Mapping the Labor Market

Economics Study Abroad
September 1, 2014

Frances Osei-Bonsu’s off-campus study program in Philadelphia with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) resulted in a project that has been making news. The economics major from Ghana created an interactive map that charts states’ major industries from 1990 to 2013. The map can be found on the BLS website and was recently featured on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

This project was just a small part of her experience with the BLS. Osei-Bonsu was stationed in the economic analysis and information office, where she created news releases for the website and analyzed charts and data. One of the office’s main responsibilities is releasing the monthly national unemployment rates and the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which is kept under close security.

“There is a separate room where the CPI data is stored,” she says. “People go in the room to work and analyze, but the data cannot leave the room until it is officially released.”

Her skills have been tested and expanded in her work with the BLS. “I had to give a detailed presentation about my research, which drew on my communication, data organization and presentation skills,” Osei-Bonsu says, “I learned how to use ArcGIS software for mapping purposes. Although I had no idea how to use that software, my econometrics course really helped me because it used similar concepts. This experience helped me to gain more professional skills, such as interviewing and interacting with coworkers. It will help me to succeed after graduation.”

“This experience helped me gain more professional skills. It will help me to succeed after graduation.”

Osei-Bonsu also helped her supervisor create programs for new employees and worked on a brochure that explained new aggregation systems to other economists in their office. As a member of the office Green Team, she helped to raise the profile of sustainability issues. “The job made me much more aware of recycling. I came back to Denison this summer for my research project and made sure I was recycling.”

Her summer research with advisor Fadhel Kaboub, an associate professor of economics, focused on the economics of job creation in developing countries – something that is of personal interest to Osei-Bonsu.

“After graduation in 2015, I’m thinking of working for the Bank of Ghana, perhaps doing work similar to that I did in the BLS, communication and data analysis. And I am considering work with the World Bank,” says Osei-Bonsu, who also is interested in graduate school.

Kaboub has been advising Osei-Bonsu on graduate school choices that would best serve her interest in employment and the labor market.

“Dr. Kaboub has been so helpful,” says Osei-Bonsu. “When I told him that I wanted to work at the BLS, he said he would contact a friend there. I was fortunate enough to get the offer before he contacted his friend – they were both impressed!”

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