Carroll D Wright (1840 – 1909)

"To popularize statistics, to put them before the masses in a way which shall attract, and yet not deceive, is a work every government which cares for its future stability should encourage and enlarge."

Carroll D. Wright, the first commissioner of what is now the Bureau of Labor Statistics had little training for labor statistics. Yet by the turn of the century, he was the most widely known social scientist in the nation, perhaps the world. When appointed by President Chester Arthur, Wright signaled that the new agency would limit itself to factual investigation and eschew propaganda. He was reappointed by Presidents Cleveland, Harrison, McKinley and Roosevelt.In 1893, despite his objections, he was appointed Superintendent of the Census, a position held concurrently with his Labor job until 1897. His concern about industrial developments impact on the family was reflected in a series of landmark studies, including one on wages and conditions of working women in 22 large cities. Other studies compared employment and wages of women and children with that of men in like occupations, as well as reports on conditions of black and recently arrived immigrant workers. He also issued a groundbreaking report on machinery and whether it depressed wages or increased unemployment.

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