The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is an excellent source of information on just about any career you can think of. The BLS is a U.S. federal agency that keeps tabs on the labor market, working conditions, employment data, and changing wages and prices.
Calling itself an “independent statistical agency,” the BLS follows its mission of collecting and analyzing data, and providing the resulting economic information to the public.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics provides extensive information that is helpful for both job seekers and employers. Explore the BLS site and you’ll find occupational and career information; employment and unemployment statistics and reports; and wage, earnings, and benefits information.
We've compiled a roundup of some of the key reports that might be useful in your job or career search.
Occupational Outlook Handbook
The BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook is very helpful when you are exploring careers. It describes what workers do on the job, their working conditions, the training and education needed, earnings (from entry-level to advanced career), similar occupations, sources of additional information, links to state and regional data, and expected job prospects for the next 10 years in a wide range of occupations.
The Handbook provides a set of filters to help you search its database by desired pay, education level required, training offered, and projected job growth by number of jobs and by percentage.
You can also drill down by industry to find related occupations. For example, say you’re interested in “Community and Social Services.” After clicking that link, you’ll see a table that lists the following job categories, along with a brief description of the work, the education required, and average annual salary:
- Health Educators and Community Health Workers
- Mental Health Counselors and Marriage and Family Therapists
- Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists
- Rehabilitation Counselors
- Social and Human Service Assistants
- Social Workers
- School and Career Counselors
- Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors
Click on any of those categories to find extensive information about job descriptions, work environment, pay, job outlook, regional data, and similar careers.
A Spanish language version is also available.
The OOH links users to the very useful set of information provided by the Department of Labor on O*NET. The O*NET system enables users to identify occupations by abilities, interests, skills, work values, work activities, job families, and many other factors.
You can conduct extensive research on occupational titles including tasks, tools used, technology skills employed, detailed work activities, work context, work values, knowledge utilized, job openings, wages, and education required.
The O*NET Interest Profiler is an online interest survey that helps users to uncover the connection between their interests and career options.
The Crosswalks feature of O*NET enables users to identify military occupations and search for registered apprentice programs. The Hot Technologies section allows users to locate occupations that frequently require job candidates to possess knowledge of specific technology tools like SPSS, Adobe Illustrator, C++, or Google Adwords, for example.
BLS Wages and Earnings Reports
The BLS is a fountain of information on the wages, earnings, and benefits of workers. In these reports, you’ll find information in three general categories: geographic area, occupation, and industry. Within those categories, you can drill down by sex, age, and even union membership.
Every year, the BLS runs its National Compensation Survey to gather and produce information on the wages, compensation, and benefits of job types by national and geographic regions and metropolitan and non-urban areas. You’ll find information on both annual salaries and hourly wages.
Wage data includes mean and median income in occupations as well as a very useful breakdown of salary within occupations by percentile .This data set reveals how much workers at the 10th, 25th, 50th, 75th, and 90th percentile earn so that users can compare their wages to peers in their field. You can also search archived surveys to look at past trends.
Geographic data is useful for job seekers considering relocation so that they can conduct a comparative assessment of wages and the concentration of jobs in their field within target locations.
Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Reports
BLS produces reports with employment statistics covering jobs and joblessness, providing information on unemployment, employment, layoffs, hours and earnings, displaced workers, state and local employment, occupations and economic indicators.
You can research employment status by state, by population (such as gender, ethnicity, and age) and even by county.
Bureau of Labor Statistics Unemployment Statistics
The Current Population Survey, published every month, is one of the most current sets of data on employment available anywhere. This survey of American households is conducted for the BLS by the Bureau of the Census. It provides up to date information on unemployment, labor market participation, hours of work, and trends in earnings.
Demographic data regarding employment for various categories of workers such as women, racial and ethnic groups, veterans, youths, persons with disabilities, and foreign-born workers is available. The unemployment rate is broken out by occupational types and industry areas to help readers to identify sectors that are expanding or contracting.
Informational Career Articles
The Bureau of Labor Statistics also produces special reports on developments in various sectors of the job market in a series of Career Outlook articles. The Department of Labor produces helpful materials for students to explore careers and for teachers to structure lessons to enhance career awareness.