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Blog Entries from 2012

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.

Working with Florida Businesses to Create an Economy Built to Last

Sánchez speaking with Vaughn after a White House Hispanic Community Action Summit

Guest blog post by Francisco Sánchez, Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade, International Trade Administration

It’s always good to be back in my hometown of Tampa, Florida.

This morning, I was proud to participate in a powerful and productive discussion at a White House Hispanic Community Action Summit, which took place at the University of Tampa. It was another great opportunity for Obama administration officials and community leaders to exchange thoughts and perspectives about the challenges currently facing our nation.

Although a number of topics were discussed, there was one that was near the top of everybody’s agenda—the economy.

Sure, there’s been a lot of good news lately; all of us were very encouraged by today’s jobs report which showed that 257,000 private sector jobs were created in January and the unemployment rate fell to 8.3 percent.

Thanks to President Obama’s leadership, the United States has had 23 straight months of private sector growth, for a total of 3.7 million jobs over that period.

But, there’s still a lot of work to do to ensure that everybody who wants a job can get one.

Commerce Secretary John Bryson Visits Patent and Trademark Office Headquarters

USPTO Director Kappos gives Secretary Bryson a tour of the Alexandria campus. Several other staff members were also on the tour.

Secretary John Bryson stopped by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia on Friday to meet with employees and tour the facility. It was the first time he had visited the USPTO office since being confirmed as Commerce Secretary in October of last year.

While he was there, the Secretary congratulated the USPTO for its work on the implementation of the historic America Invents Act, which encourages innovation by making the first set of major reforms in the U.S. patent system since the 1800s. The America Invents Act allows businesses to get new ideas to market faster by reducing the time it takes to review applications for new patents to 12 months. By working to implement this law and rebuilding America’s intellectual property system from the ground up, the USPTO is making it easier for businesses to invest in new technologies, launch new industries, and create new jobs—in a 21st century global market.

Bryson also had the opportunity to discuss the USPTO’s efforts to improve patent quality. The USPTO has issued new guidelines that will clarify and tighten the standards for the issuance of patents. The new guidelines offer a more comprehensive measurement of the quality of patent examinations to ensure high standards in our patent process.

Acting Deputy Secretary Blank Visits SolarDock to Highlight President's Clean Energy and Manufacturing Initiatives

SolarDock founder Scott Johnson and MJM Fabrications President Mike Molder give Lt. Gov Matt Denn and Acting Deputy Secretary Rebecca Blank a tour of their facilities

Today Acting Deputy U.S. Commerce Secretary Dr. Rebecca Blank today visited SolarDock, a Wilmington, Delaware-area company that designs, manufactures and installs next generation solar power systems. She met with SolarDock founder Scott Johnson, partner Edward O’Brien, and employees and tour the manufacturing facility, along with Delaware Lieutenant Governor Matthew Denn.

Blank’s visit highlighted the President’s plans to strengthen U.S. manufacturing and foster a new era of American energy development. In the State of the Union, the President proposed reducing tax rates for American manufacturers and doubling the tax deduction for high-tech manufacturers. He also called for Congressional action on clean energy tax credits and laid out a proposal for new incentives to encourage manufacturers to make energy efficiency upgrades that would save $100 billion on the nation’s energy bills.

Blank discussed the Department’s efforts to support American manufacturers, so they’re better able to build their products in America and sell them all around the globe. The Commerce Department currently helps support manufacturers in several ways, including recently creating the National Advanced Manufacturing Partnership Program Office to bring together stakeholders and drive investments and initiatives in advanced manufacturing. Meanwhile, the Department’s trade specialists, who are located in offices throughout the country and in more than 70 nations around the world, work daily to connect U.S. businesses looking to export to buyers overseas, and Commerce’s U.S. Patent and Trademark Office helps businesses and entrepreneurs transform their ideas into new products and innovations.

Watch WHYY's video of her visit.

