Federal Books that Shaped Work in America

December 30, 2013

Federal Government Books that Shaped Work in America, a collection about employment, careers, occupations, job hunting by the US Government BookstoreThe end of the calendar year typically provokes many lists and reviews reflecting on the past. Here at the Government Printing Office’s Government Book Talk blog and the U.S. Government Bookstore is no exception. A few weeks ago, we were contacted by Mike Volpe at the Department of Labor (DOL) about an exciting and relevant initiative they are running in honor of the Labor Department’s Centennial in 2013 that looks back on the important work-related publications across the country.

Image above: Logo of the Department of Labor’s “Books that Shaped Work in America” project. See the Government Printing Office’s list of Federal  Books that Shaped Work in America.

According to Carl Fillichio, Senior Advisor for Public Affairs and Communications at the U.S. Department of Labor and chair of the Department’s Centennial, the Department of Labor is developing a list of Books that Shaped Work in America in partnership with the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress.

MICHELE BARTRAM, Government Book Talk Editor: Carl, I understand that a Library of Congress “Books that Shaped America” exhibition in 2012 was the inspiration for the Department of Labor project. What was the relationship between the two and how was the idea born for the DOL version?

Carl Fillichio, Senior Advisor for Public Affairs and Communications at the U.S. Department of LaborImage: Carl Fillichio, Senior Advisor for Public Affairs and Communications at the U.S. Department of Labor, and chair of the Department’s Centennial.

CARL FILLICHIO:  The Labor Department was not actually involved in the “Books that Shaped America” exhibition at the Library of Congress, other than being big fans of it!  Rather, it served as the inspiration for this project.  The number and wide diversity of books on that list that had work as a central theme really impressed upon us the role that published works have played in shaping American workers and workplaces.  That’s how the idea for this project was born.

BARTRAM: What is the goal of this new DOL project? What do you want citizens to get out of it?

FILLICHIO: The goal is to engage and educate the American public about the Labor Department’s mission, resources and history in our centennial year in an unusual way: through a lens of literature.  The project is a key part of our Centennial commemoration; the Department was established in 1913.  So we thought this would be a “novel” [pun intended! ;-)] way to involve the citizens we serve in the marking of this milestone.

For each book included on the list (now and in the future), we note how its themes relate to our work.  We hope citizens will learn more about what we do and consider the many ways our work has impacted Americans’ lives during our 100-year existence.

BARTRAM: What are the criteria for adding items to the list? Can they be eBooks as well as print? Do they need to be still in print?

FILLICHIO: Just like work, books have changed a lot in the last 100 years—not only in the themes they address, but also in how we access them!  So, books do not need to be in print to be on the list.  We started the list with 92 entries, all recommendations from various contributors with diverse perspectives on books and/or work (including almost all former living Labor Secretaries).  We will now add to it based on public input.

To be added to the list, the book needs to have had an impact on America’s workers, workplace and workforce.  That doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be about work per se, but rather have shaped how it is viewed or, in some cases, addressed through public policy.

Watch the video below for an introduction to the “Books that Shaped Work in America” project:


Click on video image above.

BARTRAM: What is the most surprising/ unusual addition to the list, in your opinion?

FILLICHIO: That’s a great question, Michele!  As noted earlier, not all books on the list are overtly about work, and one great example is Little Women, which was recommended by a Labor Department intern, Amanda Kraft.  While there are several books on the list that touch upon working women, that one—published in 1869—sticks out to me because it was so ahead of its time.  It was about women and ambition—long before women were “allowed” or encouraged to be ambitious.  It had and continues to have a big impact on working women.

BARTRAM: “Little Women” certainly influenced me. Do you have some other fun facts about the project you’d like to share?

