Economic Indicators

This seminar is an introduction to the following key economic indicators: Employment and Unemployment; Wages and Labor Costs; Prices; Productivity and Unit Labor Costs.


SDG8: Decent work and economic growth
SDG9: Industry, innovation, and infrastructure
SDG17: Partnerships for the goals
SDG 17: Systemic Issues
Economic Indicators
Economic statistics
labor costs

Timely and sound economic data are of critical importance to policymakers, the business community, consumers, and investors. Economic information helps a wide array of people assess how well an economy is performing and guides decision-making. What are economic indicators? What is their significance? How should they be interpreted? This seminar is an introduction to key economic indicators and how they are used.

In depth discussion on how to construct the various indicators is not provided in this seminar.

The following BLS economic indicators and topics will be presented in this seminar:

Employment and Unemployment

  • Data on employed persons and the unemployment rate provide a vital snapshot of the strength of a labor market. A range of measures of labor underutilization and other employment data produced by BLS will also be discussed.

Wages and Labor Costs

  • Wages, earnings, and benefits account for a substantial part of a country’s national income and are closely linked to the economic cycle. Determining levels and trends of pay rates by occupation, industry, locality, and region is important in the analysis of current economic developments. The seminar will also discuss indexes that measure the change over time in labor costs (Employment Cost Index) and data measuring the level of average costs per hour worked (Employer Costs for Employee Compensation).


  • Price indexes, indicators of the rates of inflation in a country’s economy, also serve as a tool for adjusting wages, salaries, and other income payments to keep in step with rising prices. The seminar will address the importance of Consumer Price Indexes, Producer Price Indexes, and Import and Export Price Indexes.

Productivity and Unit Labor Costs

  • Productivity is one of the major determinants of the standard of living, since increases in productivity can result in higher real income and increased price stability. Measures of productivity and unit labor costs are important signals of international competitiveness.


Data discussed in this seminar are used to report on the following SDG indicators:

  • Indicator 5.4.1: Proportion of time spent on unpaid domestic and care work, by sex, age and location
  • Indicator 8.2.1: Annual growth rate of real GDP per employed person
  • Indicator 8.5.1: Average hourly earnings of female and male employees, by occupation, age and persons with disabilities
  • Indicator 8.5.2: Unemployment rate, by sex, age and persons with disabilities
  • Indicator 8.6.1: Proportion of youth (aged 15–24 years) not in education, employment or training
  • Indicator 9.2.2: Manufacturing employment as a proportion of total employment

Target Audience

This seminar is designed for economists, statisticians, researchers, analysts, and other professionals seeking an understanding of economic indicators. Participants should have an elementary knowledge of statistics and some experience in analyzing labor or economic data.

Learning Objectives

To identify key economic indicators and understand how they are used to track an economy by:

  • Learning how indicators signal change in the direction of the economy or economic activity
  • Distinguishing between leading, lagging, and coincident indicators
  • Understanding the relationship different indicators have to the business cycle and to each other


For additional information about this and other BLS international training programs, please visit the BLS Division of International Technical Cooperation (ITC) website or contact ITC staff at