40 J. E. M orton, On the Evolution of Manpower Statistics (Kalamazoo, M ich.: The
W. E. U pjohn Institute for Employment Research, 1969), p. 64.
41 D ept, o f Labor, Annual Report, 1959, p. 8; B LS bulletins, Employment and
Economic Status of Older Men and Women, Bull. 1213 (1956), p. HI; Older Workers
under Collective Bargaining, part I, Hiring, Retention, Job Termination, Bull. 1199-1
(1956); Older Workers under Collective Bargaining, part II, Health and Insurance
Plans, Pension Plans, Bull. 1199-2 (1956).
42 Am ong the reports were: V incent F. Gegan and Sam uel H . Thom pson,
“W orker M obility in a Labor Surplus A rea," M LR, December 1957; Robert L. Stein,
“Unem ployment and Job M obility,” M LR, A pril I960; Impact on Workers and Com­
munity of a Plant Shutdown in a Depressed A rea, Bull. 1264 (Bureau o f Labor Statis­
tics, 1960).
43 B LS bulletins, M ilitary Manpower Requirements and Supply, 1954-60, Bull.
1161 (1954); M ilitary Manpower Requirements and Supply, 1959-63, Bull. 1262 (1959);
Scientific Research and Development in American Industry, A Study of Manpower and
Costs, Bull. 1148 (1953); BLS Handbook of Methods for Surveys and Studies, Bull. 1458
(1966), p. 41; Employment of Scientific and Technical Personnel in Industry, 1962, Bull.
44 Techniques of Preparing M ajor BLS Statistical Series, Bull. 993 (Bureau o f Labor
Statistics, 1950), pp. 1 and 5; The Consumer Price Index, Report 517 (Bureau o f Labor
Statistics, 1978 rev.), p. 4; D ept, o f Labor, Annual Report, 1947, p- 54; H ouse, Com ­
mittee on Education and Labor, Special Subcom mittee, Hearings, Consumers* Price
Index (82C, IS, 1951), p. 19.
45 N A R G 257, B LS, CPI, Revision of, W tckens to Secretary, S e p t 23,1949.
46 N A R G 257, B LS, C ost o f Living, Clague to the Secretary, S e p t 25, 1950;
George W. Brooks to Clague, Nov. 3, 1950; Price Division, “Statem ent by the Com ­
m issioner on the Interim Adjustm ent o f the Consum ers’ Price Index,” Feb. 20, 1951,
BLS statem ent, “Interim Adjustm ent o f Consum ers’ Price Index," Apr. 11,1951.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


The First Hundred Years

47 N A R G 257, B LS, Price Division, Clague to die Secretary, Apr. 24, 1951; “U E
C alls U .S. Price Index ‘Fraud’; A sks Senate Probe," U E News, Apr. 30, 1951, p. 1;
Harvey A . Levenstein, Communum, Anticommunism, and the CIO (W estport, Conn.:
Greenwood Press, 1981), pp. 299-301.
48 N A R G 257, B LS, Price Division, Lubin to Clague, cable, Aug. 6, 1951; also
Clague to Lubin, cable, Aug. 6,1951; Clague to Rep. Tom Steed, Aug. 8,1951.
49 H ouse, Subcom m ittee o f Education and Labor, Hearings, Consumers’ Price
Index, pp. 202, 207-208, 275, 278, 280-282, and 358 and Report, Consumers’ Price
Index (82C, IS , Subcom m ittee Rept. No. 2, 1951), pp. 32-33, 35, 36, and 39; Senate,
Com m ittee on Public W elfare, Subcom m ittee on Labor and Labor-M anagement Rela­
tions, Report, Study of Wage and Price Indexes (82C, IS , Com mittee Print, 1951).
50 N A R G 257, B LS, Clague, “Statem ent Concerning the Resum ption o f the ‘O ld
Series’ Consum ers’ Price Index," before Senate Com mittee on A ppropriations, Feb.
23, 1953 (typed); Price Division, W alter P. Reuther to Secretary (wire), Jan. 26, 1953;
“First Labor Issue Put to Eisenhow er," The New York Times, Jan. 29,1953.
51 H elen Hum es Lamale, “H ousing C osts in the Consum er Price Index," MLR,
February 1956, pp. 189-191; U .S. Congress, Joint Com m ittee on the Economic
Report, Report, The Consumers’ Price Index (80C, 2S, Joint Com mittee Print, 1949), p.


52 D ep t o f Labor, A nnual Report, 1953, p. 63; N A R G 257, BLS, Price Division,
“Efforts to Secure O utside Financing for the General-Purpose Tabulations o f the
Bureau o f Labor Statistics 1950 Study o f Consum er Expenditures,” Jan. 12, 1954;
N A R G 174, U SD O L , M itchell, 1956, W. Duane Evans to Secretary, O ct. 8,1956.
53 N A R G 257, B LS, Price Division, Clague, “W hat Consum er Price Index Really
Is,” Journal of Commerce, Aug. 16, 1956, with introductory note by H . E. Luedicke;
clipping, “The C ost o f Living, The Index is M isleading &. Incom plete," Time, Nov.
11, 1957; Joint Economic Com m ittee, Hearings, Relationship of Prices to Economic
Stability and Growth (85C, 2S, 1958), and Hearings, Employment, Growth, and Price
Levels (86C, IS , 1959).
^ N A R G 257, B LS, Price Division, Clipping, J.R W ., “Newsletter: Commodity
Report—Price Indices N ot Telling Real Story," Journal of Commerce, Aug. 8, 1956;
DLR (179), Sept. 14,1960, p. A10.
55 Joint Economic Com m ittee, Subcom m ittee on Economic Statistics, Hearings,
Government Price Statistics, Part I (87C, IS , 1961), p. 2, with report and papers from
Price Statistics Review Com m ittee following: The Price Statistics of the Federal Govern­
ment, Review, Appraisal, and Recommendations.
56 Joint Economic Com m ittee, Hearings, Price Statistics, I, pp. 5-6; The Consumer
Price Index: History and Techniques, Bull. 1517 (Bureau o f Labor Statistics, 1966), pp.
8-9; N A R G 257, B LS, C PI, Revision of, Hollander to Clague, June 14, 1951; H ol­
lander to Clague, May 26, 1952, “Treatm ent o f single-person consum er units in the
revised C onsum ers’ Price Index.”
57 Joint Economic Com m ittee, Hearings, Price Statistics, I, pp. 47-48; Hearings,
Price Statistics, II, p. 680.
58 Joint Economic Com m ittee, Hearings, Price Statistics, I, pp. 52 and 55; H ear­
ings, Price Statistics, II, p. 560.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


Source Notes

59N A R G 257, BLS, Consum er Price Index—General, BLS statement, “Major
Changes in the Consum er Price Index,” Mar. 3, 1964; The Consum er Price Index,
Rept. 517, p. 5.
60 N A R G 257, BLS, Revision o f the CPI, Jam es E. Dodson to Clague, Sept. 14,
61 N A R G 257, BLS, Price Division, H erbert Bienstock to Walter G . Keim, Jan. 3,
1964; John R. Howard to Sen. M aurine Newberger, Feb. 20, 1964; W. W illard Wirtz,
M emorandum to Clague, Nov. 10, 1964; Clague to Secretary, Nov. 18, 1964; Clague
to Secretary, Feb. 4, 1965, “Elim ination o f Consum er Price Index for Individual
C ities.”
62 N A R G 257, BLS, Price Division, BLS Statement, “The Budgets in Their
H istorical Perspective,” January 1965; City Worker’s Fam ily Budget For a M oderate
Living Stan dard, A utum n 1966, Bull. 1570-1 (Bureau o f Labor Statistics, 1967), pp.
63 N A R G 257, BLS, Price Division, BLS, “Review o f the BLS W holesale Price
Index,” O ct. 24, 1957; A llan D. Searle, “W eight Revisions in the W holesale Price
Index, 1890-1960,” M LR, February 1962, p. 180; Techniques o f Preparing M ajor B LS
Statistical Series, Bull. 1168 (Bureau o f Labor Statistics, 1954), pp. 82 and 93; B LS
H andbook o f M ethods for Surveys an d Studies, Bull. 1910 (Bureau o f Labor Statistics,
1976), p. 127.
64 Joint Economic Com m ittee, H earings, Price Statistics, I, p. 64; H andbook, Bull.
1910, p. 123.
65 H.M . Douty and Toivo P. Kanninen, “Community Approach to Wage Stud­
ies,” M LR, O ctober 1949, pp. 366-367 and 369; Techniques, Bull. 1168, p. 97.
^K an n in en , “New Dim ensions in BLS Wage Survey W ork,” M LR, October
1959, pp. 1081 and 1083-1084; N A R G 257, BLS, DW IR, Douty to Clague, June 19,
1959, covering additional m aterials; and Bureau o f die Budget, “Design for a Survey o f
W hite-Collar Pay in Private Industry,” Sept. 17,1959.
67 Clague, The Bureau, pp. 99-100; Joseph P. Goldberg, “The Governm ent’s
Industrial Employees, part II, Consultation, Bargaining, and Wage Determ ination,”
M LR, March 1954, p. 253; N A R G 257, BLS, DW IR, C ass to HoUeman, “State Wage
Collection Program s,” Mar. 9,1962.
68 Harry S. Kantor, “Economic Effects o f the Minimum Wage,” M LR, March
1955, pp. 307-308; L. Earl Lewis, “75-Cent Minimum Wage: Effects on Fertilizer
Industry,” M LR , January 1951; Norman Sam uels, “Effects o f the $1 Minimum Wage
in Seven Industries,” M LR, March 1957; Factory W orkers’ Earnings, M ay 1958, Bull.
1252 (Bureau o f Labor Statistics, 1959); Industry W age Survey, Hotel an d Motels, June
1961, Bull. 1328 (Bureau o f Labor Statistics, 1962); Industry W age Survey, E atin g an d
D rinking Places, June 1963, Bull. 1400 (Bureau o f Labor Statistics, 1964).
69 N A R G 174, U SD O L, M itchell, 1956, Mitchell to Sen. Paul H. Douglas, Jan.
31, 1956; N A R G 257, BLS, DW IR, B LS statement (no date), “Retail Trade Wage
Survey”; H ouse, Subcom mittee o f A ppropriations, H earings, Second Supplem ental
Appropriation Bill, 1956 (84C, 2S, 1956), p. 341; Employee Earnin gs in Retail Trade in
October 1956, Sum m ary Report, Bull. 1220 (Bureau o f Labor Statistics, 1957).
70 Problems in M easurem ent o f Expenditures on Selected Items o f Supplementary
Employee Rem uneration, M anufacturing Establishm ents, 1953, Bull. 1186 (Bureau o f
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