FILLICHIO: Here are a few fascinating facts:

  • We started with 92 books based on recommendations from 25 contributors.  These contributors run the gamut from the current and former Labor Secretaries to best-selling authors to small business owners.
  • The books range in publication date from 1758 (Poor Richard Improved, by Benjamin Franklin) to 2013 (My Beloved World, but Sonia Sotomayor).
  • One of the books recommended by the current Labor Secretary, Thomas E. Perez, is Busy, Busy Town—a classic children’s book that introduces very young readers to the purpose and value of work, to both oneself and others.
  • We have received nearly 500 recommendations for books to add to the list so far.

BARTRAM:  How can our Government Book Talk readers get involved in the DOL project?

FILLICHIO: To get started with the list, we asked members of the DOL family, as well as many other esteemed individuals, for suggestions. That includes the public!

Your readers who have recommendations for memorable and important print or digital publications to add to the DOL list should click on our Suggest a book link on our special Books that Shaped Work in America website, http://www.dol.gov/100/books-shaped-work/. Publications can be either from the past or present and should have influenced or relate to jobs, employment, careers and other work-related topics.

If you want to add a book, you will only need to submit the publication’s  Title, the Author, and a brief Description of why you think the book shaped work in America or influenced the work you do or have done.

BARTRAM: Anything to add in summary, Carl?

FILLICHIO: I think this quote from U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez says it best:

The ‘Books that Shaped Work in America’ initiative explores the dignity of work and our progress in expanding America’s fundamental promise of opportunity for all through the lens of literature. Think of this effort as an online book club where people from all walks of life can share books that informed them about occupations and careers, molded their views about work and helped elevate the discourse about work, workers and workplaces. At the same time, the site provides a unique way for people to learn about the mission and resources of the U.S. Department of Labor.

(Read the entire 11/20/2013 DOL Press Release here)

BARTRAM: Thank you so much for this information about this significant project.

We at GPO want to contribute to the list by recommending these important Federal Government publications we have produced for Federal agencies that we feel belong on the list as “Federal Books that Shaped Work in America”!

Federal Books to Identify Industry and Career Trends

Not surprising, many of the more important Federal books about work have come from the Department of Labor, from information about occupations and industries to advice to job seekers.

The DOL’s Employment and Training Administration has designed a set of self-directed career exploration/assessment tools to help workers consider and plan career options, preparation, and transitions more effectively. They also are designed for use by students who are exploring the school-to-work transition. These tools are based on the O*NET model built off the Labor Department’s O*NET database which contains information on hundreds of standardized and occupation-specific descriptors. The O*NET Content Model defines the key features of a particular occupation with its unique mix of required knowledge, skills, and abilities, activities and tasks, and describes the day-to-day aspects of the job and the qualifications and interests of the typical worker.

Book Cover Image for O*Net Version 3.0: Work Importance Locator, User\'s GuideCareer counselors and job seekers can use the O*NET tools to link to the more than 800 occupations described by the O*NET database, as well as to occupational information in CareerOneStop. This allows users to make a seamless transition from assessing their personal interests, work values, and abilities to matching their job skills with the requirements of different occupations in their local labor market. Find all the O*NET Career Assessment publications here on the U.S. Government Bookstore.  

The Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes additional books about career and industry trends, including:

Other Federal agencies also have published important books about careers, including:

  • United States Government Policy and Supporting Positions 2012 (Plum Book)Every four years after a Presidential election, Congress issues the famous “Plum Book” that lists the over 9,000 civil service leadership and support positions in the Legislative and Executive branches of the Federal Government that may be filled by direct political appointment. The United States Government Policy and Supporting Positions 2012 (Plum Book) was the most current edition. (See other Federal employment publications in our Working for the Federal Government collection.)
  • A Life Inspired: Tales of Peace Corps Service recounts the unique experience of being a Peace Corps Volunteer via autobiographical reminiscences by 28 former Peace Corps volunteers.
  • Book Cover Image for Standard Occupational Classification Manual 2010 (Revised)The Standard Occupational Classification Manual 2010 (Revised) by the Executive Office of the President, Office of Management and Budget (OMB) presents the standard occupational codes, structure, titles, definitions, and illustrative examples of job titles found in key occupations.
  • Unfortunately being discontinued next year as a formal publication is the Survey of Current Business subscription by the Commerce Department’s Economics and Statistics Administration Bureau of Economic Analysis. This key publication was critical to business planning as it provided national income and product statistics, including the U.S. Gross National Product, the GNP implicit price deflator and corporate profits and articles about trends in industry, the business situation, and outlook.

