Commerce.gov is getting a facelift soon. See the new design.
Syndicate content

Blog Entries from February 2012

Advancing Economic Development Strategies: the First White House Community Partnership Summit, Atlanta, GA

EDA banner

Guest blog post by Deputy Assistant Secretary for Economic Development and Chief Operating Officer for Economic Development Administration Matt Erskine

Hundreds of small business owners, community leaders, and state and local elected officials in Atlanta, Georgia, convened during the first in a series of White House Community Partnership Summits today for the opportunity to meet face to face with senior Obama administration officials and discuss key local issues.

I had the pleasure of representing the Commerce Department and engage participants about steps the administration is taking to promote economic and job growth in Georgia and across America. I especially enjoyed the open space dialogues where participants set the agenda and identify action steps with officials.

Why Investing in R&D Matters

BEA logo

What do the electric light bulb, the internal combustion engine and the transistor have in common? They are all examples of how innovative ideas can bring rapid change and growth to our economy. Innovation has long been recognized as an important driver of economic growth.  New ideas can spark wave upon wave of new goods and services that literally transform the economy, making it more robust and vibrant.

What exactly is innovation? A precise explanation can be elusive, but common to every definition is the idea of realizing commercial value by creating something that did not previously exist. And, while economists agree that innovation is important for economic growth, actually measuring it is quite a challenge. Innovation is what’s known as an intangible asset. It’s hard to quantify. Understanding the role of intangible assets–and thus the role of innovative activity in general–is critical to understanding the modern economy.

Acting Deputy Secretary Blank Meets with Frédéric Lefebvre, French Minister

Blank with minister Lefebvre shaking hands

Yesterday, Acting Deputy Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank met with Frédéric Lefebvre, French Minister for Commerce, SMEs, Tourism, and Consumer Policy, at the Commerce Department to discuss ways to increase cooperation in the U.S.-France commercial relationship. Lefebvre is in Washington briefly before traveling to Miami for the World Symposium of French Trade Advisors on February 9–10.
 
In light of the Euro crisis, Blank and Lefebvre discussed French growth prospects and U.S. exports, as well as government initiatives, such as BusinessUSA, aimed at improving competitiveness, creating jobs and cutting bureaucratic red tape. They also talked about strategies that each government is pursuing to increase tourism and ideas for cooperation in order to increase trade and investment flows. In addition, Blank and Lefebvre talked about foreign direct investment through the SelectUSA program. Blank said she looks forward to continuing to strengthen the trade relationship between the two countries.

Acting Deputy Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank Highlights Skills Initiatives in Madison, Wisconsin

Image of a "truck classrom": Bringing the Classroom to the Community

President Obama recently laid out plans in his State of the Union address to foster an economy that’s built to last by ensuring that America has the highly skilled workers necessary for 21st century jobs. Yesterday, Acting Deputy Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank traveled to Madison, Wisconsin, where she visited the Madison Area Technical College, a training ground for students that leads directly to skilled manufacturing jobs nationwide. Blank met with students and sat in on a training class focused on hybrid vehicle technology. Blank also delivered remarks on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) workforce training and met with business and university leaders. Commerce’s Economic Development Administration recently teamed up with Madison College to provide mobile technical training opportunities both on-campus and throughout the region. The training focused on advanced manufacturing and automotive technology.

Blank also visited with several business and academic leaders, who are vital partners in the area of technical training at the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery.

Science at Sea: Teaching Our Youth About the Jobs that Make it Happen

"If I Worked on a NOAA ship" book cover

As NOAA’s Teacher at Sea Program (TAS) prepares for its 2012 season, the lessons and materials created by its participants from the 2011 season are making it into the hands of their eager students around the U.S. In 2011, 34 teachers representing 21 states, participated in NOAA research cruises, involving science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) concepts that can be integrated into their daily lessons. One of the goals of the TAS program is that teachers understand and use NOAA data in their classrooms. Teachers also obtain and translate this STEM knowledge for their students and the public in their blogs.

Another goal of the TAS program is for teachers to learn how different STEM occupations support NOAA’s mission and to then convey this information to their students. Each teacher is required to meet with, and sometimes interview, multiple crewmembers during the research cruise.  Often times, these interviews are featured in their blogs, but sometimes, teachers have the students create a product that explains the different jobs.

BTOP Case Study: Building 21st Century Job Skills in California

In today’s information-age economy, broadband is becoming a necessity for anyone searching for or applying for a job. Many job openings are only posted online. And about 80 percent of Fortune 500 companies only accept applications online. What’s more, in the current job market, digital literacy skills are often a requirement. For example, about 60 percent of working Americans use the Internet as an integral part of their jobs. Yet too many Americans lack the broadband access or skills needed to succeed in the workforce.

To help address this gap, the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program, or BTOP, is investing approximately $4 billion in roughly 230 projects to increase broadband access and adoption around the country. The Recovery Act program, which is administered by the Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration, recognizes that broadband can be a key to economic empowerment.