The First H undred Years

Labor Statistics, 1956), p. iii; Employer Expenditures for Selected Supplementary Remu­
neration Practices for Production Workers in M anufacturing Industries, B u ll 1308
(Bureau o f Labor Statistics, 1962); N A R G 257, B LS, DW IR, William J. Carson to
A lbert L. M oore, Jr., Aug. 26, 1953; Division o f Wages and Industrial Relations,
1965-1971, W alter W. H eller to Wirtz, Nov. 11, 1964; Clague to Moynihan, Dec. 4,
1964; Wirtz to Ackley, "Statistical Program o f Fringe Benefits,” Dec. 28,1964.
71 N A R G 257, B L S, Division o f Wages and Industrial Relations, 1951-1964,
Douty to Clague, July 22,1958, "Review o f draft.”
72 Joseph W. D uncan and W illiam G . Shelton, Revolution in United States Gov­
ernment Statistics, 1926-1976 (U .S. Departm ent o f Com merce, Office o f Federal
Statistical Policy and Standards, 1978), pp. 96-97; Clague, The Bureau, pp. 117-119;
Trends in Output per M an-Hour and Man-Hours per Unit of Output—M anufacturing,
1939-53, R p t 100 (Bureau o f Labor Statistics, 1955); Trends in Output per M an-Hour
in the Private Economy, 1909-1958, Bull. 1249 (Bureau o f Labor Statistics, 1960).
73 Economic Report of the President, January 1962, together with the Annual
Report o f the C ouncil o f Econom ic Advisers, pp. 186-190.
74 N A R G 257, B L S, Reorganization o f the Productivity Division, Leon Green­
berg to Henry J. Fitzgerald, S e p t 11, 1959; Techniques, B u ll 1168, p. 30; Labor
Requirements for School Construction, Bull. 1299 (Bureau o f Labor Statistics, 1961);
Labor and M aterial Requirements for College Housing Construction, Bull. 1441 (Bureau
o f Labor Statistics, 1965).
75 N A R G 257, B LS, D ivision o f Productivity and Technological Change,
1953-63, N at W einberg to Clague, Apr. 8, 1953, and Clague to W alter C . Wallace,
Dec. 10, 1959; Productivity Division, Clague to C ass, Feb. 27, 1957; Productivity;
UAW Controversy—B L S Productivity Report, “T he Bureau o f Labor Statistics’ Sur­
render to Big Business.”
76 Handbook, Bull. 1458, p. 208.
77 D ep t o f Labor, A nnual Report, 1949, pp. 69 and 75; A nnual Report, 1951, pp.
78 Foreign Labor Publications, mimeograph (Bureau o f Labor Statistics, 1962) pp.
i-ii; Labor Law and Practice in Honduras, R p t 189 (1961); "Sum m ary o f Labor
Conditions in Burm a,” mimeograph (December 1952); Foreign Labor Information:
Labor in Argentina, mimeograph (June 1959); Labor in the Sudan, R ep t 182 (Bureau
o f Labor Statistics in cooperation with International Cooperation Adm inistration,
79 Each prepared by B LS for Agency for International Developm ent The Fore­
casting of Manpower Requirements, R p t 248 (1963); Conducting a Labor Force Survey
in Developing Countries, R p t 263 (1964); Computation of Cost-of-Living Indexes in
Developing Countries, R p t 283 (1964).
80 D ep t o f Labor, Annual Report, 1947, p. 59; Annual Report, 1950, p. 177;
D uncan and Shelton, Revolution, p. 111.
81 Clague, The Bureau, pp. 128-130.
82 Ibid., pp. 130-131; Duncan and Shelton, Revolution, p. 114; Handbook, Bull.
1458, pp. 220-221.
83 Projections 1970, Interindustry Relationships, Potential Demand, Employment,
Bull. 1536 (Bureau o f Labor Statistics, 1966).
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


Source Notes

84 N A R G 257, B LS, D ivision o f Prices and C ost o f Living, 1950-1964, Edward D.
Hollander, File Memorandum, July 6, 1950; H ouse, Com mittee on Post Office and
Civil Service, Subcom m ittee on Overstaffing in the Executive Departm ents and A gen'
cies, "Investigation o f Employee Utilization in die Executive Departm ents and A gen'
d e s,” Preliminary Report, part II, "T he Prices and C ost o f Living Division,
Departm ent o f Labor” (81C, 2S, 1950, Com m ittee Print), pp. 49 and 55.
85 N A R G 257, B LS, D ivision o f Prices and C ost o f Living, 1950-1964, M aurice J.
Tobin to Rep. John Bell W illiams, Dec. 21,1950; Hollander to Clague, et als., "Results
o f Employee A ttitude Survey,” Feb. 7,1951.
86 Senate, Com m ittee on Labor and Public W elfare, H earing: N om ination of
Ew an C lague (84C, IS , 1955), pp. 2 -4 ,6 , and 8.
87 Ibid., pp. 12,15, and 18.
88 N A R G 257, BLS, Bert Seidm an to Ewan Clague, Sept. 7,1954.
89 Clague, “The Program ,” 1947, p. 179.
90 “A ppeals C ourt Delays O rder Setting A side W alsh-Healey Determ ination,”
DLR (76), Apr. 18, 1963, p. A7; “A ppeals C ourt Affirms Injunction Against WalshHealey Determ ination,” DLR (128), July 1,1964, p. A l.
91 “Wirtz Revokes M otors-Generators Wage Determ ination Struck Down by
C ourts,” DLR (187), Sept. 24, 1964, p. A10; H erbert C . M orton, Public C ontracts an d
Private W ages, Experience under the W alsh-Healey A ct (Washington: The Brookings
Institution, 1965), pp. 89,114, and 131.
92 DLR (176), Sept. 14,1965, pp. A 9-A 10.

Chapter V III.

Four Commissioners

1U.S. Congress, Joint Economic Committee, Subcommittee on Economic Statis­
tics, Government Price Statistics, H earings (89C, 2S, 1966), p. 3.
2 Econom ic Report o f the President, February 1984, together with the Annual
Report of the Council of Economic Advisers, p. 201.
3 Econom ic Report o f the President, Jan u ary 1979, together with the Annual
Report of the Council of Economic Advisers, pp. 167-169.
4 U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Janet L. Norwood,
Statement before the Subcommittee on Econom ic Stabilization, Committee on Banking,
Finance, an d U rban A ffairs, H ouse o f Representatives (Feb. 17,1983), pp. 2 ,4 ,5 ,6 , and
5 Weekly Com pilation o f Presidential Docum ents, Sept 29,1969, pp. 1319-1320.
6 U.S. Congress, Congressional Budget Office, Indexing with die Consum er Price
Index: Problems an d A lternatives, June 1981, p. xiii; Norwood, Statem ent before the
A ppropriations Subcommittee, H ouse o f Representatives, F Y 1984 Appropriations (Mar.
15,1983), p. 2.
7 Minimum Wage Study Commission, Report, May 24,1980, p. 84.
8 For a detailed and comprehensive catalog of indexation, see U.S. Congress,
Senate, Committee on the Budget, Indexation o f Federal Program s (97C, IS, Commit­
tee Print, 1981), prepared by the Congressional Research Service.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


The First H undred Years

9 Daily Labor Report (182), S e p t 21,1965, p. A 4; U .S. Congress, H ouse, Subcomm ittee o f A ppropriations, Hearings, Departments of Labor and Health, Education, and
Welfare Appropriations for 1967 (89C, 2S, 1966), pp. 677 and 681.
10 DLR (204), O c t 21,1965, pp. E1-E2.
11 Geoffrey H . M oore, “Long-Range Program Objectives for B L S," Monthly
Labor Review, O ctober 1969, pp. 3-6.
12 Senate, Com m ittee on Labor and Public Welfare, Hearing, Nomination of
Julius Shiskin (93C, IS , 1973), p. 12; National Archives Record G roup 257, BLS,
U nder Secretary, Shiskin, Memo for the Secretary, “Pro Forma Resignation,” Aug. 13,
13 Senate, Labor and Public W elfare, Hearing, Shiskin (1973), pp. 3 ,8 .
14 Office o f Publications files, Shiskin, (photocopy) May 19, 1977, Senator
Proxmire to the President; Senate, Com m ittee on Human Resources, Hearing, Nomi­
nation o f Julius Shiskin (95C, IS , 1977), pp. 1-2,26.
15 Senate, Labor and Human Resources, Hearing, Nomination of Dr. Janet L.
Norwood (96C, IS , 1979), pp. 8-9.
16 Ibid., p. 6; Forbes, June 11, 1979, p. 155; Philip Shabecoff, “She Takes H er
Com puters H om e,” The N ew York Tim es, July 22,1979.
17 “Republican Claim s Index Was M anipulated,” Washington Star, O c t 7, 1980,
p. A l; “Fact and Com m ent: U nfortunately that Price Index D rop Is a Phony,” Forbes,
O c t 27,1980, p. 25.
18 DLR (114), June 13,1983, p. A2.
19 “Release o f Statistics by Federal Agencies: The President’s Memorandum to
the D irector o f the Bureau o f the Budget, Feb. 8, 1969,” in Weekly Compilation of
Presidential Documents (Feb. 14,1969), p. 248.
20 Joint Econom ic Com m ittee, Current Labor M arket Developments, Hearings
(92C, IS , 1971), pp. 338-339.
21N A R G 257, B LS, Release o f Statistics I, draft, July 22, 1969, “Policy on the
Presentation and Interpretation o f Governm ent Statistics,” signed by Shiskin, with
holograph note: “U sed at mtg. 7/28/69—w /H erb Klein, M. M ann, and J. Shiskin,”
with typed note attached, "Proposal made to Dr. Burns (with m inor revisions).”
22 N A R G 257, B L S, Discontinuance o f Press Briefings, M oore, memorandum for
the Secretary, “Proposed Procedure for H andling B LS Price and Employment
Releases,” Mar. 15,1971; Senate, Subcom m ittee on A ppropriations, Hearings, Depart­
ment of Labor and Health, Education, and Welfare and Related Agencies Appropria­
tions for Fiscal Year 1972 (92C, IS , 1971), pp. 113-114.
23 N A R G 257, B L S, Discontinuance o f Press Briefings, GH M , “Statem ent by
Secretary Explaining Change in Procedure for Releasing Price and Employment Sta­
tistics,” Mar. 16,1971; Senate, Subcom m ittee o f A ppropriations, Hearings, Appropria­
tions for Fiscal Year 1972, pp. 113-114.
24 Joint Econom ic Com m ittee, Federal Statistical Programs, Hearings (93C, IS ,
1973), p. 26.
25 N A R G 257, B L S, Reorganization, O ctober 19711, Shultz (OM B) to Secretar­
ies, “Reorganization,” July 15,1971.
26 DLR (189), S e p t 29,1971, p. A16; N A R G 257, B LS, Reorganization, O ctober
19711, (copy) "N ixon O usting Labor A nalysts,” Washington Post, S e p t 29,1971.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


