BLS Spotlight on Statistics: Fifty Years of Looking at Changes in People's Lives
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Bureau of Labor Statistics
[Excerpt] The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes new numbers each month or quarter on unemployment, job growth, productivity, prices, pay, and benefits. To answer some questions about the labor market and economy, we may need years or decades instead of months or quarters. For example, how many jobs do people hold in their lifetimes? How much of people’s lives do they spend working or looking for work? How many people ever marry or divorce or have children? We call surveys designed to answer questions like these “longitudinal” surveys. Longitudinal surveys help us understand long-term changes, such as how events that happened when a person was in high school affect labor market success as an adult. This year we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the National Longitudinal Surveys, which have tracked the experiences of different generations of Americans. This Spotlight on Statistics looks at some measures from two of those generations—people born in 1957–64 and people born in 1980–84.