Katharine Abraham, Steven Davis, and John Haltiwanger:
Don’t Starve the BLS: ...why is Congress eyeing further cuts to the Bureau of Labor Statistics budget?Proposed Senate legislation would cut the BLS by another $13 million in 2016, after its real annual spending has already fallen more than 10 percent ($72 million) over the last five years. ...
...we need more and better data to understand our changing economy, not less. Instead of narrowing its data collection, BLS ought to expand it. For starters, it should develop and strengthen programs to help assess the growth of the “gig economy,” how global supply chains affect the US economy, and why wage growth remains sluggish despite job vacancy rates at a 15-year high.
Skeptics will ask, why not rely entirely on the private sector to do this work? ... The answer is simple..., no private entity can match government statistical agencies’ ability to collect objective data and aggregate them into usable basic statistics. ... those basic statistics, such as basic scientific research, yield highly diverse applications and valuable benefits across our economy and society.
Underfunding the BLS would be a false economy. It would mean basic statistics would be undersupplied, and the quality of economic decision-making would suffer. It may save a few million dollars in the 2016 federal budget, but would ultimately cost us much more.