BLS Information

2005 marks the 10th anniversary of the Bureau's web site, www.bls.gov

10th Anniversary of www.bls.gov

The First Annual Report of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a 496-page study of industrial depressions, was published in 1886. For over 100 years after that initial publication most of the Bureau's various bulletins, news releases, and reports were published the same way: ink on paper.

Today, the World Wide Web provides a powerful way to deliver information to the public. BLS began operating its Web site, www.bls.gov in 1995—an initial set of a few dozen Web pages was posted in January 1995, followed by the launch of the full-fledged Web site in conjunction with Labor Day in September of that year. These days, bls.gov makes an ever-expanding body of economic data and analysis available to an ever-growing group of online citizens.

BLS Web site homepage, September 1995
BLS web site Homepage, 1995

In the beginning, only limited sets of BLS statistics were available on the Web site. Gradually, a variety of data access tools were developed and the Internet became the Bureau's most popular means of disseminating essential statistical information to the American public. The use of the BLS Web site is over 1,000 times what it was ten years ago. The number of Web pages viewed by visitors to the BLS Web site each month has grown from the tens of thousands in the first year to over 20 million in some months this year.

BLS Web site document views, monthly average, in millions, 1995-2005

BLS Web site document views, monthly average, in millions, 1995-2005

1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005*
0.072 0.507 1.096 2.646 3.897 5.416 7.142 9.864 11.872 16.045 18.297

* January-July 2005 average

The most-often viewed pages of the BLS Web site since its first year have been from the online version of the Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH). The 1996-97 edition, the 22nd in 50 years of print, was the first edition also published on the BLS Web site. The Occupational Outlook Handbook has been a reader favorite ever since.

In 1996, as part of the move towards "e-government," BLS created charts of its principal economic statistics and linked them directly to the White House Web site. The next year, to address a need for content specifically designed for young people, the Kids' Page (a simplified version of the Occupational Outlook Handbook) appeared.

A feature called The Editor's Desk (TED) was added to the Web site in September 1998. An online-only publication, The Editor's Desk highlights one or two specific points from a selected BLS publication each day, always with an accompanying chart.

Several improvements were made to the BLS Web site in 2000. For example, Economy at a Glance was expanded to provide statistics for four regions, all 50 States, scores of metropolitan areas, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. And the BLS Inflation Calculator started giving users an easy way to see how the purchasing power of the dollar has changed over the years.

The biggest changes to the BLS Web site in the past ten years occurred in October 2001, when a completely new design was launched. The new design included more links on the BLS homepage and "Latest Numbers" and "People are Asking" boxes on many of the survey-specific pages.

In June 2002, BLS greatly increased the availability of graphs on its website, by making line graphs an output option when you use the tools Most Requested Statistics and Create Customized Tables (One Screen). Line graphs also are provided when you access historical data through Economy at a Glance tables and Latest Numbers boxes.

More recently, BLS has continued to add new features to its Web site. For instance, the Location Quotient Calculator, which is used for comparisons of industrial activity levels among different areas of the country, was launched in March 2005.

In the next ten years, look for continued improvements and enhancements to the BLS Web site. We would be happy to hear your suggestions for making the BLS Web site better—please contact us via email.

Last Modified Date: April 13, 2010

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