Sunday, August 06, 2006

Work as a Price Checker of Goods and Services for the Labor Department

PhotoThe monthly consumer price index (CPI) reported by the Department of Labor is computed by determining the average of prices of specified set of goods and services purchased by thos who earn wages in urban areas. The CPI is used as an economic indicator, especially for the Federal Reserve in deciding about interest rates. I found a recent article on price checkers assemble the inflation report. This means that the prices of the monthly CPI are determined by old-fashioned techniques of people going to stores and finding all sorts of products, and recording their prices. It sounds like a fun job; maybe a bit tedious and stressful, since you have to cover many merchants and products within your region within a specific time every month. Plus, you have to carry a computer system for entering information. I actually saw one at my local grocery store on the 14th in the evening. She was professionally dressed; maybe she had another job/career during the day. She quickly scanned various products; it looked as if she was randomnly selecting anything she can get a her hands on. But, maybe it's because the products were on her list, and she's been doing it for a while. I was gonna stop her and talk about her job since it looks easy and probably pays decently. However, she quickly moved away onto another aisle. At one point, she was reading the labels of a product, made some notation on her computer, scanned the product, and left to another section of the store.

Another story from July2006 where the job as "economic assistant" is decribed in more detail: Mrs. Murphey's morning activity to check prices as "inflation detective". During busy times, all of the ~450 Bureau of Statistics (Department of Labor) employees throughout the US visit about 45 stores in a 10-day period to get prices on 150 items. And I'm sure they have more. Every month they do this; travel same stores, obtain prices on the same products; and send the data to their employer. I wonder if the job requires a business or math/statistics degree. I also wonder if there is more data crunching that must be done at home prior to reporting the info to the Dept of Labor? In any case, from the 2 articles, this type of job is part-time job.

So, the next time you go shopping and see someone carrying a BlueTooth, Palm or small computer, and with a scanner, you'll now know that they're probably working for the government.

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