Source Notes

27 H ouse, Com m ittee on Governm ent O perations, Report, Discontinuance of
Monthly Press Briefings by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Department of Labor (92C, IS,
H ouse Report 92-759,1971), p. 10.
28 H ouse, Com m ittee on Post Office and C ivil Service, Subcom mittee on Census
and Statistics, Report, Investigation of Possible Politicization of Federal Statistical Program s (92C, 2S, H ouse Rept. 92-1536, 1972), letter o f transm ittal and pp. 1-2, 8-9,
and 11-12.
29 Dept, o f Labor, BLS, News Release (U SD L 72-693), O ct. 6, 1972, “Statem ent
by Com m issioner o f Labor Statistics;” Jam es D . H odgson, “Statem ent o f Policy by the
Secretary o f Labor Concerning the Role o f the Bureau o f Labor Statistics,” Nov. 10,
30 “Secretary o f Labor, Rem arks o f Press Secretary, Nov. 29, 1972,” in Weekly
Compilation, Dec. 4,1972, pp. 1707-1708; DLR (242), Dec. 14,1972, p. A6; (244), Dec.
18, 1972, p. A 9; (5), Jan. 8, 1973, p. A12; Daniel J. Balz, “C ivil Servant, Statistician
Named C h ief o f Troubled Bureau o f Labor Statistics,” N ational Journal, July 7, 1973,
p. 995.
31N A R G 174, U SD O L , Brennan, 1973, Secretary to John H . A iken, Mar. 21,
1973, covers “M aintaining the Professional Integrity o f Federal Statistics, Final
R eport,” American Statistical A ssociation/Federal Statistics U sers’ Conference Com ­
mittee on the Integrity o f Federal Statistics, 1973.
32 N A R G 257, B LS, Discontinuance o f Press Briefings, Bureau o f the Budget,
C ircular A-91, “Prompt Com pilation and Release o f Statistical Inform ation,” Feb. 12,
1969; M oore, Memo for the Secretary, “Proposed procedure,” Mar. 15, 1971; OM B
C ircular A-91, Revised, Apr. 26,1972.
33 N A R G 257, B LS, Reorganization, O ctober 1971 I, M oore to Robert A.
G ordon, Dec. 9,1971.
34 N A R G 174, U SD O L , Brennan, 1974-5, Secretary to Senator Praxmire, Oct.
30, 1974; Senate, Labor and Human Resources Com m ittee, Hearing, Norwood (1979),
p. 22.
35 Joint Economic Com m ittee, Subcom m ittee on Economic Statistics, Price Statis­
tics (1966), p. 3; DLR (102), May 25,1966, pp. B22-B24.
36 N A R G 257, B LS, C PI—Q uality Change I, TOdter P. Reuther to Secretary,
Sept. 27,1966.
37 Ibid., M agnuson and M ondale to Ross, July 28, 1967; M agnuson and Mondale
to Ross, O ct. 2,1967; R oss to M agnuson and M ondale, O ct. 12,1967.
38 N A R G 257, B LS, C PI Revision #4, M ark Roberts to Members o f the Labor
Research Advisory C ouncil, Mar. 29, 1974; D ept, o f Labor, B LS, News Release, Apr.
5,1974, “Revised Consum er Price Index to Reflect Expenditures o f M ore Am ericans;”
The Consumer Price Index: Concepts and Content Over the Years, Report 517 (Bureau
o f Labor Statistics, 1978), p. 10.
39 DLR (61), Mar. 28,1974, p. A 5; (68), Apr. 8,1974, pp. A 12-A 13.
40 DLR (68), Apr. 8,1974, p. A ll; (79), Apr. 23,1974, pp. A17 and A19.
41 N A R G 257, B LS, CPI Revision #4, Gary L. Seevers, Chairman, Subcom mittee
on Economic Statistics, Council on Economic Policy, Memo for Shiskin, Family
Definition in the Consum er Price Index, Apr. 16,1974;" Seevers (CEA), Edgar Fiedler
(Treasury), Jack Carlson (OMB), and Joseph Duncan (OMB), Memo for The Troika,
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


The First H undred Years

"Coverage In the Revised C P I," May 10, 1974; Shiskin, Memo for the Secretary, "A
Revised Plan for the 1977 C P I," May 14,1974; N A R G 174, U SD O L, U sery, 1976-77,
Secretary to H on. Jam es T. Lynn, Jan. 18,1977; DLR (101), May 23,1974, p. A4.
42 H ouse, Com m ittee on Governm ent O perations, Hearings, Consumer Price
Index for All-Urban Consumers (95C, 2S, 1978), p. 6; U .S. Com ptroller General, A
CPI for Retirees Is Not Needed Now But Could Be in die Future (General Accounting
Office, G G D 82-41,1982), p. iiL
43 Norwood, CPI Issues, Report 593 (Bureau o f Labor Statistics, 1980), pp. 1-2;
Consumer Price Index (R p t 517,1978), pp. 13-14.
44 N A R G 257, B L S, C PI Revision—Homeownership Com ponent, Roberts to
Shiskin, July 7,1975, enclosing Anne D raper to Roberts, "Labor Criticism s o f Flow o f
Services Pricing o f Homeownership Com ponent o f Consum er Price Index;* Joseph P.
G oldberg to M embers o f the Price Com m ittee o f the Labor Research Advisory
C ouncil, Mar. 31,1977, covering D raper to Roberts, "Hom eownership Com ponent o f
the Consum er Price Index,” Mar. 21,1977.
45 Ibid., N oel A . M cBride to Shiskin, Jan. 6, 1977; K. G . \& n A uken, Jr., to
M embers o f the Business Research Advisory C ouncil and Its Com m ittee on C on­
sum er and W holesale Prices, Jan. 12, 1977; Shiskin to Lyle E. Gramley, C ouncil o f
Econom ic Advisers, Apr. 15,1977.
46 BLS Handbook o f Methods, Bulletin 2134-1 (Bureau o f Labor Statistics, 1982),
p. 38; N A R G 257, B L S, Consum er Expenditure Surveys, H elen H . Lamale to Chase,
"Plans for C ontinuing Expenditure Surveys,” Mar. 14,1966.
47 N A R G 257, B L S, C PI Revirion #5 , Roberts, Lazare Teper, and Draper, July 29,
1974, attention: Joseph P. Goldberg, "June 1974 B L S Paper on C E X ."
48 N A R G 257, B L S, CPI Revirion #7 , Shiskin to Robet Ferber, O ct. 24, 1975;
Division o f Prices and C ost o f Living, 1973-1975, Burton G . M alkiel, Council o f
Econom ic Advisers, M emo for Rudy Penner, "T h e Continuing Consum er Expendi­
ture Survey,” Nov. 1,1975.
49 Economic Report of die President, January 1979, pp. 43-44; Economic Report of
the President, January 1980, pp. 39-40.
50 D LR (14), Jan. 21,1980, pp. X lff.
51 DLR (242), Dec. 14, 1979, p. A ll; (37), Feb. 22, 1980, p. A15; (40), Feb. 27,
1980, p. A 9; (47), Mar. 7,1980, p. A 8; (67), Apr. 4,1980, p. A2.
52 Economic Report of the President, January 1981, p. 10.
53 "Take a Parting Shot at Inflation” (editorial), The New York Times, Dec. 4,1980,
p. A 30; C om ptroller G eneral, Measurement o f Homeownership Costs in the Consumer
Price Index Should Be Changed (General A ccounting Office, PAD 81-12,1981), pp. iv,
v, and 55.
54 D ept, o f Labor, News Release (U SD L 80-303), May 9, 1980, "N orw ood U rges
U sers to Become Better Inform ed A bout Indexation;” H ouse, A ppropriations, H ear­
ings, Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related
Agencies Appropriations for 1982 (97C, IS , 1981), pp. 1072-1073.
55 D ept, o f Labor, News Release (U SD L 81-506), O ct. 27,1981, "Statem ent o f Dr.
Janet L. N orw ood.”
56 U SD O L News Release (U SD L 82-327), S e p t 17. 1982, "N orw ood Says CPI
Change W ill Im prove Inflation M easure.”
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


Source Notes

57 DLR (238), Dec. 11,1981, pp. A 13-A 14.
58 Dr. Jam es A .C lifton, for Cham ber o f Com merce o f the U nited States, “State­
m ent,” before Senate Com m ittee on Governm ental Affairs, Apr. 20, 1982, p. 1; DLR
(28), Feb. 9,1983, pp. A 11-A 12.
59 H ouse, Appropriations, H earings, D epartm ents o f Labor, H ealth an d H um an
Services, Education, an d Related Agencies A ppropriations for 1984 (98C, IS , 1983), pp.
60 N A R G 257, BLS, Standard Budgets, M oore to Popkin, “M easuring Retired
C ouples’ Living C osts in U rban A reas,” Dec. 2,1969; M oore to U sers o f BLS Budgets
and Interarea Living C ost Indexes, “Im proved Program for the BLS Family Budget
Estim ates and Interarea Indexes o f Living C osts,” Dec. 15,1971.
61 N A R G 257, BLS, Standard Budgets HI, Nelson A . Rockerfeller, Governor of
New "fork, to Secretary, O ct. 4, 1972; M oore, Memo to Shiskin, “Standard Family
Budgets,” O ct. 27, 1972; Shiskin to William A . M orrill, May 22, 1973; M orrill to
Shiskin, Aug. 14, 1973; U nder Secretary, Burdetsky, Memo for the U nder Secretary,
“Backlog and Priorities,” May 19,1973.
62 N A R G 257, B LS, U nder Secretary, Shiskin, Memo to U nder Secretary Schu­
bert, “B LS Family Budget Program ,” Sept. 6,1974.
63 N A R G 257, B LS, Standard Budgets III. W. John Layng to Norwood, “Revision
o f Family Budget Program ,” Apr. 27, 1976; H arold W. Watts, “Special Panel Suggests
Changes in B LS Family Budget Program ,” M LR, December 1980, pp. 3-10.
64 John F. Early, “Im proving the M easurement o f Producer Price Change,” M LR,
A pril 1978, pp. 7 and 9; C ouncil on Wage and Price Stability, The W holesale Price
Index, June 1977; DLR (115), June 14,1977, p. A10.
65 Joint Economic Com m ittee, Subcom mittee on Economic Statistics, Inflation
an d the Price Indexes (89C, 2S, Joint Com m ittee Print, 1966), p. 38; Government Price
Statistics, A Report (89C, 2S, 1966), pp. Ill, 16-17; DLR (101), May 23, 1975, p. A12;
(131), July 8,1975, p .A 6 .
66 H andbook o f M ethods (1982), p. 43; Early, “Improving the M easurement,” pp.
67 N A R G 174, U SD O L, Brennan, 1973, Thom as P. O ’Neill, Jr. and Silvio O .
C onte to Secretary, May 31, 1973; Secretry to O ’Neill and Conte, June 25, 1973;
O ’Neill and C onte to Secretary, O ct. 29, 1973; Secretary to O ’Neill and Conte, Dec.
5,1973; Dept, o f Labor, News Release (U SD L 73-601), Dec. 21,1973.
68 Joint Economic Com m ittee, Report, A R eappraisal o f U.S. Energy Policy (93C,
2S, Joint Com m ittee Print, 1974), pp. 2 and 27.
69 DLR (40), Feb. 27, 1974, p. A l; N A R G 257, BLS, W holesale Price Index II,
Robert H. Stewart, Jr., to Petroleum Industry Advisers, Mar. 18,1974.
70 “A New O il Index Creates C onfusion,” Business Week, June 22, 1974; N A R G
174, U SD O L , U sery, 1976-77, Edward P. Boland and Silvio O . C onte to Secretary,
Feb. 23,1976; Shiskin to Boland and C onte, Mar. 16,1976.
71 The Department o f L abor during the A dm inistration o f President Lyndon B.
Johnson, Novem ber 1963-Jan u ary 1969, chap. V , “Data Collection and A nalysis”
(typescript, U SD O L H istorian’s Office), p. 585; H andbook o f M ethods (1982), p. 62;
Dept, o f Labor, A n nual Report, 1982, pp. 22-23.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


The First Hundred Years


National Com m ission on Employment and Unemployment Statistics, Count­

ing the L abor Force (1979), p. 2.