Colorado Manufacturers & Obama Administration Officials Discuss Efforts to Build a Recovery That Lasts

Guest blog post by Commerce Assistant Secretary for Economic Development John R. Fernandez

On February 7, 2012, my colleague Phil Singerman, Associate Director for Innovation and Industry Services at the Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology, and I joined local manufacturers in Colorado to discuss lab-to-market strategies during an innovation and commercialization forum hosted by the Colorado Association for Manufacturing and Technology.

In his State of the Union address, President Obama noted that “Innovation also demands basic research. Today, the discoveries taking place in our federally-financed labs and universities could lead to new treatments that kill cancer cells but leave healthy ones untouched. New lightweight vests for cops and soldiers that can stop any bullet.”

Manufacturers in Colorado and across the nation are developing new ideas, research and products to solve the pressing issues we face and create the jobs and industries of the future. Over the last three years, the Obama administration has been making smart investments to accelerate the process for taking research from labs to the marketplace and create jobs for America’s workers.

Commerce Secretary John Bryson Meets with the National Advisory Council on Minority Business Enterprise

NACMBE with Secretary John Bryson

Data from the Department of Commerce reveal that minority-owned firms are an engine of job growth and are more likely to export than non-minority-owned firms. These firms account for $1 trillion in gross receipts and employ almost six million Americans. To bolster the economic impact of minority entrepreneurs across the county, the National Advisory Council on Minority Business Enterprise (NACMBE) was established in April 2010.  

Commerce Secretary John Bryson hosted the fifth meeting of the National Advisory Council on Minority Business Enterprise today at the Commerce Department. The Council, co-chaired by Mark Hoplamazian, CEO of Hyatt Hotel Corporation, and Janice Savin-Williams, co-founder and principal, Williams Capital Group, includes CEOs, entrepreneurs, investors, and scholarly research experts.

“It’s clear that minority communities and minority-owned businesses were hit hard in the recession. However, in the last 22 months, 3.2 million jobs were created.  Also, credit is flowing again to a certain degree,” Bryson said today. “But with your help, we can foster an environment where minority entrepreneurs, innovators and business leaders can do what they do best–create jobs.”  

The State of our Union’s 21st Century Workforce

Recent and Projected Growth in STEM and Non-STEM Employment

In his State of the Union address, President Obama laid out an ambitious goal to train 2 million workers with the necessary skills to land a job.  What are those skills in a 21st century economy?  As we have written previously in this blog, the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) play a critical role in America’s global economic leadership and are vital to securing the highest quality jobs of the future, to decreasing the gender wage gap, and to ensuring America retains global economic leadership through innovation and technology. 

STEM & Employment

In 2010, 7.6 million people or 1 in 18 workers held STEM jobs.  (Watch this space for an update as 2011 data become available.)  Although STEM employment makes up a small fraction of total employment, STEM employment grew rapidly from 2000 to 2010, increasing 7.9 percent while employment in non-STEM jobs grew just 2.6 percent over this period.  (See Figure 1.) The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that STEM jobs will continue growing at a fast clip relative to other occupations: 17.0 percent between 2008-2018 (BLS’ most recent projection), compared to just 9.8 percent for non-STEM jobs.

STEM & Education

One of the more striking characteristics of STEM workers is their educational attainment.  More than two-thirds (68 percent) have a college degree or more, compared to just under one-third (31 percent) of other workers age 16 and over.  Nearly one quarter (23 percent) have completed an associate’s degree or at least some college.  Just 9 percent have a high school diploma or less.  Thus the majority of STEM workers tend to be college educated, but opportunities also exist for STEM workers with fewer years of study.

Secretary Bryson: Moving in the Right Direction on Jobs - Let’s Keep our Focus on Building it Here and Selling it Everywhere

Private Sector Payroll Employment (updated Feb 2012)

Guest blog post by John Bryson, U.S. Secretary of Commerce

Today’s employment numbers are yet another indication that our economy is moving in the right direction. The unemployment rate dropped to 8.3 percent and 243,000 jobs were added in January, making this the 23rd consecutive month of job growth. Private sector job growth has been driving the decrease in unemployment, with the private sector adding 257,000 jobs last month. The manufacturing sector alone grew by 50,000 jobs in January, showing that manufacturing is still an important and growing part of the American economy. In the last two years, manufacturing added 330,000 jobs in the U.S. – the strongest growth since the 1990s. And today, we learned that new orders for manufactured goods rose 1.1 percent in December 2011.

Despite this, our work remains far from over. We need faster economic growth to put Americans back to work and we won’t let up until everyone who wants a job can find a job. We must redouble our efforts to create an economy that is built to last. 

So what does that mean?  I can tell you first hand.  Over the past 10 days, I’ve traveled to Norfolk, Columbus and Pittsburgh to talk with businesses that are on the front lines of strengthening the elements of an economy built to last: American manufacturing, American energy, and training for American workers.

I’ve talked with manufacturers who are making everything from mattresses to advanced batteries. My message to them is a simple one: This Administration – this Department – wants to help more businesses like yours build it here and sell it everywhere.

We can and must build on the momentum the economy has gained in four key ways.