Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Job and Career Information

There's no better place than the BLS to explore job and career information

Person working in office
••• Peopleimages / Getty Images

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is a terrific source for finding information on just about any career you can think of. The BLS is a federal agency that keeps tabs on the labor market, working conditions and changing wages and prices. Calling itself an “individual 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 ample information that is helpful to the job seeker. Explore the extensive 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. A Spanish language version is also available. 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.

The OOH also 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.

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.

Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Reports

BLS programs that analyze employment statistics cover 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 presented.

The unemployment rate is broken out by occupational types and industry areas to help readers to identify sectors that are expanding or contracting.