Data has been the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' stock in trade since 1884. And as analog gave way to digital, the BLS evolved from in-person surveys recorded on paper to collecting information by telephone, fax and email. Now, in an era of big data, the bureau is relying more on the Internet, databases and analytics to produce the reports that government officials and business leaders use to gauge the health of the economy and labor force.

“We’ve really moved away from doing a lot of face-to-face collection to much more electronic collection ... and getting data from alternative sources,” says deputy commissioner Bill Wiatrowski. “Where we’re able to get data directly off the web or directly from employers in electronic form, that really helps us to speed up the process of getting the data in the door.”

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