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For Bureau of Labor Statistics FY2019 appropriations, the Senate Appropriations Committee wrote:

The Committee is concerned that there continues to be insufficient data on the impact technology is having on the American workforce. The Committee encourages BLS to develop a strategy to better understand how automation, digitization, and artificial intelligence are changing the employment landscape. BLS is directed to submit a report to the Committees on Appropriations of the House of Representatives and the Senate no later than 90 days after enactment of this act detailing the steps taken to develop the data strategy as directed.

BLS submitted this report outlining its workplan -- https://www.dropbox.com/s/lkfxbbnr9gwws6v/BLS%20Report%20on%20Measuring%20labor%20market%20effects%20of%20automation.pdf?dl=0

BLS plans to work with a contractor (Gallup) in FY 2019, concluding in the first quarter of FY 2020, to produce the following reports:

a. A literature review that summarizes and synthesizes economic theory on the interaction between labor and capital in the workplace and how this is affected by new technologies such as automation, digitization, and AI. This review will be the basis for developing a comprehensive list of constructs that need to be measured to allow researchers to assess the impact of these new technologies on the workforce.

b. An analysis that identifies how the key constructs are currently captured by federal statistical agencies in the U.S. and internationally and proposes ways to supplement the data that BLS currently collects with additional information on automation, digitization, and AI to reach the desired set of constructs.

c. A final report that recommends data collection options to fill those gaps (as well as methodologies for leveraging existing BLS data to the fullest extent). These data collection options must include a qualitative analysis of the trade-off between collection cost and variable quality, be properly documented, and reflect modern survey methodology. The data collection must span all jobs in the private sector. Alternative data sources should also be evaluated, both in terms of coverage of the key concept, quality and availability to BLS.

In the first quarter of FY 2020, BLS will identify pilot projects to test feasibility of collecting a subset of the data elements recommended in the final report. BLS expects these projects to begin in FY 2020, resources permitting.

In response to a House Ways and Means Committee request, the Government Accountability Office released this report yesterday that also recommends improvements in BLS and ETA data: "WORKFORCE AUTOMATION: Better Data Needed to Assess and Plan for Effects of Advanced Technologies on Jobs"   https://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-19-257

Recommendation: The Secretary of Labor should direct the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the Employment and Training Administration (ETA) to develop ways to use existing or new data collection efforts to identify and systematically track the workforce effects of advanced technologies. For example, the Secretary could select any of the following possibilities, or could identify others.
• BLS could expand existing worker or firm surveys to ask respondents whether advanced technologies have resulted in worker displacements, work hour reductions, or substantial adjustments to work tasks.
• BLS could expand its employment projections work to regularly identify occupations projected to change over time due to advanced technologies.
• ETA could expand the O*NET data system to identify changes to skills, tasks, and tools associated with occupations, as the information is updated on its rotational basis, and consider how this could be used to track the spread of advanced technologies.

If you are interested in efforts to improve federal data on workforce automation, feel free to contact staff to the AEA Committee on Economic Statistics -- Kitty Smith Evans kitty.s.evans@aeapubs.org  and Andrew Reamer areamer@gwu.edu

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