Agencies Continue Labor Market Info Upgrades

Christina Pena
June 9, 2017

Federal agencies are updating projects to help inform students, job seekers, workers, and employers about the labor market. These updates were mentioned during a recent meeting of the Council of Professional Associations on Federal Statistics (COPAFS): 

  • College Scorecard update – The U.S. Department of Treasury is working with the U.S. Department of Education to update information about post-college employment outcomes for the College Scorecard website. These agencies conduct secure, privacy-protected matching of federal data to calculate the aggregate earnings of graduates who received federal financial aid. The metric is displayed by institution.
  • Contingent Worker Supplement to the Current Population Survey – This Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) survey will show what is happening with the “on-demand” workforce, or “gig economy.” These types of jobs aren’t captured in state quarterly unemployment insurance wage records. BLS hasn’t produced a survey on contingent workers since 2005. BLS plans to release results by early 2018.
  • Occupational Requirements Survey (ORS) – BLS has been conducting this new survey for the Social Security Administration (SSA) to show the kinds of physical and mental demands, environmental conditions, and vocational preparation required to perform jobs. BLS and SSA are also using the information to replace the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (last updated in 1991) with a new Occupational Information System. The first completely new set of occupational data stemming from this effort will be ready in 2019. The SSA will use the system to more effectively administer disability programs. Agencies and organizations can also use the information to better match job seekers with work that they could perform. 
  • Survey of Employer-Provided Training – BLS is currently testing a survey of employer-provided training and plans to release a report on the project later in 2017. A survey on employer-provided training was last produced in 1995. An updated survey would demonstrate the role employers play in building the nation’s skilled workforce.
Despite recent uncertainties with stagnating budgets and possibly bleaker prospects in FY 2018, the behind-the-scenes work of experts to produce public data for the nation will remain a critical contribution to strengthening the workforce now and in the long-term. WDQC will continue to monitor these developments and advocate for a strong labor market information system.