NIST Builds Enclosure to Display and Protect the 1297 Magna Carta for the National Archives

NIST’s Brian Yanick (left) and Jay Brandenburg inspect the Magna Carta platform’s rear side after machining.  The special “nest” for the wax seal is the keyhole-shaped object at the bottom center.

On Feb. 2 when many people were focusing on groundhogs and their shadows, the National Archives focused on high-tech conservation and the freshly conserved 1297 Magna Carta, including its state-of-the-art encasement designed and built by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

The first Magna Carta was signed in 1215 by King John of England after an assembly of barons forced him to put in writing for the first time the traditional rights and liberties of the country’s free persons. In 1297, King Edward I was forced to reissue the Magna Carta. This time it was entered into the official Statute Rolls of England and became the foundation of English Law. Centuries later it inspired the writers of the U.S. Constitution.

Unveiled at a briefing for the news media, the encasement is a controlled environment, something NIST’s Fabrication Technology Group builds regularly for lab research. Its cover is made of a special laminated glass with antireflective coatings to ensure maximum visibility of the document while protecting it. The tightly sealed case is filled with argon gas—which will not react with and damage the parchment as oxygen would. The encasement will be continuously monitored to ensure oxygen stays out.

NIST engineers and crafts people also built the platform on which the document sits within the protective encasement. They used a three-dimensional laser scan of the Magna Carta and its wax seal to guide a computer-controlled milling machine that cut away 90 percent of what began as a six-inch thick block of aluminum. The result is a nest of sorts to hold the parchment and its original wax seal (which still bears the likeness of Edward I). The nest makes sure the seal does not put any strain on the ribbon that attaches it to the delicate parchment document.

Census Bureau Reports Post-Recession Growth in 10 of 11 Service Sectors

Graphic of motion picture and video industries change (graph: Census Bureau)

The Department of Commerce's U.S. Census Bureau today released its 2010 Service Annual Survey, which shows that of the nation’s 11 service sectors, 10 showed an increase in revenues for employer firms between 2009 and 2010. These figures are the first findings from this survey to track the revenues of services after the December 2007 to June 2009 recession.

The statistics cover multiple service sectors: the information services sector; the health care and social assistance sector; the finance and insurance sector; and the arts, entertainment and recreation sector. The information sector increased from $1.08 trillion to $1.1 trillion. Within this sector, Internet publishing and broadcasting continued to see increased revenues, up 11.3 percent from $19.1 billion to $21.3 billion in 2010. Television broadcasting increased 12.0 percent from $31.6 billion to $35 billion. Cable and subscription other programming as well as wireless telecommunications carriers also saw increases in revenue of 7.3 percent and 5.3 percent, respectively, to $55.2 billion and $195.5 billion.

See the complete list on their full press release.

This growth within the service sector mirrors a May 2011 report that showed the record services trade surplus that continues to grow. U.S. trade in private services totaled $526.6 billion in 2010, representing a trade surplus that is growing, rising from $66.7 billion in 2003 to $168 billion in 2010.

Census Bureau and National Urban League Host Forum on Black Population

High and members of the panel

The Commerce Department's U.S. Census Bureau today hosted a forum with the National Urban League on the black population at Black Entertainment Television studios in Washington, D.C. The event highlighted statistics from the 2010 Census, providing a portrait of the black population in the U.S. Following the presentation, an expert panel discussed the statistics and their implications. Kristal Lauren High of Politic365 moderated.

Joining Census Burea Director Robert Groves and other Bureau officials were National Urban League officials, including Marc Morial, chief executive officer and president. Experts on the panel from public and private universities and centers for population, political and economic studies responded to questions submitted via Facebook and Twitter and broadcast on the Census Bureau's Ustream channel.

In his remarks, Groves noted that today is the beginning of Black History Month. In 1976, as part of the nation’s bicentennial, the original 1926 Black History Week was expanded into a month. Each year, U.S. presidents proclaim February as National African-American History Month. The U.S. Census Bureau has gathered data and facts relating to Black History Month in its Facts for Features: February 2012.