History of the NCS
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has been in existence since 1884. Throughout our history, our focus has consistently been on collecting high-quality data on various aspects of the nation’s economy including the conditions of employee compensation. While the focus and scope of the compensation surveys managed by BLS has changed over time based on legislative direction, emerging trends, and requests received from the data user community, providing information on employee compensation has been a constant in the history of BLS. In fact, the first BLS study of occupational wages was conducted in 1885 as revealed in the following timeline of compensation studies produced by BLS.
- 1885 – The first BLS study of occupational wages is conducted and published in the First Annual Report, 1886, Industrial Depressions.
- 1889 – Fifth Annual Report, 1889, Railroad Labor is published and includes occupational wage statistics for 60 carriers.
- 1905 – Nineteenth Annual Report, 1904, Wages and Hours of Labor is published and includes the occupational wages by industry results for 1890 through 1903. Results were published for the next 4 years in the Bureau’s bimonthly bulletin.
- 1908-1912 – Hiatus in the compensation programs occurs due to priority of other labor statistics.
- 1909 – Twenty-third Annual Report, 1908, Workmen’s Insurance and Benefit Funds in the United States is published.
- 1911-12 – Condition of employment in the iron and steel industry is published as a Senate document.
- 1912 – Studies of union wage scales and hours of work in various industries are introduced and continued for almost 80 years.
- 1912 – Payroll-based series on Industrial Wages and Hours (in 12 industries) is introduced and conducted until 1933.
- 1920 – Annual wage index is introduced and conducted until 1934.
- 1926 – Common Laborers Entrance Wage Rates survey is introduced and discontinued in the early 1940s.
- 1938-39 – Industry Wage Surveys are conducted in support of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
- 1943 – Urban wage index is introduced and conducted until 1947.
- 1945 – Industry Wage Survey (IWS) is re-introduced and conducted until 1991.
- 1948 – Community Wage Survey is introduced and conducted until the mid-1960s.
- 1955 – “Digest of Selected Health and Insurance Plans” and “Digest of Selected Pension Plans” are introduced and conducted until 1979.
- 1959 – Employer Expenditures for Employee Compensation is introduced and conducted until 1977.
- 1960 – National Survey of Professional, Administrative, Technical and Clerical Pay (PATC) is introduced and conducted until 1991.
- Mid-1960s – Area Wage Survey (AWS) is introduced and conducted until 1991. It is a direct ancestor of NCS.
- 1967 – Service Contract Act Survey (SCA) is introduced and conducted until 1997.
- 1975 – Employment Cost Index (ECI) is introduced.
- 1977 – Level of Benefits Survey (LOB) is introduced, and in 1979, moves into production as the Employee Benefit Survey (EBS).
- 1979 – Employee Benefits Survey (EBS) is introduced.
- 1986 – Employer Costs for Employee Compensation (ECEC) is introduced.
- 1991 – Occupational Compensation Survey (OCS) is introduced merging the AWS, IWS, and PATC into a single survey and conducted until 1997.
- 1996 – COMP2000 is introduced merging the OCS, ECI/ECEC and EBS into a single survey.
- 2000 – COMP2000 is renamed the National Compensation Survey (NCS).
More detailed information on the history of employee compensation programs within BLS is available through these resources:
The National Compensation Survey: Compensation Statistics for the 21st Century
New Approach to Measuring Occupational Wages
The Occupational Compensation Surveys: A Retrospective
An Overview of the EBS and the NCS
A century of wage statistics: the BLS contribution
Last Modified Date: June 30, 2011