Labor Statistics

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Statistics, Labor


the branch of economic statistics that studies the quantitative patterns of mass phenomena in the reproduction of labor resources and the efficiency of their use. Labor statistics develops and analyzes such indexes as employment, labor organization and working conditions, the qualitative composition of employed persons (distribution by sex, age, education, occupation), labor productivity, the mechanization of labor, the use of working time, and wages. Also included are some indexes of the living standard of the working people—their nominal (monetary) and real income, their consumption of goods and services, and their use of nonworking time, including leisure time. K. Marx, F. Engels, and V. I. Lenin provided rich material for studying labor and the condition of the working people. Marx and Engels worked out the most important problems of general statistics on the working class. The development of scientific labor statistics is reflected in Lenin’s works.

There was no uniform system of state statistics in prerevolutionary Russia. Some labor indexes were developed by government departments, factory inspectors, and researchers. Progressive statisticians dealt with the strike movement, earnings and fines, the working day, and housing conditions. After the October Socialist Revolution of 1917 labor statistics in the USSR became an independent branch of a single system of state statistics.

In the USSR the system of labor statistics indexes is divided into five basic categories. (1) Statisticians study employment (the extent to which the population is involved in social production), investigate the reproduction, distribution, and use of the country’s labor resources at all stages of social reproduction, and identify unused labor resources. (2) The number and composition of persons employed in the national economy are determined and analyzed by occupation and position, by role in the production process, and by qualifications, seniority, age, sex, and other characteristics. The redistribution of labor as a result of technical progress is studied in terms of economic sectors and regions. Indexes pertaining to the training of skilled workers and to the advanced training of workers are worked out and analyzed, as well as indexes of the number of specialists with higher and secondary specialized education employed in the national economy. The movement of workers owing to hiring and discharging is studied, and the indicators describing the use of work time are worked out and analyzed. (3) The level and dynamics of labor productivity, as well as the factors in its growth, are measured and analyzed as indexes of the efficiency of social production. The increase in the volume of production through higher labor productivity is determined. (4) The wages fund, the level of wages, and the change in wages over time are calculated and analyzed in relation to the indexes of labor productivity and production volume. Wage differentiation is studied by occupation and workers’ qualification and by region. The proportion of material incentive funds in wages is determined, and moral and material labor incentives are studied. (5) The standard of living of the working people is studied using indexes of the incomes and expenditures of different socioeconomic groups. Research is also done on the influence of the level of family income and changes in it on consumption.

The raw data for labor statistics are taken from personnel and wage records at enterprises, institutions, and organizations. This information is used to compile monthly (by enterprises in the chief production sectors), quarterly, and annual reports. Population censuses, one-time surveys of labor and wages, and sample budget surveys of the families of production, clerical, and kolkhoz workers are also an important source of information.

In the other socialist countries labor statistics, also centralized, is developing within the framework of COMECON (Council for Mutual Economic Assistance) toward a mutual exchange of information and joint undertakings. To achieve comparability in labor indexes, statisticians are working to standardize the methodological principles for the basic indexes of labor statistics. These indexes include labor resources, the number of blue-collar and white-collar workers, work time, the classification of sectors by labor expended, the level of incomes, and the volume of consumption of goods and services. International comparisons of the level of labor productivity and the principles of the international socialist division of labor are being developed and refined.

Until the 1920’s, labor statistics in the capitalist countries was based on occasional surveys. The crises and unemployment of the 1930’s stimulated a greater interest in labor statistics, based on more systematic information. After World War II labor statistics developed further, although statistical material on labor was collected and processed according to different methodologies by both governmental agencies and various institutes. For this reason, the published indexes of labor were not complete, valid, or comparable.

In the early 1970’s some standardization of indexes and methods in labor statistics was observed. However, the falsifying tendencies in bourgeois labor statistics are not diminishing. Rather, they are growing stronger because of inflation, the rise in prices and unemployment, labor conflicts, and the other flaws in capitalist society. The falsification is apparent in the minimizing of the number of unemployed persons, strikes, loss of work time, and cases of industrial injury and in the exaggeration of real earnings by overstating nominal wages and understating consumer prices.


Strumilin, S. G. Izbr. proizvedeniia, vol. 1 (pp. 171–81), vol. 2 (pp. 310–22, 407–10), vol. 3 (pp. 7–507), vol. 4 (pp. 29–37, 44–67, 310–36), vol. 5 (pp. 230–44,338–51,364–81). Moscow, 1963–64.
Mints, L. E. Problemy balansa truda i ispol’zovaniia trudovykh resursov v SSSR. Moscow, 1967.
Eremina, N. M., and V. P. Marshalova. Statistikatruda, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1971.
Shevchenko, N. N., S. A. Kosheliuk, and N. I. Neliubin. Statistikatruda. Moscow, 1972.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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