73DLR (234), Dec. 2, 1966, pp. A 10-A 11; Paul O . Flaim, “Persons N ot in the
Labor Force: W ho They A re and W hy They D on’t W ork," M LR, July 1969.
74 Shiskin, “Employment and Unem ployment: The Doughnut or the Hole?”
M LR, February 1976, p. 4.
75 Senate, Subcom m ittee o f A ppropriations, H earings, D epartm ents o f Labor,
H ealth an d H um an Services, Education, an d Related A gencies A ppropriations for Fiscal
Year 1982 (97C, IS , 1981), p. 429; John E. Bregger, “Labor Force Data from the C PS

to U ndergo Revision in January 1983,” M LR, November 1982, pp. 3-4.
76 National Com m ission, Counting, pp. 153-55 and 158-59; Thom as J. Plewes,
“Better M easures o f Service Employment G oal o f Bureau Survey Redesign,” M LR,
Novem ber 1982; Harvey R. Hamel and John T. Tucker, “Implementing the Levitan
Com m ission’s Recom mendations to Improve Labor D ata,” M LR, February 1985.
77N A R G 257, B LS, U nder Secretary, Shiskin, Memo for U nder Secretary,
“Unem ployment Statistics for State and Local A reas,” Feb. 1,1974.
78 DLR (66), Apr. 4,1974, pp. A 4-A 5; (171), Sept. 2,1980, p. A10; M LR, O ctober
1977, p. 72; A pril 1978, p. 52.
79 H ouse, Com m ittee on Governm ent O perations, H earings, Intergovernm ental
Antirecession A ssistance A ct o f 1977 (95C, IS , 1977), p. 94; The New York Times, May
25,1977, p. V I,5.
80 Norwood “Reshaping a Statistical Program to Meet Legislative Priorities,”
M LR, Novem ber 1977, pp. 6-11; M artin Ziegler, “Efforts to Improve Estim ates o f
State and Local Unem ploym ent,” M LR, November 1977, pp. 12-18; 92 Stat. 1952.
81 National Com m ission, Counting, p. 15.
82 M yron Struck and Kenneth E. John, “Labor Departm ent Statistics Found Less
and Less Reliable,” Washington Post, Sept. 17,1982, p. A13.
83 The D epartm ent during Johnson, chap. V , “Data A nalysis," pp. 564-567.
84 N A R G 257, B LS, JO L T S IV , President to Secretary, Jan. 30, 1969; Budget
W rite-up, Feb. 28, 1969; M oore, for the U nder Secretary, Nov. 21, 1972; The D epart­
ment o f L abor H istory D uring die A dm inistration o f Presidents Richard M. Nixon an d
G erald R. Ford, Jan u ary 1969 to Jan u ary 1977, vol. II, chap. V , “Data Collection and
A nalysis” (typescript U SD O L H istorian’s Office), p. 23.
85 Senate, Appropriations, H earings for F iscal Year 1982, pp. 455 and 472; Dept,
o f Labor, Secretary o f Labor, F in al Report on the Recommendations o f the N ational
Com m ission on Employment an d Unemployment Statistics, O ctober 1981, p. 3; Dept, o f
Labor, A nnual Report 1982, p. 22.
86 N A R G 257, B LS, Job Vacancies II, Chester E. Johansen to Lester S. Kellogg.
Jan. 18, 1965; DLR, (99), May 20, 1966, Special Supplem ent, pp. 1-2; National Com ­
m ission, Counting, p. 122.
87 N A R G 174, U SD O L , Wirtz, 1966, Esther Peterson to the Secretary, “Briefing
Memo—BLS Survey to Determ ine to W hat Extent ‘the Poor Pay M ore’,” Jan. 10,
1966; N A R G 257, BLS, Division o f Prices and C ost o f Living, 1965-1968, June 12,
1966, U SD O L , BLS, “A Study o f Prices Charged in Food Stores Located in Low and
H igher Income Areas o f Six Large C ities, February 1966.”
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


Source Notes

88 Jam es R. Wetzel and Susan S. Holland, “Poverty Areas o f O ur M ajor C ities,”
M LR, O ctober 1966, p. 1105; N A R G 257, BLS, Survey Program for U rban Poverty
A reas #2, Wirtz to Stanley Ruttenberg and R oss, July 12, 1966; Ross to Secretary,
Dec. 22, 1967; M alcolm R. Lovell, Jr., to Philip M. H auser, July 17, 1970; Daniel S.
W hipple, “Employment Am ong the Poor o f Six Central C ities,* M LR, O ctober 1973.
89 DLR (204), O ct. 21, 1971, pp. A 8-A 9; The New York Times, O c t 26, 1971, p.
66; N A R G 257, B LS, Survey Program for U rban Poverty A reas, Roy W ilkins to
Secretary, Nov. 22,1971.
90 Flaim, “The Spendable Earnings Series, H as It O utlived Its Usefulness?” M LR,
A pril 1982, p. 86; DLR (178), Sept. 11, 1980, p. A12; National Com m ission, Counting,
p. 206.
91 National Com m ission, Counting, pp. 206-208.
92 BLS H andbook o f M ethods for Surveys an d Studies, Bulletin 1458 (Bureau o f
Labor Statistics, 1966), p. 114; Harry A . Donoian, “A New A pproach to Setting the
Ray o f Federal Blue-Collar W orkers,” M LR, A pril 1969, pp. 30 and 32; Com ptroller
General, D eterm ining Federal Com pensation, C hanges Needed to M ake die Processes
M ore Equitable an d C redible (General A ccounting Office, FPC D 80-17,1979), p. 29.
93 President’s Panel on Federal Com pensation, Report to the President, 1975, pp.
23-24; Com ptroller G eneral, Wages for Federal Blue-C ollar Employees A re Being
Determ ined A ccording to the Law , B ut Improvements are Needed (General Accounting
Office, FPC D 80-12,1979).
94 84 Stat. 1946 (Ja n . 8,1971), also as 5 U .S.C 5305.
95 Com ptroller General, Improvements Needed in the Survey o f N on-Federal S a la ­
ries U sed a s B asis for Adjusting F ederal W hite-Collar S alaries (General Accounting
Office, B-167266, 1973), pp. 2 and 30; President’s Panel, Report (1975); N A R G 257,
B LS, W hite C ollar (PATC) II, Paul MacAvoy, C ouncil o f Economic Advisers, to
Shiskin, Sept. 23, 1975; George L. Stelluto, “Federal Ray Com parability, Facts to
Temper the D ebate," M LR, June 1979, p. 20.
96 N A R G 257, BLS, W hite C ollar (PATC) II, Jam es L. Blum, Memo for Shiskin,
“Follow-up on PBR C Decision on PATC Survey," S e p t 14,1973; Shiskin to David P.
Taylor (OM B) and Raym ond Jacobson (C SC ), Jan. 8, 1974; H andbook o f M ethods
(1982), p. 69; D ept, o f Labor, News Release (U SD L 82-241), July 12, 1982, “W hiteC ollar Salaries, M arch 1982."
97 N A R G 257, B LS, Rees Review o f Wage Program, A lbert Rees (Princeton
University), “Im proving M easures o f Wage C hanges,” A ugust 1969; DLR (160), Aug.
19,1969, p. A12.
98 N A R G 257, B LS, Employment C ost Index, Roberts to Shiskin, Mar. 25, 1975,
covering Roberts, Oswald, and Burkhardt to Joseph W. Duncan (OMB), Mar. 25,
1975; N A R G 174, U SD O L, U sery, 1976-77, Shiskin to Senator Roman L. Hruska.
99 V ictor J. Sheifer, “Employment C ost Index, A M easure o f Change in the ‘Price
o f Labor’,” M LR, July 1975; “How Benefits W ill Be Incorporated Into the Employ­
ment C ost Index,” M LR, January 1978.
100 Rees, “Im proving the C oncepts and Techniques o f Productivity M easure­
m ent,” M LR, Septem ber 1979, p. 23.
101 D ept, o f Labor, B LS, News Release (U SD L 83-153), Apr. 6, 1983, “Bureau o f
Labor Statistics Introduces Its First M easures o f M ultifactor Productivity;” Trends in
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


The First Hundred Years

M ultifactor Productivity, 1948-81, Bulletin 2178 (Bureau o f Labor Statistics, 1983), p.



102 H andbook o f M ethods (1982), p. 101.
103 Robert Ball, “Employment C reated by C onstruction Expenditures,” M LR,
Decem ber 1981, pp. 3 9,42; L abor an d M aterial Requirements for H ospital an d N ursing
Home Construction, Bulletin 2154 (Bureau o f Labor Statistics, 1983), pp. iii, 37, 63;
D ep t o f Labor, A nnual Report, 1982, pp. 23,31.
l0* Employment Projections for 1995, Bulletin 2197 (Bureau o f Labor Statistics,
1984), p. 10.
105 “B rief H istory o f Bureau o f Labor Statistics Projections,” M LR, A ugust 1981,
p. 14.
106 Norm an Root and David M cCaffrey, “Providing M ore Inform ation cm Work
Injury and Illness,” M LR, A pril 1978; R oot and Michael H oefer, “The First W ork'
Injury D ata Available from New B L S Study,” M LR, January 1979.
107 Senate, Labor and Human Resources, H earing, Norwood (1979), p. 9.
108 D ep t o f Labor, A n n ual Report, 1968, pp. 2, 4; Booz-Allen and Hamilton,
B ureau o f L ab or Statistics, G en eral Review (confidential report, Mar. 22, 1966), pp. 76,
78; Booz-Allen and H am ilton, U .S. D epartm ent o f Labor, The O rganization an d
M anagem ent o f die Bureau o f L ab o r Statistics (December 1966), pp. 5 ,1 4 ,6 1 -6 2 .
109 D iscussion o f com puters at B L S is based on The Development an d U ses o f
Table Producing L an gu age, Report 435 (Bureau o f Labor Statistics, 1975), and Infor­
m ation Processing a t B L S, Report 583 (Bureau o f Labor Statistics, 1980).
110 N A R G 257, B L S, Reorganization, O ctober 19711, Shultz (OMB) to Secretar­
ies, "Reorganization,” July 15,1971; DLR, (189), S e p t 29,1971, p. A16; (202), O c t 19,
1971, p. A10.
111 D ep t o f Labor, B L S, Norwood, “Management Decision, Memorandum # 8 ,”
June 26,1982; Norwood, Memorandum, “Organizational Changes," Jan. 4,1983.
112 N A R G 257, B L S, A sst Regional D irector Classification, Shiskin to U nder
Secretary, A u g 22,1973.
113 National Com m ission, Counting, p. 272; Secretary, Interim Report on the Rec­
om m endations o f the N ation al Com m ission on Employment an d Unemployment Statis­
tics, Mar. 3,1980, p. 43; Secretary, F in al Report (1981), p. 6.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


