A. Ford Hinrichs, 79, a labor economist and statistician who was acting commissioner of the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) of the Labor Department during World War II, died of cancer Thursday at his home in Washington.

He joined the bureau as chief economist in 1934, became assistant commissioner in the early part of 1940, and was named acting commissioner later that year. He resigned in 1946.

After two years as an economist with Kiplinger Washington Agency. Mr. Hinrichs served as assistant chief of the division of finance and fiscal policy of the Economic Co-operation Administration until 1953.

He then joined the University of Karachi and was a statisical adviser to the government of Pakistan until 1957, when he became professor of business administration and director of graduate studies in business at Syracuse University. He retired in 1964.

Mr. Hinrichs then was chief statistical adviser to the Republic of China in Taiwan for two years.

He was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., attended Cornell University and graduate from Columbia University, where he also earned a master's degree and doctorate in economics.

He taught at Columbia University and later at Brown University, where he was director of the Bureau of Business Research.

In 1930, Mr. Hinrichs became a member of the first team of American economists to visit the Soviet Union. He returned there for a more detailed study two years later, when he also studied economic planning in Italy and Germany.

Mr. Hinrichs was a fellow of the American Statistical Association and a member of the American Economic Association. He was the author of numerous publications in his field.

He is survived by his wife, Edith Pendreigh, of the home; three daughters, Elisabeth, Eleanor Barker, of Syracuse, Barbara Louise Moriarty, of Washington, and Carolyn Eileen Scripps, of Grosse Pointe Farms, Mich.; a brother, William K. of Lake mont, Ga., and 12 grandchildren.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy may be in the form of contributions to the scholarship fund of the United Negro College Fund through Westmoreland Congregation Church in Washington.