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Salary & Compensation Research Guide

Bureau of Labor Statistics Sources

Marion S. Trikosko, photographer. Labor Dept.; Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1962. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Within the federal government it is primarily the responsibility of Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to produce data related to wages and salaries. The Bureau was established in 1884 within the Department of Interior and was later transferred to the Department of Labor where it is today.

The Bureau has a long history of collecting and publishing employment and wage data. There are several publications and surveys to be aware of that we have included. Historically speaking, The Bulletin is the most notable one with the longest history of publication. For many years it was the primary vehicle for publishing and it included reports on the wages and hours of many industries. There were many reports published looking at manufacturing and the trades but others focused on specific geographic places, and industries that employed women.

How BLS publishes has changed but they still report on national as well as state and local employment and wages. They also produce compensation data, wages by occupation etc. One of their largest data gathering programs for wages and compensation is the National Compensation Survey (NCS) but there is also the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) and Current Employment Statistics (CES). Much of the data is reported on geographically and by occupation but they do in some limited cases look at administrative positions like top executives. We have included a number of links to specific BLS websites for those looking for more current data.

BLS Online Resources

Print Resources

For those doing historical research, BLS has produced many publications that are great sources for researching historical compensation data. We have included only a few publications of note here. Please use Ask a Librarian if you need assistance to locate additional BLS publications. The following materials link to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Links to digital content are provided when available.