Abbott, Edith, 87
Addam s, Jane, 63
Adm inistration:
Booz-Allen and Hamilton Survey,
Clague, 207-209
Lubin, 170-175
M eeker, 108-111
M oore, 217-218, 223, 256
Neill, 69-70, 73-76
Norwood, 220-221, 256
Recent period, 1965-85, 253-257
Reorganization, 1971, 223, 256
Ross, 216-217,255
Shiskin, 219
Stewart, 120-121,135-138
W right, 11-14, 21-23
Adm inistrative Procedures Act, 210, 241
Advisory Com mittee on Education
(1936), 167
Advisory Com m ittee on Employment
Statistics (1930), 130-132,180
Advisory Com m ittee to the Secretary o f
Labor (1933), 145,149,164,165,166,
Advisory groups (BLS) (See also Business
Research Advisory Council and Labor
Research Advisory Council), 257
A FL-C IO , 188,191
Agency for International Developm ent,
205-206, 253
A gricultural Adjustm ent A ct, 144
Agriculture, Dept, of, 9 0 ,106,146, 206
Bureau o f Anim al Industry, 48
Office o f Home Economics, 95,150
Aldrich, N elson W., 3, 34
Aldrich Com m ittee (Senate Com mittee
on Finance), 34-35
Amalgamated A ssociation o f Iron, Steel,
and Tin W orkers, 4, 44,53
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Amalgamated Meat C utters and Butcher
W orkmen, 38,50
American A ssociation for Labor Legisla­
tion, 4 0 ,5 9 -6 1 ,7 4 ,1 3 6
American A ssociation o f Public Employ­
ment Offices, 91
American Economic Association, 90,
American Engineering Standards Com ­
mittee, 120-121,133
American Federation o f Labor, 44,45,
A m erican Federationist, 120, 156
BLS program s, 4 9 ,5 3 ,6 1 ,1 3 1 ,1 6 3 ,
Conventions, 2 ,5 ,1 9 ,2 4 ,6 9 ,1 3 4
C ost o f living, CPI, 102,157,195
“Labor’s Bill o f Grievances,” 44
Role in BLS development, 3 ,1 8 , 76
Woman and child labor study, BLS,
6 2 ,6 4 ,6 5 ,6 7
American Management Association
(Conference o f Employment Manag­
ers), 98
American Sm elting and Refining Com ­
pany, 78
American Social Science A ssociation, 41
American Sociological Association, 136
American Statistical A ssociation, 121,
Advisory Com mittee to the Secre­
tary o f Labor, 145
B LS presidents of, and speakers to,
4 1 ,9 3 ,1 7 9 ,2 1 7
BLS press conferences, 222,223
Com m ittee on Governm ent Statis­
tics and Inform ation Services, 145
Employment statistics, 127-128
M ills Com m ittee on cost-of-living
index, 154-156
M oore’s resignation, 225


The First Hundred Years

Recommendations for appointment,
Technical advisory committee to
B LS on prices, 193,199
Am iss, Herman L., 135
Andrews, John B., 59-60,101
A nthracite coal strike (1902), 28-29,46
Appropriations, 260
Clague, 178,193,207-208
Lubin, 170-172
M eeker, 81,107,108-109
N eill, 73-74
Recent period, 1965-85,220,234,
Stewart, 115,122,125,136-138
W right, 22-23
A rbitration A ct o f 1 8 8 8 ,1 4 ,2 6 ,2 7 ,2 8
A rthur, Chester A ., 1 ,4 ,5
A ssociation for the Prom otion o f Profit
Sharing, 41
Autom obile M anufacturers’ A ssociation,
Babson Statistical Organization, 134-135
Baldor Electric Com pany, 210
Baldwin, C harles E., 135,139
Baruch, Bernard, 101
Berridge, William A ., 129,131,180
Bethlehem Steel Com pany, 53-54,116
Beveridge, A lbert J., 48,63
Blacks, B LS projects:
D u Bois, W .E.B., 32-33,76
Family expenditure survey (1934-36)
and revised cost-of-living index
(1940), 150
Lubin, 145-146
Office o f Economic Research, 185
Wage studies, 160
Booz-A llen and Ham ilton surveys, 185,
Borah, W illiam E., 68, 77
Bowen, J. C hester, 129,135
Breckinridge, Sophonisba P , 63
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Brennan, Peter J., 226
Brookings Institution, The, 11,129,141,
Budget, Bureau o f the (See also Office o f
Management and Budget), 136,138,
Blue-collar surveys, 200
C ost-of-living index, 122
CPI, 193,196
Interagency Price Com m ittee, 199
Job vacancy statistics, 191
Release o f em ploym ent/
unemployment figures, 188
Stigler Com m ittee, 196
Survey o f professional, adm inistra'
tive, technical, and clerical pay
(PA TQ , 200
Unem ployment statistics, 166,181,
Budgets, standard, BLS. See Prices and
living conditions
Budgets, WPA, for "basic maintenance”
and "emergency” standards (1936), 158
Bulletin, 22,40, 74
Burdetsky, Ben, 217, 218
Bureau o f Labor Statistics:
Independence and integrity,
Clague, 179, 204, 209-210, 211
Dept, o f Labor field organiza­
tion, 256-257
H inrichs’ nomination, 175-177
Homeownership cost measure­
ment, 230-233
Korean War controversy, 194
Monthly Labor Review ,
M oore, 218, 224-225
Neill, 45 ,6 4 -6 5 ,6 7 -6 9 , 70,
Reader’s D igest charges,



Release o f statistics, 188-190,
Shiskin, 218-219
Stewart, 117,118,126,139
U rban poverty area studies, 244
W orld War II controversy,
W right, 3 ,1 1 ,2 3 -2 4 ,3 7 -3 8 ,4 2 ,
Investigations and exam inations of:
Advisory Com m ittee on
Employment Statistics,
Advisory Com m ittee to the
Secretary o f Labor, 145
“Charges vs. C harles P. N eill,”
Com m ittee on Governm ent
Statistics and Inform ation
Services, 145
G ordon Com m ittee, 189-190
H ouse Subcom m ittee on Overstaffing, 207-209
Joint Economic Com mittee,
M ills Com m ittee, 154-156
M itchell Com m ittee, 156-158
National Com m ission on
Employment and Unem ploy­
ment Statistics, 219, 237-238
President’s Com m ittee on the
C ost o f Living, 155-157
Steed Com m ittee, 194-195
Stigler Com m ittee, 196—197
Organic A ct, 1 8 8 4 ,1 ,3 -4
Independent departm ent, 1888,
Dept, o f Com merce and Labor,
Dept, o f Labor, 1913, 75
Role, 258-261
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Booz-A llen and Hamilton
reports, 185,254-255
Clague, 180-181
in Dept, o f Commerce and
Labor, 20-21
in Dept, o f Labor, 80,87-89,
H oover Com m ission, 181
in indexation, 232,260
M eeker, 83,100
Neill, 44
in New Deal years, 144-148
Norwood, 220,258-259
Organic A ct, debates, 3
Program and organization con­
sultants (1954), 182
Roosevelt, Theodore, 20-21,
Ross, 216
Shiskin, 219
Standard budgets, 233-234
Wirtz’s view, 185-186
in W orld War 1 ,101-108
in W orld War II, 148-149
W right, 21,42
Bum s, A rthur E , 190-191,217, 221, 242
Business Research Advisory Council,
BLS, 179,257
CPI, housing costs, 229-230, 233
CPI, interim revision (1950-51), 193
CPI, population coverage, 228
Job vacancy statistics, 191,243
Petroleum prices, 236
Productivity indexes, 203
W holesale price index revision
(1952), 199
Carnegie Institution o f W ellington, 33,
Carter, Jimmy, 219,220,231
Catholic University o f America, 41,45,


The First Hundred Years

Census, Bureau o f the, 3 2 ,3 3 ,3 8 ,6 4 ,
Bureau o f Efficiency recommenda­
tions, 121
C ost-of-living reports, 121-122
CPI, 193,227
C urrent Population Survey, 188,
Establishm ent of, 15-17
Exchange with B LS (1959), 166,188
M onthly Report on the Labor
Force, 166,181,187
Shiskin an official, 218
Unem ployment statistics, 130,181,
U rban poverty area studies, 243-244
C ensus o f M anufactures, 36 ,9 2 ,1 2 3 ,
1 2 8 ,1 3 1 ,1 3 2 ,1 3 5 ,1 6 4 ,2 0 6
C entral Bureau o f Planning and Statis­
tics, War Industries Board, 81,102,
Central Statistical Board, 145,150,
Chaney, Lucian W , 58,101
Q u id labor, 2 9 -3 1 ,4 7 ,6 2 -6 9 ,8 5 -8 6 ,9 0
Children’s Bureau, 6 5 ,6 7 ,8 7 ,1 1 6
Citizens’ Industrial A ssociation, 44
C ity W orker’s Family Budget, 159,
C ivil Service Com m ission (See also Office
o f Personnel Management), 246,250
Clague, Ewan, 1 3 1 ,135,145,158,177,
Bureau program s, 186-205
Institutional environment, 178-186
Reconfirmation, 209-210
Retirement, 211-212
C lark, Lindley D ., 61
C lark College (W orcester, M ass.), 41,140
Cleveland, G rover, 14,15, 27
Collection procedures, 12-13, 70-71
Collective bargaining, B L S studies. See
Wages and industrial relations
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Colorado mining areas, 25,95-96
Com merce, Dept, of:
Economic growth studies, 206-207
Employment and unemployment
statistics, 129,130,131
H oover as Secretary, 114
Income estimates, 245
Price studies, 89,90
Productivity data, 135
Com merce and Labor, Dept, of, 34,44,
Bureau o f Labor in, 33,62, 72-73
C ensus in, 16,17
Establishm ent of, 18-21
Com m ission on Industrial Relations,
U .S. (1913), 55-56
Com m ission on Organization o f the
Executive Branch o f the Government.
See H oover Com m ission
Com mittee on Governm ent Operations,
H ouse, 224
Com mittee on Governm ent Statistics
and Inform ation Services, 145
Com mittee on Post Office and Civil
Service, H ouse, 224
Com mittee on the Integrity o f Federal
Statistics, 222, 225
Com m ons, John R., 12, 26,116,180
Com pany unions, B LS study, 1935,163
Com parability, Federal pay (See also
National Survey o f Professional,
Adm inistrative, Technical, and Clerical
Pay under Wages and industrial rela­
tions), 109-110,200,215,246-247
Com prehensive Employment and Train­
ing A ct (1973), 241-242
Confidentiality, voluntary reporting, BLS
policies, 12-13,174,193, 210-211,
Congressional Budget Office, 215
C ongress o f Industrial Organizations,



