Ohio Bureau of Labor Statistics

From Ohio History Central

During the late nineteenth century, Ohio went from having a predominantly agricultural economy to a more industrialized one. This transformation caused dramatic changes in the lives of Ohio's residents. These changes were not always positive ones. For example, numerous business owners paid workers low wages, commonly less than a dollar a day for a twelve to fourteen hour shift. Factory owners also commonly failed to spend money on safety mechanisms on machines, preferring to reinvest profits in faster machines, not safer ones. Business owners also routinely failed to provide workers with health insurance or workers compensation. Numerous Ohio workers demanded that the state government prevent these abuses.

To determine the conditions that Ohio workers faced, the state legislature established the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 1877. Legislators hoped to determine whether or not government intervention was necessary. To educate the legislators, the Bureau issued yearly reports, delineating such items as the number of hours that employees worked, the amount of pay that workers received, and the number of injuries that occurred in various industries. Unfortunately for this government agency, business owners commonly failed to provide the Bureau of Labor Statistics with accurate numbers. Industrialists hoped to portray themselves as kind employers, hoping to prevent government intervention. For the most part, the business owners were successful during the first several decades of the Bureau of Labor Statistics existence. In the twenty-first century, the Bureau continues to operate, now with greater cooperation from businesses.  

See Also