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Blog Entries from 2013

Asians Fastest-Growing Race or Ethnic Group in 2012

Categories:
Asian-American Family

The U.S. Census Bureau announced Asians were the nation's fastest-growing race or ethnic group in 2012. Their population rose by 530,000, or 2.9 percent, in the preceding year, to 18.9 million, according to Census Bureau annual population estimates. More than 60 percent of this growth in the Asian population came from international migration.

By comparison, the Hispanic population grew by 2.2 percent, or more than 1.1 million, to just over 53 million in 2012. The Hispanic population growth was fueled primarily by natural increase (births minus deaths), which accounted for 76 percent of Hispanic population change. Hispanics remain our nation's second largest race or ethnic group (behind non-Hispanic whites), representing about 17 percent of the total population.

These statistics are part of a set of annual population estimates released today by race, Hispanic origin, age and sex. They examine population change for these groups nationally, as well as within all states and counties, between July 1, 2011, and July 1, 2012.

Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders (climbing 2.2 percent to about 1.4 million), American Indians and Alaska Natives (rising 1.5 percent to a little over 6.3 million), and blacks or African-Americans (increasing 1.3 percent to 44.5 million) followed Asians and Hispanics in percentage growth rates. Full Release.

Pre-Registration Opens For SelectUSA 2013 Investment Summit

SelectUSA Summit 2013

Pre-registration is now open for the SelectUSA 2013 Investment Summit! This first-ever event will take place in Washington, DC on October 31 and November 1. 

The two-day SelectUSA 2013 Investment Summit will connect international and domestic investors and firms with economic development organizations (EDOs) from across the country in an effort to promote investment here and support the creation of American jobs.

Through a series of presentations and panel discussions, Summit participants will hear from world-class business leaders, senior Administration officials, and industry and technical experts. The Summit will feature an exhibition area where EDOs can showcase their business opportunities. Participants will also learn what Federal resources are available for investing in the United States. Another key component of the Summit will be matchmaking sessions, with opportunities for extensive networking.

SelectUSA, located within the International Trade Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce, was established by President Obama in 2011. This Presidential initiative is charged with leading federal government efforts to promote the United Sates as the premier global investment destination and facilitate investment in the nation. SelectUSA provides counseling to the global investment community, serves as an ombudsman for investors, and advocates for U.S. cities, states, and regions competing for global investment.

International Travelers to the United States Post Record Numbers in Visits and Spending

Bryce Canyon National Park

U.S. Under Secretary for International Trade Francisco Sánchez highlighted new data today that show spending by international visitors to the United States in April 2013 totaled nearly $14.5 billion, an increase of more than 5 percent when compared to April 2012. International visitors have spent an estimated $57.9 billion on U.S. travel and tourism-related services year to date in 2013 (January through April), an increase of 8 percent when compared to the same period last year.

Purchases of travel and tourism-related goods and services by international visitors traveling in the United States totaled $11.2 billion during April. These goods and services include food, lodging, recreation, gifts, entertainment, local transportation in the United States, and other items incidental to foreign travel. Fares received by U.S. carriers (and U.S. vessel operators) from international visitors totaled nearly $3.3 billion for the month. The United States enjoyed a favorable balance of trade for the month of April in the travel and tourism sector, with a surplus of nearly $4.2 billion.

In 2012, international travel and tourism spending reached a record $168.1 billion, up 10 percent from 2011. The increase was the result of a surge in international visitors to the United States: in 2012, a record 67.0 million international visitors came to the United States, an increase of 4.3 million from the year before. Highlights of the 2012 arrivals data show that Canadian visitors set a record with 22.7 million visitors, up 6 percent.  Mexico was second with a record 14.5 million arrivals, up 8 percent. The U.K., (-2 percent), Japan (+14 percent), and Germany (+3 percent) rounded out the top five. Countries among the top 20 with the largest increase in 2012 from the previous year were: China (+35 percent), Colombia (+21 percent), Venezuela and Argentina (both up +20 percent), and Brazil (+ 19 percent). All five countries set records for visits to the United States in 2012.

The Department of Commerce Supports U.S.-ASEAN Partnerships

ASEAN Member Nations

It’s no secret that Asia is a source of tremendous economic growth. For more than 35 years, the United States and The Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ (ASEAN) member countries have worked to foster economic development through trade and investment.