Consum er expenditure studies and
Continuing expenditure survey,
C ost-of-production studies, 34
D istrict o f Colum bia, surveys, 95,
Federal employees, 106,123,149
for Ford M otor Company, 123,138
National surveys for cost-of-living
studies, 36-37,102,104-106,122,
Shipbuilding centers, 103,104
Survey o f Family Spending and Sav­
ing in Wartime, 151
Survey o f U rban and Rural C on­
sum ers (1935-36), 150
Consum er price program s, 192-198,
A djustm ent following World War D,
C arter adm inistration criticism , 220
C ity coverage, 197-198
C ost-of-living index, 1919-45,
Consum er’s Price Index for M oder­
ate Income Fam ilies in Large C it­
ies (Consum er Price Index for
U rban Wage Earners and Clerical
W orkers), 1945-78,157,158,196,
Consum er Price Index for A ll
U rban Consum ers and Consum er
Price Index for U rban Wage
Earners and Clerical W orkers,
General M otors, contract with
U nited A uto W orkers, 179,193
Homeownership cost measurement,
Indexation uses, 149,179,214-215,
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Interim or tem porary revision
(1951), 193-194
Korean W ff controversy, 194-195
M ajor revisions: 1940,1953,1964,
“O ld series” continuation (1953),
Population coverage, 194, 195,196,
Quality change, 7 1 ,155,157,158,
Ross “m aster plan”, 217,226
Stigler Com m ittee, 196-197
Wartime adjustm ents (W W II), 151
“Welfare index" proposals, 197
W orld War II controversy, 151-158
Coordinated Federal Wage System , 246
Cortelyou, George B., 2 0,59
C ost-of-living program s, BLS, 34-35,
C ost-of-production studies, 34-35
Council o f Economic Advisers:
Bureau program s, 187,201,207,247
Economic reports, 214,231
Establishm ent and influence of, 178,
Guideposts policy, 203
Release o f data, 225
Council o f National Defense (World War

Council on Economic Policy, Subcom ­
mittee on Economic Statistics, 228,
Couzens, Jam es, 129,141
C raxton, Fred C ., 51, 70
Current Population Survey, household
survey, “M onthly Report o f Unem ­
ployment,” “M onthly Report on the
Labor Force", 187,238-239
Exchange with C ensus, 166,188
G ordon Com mittee, 190,238


The First Hundred Years

H oover Com m ission, 181
Labor force studies, 192
Local area unemployment statistics,
National Com m ission on Em ploy'
m ent and Unem ployment Statis­
tics, 239
Redesign project, 1980’s, 239
Spendable earnings series, 245
U rban poverty area studies, 243-244
Davis, Jam es J., 1 1 7 ,122,126,128,130,
Davis, W illiam H ., 152-153,155-157
D ebs, Eugene V., 26-27
Diamond M atch Com pany, 60
Dispute settlem ent:
Lubin, 146
N eill, 56-57
Stewart, 95-96,116
W right, 26-29
D istrict o f Colum bia:
Board o f C harities, 45
Board o f Education, 79
Budget studies by B LS, 95,10 6 ,1 4 9
C ivic Center, 46
Federal employee surveys by BLS,
D oak, W illiam N „ 139
Donovan, Raym ond J., 221,238,257
Dublin, Louis I., 100
D u Bois, W .E.B., 32-33,76
D uBrul, Stephen M ., 209-210
D unlop, John T., 256
Earnings, gross and spendable, 244-245
Economic Cooperation Adm inistration,
Economic growth and employment pro­
jections (See also Input-output studies
and O ccupational outlook studies),
Economic hardship, annual report, 239
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Economic Recovery Tax A ct o f 1981,
Economic Research, Office o f (BLS), 185
Economic Stabilization A ct o f 1942,152,
Economy A ct o f 1932,139
Economy A ct o f 1933,149
Efficiency, Bureau of, 121
Eight-hour law abuses, BLS studies,
Eisenhower, Dwight D ., 189,195
Electronic data processing, 255-256,260
Employment A ct o f 1946,178, 214,260
Employment and unemployment statis­
tics (See also Current Population Sur­
vey, Job vacancy statistics, Labor
turnover statistics, National Com m is­
sion on Employment and Unem ploy­
ment Statistics, and Unemployment,
B LS programs), 237-243
Establishm ent or payroll series, vol­
ume o f employment, 97-98,
Cooperative program with
State agencies, 91,165,
Funding for expansion, Wagner
resolution, 128-129,130,
G ordon Com m ittee, 190
H oover Com m ission, 181
National Com m ission on
Employment and Unem ploy­
ment Statistics, 219, 240
Reconversion program, 165,
"Shrinkage,” as measure o f
unemployment, 126,
Suggestions for improvements,
1920’s, 127-132
Extent and regularity studies, 93



Labor m arket inform ation, 218,221,
Occupational employment statistics,
190, 240
Employment C ost Index. See Wages and
industrial relations
Employment offices, public, 8 4,90
Employment Security, Bureau of:
Clague, 180
Cooperative program in em ploy'
ment statistics, 187
Job vacancy statistics, 191
Local area unemployment statistics,
Release o f em ploym ent/
unemployment figures, 188
Employment Statistics for the United States

(1926), 127-128
Erdman A ct (1898), 2 8 ,5 6 ,5 7 ,7 6 -7 7 ,8 2
Ethnic studies, B LS, 31-33
European Recovery Program, 205
Evans, W. Duane, 206
Fair Labor Standards A ct o f 1938,160,

201, 211
Falkner, Roland P., 34-36,38
Federal employees’ com pensation act o f
1908,6 1 -6 2 ,8 7 ,9 9
Federal Em ployees’ Com pensation Board
(1916), 6 2 ,9 9
Federal Reserve Board, 124,128,131,
Federal Salary Reform A ct o f 1962, 200
Federal Statistics U sers’ Conference,
Field operations, 69-70 ,1 6 1 ,1 7 0 ,1 7 3 ,
Fisher, Irving, 9 1 -92,102-103,113,124
Ford, G erald R ., 218
Ford M otor Com pany, 123,138
Foreign Labor C onditions, D ivision of;
Office o f Foreign Labor and Trade
(BLS), 191,205-206,252-253
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Frankfbrd Arsenal, 169-170
Frankfurter, Felix, 87,101,112
Full Employment and Balanced Growth
A ct, or Humphrey-Hawkins A ct
(1978), 214
General Accounting Office:
Coordinated Federal Wage System ,
CPI, homeownership costs, 231-232
C P I-U for indexing, 229
M ultifactor productivity, 249
National survey o f professional,
administrative, technical, and cler­
ical pay, 247
Productivity in the Federal Government, 250
General M otors, contract with U nited
A uto W orkers, 1948,179,193,203
George W tshington University (previ­
ously Colum bian University), 41
Giffin, Robert, 13
G ift o f Freedom , The, 205
Goldberg, A rthur J., 184,189
Gom pers, Sam uel
Bureau activities, 1 3 ,2 4 ,5 5 ,6 1 ,6 9 ,
Dispute settlement, 27-28,29
Establishm ent o f Bureau and D ep t
o f Labor, 3 ,1 8 ,1 9
Gordon, Robert A ., 189,224
G ordon Com mittee, 189-190,191, 237,
G ould, Elgin R. L., 11 ,1 3 ,3 9
Governm ent Printing Office, 94
G reat Britain, 1 3 ,39-40,59,86,102, 111,

Green, William, 176
G uideposts policy, 203
Hamilton, A lice, 60,101
Hanger, G.W.W., 11, 73
Hanna, Hugh, S., 101,135


The First H undred Years

H anna, M arcus A ., 18,20
Harding, W irren G ., 7 9 ,1 1 7 ,1 2 1 ,1 2 6
Hawaii, Com m issioner’s report on condì'
tions in, 52
H ealth, Education, and W elfare, D ep t o f
(now D ep t o f H ealth and Human
Services), 234
Hillm an, Sidney, 147,167
H inrkhs, A . R>rd, 147,172,173
Adm inistration, 148-149
Resignation, 175-177
W orld War II controversy, 152,154,
H odgson, Jam es D ., 218,2 2 2 ,2 2 4 ,2 2 6
H offinan, Frederick L , 5 8 ,5 9 ,1 0 0
H oover, H erbert C ., 114,121-122,126,
H oover Com m ission, 181,182,193
H opkins, Jam es H ., 3
H ourly Earnings Index, 248
H u n t C aroline L ., 11,33
Illinois Bureau o f Labor Statistics, 115,
Im migrants' Protective League, 50
Immigration Com m ission, U . S . (1907),
Im migration issues, B L S studies, 31-32,
3 3,50-52
Indexation, use o f B L S statistics for:
C ost o f living, C PI, 149,179,
General, 179,260
Local area unemployment statistics,
W holesale prices, 159
Industrial Com m ission, U .S. (1898), 18
Industrial Conference (December 1919),
Industrial Congress, later Industrial
Brotherhood, 2
Industrial Depressions, F irst A n nual

Report (1886), 23-25
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Industrial education, BLS studies, 31,61,
Industrial Relations Research A ssocia­
tion, 222,223,224,225
Industrial W orkers o f the W orld, 45,53,
Input-output studies, interindustry anal­
ysis, 168,199,206-207
Interior, D ep t o f the, 1 ,3 ,4 ,1 6 ,1 7 ,4 2 ,
International A ssociation o f M achinists,
3 8 ,5 0 ,5 4
International influences, activities, 39-40,
C ongress for International Labor
Legislation (1897), 40
C ongress o f Paris (1900), 40
International A ssociation for Labor
Legislation, 4 0 ,5 9 ,7 4 ,1 1 2 ,1 3 8
International A ssociation o f Gov­
ernm ent Labor Officials, 14,41,
International A ssociation o f Indus­
trial Accident Boards and Com ­
m issions, 100,120
International A ssociation o f Public
Employment Services, 120
International Conference o f Labor
Statisticians, ILO , 138
International Conference on Unem ­
ployment (1910, 1912), 74-75
International Labor Conference,
\lbshington (1919), 112,116
International Labor O ffice/
Organization, League o f Nations,
1 1 2 ,113,123,138,146
International Labour Office, 40,
International Statistical Institute, 13,
1 6 ,3 9 ,4 0 ,1 3 8
Interstate Com merce Com m ission, 28,



