On the road in the Lone Star State

One aspect of my job that I especially enjoy is meeting people around the country and speaking with them about labor market and economic conditions where they live and work. Broad measures like the national unemployment rate, changes in the national employment level, and the nationwide average price for a gallon of gasoline get a lot of attention, but they are really just the sum of economic activity in thousands of local labor markets across the country. Understanding what is going on with the economy really means understanding conditions in these local markets. Speaking to people from different parts of the country helps me and my BLS colleagues appreciate these diverse experiences and really put human faces on the statistics BLS publishes.

I recently had the opportunity to travel to Dallas to speak to two groups that are vital to the work we do at BLS. The first group was the Labor Market Information directors from all the states. They gathered in Dallas for one of their periodic national conferences. Many of our statistical programs at BLS are conducted through partnerships with the state workforce agencies. These productive, longstanding partnerships have enabled us to have statistics that are accurate, objective, relevant, timely, and accessible, not just for the nation as a whole but for states, counties, metropolitan areas, and other levels of geographic detail. The state Labor Market Information directors and their agencies share the BLS commitment to getting the facts right so that businesses, workers, jobseekers, households, and public policymakers can make decisions that are better informed. It was a great pleasure for me to meet with these dedicated professionals in Dallas to discuss how we can strengthen our partnership and improve our service to our many customers.

The following day I spoke to members of the Dallas Regional Chamber, an important group of business leaders. Members of the Dallas Regional Chamber are often heavy users of data from BLS and our state partners in Texas. Members of the Dallas Regional Chamber also represent potential respondents to BLS surveys, so they aren’t just users of data, they also are potential providers of data. Following the theme of a recent Commissioner’s Corner posting about “Why your survey answers are important,” I spoke about how we rely on—and are grateful for—the voluntary cooperation of survey participants to provide the best measures we can for the nation’s data dollars. I also discussed recent trends in the labor market in the Dallas area, other parts of Texas, and the nation as a whole.

I really enjoyed my time in Texas, and I look forward to meeting with people from other regions throughout my time as BLS Commissioner.