This week, officials from the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) will join a visiting delegation of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) economic ministers for the ASEAN Economic Ministers (AEM) Road Show events in Los Angeles and Silicon Valley, California, as well as in Washington, D.C. U.S. government officials from the U.S. Departments of Commerce, USTR, and State. Trade ministers from ASEAN member states (Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam) will meet with Members of Congress, local government officials and business leaders to discuss various trade issues, commercial diplomacy, and trade-openness. The U.S. Department of Commerce is specifically committed to economic engagement with ASEAN in support of the White House Expanded Economic Engagement (E3) initiative. ASEAN’s rapid economic development, growing middle class, and combined total trade of over $200 billion in goods and services speak to the tremendous enterprise and potential of the region. 

By 2015, ASEAN seeks to establish a unified economic market. The United States supports the integration efforts by ASEAN to establish an ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), which will benefit both ASEAN economies and its U.S. business partners. The AEC would establish free flows of goods, services and foreign direct investment, as well as freer skilled labor and cross-border capital flows.

ASEAN’s progress toward establishing AEC, will have a strong impact on U.S.-ASEAN trade and investment. With a combined population of nearly 600 million people, an integrated ASEAN will lead to greater economies of scale and lower costs – which will help companies, workers and citizens in both the U.S. and ASEAN thrive.

The Commerce Department will continue to play a strong and active role in engaging with ASEAN. Commerce will do its part to foster more public-private relationships and support trade missions to ASEAN countries to help strengthen U.S.-ASEAN economic futures.

June 8 Marks World Ocean Day: NOAA’s National Ocean Service Concludes "30 Days of Oceans" Campaign

The ocean acts like a sunlight filter

Presidential Proclamation Declares June National Oceans Month

June 8 is World Ocean Day, a time to celebrate the ocean which covers most of our planet. 

The ocean—it’s bluedeep, and full of strange-looking forms of life. But beyond its natural beauty and mystery, the ocean is useful to have around for many practical reasons, such as: past ocean life produced enough oxygen to make this planet a nice place to live; it affects the atmosphere, and therefore, the weather and climate; it is full of food humans like to eat; it is fun to play in; and it has lots of materials and mineral resources we use for energy, manufacturing, and transportation.

What is the best way to give your thanks for the many benefits the ocean offers us? By protecting it and keeping it clean, of course.

Here are a few suggestions from NOAA's Office of Response and Restoration for a keeping a healthy and pollution-free ocean:

Also: In conjunction with World Ocean Day, NOAA's National Ocean Service concludes its 30 Days of Oceans campaign.  You can also view the World Ocean Day video at http://oceantoday.noaa.gov/worldoceanday/

For more information on the Presidential proclamation, please visit http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/05/31/presidential-proclamation-national-oceans-month-2013

Breaking Down the Urban-Rural Broadband Divide

Cover of May 2013 report

Cross-post by David Beede, Research Economist, Economics and Statistics Administration and Anne Neville, Director, State Broadband Initiative, National Telecommunications and Information Administration

While broadband availability has expanded for all parts of the United States, NTIA data has consistently shown that urban areas have greater access to broadband at faster speeds than rural areas. In a new report released today, NTIA and the Commerce Department’s Economics and Statistics Administration (ESA) delve deeper into the differences between broadband availability in rural and urban areas.

This latest report is part of a series from NTIA that examines broadband availability data in greater detail. One key finding of the new report suggests that, in many cases, the closer a community lies to a central city, the more likely it is to have access to broadband at higher speeds. This is significant because some lower-density communities are located closer to the central city of a metropolitan area and have more access to faster broadband speeds than higher-density communities that are more distant from a central city.

Rural areas can be either within metropolitan areas (exurbs) or outside of metro areas (very rural areas), and while they each have approximately the same share of the total population (more than 9 percent) there is a wide gap in broadband availability between these two types of communities. The report shows that in 2011, 76 percent of residents in exurbs, which generally ring suburbs, had access to basic wireline broadband, defined as advertised speeds of 3 Mbps download and 768 kbps upload. In contrast, 65 percent of very rural residents, who live outside of metropolitan areas, had basic wired service. This disparity between exurban and very rural areas is even greater when it comes to access to much faster broadband service of at least 25 Mpbs. Only 18 percent of very rural residents had access to broadband at this speed compared to nearly 38 percent of exurban residents.  There are also significant gaps between exurbs and very rural areas when it comes to access to wireless broadband.  