Iron and steel industry, conditions o f
employment in, 54-55,58
Jarrett, John, 4
Job Training Partnership A ct o f 1982,239
Job vacancy statistics, 190-191,242-243
Johnson, Lyndon B., 190,246
Joint Com m ission on Reclassification o f
Salaries, U . S . Congress, 106
Joint Com m ittee on Printing, U .S. C on­
gress, 94,110,137-138
Joint Economic Com m ittee, U .S. C on­
Bureau program s, 187,203,250,
253- 254
Establishm ent of, 178,260
G ordon Com m ittee, 189
M andatory reporting, 236
Press briefings, m onthly hearings,
R oss plan for prices, 213, 226
Joy, A ryness (W ickens), 129,145,147,
Kelley, Florence, 12
Kennedy, John F., 189
Knapp, M artin A ., 56-57
Knights o f Labor, Jou rn al o f United
L abor, 2 ,3 ,4 ,1 4 -1 5 ,1 8 ,5 1 ,1 1 6
Kober, G eorge M ., 59
Labor, Dept, of, issues:
Booz-A llen and Hamilton, 185,217,
254- 255
Bureau o f Labor Safety, Division o f
Safety, 87,133
C ity coverage, CPI, 197-198
CPI, revision o f 1949-53,193
Employment statistics, 126-127,
Field organization, 256-257
Release or clearance procedures,
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Schwellenbach and H inrichs,
Securing the Bureau’s place, 86-89,
Stewart’s retirement, 139
W ilsh-H ealey challenge, 210-211
War on poverty, 185
Labor, D ep t of, agencies:
Bureau o f Labor Management
Reports (BLM R), 184
Employment and Training Adm inis­
tration (ETA), 240,245
International Labor Affairs Bureau
(ILAB), 206
Investigation and Inspection Service
(World W it I), 116
Labor-M anagem ent Services
Adm inistration (LM SA), 184
Labor Standards Bureau (Employment Standards Adm inistration)
(LSB), 170,201-202,205,246
Manpower Adm inistration, 184,
M ediation and Conciliation Service,
O ccupational Safety and H ealth
Adm inistration (OSHA), 251-252
Office o f Inform ation and Public
Affairs (OIPA), 183
Office o f Manpower, Autom ation,
and Training (OM AT), 184
Program and organization consult­
ants (1954), 182
Wage and H our and Public C on­
tracts Divisions, 148,160,

Ww Labor Policies Board (World

W ffI), 101
Woman in Industry Service (World

Wu I), 88, 111
Women’s Bureau, 6 5 ,6 7 ,8 7 -8 8 ,1 6 4
Labor force studies, 192
L abor Inform ation Bulletin, 163


The First Hundred Years

Labor Inform ation Service (BLS), 145
Labor-m anagem ent relations, B L S activi­
in D ept, o f Labor, 95-96,184
Lubin’s role, 145-146
M eeker’s views, 8 2 ,8 3 -8 4 ,8 6
N eill’s activities, 5 6-57,79
N eill’s views, 47
Productivity, annual im provement
factors, 179,203-204
Supplem ental or fringe benefits,
W right’s role, 26-29
W igh t’s views, 8-1 0 ,2 3
Labor Management Relations A ct o f
1947 (Taft-Hartley), 202
Labor Management Reporting and D is­
closure A ct (1959), 184
Labor m arket inform ation. See Employ­
m ent and unemployment statistics
Labor requirem ents, B L S studies. See
Productivity and Technology
Labor Research Advisory Council (BLS),
Conferences, annual and inform al,
C ontinuing expenditure surveys,
CPI, housing costs, 229-230,233
CPI, interim revision (1950-51), 193
CPI, population coverage, 227-228
Employment C ost Index, 248
Job vacancy statistics, 191,243
Productivity indexes, 203-204
Labor turnover, B L S series, 98,129-130,
La Bollette, Robert M ., Jr., 130,142
Lawrence, M ass., textile strike (1912), 55
Lead poisoning studies, 60,101
Leontief, W ssily, 168,206
Levitan, Sar A ., 237
Lewis, David J., 8 7,88
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

liq u o r issue, 32
Little Steel form ula, 154,157
Lloyd, H enry Dem arest, 115
Local area unemployment statistics. See
Unem ployment, B LS program s
Lodge, H enry C ., 1 7,20,63
Long, Clarence D ., 181
Longshorem en’s and H arbor W orkers’
Com pensation A ct, 1958,205,252
Lubin, Isador, 129,194,259
Bureau program s, 151-172
Early career, 140-142
New Deal activities, 144-148
Resignation, 148,175
Views, 142-144

M cDowell, Mary, 63,65
McKee’s Rock, Pa., 1909 strike, 53
McKinley, W illiam, 34,45
NcNeill, George E., 2
M anpower Developm ent and Training
A ct, 1962,184
M arshall, F. Ray, 238,257
M artin, Edward, 209
M assachusetts Bureau o f Statistics o f
Labor, 2 ,3 ,7 ,8 ,1 1 ,2 9 ,3 9
M ayo-Sm ith, Richm ond, 35
Meany, George, 155-157,189,210,228,
M ediation and Conciliation, U .S. Board
of, 11,57
M eeker, Royal, 116,138
Early career, 81-83
First term , 92-102
International activities, 111-112
Resignation and later years, 113-114
Views, 83-86
W rtim e emergencies, 101-106
M etropolitan Life Insurance Company,
M ichigan copper strike, 1913,96
M ills, Frederick C ., 154,176,181



M ills Com m ittee (American Statistical
Association), 154-156
Minimum wage (See also Fair Labor
Standards A ct o f 1938), 95,105,119,
M itchell, Jam es R, 182,187,188-189,
M itchell, Wesley C .:
B LS, 108
C ost-of-living controversy, W orld
W arH, 156-158
Employment statistics im prove'
m ents, 127
H inrichs’ nomination, 176
Lubin’s work, W orld War 1 ,141
Price statistics, revision, 91-93
Wage statistics, 38
M itchell Com m ittee, 156-158
M ondale, W alter F., 226-227
Monthly L abor Review, 110-111,
M oore, Geoffrey H ., 216,217-218,220
Advisory councils, 257
CPI revision, 227
Job vacancy statistics, 242-243
Release o f statistics, 221-226
Reorganization, 223, 256
Resignation, 219,224-225
Spendable earnings series, 245
Standard budgets, 233-234
U rban poverty area studies, 244
M orrison, Frank, 4 9 ,9 6
Moynihan, Daniel R, 183,185
M urray, Philip, 176
M yers, Robert J., 184

National A ssociation o f M anufacturers,
1 3 ,1 8 ,1 9 ,4 4 ,6 4 ,1 3 1 ,1 6 3
National Bureau o f Economic Research,
1 2 7 ,1 5 4 ,1 8 1 ,1 9 1 ,1 9 6 ,2 0 1 ,2 1 7 ,2 1 8
National C hild Labor Com m ittee, 65,69,
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

National Civic Federation, 1 3 ,1 8 ,3 8 ,4 1 ,
5 7 ,6 4 ,7 7 ,7 9
National Com m ission on Employment
and Unemployment Statistics:
Advisory groups, 257
Earnings, 245
Employment and unemployment
statistics, 237-238,239,240,242,
General recommendations, 221
Shiskin cm establishm ent of, 219
National Conference o f Social W ork, 106
National Conference on O utdoor Recre­
ation, 120,121
National D efense Advisory Com m ission,
W orld W arn, 147,150
National Fraternal Congress, 134
National Industrial Conference Board,
National Industrial Recovery A ct, 143,
National Labor Relations A ct o f 1935
(Wagner Act) (See also Labor Managem ent Relations A ct o f 1947), 144,163
National Labor Relations Board, 163
N ation al L abor Tribune, 15
National Labor U nion, 2
National Recovery Adm inistration
(NRA), 1 44,146,148,160,163,171,
National Research Project on Reemploy­
ment O pportunities and Recent
Changes in Industrial Techniques,
WPA, 168-169
National Resources Com mittee, 150
National Safety Council, 5 8 ,9 0 ,1 0 0
National Security and Defense Fund,
President's, 103,109
National Society for the Promotion o f
Industrial Education, 4 1,90
National Wfor Labor Board, W orld War I,


The First Hundred Years

National War Labor Board, W orld War
H, 148-149,152,154-158,161-162,
Neill, Charles R, 2 8 ,4 1 ,8 2 ,9 6 ,1 1 6 ,2 5 9
Bureau statistical program s, 69-73
Early career, 45-46
Investigations, 48-56,58-62
M ediation activities, 56-57
Reconfirmation and resignation, 69,
Views, 46-47
Woman and child study, 62-69
New England congressional caucus, 236
Newlands A ct (1913), 57,82
New Tibrk City, Com m ittee on Unem ­
ployment, 96-97
New \b rk State Departm ent o f Labor, 91
Nixon, Richard M ., 214,218,224,242
N orth, S.N .D ., 12,16
Norwood, Janet L ., 216,219-221,
Advisory councils, 257
A ppropriations, 220-221,234,
Com parative wage study with Japan,
Homeownership costs, 216,230-233
Local area unemployment statistics,
National Com m ission on Employ­
ment and Unem ploym ent Statis­
tics, 238
Organization and management ini­
tiatives, 256
Release, clearance o f statistics, 226
Standard budgets, 234
Structural changes in economy, 214
O benauer, M arie L., 67
O ccupational employment statistics. See
Employment and unemployment sta­
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Occupational outlook studies (BLS), 167,
O ccupational Safety and H ealth Act,
Occupational safety and health statistics
(BLS), 5 8 -6 1 ,6 6,89-90,99-101,
Annual survey o f industrial injuries,
manufacturing, 5 8 ,133,169,205,
Bureau o f Labor Safety, Division o f
Safety, 87,133
Safety codes, 133
Office o f Management and Budget (for­
merly Bureau o f the Budget), 218,248,
CPI revision, 227
Release o f statistics, 221-222,
Reorganization, 1971,223,256
Standard budgets, 234
Office o f Personnel Management, 246,
Office o f Price Adm inistration, World
W arfl, 148-149,151
O gbum , William E , 95
O il embargo, 214,236
O lder worker program (Dept, o f Labor),
O liver, Sir Thom as, 60
Organization for European Economic
Cooperation, 205
Overman, Lee S., 68, 75
Packinghouse conditions, Neill-Reynolds
report (1906), 48-49
Palmer, Walter B., 68,95-96
Panel to Review Productivity Statistics,
National Academy o f Sciences, 249
Paris Peace Conference (1919), 112
Parker, A . Warner, 76-77
Parsons, Edith, 31



