How many times have you sat down at the internet with a simple question about local workforce or economic conditions, only to look up again several hours later, bleary-eyed and overloaded with data, but without ever having found the answer to your question?
If your job or personal predilections has you doing that regularly, you'll want to check out DOL's updated Catalogue of Workforce Information Sources. It lists a wide range of sources of data related to workforce and the economy from the federal government, plus a handful of state, local and private sources. It includes the Departments of Labor, Commerce, Agriculture and Transportation; the Bureau of Labor Stats, U.S. Geological Survey, Census Bureau and Veterans Benefits Administration. And much more.
The data sources are organized by the responsible agency or bureau. Each source is placed in two tables. The first identifies its target audience (such as Employers, Program Planners, Researchers, etc.). The second lists key indicators you'll find there (Earnings Trends, Education, Unemployment Records, Licensing, and so on). After the tables you'll find text describing each data source, along with an image of the website and the URL.
Sometimes it's a live weblink, sometimes not, and it's not entirely clear why. Sloppy editing? I couldn't find a pattern. For example, why a live link to the National Association of Colleges and Employees, and not to the Office of Economic Adjustment at the Defense Department?
The catalogue could be more user friendly. I'd have loved an index listing each key indicator from the earlier tables, then listing each data source that uses that indicator. And how about a link from there to back its text description? Same info that appears earlier in the report, just presented in multiple ways to to make it easier to find. Same with the target audience listings.
Also, why not create a link to the website every time the data source is listed, not just once in text and once in the index?
I do wonder why a document issued by the Employment and Training Administration at DOL is subtitled Decision-Making Assistance for Regional Economic Development. It's connected to the WIRED initiative, but this catalogue has the potential to be far more broadly useful than that. The title suggests something I wouldn't necessarily be interested in. Once I started looking through it, though, I discovered data sources I can imagine using elsewhere.
DOL makes it clear this "is not intended to be a comprehensive encyclopedia or exhaustive inventory of all that is being produced at the federal, state and local level." Fair enough - that's probably impossible, especially considering ETA's budget. But if you know of any good data sources that you don't find listed in this catalogue, add a comment below or send me an email. I'll pass it along to DOL.