What the Bureau of Labor Statistics Means for Businesses

by Chris Rhatigan on Nov 18, 2016 8:00:00 AM

employee retention insightsThe fact is that turnover is going to happen. With an employee’s average stay at a company at slightly more than four years, that means you need to be prepared for people to leave.

There are plenty of tools to use to keep employees engaged and to spot specific retention issues at your company. But keeping track of broader economic and industry conditions is important too. When the economy is stronger, people are more likely to leave, figuring that they’ll land on their feet. Similarly, in industries where labor competition is fierce, like technology, workers will be less likely to stick around.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) site is, well, not the most attractive. There’s no excitement to be found here — just raw, valuable data. Here are some of the stats you’ll want to keep an eye on:

 

Unemployment Rate

The unemployment rate has been dropping in recent years and is currently hovering around 4.5%. This stat gets a lot of attention in the media because of its relevance to people’s everyday lives. It’s seen as a general barometer for the economy, just like the gross domestic product. However, many economists believe that neither of these metrics accurately reflects economic conditions.  

Nevertheless, people’s perception that the economy is healthier means that they are going to be OK with leaving your company because they believe that it’s less difficult to land a job elsewhere. You can also spot trends in your specific industry by combing through BLS’s database.

unemployement rate

 

Occupational Employment Statistics

Occupational Employment Statistics is where the BLS lists salary information for a wide variety of fields. You can spot compensation trends in your field as part of deciding which way your company will move. It also includes payment by position, such as chief executive or sales manager.


The Quit Rate

This might be the most important statistic for gauging whether your employees will stick around. The quit rate is exactly what it sounds like — the rate at which people voluntarily leave their jobs. BLS reports on this every month.

When economic conditions are uncertain, like back in 2008, people are more risk averse and tend to stay at their jobs longer. At that point, the quit rate dropped to a low of 1.3. Currently, it’s hovering around 2.0, as economic conditions have improved.  

The BLS includes a wealth of other informative data about labor conditions, including characteristics of the labor force, hours worked, changes in payroll, and much more. Mining these statistics and understanding how they apply to your business is helpful to spot trends in turnover and retention.

 

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This post was written by Chris Rhatigan

Chris Rhatigan is a freelance writer and editor. He is a former newspaper reporter for The New Haven Register and The Iowa City Press-Citizen. He enjoys playing old video games, studying (and trying to speak) Hindi, and walking his dog on the local trails. He lives in India.