Pension systems, BLS studies. See Social
Perkins, Frances, 154,158,161,171
H inrichs, 148
Lubin, 1 4 2 ,1 4 4 ,145,146,147,163,
New "fork, 130
Perry, A rthur R ., 101
Personnel Classification Board, 123,136
Personnel Research Federation, 121
Phosphorus poisoning, 59-60,133
Post, Louis E , 8 7,102,103
Postwar employment problem s, BLS
studies (World War II), 168
Poverty studies (BLS), 243-244
Powderly, Terence V , 4 ,1 4 ,1 5 ,5 1
President’s Advisory Com m ittee on
Labor Management Policy, 204
President’s Advisory C ouncil on Execu>
tive Organization (Ash Council), 223
President’s Com m ittee on the C ost o f
Living, 155-157
President’s Com m ittee to Appraise
Employment and Unem ploym ent Sta­
tistics (G ordon Com mittee), 189-190
President’s Panel on Federal Com pensa­
tion (Rockefeller ftmel), 247
Press conferences, 188,195, 221-226
Prevailing wages, 119,181, 210
Prices and living conditions (See also
Consum er expenditure studies and
surveys, Consum er price program s,
and C ost-of-living programs):
Export and im port price indexes,
International system (1914), 93
Petroleum prices, 236
Producer Price Index, 235-236
Retail prices, 34-38, 70-71,91-92,
Ross "m aster plan”, 217, 226
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Standard or family budgets, 34-35,
W holesale prices, 34-36, 72.-73,
Probability sampling, 151,166,197,235
Productivity and technology (See also
Technological displacement), 134-135,
A nnual improvement factors, 179,
European recovery program, 205
Labor requirem ents, 166-167,204,
Multifiactor productivity, 221,
Productivity indexes, 94,135,169,
Productivity in the Federal Govern­
ment, 250
U nit labor costs, 204,252
Progressive movement, 6 ,4 3 ,8 3
Proxmire, William, 211,225,228
Prudential Insurance Company, 58,100
Publications (See also Bulletin and
Monthly L abor Review), 22,74,
Public H ealth Service, 89,201
Pullman strike (1894), 26-27
Railroad Brotherhoods, 18,56-57, 77,
Railroad strikes in the Southwest, 14, 23,
Reader’s D igest, 189-190
Reagan, Ronald W , 220,221
Reconversion statistics program, 165,
Rees, A lbert, 235,247-248
Release procedures (See also Press confer­
ences), 188-190,221-226
Reuther, Walter, 226


The First Hundred Years

Reynolds, Jam es Bronson, 48-49
Rockefeller, N elson A ., 234,247
Roosevelt, Franklin D ., 142,145,149,
Roosevelt, Theodore:
Bureau o f Labor, role of, 43-44
D ept, o f Com m erce and Labor,
establishm ent of, 18,20-21
N eill, investigations requested,
4 3 -4 6 ,4 8 ,4 9 ,5 0 -5 1 ,6 3 -6 4
W right, strike investigations
requested, 25,28-29
R oss, A rthur M ., 211,226
Adm inistration, 216-217
Booz-A llen and Ham ilton reports,
Ruggles, Richard, 235
Saposs, David, 163
Schwab, Charles, 54
Schwellenbach, Lewis B., 158,175-177
Seager, Henry R ., 103
Seasonal adjustm ent factors, 128,187,
Seligm an, E.R A .., 60,81
Service C ontract A ct o f 1965 (McNam ara-O ’Hara), 246
Sewall, H annah R ., 31
Shipbuilding Labor A djustm ent Board,
Shiskin, Julius, 216,218-219,220,256
C ontinuing expenditure survey,
C PI revision, 219,227-230
Employment C ost Index, 248
Field operations, 256-257
Local area unemployment statistics,
Petroleum prices, 236
Relation to B um s and M oore, 217
Release o f statistics, 218, 221-222
Standard budgets, 234
Unem ploym ent rates, 238-239
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

“Sick" industries, 114,120
Sinclair, U pton, 48
Social insurance, B LS studies, 26,61-62,
Pension systems, 133-134, 201-202
W orkers’ com pensation, 84-85,99,
Social Science Research Council, 124,
Social Security Adm inistration, 180,181,
South Carolina D ep t o f Agriculture,
Com merce, and Immigration, 50
Southern Pacific Railroad Company, 56
Sputnik, 192
Stabilized or com pensated dollar, 102,
State statistical agencies:
Cooperation, 14 ,9 1 ,1 0 0 ,1 1 0 ,1 2 1 ,
Early examples, 2, 3, 39
Federal/State cooperative program s,
Statistical coordination, Federal:
The Bureau in the Federal establish'
ment, 72-73,89-91,260-261
Bureau o f Efficiency recommenda­
tions, 121
C entral Statistical Board, 145
Com m ittee on Post Office and Civil
Service, H ouse, 224
C PI, revision o f 1949-53,193
Hoover Com m ission, 181
M onthly Report on the Labor
Force, 181
National Recovery Adm inistration,
Need for in W orld War 1 ,101-102
Office o f Management and Budget,
Steed Com m ittee, H ouse Com mittee on
Education and Labor (1951), 194-195



Stewart, Ethelbert, 8 8 ,8 9 ,9 8 ,1 1 2 ,1 5 0 ,
180, 219
Adm inistration, 120-121,135-138
Bureau program s, 120-135
Early career, 53, 73, 95,108-110,
International activities, 112,138
Retirement, 139
Views, 90,117-120
Stigler, George J., 196
Stigler Com m ittee, 196-197,199, 227,
Straus, O scar S., 5 0-51,64
Strike studies and statistics. See Wages
and industrial relations
Survey o f Family Spending and Saving in
Wartime, 151
Taft, W illiam Howard, 4 4 ,5 2 ,5 3 , 55-56,
60,69, 75, 77
Tariff legislation, 34,55
Tariff studies, B LS, 34, 204
Taussig, Frank W , 35, 36
Technical advisory committees:
Employment and unemployment
statistics, 131-132,189-190
Joint Technical G roup on Homeownership, 230
National Com m ission on Employ­
ment and Unem ployment Statis­
tics, 219,237-238
Prices, 193,199
Productivity, 249
to Secretary o f Labor, 145
Standard budgets, 159, 198, 234
Technological displacement, unemploy­
ment, automation, BLS studies:
Advisory Com m ittee on
Employment Statistics,
Clague, 192, 204
Lubin, 141,142-143
Recent period, 1965-85, 250
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Stewart, 118,135
Wright, 24-25
Temporary National Economic Com mit­
tee, U .S. Congress, 143-144,147,150
Thom as, R.J., 157
Tillman, Benjamin R ., 75, 77-78
Tobin, M aurice J., 208
Treasury Departm ent, 151,199
Truman, Harry S, 175
Tumulty, Joseph P., 8 9 ,9 0 ,1 0 0
Unemployment, BLS program s (See also
Current Population Survey):
C ensus o f Unemployment, 1934,
Economic hardship annual report,
Local area unemployment statistics,
Monthly Report on the Labor
Force, 166,181,187-188
Surveys, 1915,96-97
Unemployment rates, array of,
Unemployment, issues (See also Techno­
logical displacement):
C ensus o f unemployment, 129-131
Conference on Unemployment,
Couzens Com mittee, 1928-29,129,
Discouraged workers, 188, 238, 239
“Labor force* concept, 166
Lubin’s views, 141
Presidential election o f 1960,
Press conferences, releases, 221-226
Reader’s Digest charges, 189-190
Wagner proposals, 128-129,
War on poverty, urban problem s,
\bu th unemployment, 192


The First Hundred Years

Unem ploym ent insurance, 143
U nited A uto W orkers (See also General
M otors), 179,204
CPI, “old series", 195
CPI, quality change, 226-227
U nited Electrical, Radio and Machine
W orkers, 194
U nited M ine W orkers o f America, 29,
3 8,44
U nited States Steel Corporation, 44,
U rban studies, B LS, 31-34,243-244
U .S. A ir Force, 206,207
U .S. Employment Service, 84,126-127,
Van Kleeck, Mary, 88,127
Veblen, Thorstein, 140,141
Verrill, Charles H ., 73,100
Veterans Adm inistration, 167-168,207,
Vocational Education A ct o f 1963,240
Wage adjustm ent, escalation, and stabili'
D ispute settlem ent, 105-107,122
Federal employee pay, 149,215
GM -UA W contract, 179,193,203
New C PI in agreem ents, 195,228
Productivity factors, 134,179,
Stew art’s view, 117-118
Wartime stabilization, 102-104,
W age-price freeze (1971), 214
Wages and industrial relations (See also
Labor-m anagem ent relations, BLS
activities), 199-202,245-249
Blue-collar survey, 181,200, 215,
Collective bargaining agreement file,
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Collective bargaining settlem ents
analysis, 2 6 ,9 6 ,1 2 5 ,1 6 4 ,2 0 2 ,2 4 9
Current W age Developments, 202
Employment C ost Index, 247-248
Industrial survey (1919), 107-108
Minimum wage adm inistration, 160,
200 - 201, 210-211
National Survey o f Professional,
Adm inistrative, Technical, and
Clerical Pay, 200,215, 246-247
National War Labor Board, W W II,
N R A codes, B LS surveys, 146,148,
Strike studies and statistics, 25,
5 2 -5 6 ,7 2 ,9 6 ,1 2 5 ,1 6 3 ,1 6 4 ,2 4 9
Supplem ental or fringe benefits,
U nion scales o f wages, 7 2 ,94,125,
U rban wage rate index, 162
Wage chronologies, 202,249
Wage studies, 3 5 ,3 7 -3 8 ,7 0 -7 2 ,9 3 ,
W agner, Robert F., 128-130,141-142
W alker, Francis A ., 15
W alsh-Healey Public Contracts A ct o f
War Industries Board, W orld War 1 ,81,
War on poverty, 185,243-244
War Production Board, W orld War II,
Weaver, O ren W., 11
Weber, G ustavus A ., 11, 73
W elfare and Pension Plans D isclosure
A ct, 1958,184,201-202
W elfare plans, corporate, 98-99
W estern Federation o f M iners, 25,96
W estmoreland County, Pa., coal mining
strike (1910-11), 55



W harton School o f Finance and Com ­
merce, 195
W holesale prices. See Prices and living
W ickens, A ryness Joy, 153,179,187, 209
W ilkins, Roy, 244
W illett, A llan H ., 112
W illoughby, W illiam F., 11,40
W ilson, W illiam B.:
D ispute settlement, 95
M eeker, 8 0 ,8 2 ,8 7 ,1 1 2 -1 1 3
N eill, 75-76,78
Publications, 110-111
Stewart, 116
Women’s Bureau, 88
W ilson, W oodrow, 56, 75, 77, 81-82,
Wirtz, W W illard:
Booz-AUen and Ham ilton studies,
Clague’s retirem ent, 211-212
Dept, o f Labor, 185-186
Monthly Labor Review, 183
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


Release o f statistics, 190
Statistical program s, 191,198, 244
Women and children, B LS studies, 9,
2 9 -3 1 ,5 8 ,6 2 -6 9 ,7 5 ,8 7 ,1 6 4 -1 6 5
Women’s Division, BLS, 67,87-88
W oodcock, Leonard, 228
W orkers’ com pensation. See Social insur­
W orks Progress Adm inistration (later
Work Projects Adm inistration), 150,
W right, C arroll D ., 2 ,3 ,5 ,4 5 ,4 6 ,5 6 ,6 1 ,
7 2 ,1 1 4 ,1 1 6 ,2 5 8 ,2 5 9
Bureau program s, 21-38
D ep t o f Commerce and Labor,
Early career, 7
International activities, 39-40
O rganizing the Bureau, 11-14
Relation to Bureau o f the Census,
Views, 8-10