Books that Provided Job Hunting Advice

Books to Keep Workers Safe and Healthy

The existence of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA within the Labor Department and the subsequent laws and regulations it oversees to improve workplace safety and worker health has drastically improved working conditions for generations of American workers. Over the years, OSHA has published a number of publications for both industry and workers. All About OSHA (Package of 25 booklets)Today, it publishes All About OSHA (or Todo Sobre la OSHA (Spanish Language Version), a brochure explaining how OSHA operates, workplace and worker safety standards and enforcement, required employer recordkeeping, OSHA services and programs, and even whistleblower protections.

NIOSH, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, offers the NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards to help workers and employers detect and prevent chemical accidents.

Reclamation Safety and Health StandardsA similar publication exists from the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation. Reclamation Safety and Health Standards contains safety and health standards for workers in water management facilities and hydroelectric power plants.

The Army Medical Department produces a number of excellent publications about working conditions and health of the military personnel. Textbooks of Military Medicine, Pt. 3, Disease and the Environment: Occupational Health, The Soldier and the Industrial Base gives information on occupational health of military personnel.

Examining man-made disasters and their causes and remedies is a key role of Federal Government. One of the more important publications affecting regulations and Americans’ attitudes toward offshore drilling was the 2011 Deep Water: The Gulf Oil Disaster and the Future of Offshore Drilling, Report to the President (in paperback) or ePub eBook.

Breaking the Mishap Chain: Human Factors Lessons Learned From Aerospace AccidentNASA has provided us with Breaking the Mishap Chain: Human Factors Lessons Learned From Aerospace Accidents and Incidents in Research, Flight Test, and Development (ePub eBook), a collection of case studies of mishaps involving experimental aircraft, aerospace vehicles, and spacecraft in which human factors played a significant role.

Books about Minorities in the Workplace

Impact of Illegal Immigration on Wages Employment of Black WorkersThe Commission on Civil Rights published The Impact of Illegal Immigration on the Wages and Employment Opportunities of Black Workers to examine the possible effects of illegal immigration on particularly vulnerable segments of the U.S. working population, specifically low-skill black workers.

Veterans’ rights and benefits are outlined in the annual Federal Benefits for Veterans, Dependents & Survivors, offered in English or Spanish, that includes work-related issues such as vocational rehabilitation; workplace benefits; and education, transition and training.

Invest in Women, Invest in America: A Review of Women in the U.S. EconomyWomen in the workplace were addressed in these two key publications that are still available. The Joint Economic Committee of Congress published Invest in Women, Invest in America: A Comprehensive Review of Women in the U.S. Economy that provides a comprehensive review of the “essential contributions of women” to the U.S. economy. The Bureau of Labor Statistics published Women in the Labor Force: A Databook which presents historical and current labor force and earnings data for women compared to men from the Current Population Survey.

And child labor and protection issues were addressed in the recent exciting publication, The Children’s Bureau Legacy: Ensuring the Right to Childhood (ePub eBook).

Nisei Linguists:Japanese Americans in Military Intelligence Service During WW IIFinally, the engrossing Nisei Linguists: Japanese Americans in the Military Intelligence Service During World War II (Paperback) or ePub eBook recounts the contributions of Japanese Americans during World War 2, even as many of their family members were being detained in internment camps across America.

Readers, if you want to recommend other Federal publications, past or present, that you feel have influenced work in America, let us know by sending us a COMMENT at the end of this post!

How can I obtain these “Federal Books that Shaped Work in America”?