Working Together with Indian Country

Photo of Senior Adviser Dee Alexander

Guest blog post by Dee Alexander, Commerce's Senior Adviser on Native American Affairs

Last month, Acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank signed the “Tribal Consultation and Coordination Policy," (PDF) which establishes the manner in which the Department works with federally-recognized Indian tribes when developing Department policies that have tribal implications.

The Consultation Policy follows from President Obama’s Presidential Memorandum on Tribal Consultation from November 2009 which strengthens former President Bill Clinton’s Executive Order on “Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments” (PDF). Upon signing, President Obama stated the importance of the Presidential Memorandum: “History has shown that failure to include the voices of tribal officials in formulating policy affecting their communities has all too often led to undesirable and, at times, devastating and tragic results. By contrast, meaningful dialogue between Federal officials and tribal officials has greatly improved Federal policy toward Indian tribes.

Commerce Department Supports Disaster Relief Across the Country

A tornado funnel cloud

Only a few weeks ago, an EF5 tornado ripped through Oklahoma.  The 2013 Atlantic hurricane season just began, and forecasts predict that it will be a very active season. Whenever events like these may occur, the Department of Commerce is ready to help communities across the country prepare for and recover from natural disasters.

The U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) is one of the Commerce bureaus that assist in disaster-recovery efforts. Just last month, EDA announced grants totaling $54.1 million for disaster relief to 15 communities in 12 states and territories. For example, EDA announced a $20 million investment that will help redevelop the 20th Street corridor in Joplin, Missouri, where a devastating tornado in May 2011 claimed 161 lives, flattened large sections of the city, and destroyed more than 7,000 housing units.

Some other recently announced recovery projects include:

  • rebuilding a flood-damaged railroad bridge across the Judith River in Montana that provides the sole freight link for numerous farming communities;
  • providing communities in New England that were devastated by Tropical Strom Irene with the means to provide technical assistance to small businesses and local governments; and
  • rebuilding public infrastructure in downtown Minot, North Dakota, an area that was destroyed by flooding of the Mouse River.

These projects are part of a $200 million appropriation made by Congress to EDA to help with long-term economic recovery and infrastructure support in communities that received a major disaster designation in fiscal year 2011.

Spotlight on Commerce: Sharon Yanagi, Chief of Staff, Bureau of Industry and Security

Photo of Sharon Yanagi, Chief of Staff, Bureau of Security and Industry

Ed. note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series highlighting members of the Department of Commerce and their contributions to an Economy Built to Last.

Guest blog post by Ms. Sharon Yanagi, Chief of Staff, Bureau of Security and Industry

For over three years, I have served as the Chief of Staff at the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS), the U.S. Commerce Department agency charged with administering the nation’s dual use export control system. In that capacity, I advise the Bureau Under Secretary on a range of policy, management and operations issues. I work closely with BIS leaders on Congressional and industry outreach and education designed to build support for the Bureau’s overarching policy initiative, the Export Control Reform Initiative. It is a major update of the U.S. export control system which will enhance both our national security and our economic competitiveness.  

In 2010, I was recruited back to BIS, having served there as Congressional and Public Affairs Director during the Clinton administration. At that time, we also tried to reform the U.S. export control system, which has not been comprehensively updated since the end of the Cold War. As Congressional director, I was part of a team that spent two years and hundreds of hours working to reauthorize our legislative authority–and in 1994, we failed. It’s not often that you fail to attain a major goal and are given the chance to try again. That is why I’m very grateful for the opportunity to work toward this important and long overdue policy goal in this administration.


Workshop Identifies Research Priorities to Mitigate Fires in the Wildland-Urban Interface

Image of the 2007 "Witch Fire"

Over 46 million residential structures in the United States are in areas at risk of wildfires. A new publication* from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) identifies a set of research needs aimed at preventing or managing this growing threat to about 70,000 communities located in the so-called wildland-urban interface (WUI).

Identified by experts at a 2012 workshop organized by NIST, the top three recommended topics warranting sustained research efforts focus on:

  • "hardening" buildings, so that they resist ignition—by flames, embers and heat;
  • developing standards and tests of building performance that improve the "survivability" of structures exposed to WUI fires; and
  • improving the understanding of "how vegetation, topography, climate and construction cause structure ignition and spread of fires."

On average, WUI fires destroy 3,000 buildings annually. They accounted for six of the 10 most costly fires in the United States over the last 100 years. Five of these fires occurred in California, where the incidence of wildfires currently is up 47 percent this year over last . Read more