July 2013

The Monthly Labor Review gets a new look

This article, which introduces readers to the redesign of the Monthly Labor Review, includes a brief history of the journal as well as a guide to the redesigned homepage. Also included is information about article presentation, the publication schedule, the newly-expanded archives, and changes to MLR departments. The article concludes with a brief discussion of ongoing BLS efforts designed to best meet the needs of MLR readers.

Welcome to first edition of the redesigned Monthly Labor Review (MLR). This design journey has been 2 years in the making. We hope you enjoy the new look. This article will present an abbreviated history of some of the changes that this journal has undergone over the years, discuss the changes that have been implemented with the redesign, explain some of the thought that went into these changes, and lastly, identify some ongoing work.

A brief history of the MLR

Established in 1915, the Monthly Labor Review is the principal journal of fact, analysis, and research from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, the Bureau). Over the years, the MLR has undergone various changes to both its content and appearance. (See figure 1.) The very first issue of the publication—called the Monthly Review until 1918—was approximately a 6- by 9-inch pamphlet. The most popular topics in that first volume were labor–management relations, working conditions, and food prices.

Figure 1

The July 1947 issue “marks the first change in format in the 32 years of publication,” according to then- editor-in-chief Lawrence R. Klein. He further noted, “The change was motivated by a desire to create greater clarity and readability and to facilitate in the presentation of both graphic and tabular materials.” The publication grew to standard magazine size and the interior design was originated by Charles Pollock (the less famous of the Pollock brothers, both American abstract expressionist painters).1

As tensions regarding race relations were climaxing, the MLR dedicated its March 1968 issue to “Labor in the South.” This special issue was the first time the cover of the MLR appeared in full color. This still is one of the most requested archival issues of the MLR.

Under the direction of Herbert C. Morton, the January 1972 issue featured a new logo and nameplate for the MLR, and the covers from this point forward were in full color. (See figure 1.)

In 1995, a design change to the MLR incorporated another new nameplate for the cover as well as color throughout the publication. The addition of color, particularly in the charts, helped pave the way for more complex charts and the ability to convey more information in a chart.

In 2005, the MLR made its first appearance online. However, at the close of 2007, in response to budget cutbacks and the public’s growing use of the Internet, the Bureau of Labor Statistics ceased printing the Monthly Labor Review. From that point forward, the MLR became an online-only journal; however, the Review continued to be published in a print-oriented format, despite its online-only existence.

In the fall of 2011, the Bureau launched a team2 to reimagine the Monthly Labor Review as a journal in a web-oriented world. The team did an environmental scan of other scholarly journals and similar government publications. Using web metrics, the team also did some analysis of how users get to the MLR site and which articles seem to draw the greatest number of page views. The recommendations were further refined based upon feedback from developers and other stakeholders. Design work on the MLR started in January 2013, followed by a fair amount of work transferring the archive into the new design.3


1 Monthly Labor Review, July 1947, p. ii.

2 Members of the Monthly Labor Review reinvention team were Christen Byler, Elizabeth Handwerker, Carol Boyd Leon, Amar Mann, Joe Nunes, Jennifer Price, Terry Schau, Demetrio Scopelliti, and Keith Tapscott.

3 Members of the Monthly Labor Review development and testing groups were Robbin Galloway, Kristyn Jeschelnik, Rahul Mootha, Jerie Refugia, Dinara Sagatova, Roopa Sengupta, and Connie Sielaff.

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About the Author

Emily Lloyd Liddel

Emily Lloyd Liddel is executive editor of the Monthly Labor Review, which is published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.