  • Shop Online: You can purchase these publications from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore at http://bookstore.gpo.gov by clicking on the individual links above in this blog post. You may also
  • Order by Phone: Call our Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.
  • Shop our Retail Store: Buy a copy of any print editions from this collection at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Federal holidays, Call (202) 512-0132 for information or to arrange in-store pick-up.
  • Visit a Federal Depository Library: Search for one of these publications in a nearby Federal depository library.

About the Author: Government Book Talk Editor Michele Bartram is also Promotions and Ecommerce Manager for GPO’s Publication and Information Sales Division in Washington, DC, and is responsible for online and offline marketing of the US Government Online Bookstore (http://bookstore.gpo.gov) and promoting Federal government content to the public.


A Plum Book of Political Positions

December 6, 2012

Plum-Book-2012What is the Plum Book? Known officially as the “United States Government Policy and Supporting Positions,” the Plum Book is published alternately by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs or by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, who handled this year’s version. The 2012 edition lists over 8,000 civil service leadership and support positions (filled and vacant) in the Legislative and Executive branches of the Federal Government that may be subject to noncompetitive appointments.

History of the “Plum Book”

The Plum Book was first published in 1952, when the Dwight D. Eisenhower Administration was voted into office after 20 years of Democratic administrations– first under President Franklin D. Roosevelt and then under President Harry S. Truman. Truman-Eisenhower-Transition

Image: Out-going President Truman meets with incoming President Eisenhower to discuss the transition. (Is that a draft copy of the first Plum Book that Truman is handing to Eisenhower? ;-)

With a touch of humor, someone at the original publishers decided the book should have a purple or plum-colored cover to reflect that it contained the “plum” political appointee jobs, and the tradition has stuck ever since for the printed version.

What Type of Positions are Listed in the Plum Book?

The United States Government Policy and Supporting Positions 2012 (Plum Book) includes both politically appointed and Career Civil Service positions, agency heads and their immediate subordinates, policy executives and advisers, and the aides who report to these political appointee officials.  These encompass:

  • Executive Schedule and salary-equivalent positions paid at the rates established for Levels I through V of the Executive Schedule.
  • Senior Executive Service “General” positions (i.e., those positions which may be filled by a career, non-career, or limited appointment)
  • Senior Foreign Service positions
  • Schedule C positions excepted from the competitive service by the President, or by the Director, Office of Personnel Management, because of the confidential or policy-determining nature of the position duties
  • Other confidential or policy-determining positions at the GS-14 and above level excepted from the competitive civil service by law because of the confidential or policy-determining nature of the position duties

The duties of such positions may involve advocacy of Administration policies and programs, and the incumbents usually have a close and confidential working relationship with the agency head or other key officials.

To Fill or Not to Fill , that is the Question

Interestingly, the book lists ALL such political appointment positions, whether there is someone currently in the job or it was vacant as of June 30, 2012.  If the job was occupied by a career Federal employee appointee, the phrase “Career Incumbent” is shown without a name; otherwise, the name of the political appointee is listed.

And positions such as boards, committees or commissions that require “member” positions by political party affiliation are listed with the name of the incumbent along with a (D) for Democrat, (R) for Republican or (I) for Independent.

Type of Appointment and Salaries

Listings are labeled with letter codes that denote the type of appointment under which the position is categorized:

Appointment Code What It Stands For
CA Career Appointment
EA Limited Emergency Appointment
NA Non-career Appointment
PA Presidential Appointment without Senate Confirmation
PAS Presidential Appointment with Senate Confirmation
SC Schedule C Excepted Appointment
TA Limited Term Appointment
XS Appointment Excepted by Statute

However, several categories of jobs can be filled by more than one type of appointment, e.g., SES positions listed in this publication may be filled by using career Federal employees or various outside appointments. On these, no ‘‘Type of Appointment’’ is shown for such positions when they are vacant.

Plum-Book-Political-Appointments-GSAImage: List of “noncompetitive” political appointment positions at GSA. Source: 2012 Plum Book. (CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE)

Finally, information is included on the various base salary scales for each pay plan and level or grade, along with the percent above that base for different locality pay areas. For example, in the New York metropolitan area, one would receive 28.72% above the base pay scale due to the high cost of living there. Surprisingly, the Federal Government rates Houston-Baytown-Huntsville, Texas as the second highest locality in the country at 28.71% above base.

CONCLUSION

So if you are still hunting for that perfect holiday gift, it might be time to “pick a plum” or two—a 2012 Plum Book, that is—one to give, and one to keep for yourself!

How can I obtain a copy of United States Government Policy and Supporting Positions 2012 (Plum Book)?

  •  Buy it online 24/7 at GPO’s Online Bookstore.
  • Buy it at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Federal holidays, (202) 512-0132.
  • Find it in a federal depository library.

Related Publications:

  • United States Government Manual 2012 is being published in December 2012. It provides comprehensive information– including a list of principal officials—for all agencies of the legislative, judicial, and executive branches, as well as quasi-official agencies, international organizations in which the United States participates, boards, commissions, and committees.

About the Author:  Michele Bartram is Promotions Manager for GPO’s Publication and Information Sales Division in Washington, DC, and is responsible for online and offline marketing of the US Government Online Bookstore (http://bookstore.gpo.gov) and promoting Federal government content to the public.

 


Uncle Sam wants to help you… get a job

May 4, 2012

If you are one of the millions of Americans hunting for a job, the U.S. Government wants you… to be prepared for the job search.

According to figures released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on April 10, 2012, called “Job Openings and Labor Turnover – February 2012”, the number of job openings has been climbing:

The number of job openings in the United States in February 2012 was 3.5 million…  Although the number of job openings remained below the 4.3 million openings when the recession began in December 2007, the number of job openings has increased 46 percent since the end of the recession in June 2009.

Image: Uncle Sam: “I want you to get a real job” poster. Source: SF Weekly

And today’s numbers from the Labor Department showed that the U.S. economy added 115,000 jobs in April while the unemployment rate fell to 8.1 percent.

Together with graduating college and high school seniors, this makes this a prime time for many Americans to start or re-start their job search.

Fortunately, the Federal Government has produced a number of helpful job and employment publications and resources to help you find that job, from researching careers, industries and salaries, to preparing resumes, writing cover letters and honing your interviewing skills.

Step 1: Identify the Right Career for You

Many job hunters have had to leave their original profession due to changes in the marketplace. To help them identify what types of jobs are out there and what skills are needed, here are some Federal publications:

  Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 (Paperback)
The must-have book for every career counselor, The Occupational Outlook Handbook is exceedingly useful for job hunters, particularly those who are changing careers or in an industry that is undergoing transition. It describes about 250 occupations in detail, covering what the types of tasks workers do on a particular type of job, the working conditions, the training and education needed, earnings, and expected job prospects.
  High-Earning Workers Who Don’t Have A Bachelor’s Degree
This publication is still valid today, as it reviews occupations that earn relatively high salaries without requiring expensive college degrees. Ranges from accountants, to plumbers and electricians, repair people and mechanics, registered nurses and health technicians, managers and supervisors of all types, and more. Gives percentages of these that do not have bachelor’s degrees and typical weekly earnings (circa 1999).

Additional information on job training can be found at CareerOneStop’s Explore Careers section.

Step 2:  Determine Whether You Should Get Additional Education and Training

Many job seekers need to acquire new skills or update their existing skills to become or stay competitive. These publications talk about the value of training

  What It’s Worth: Field of Training and Economic Status in 2001
If you’ve ever doubted the value of education on your earning potential, the Census Bureau assembled these figures on what additional training is worth to one’s economic status and earnings.
  Apprenticeships: Career Training, Credentials, and a Paycheck in Your Pocket
Some professions require going through apprenticeship training. This publication explains how apprenticeship works, listing apprenticeable occupations, and the years of training estimated for each occupation.

Additional information and resources about job-related education and training can be found at CareerOneStop’s Education & Training section.

Step 3: Preparing Your Work Credentials and Interviewing Skills

The next step is to hone your credentials and interviewing skills for the active job search. The following excellent publications and resources will help you ensure you put your best foot forward.

  Resumes, Applications, and Cover Letters
With this update of a popular publication, you will find out the best ways to present your credentials to prospective employers. Illustrations include a sample chronological resume, a sample functional resume, and a sample cover letter. The ‘for more information’ section lists some useful, established websites that contain advice about 21st century job hunting and resume writing.
  Getting Back to Work: Returning to the Labor Force After an Absence
Many job seekers today have what is called an imperfect employment history due to layoffs, underemployment or other career gaps. This publication helps these returning workers know what to do and what to expect when returning to the labor force can help ease the transition back to work. Part 1 offers tips on how to identify, and prepare for, your ideal job. Part 2 helps you get set for the workforce. Part 3 suggests ways to maintain work-life balance. In sidebars throughout the article, you’ll find suggestions for some special re-entry situations as well as lists of additional resources.
  Employment Interviewing: Seizing the Opportunity and the Job
This booklet gives useful advice on what to do before, during, and after a job interview to help you get that job. It also includes tips about job fairs.

Additional information and resources about resumes, interviewing and job-related education and training can be found at CareerOneStop’s Resumes + Interviews section.

Step 4: Start Your Job Search

Federal Government Jobs:

A useful publication for anyone seeking to apply for a Federal government job is “How to Get a Job in the Federal Government”. Read our previous blog post about this publication, entitled “Information about Getting a Federal Government Job”.

Once you are ready to apply, you can find all current Federal jobs openings on the Federal job site, USAJobs.gov.

Private Sector and State Government Jobs:

Information and resources about where and how to conduct your job hunt can be found at CareerOneStop’s Job Search section.

Step 5:  Research Typical Salary and Benefits

Hopefully, at this point you are receiving job offers and negotiating salary and benefits. These Federal publications can give you some ballpark figures of salaries for various occupations as well as unemployment laws in different states.

  National Compensation Survey: Occupational Earnings in the United States, 2006
This Multimedia booklet and CD-ROM report on earnings for occupations common to a wide variety of establishments. Coverage includes office clerical, professional and technical, maintenance, custodial and material movement occupations.
  Occupational Employment and Wages, 2006
This guide provides occupational employment and wage data from across the United States.
  Employment and Wages Annual Averages, 2005
This Multimedia booklet and CD-ROM present 2005 employment and wages data as defined in the North American Industry Classification System. Data pertain to workers covered by State unemployment insurance laws and the Unemployment Compensation for Federal Employees (UCFE) program in all 50 States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.
  Comparison of State Unemployment Insurance Laws, 2005
This valuable publication provides state-by-state information on workers covered by unemployment insurance, benefit eligibility, methods of financing, and other areas of interest in the unemployment insurance program

More information and resources about salary and benefits can be found at CareerOneStop’s Salary + Benefits section and the Publications section of the Bureau of Labor Statistics website.

Other Federal Job Hunting Resources:

  • Occupational Outlook Quarterly – This periodical subscription service offered by the Government Printing Office is issued quarterly by the US Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics and provides current information on employment trends and outlook, supplementing and bringing up to date information in Occupational Outlook Handbook.
  • CareerOneStop: The Labor Department has created an excellent website for American job seekers. Called CareerOneStop.org, this job hunting portal helps you find the information and resources you need about careers, training, educational financial aid, job banks and more.
    • It also has a Service Locator to help all job seekers and the unemployed find Federal, state and local employment resources in your area.
    • Veterans now can find job-hunting help at their Veterans ReEmployment initiatives section.

How Can I Obtain the Publications Mentioned in this Post?  

About the Author:  Michele Bartram is Promotions Manager for GPO’s Publication and Information Sales Division and is responsible for online and offline marketing of the US Government Online Bookstore (Bookstore.gpo.gov) and promoting Federal government content to the public.


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