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

Blog Entries from 2014

U.S. Census Bureau Releases Key Statistics in Honor the Holiday Season

U.S. Census Bureau Releases Key Statistics in Honor the Holiday Season

This festive season, or simply the holidays, is a time for gathering and celebrating with family and friends, gift giving, reflection and thanks. To commemorate this time of year, the U.S. Census Bureau presents the following holiday-related facts and figures from its collection of statistics.

$24.4 billion

Estimated retail sales by the nation’s department stores (including leased departments) in December 2013. This represents an estimated 40.9 percent jump from the previous month when retail sales were estimated at 17.3 billion. No other month-to-month increase in department store sales last year was as large. 

13.9%

The estimated percentage of total 2013 sales for department stores (including leased departments) in December. For jewelry stores, the estimated percentage was 19.1 percent.

$44.5 billion

Estimated value of retail sales by electronic shopping and mail-order houses in December 2013 — the highest total for any month last year.

$1.0 billion

The value of U.S. imports of Christmas tree ornaments from China between January and September 2014. China was the leading country of origin for such items. Similarly, China was the leading foreign source of artificial Christmas trees shipped to the United States ($137.5 million worth) during the same period.

563

The number of locations that primarily produced dolls, toys, and games in 2012; they employed 7,481 workers in the pay period including March 12.  California led the nation with 95 establishments.

For more information and other key statistics on the holidays, please go to the latest issue of the Census Bureau's Facts for Features.

Florida Passes New York to Become the Nation’s Third Most Populous State, Census Bureau Reports

Categories:
Florida Passes New York to Become the Nation’s Third Most Populous State, Census Bureau Reports

By adding an average of 803 new residents each day between July 1, 2013 and July 1, 2014, Florida passed New York to become the nation’s third most populous state, according to U.S. Census Bureau state population estimates released today. Florida’s population grew by 293,000 over this period, reaching 19.9 million. The population of New York increased by 51,000 to 19.7 million.

California remained the nation’s most populous state in 2014, with 38.8 million residents, followed by Texas, at 27.0 million. Although the list of the 10 most populous states overall was unchanged, two other states did change positions, as North Carolina moved past Michigan to take the ninth spot.

Another milestone took place in Georgia (ranked 8th), which saw its population surpass 10 million for the first time.

North Dakota was the nation’s fastest-growing state over the last year. Its population increased 2.2 percent, followed by the 1.7 percent growth in Nevada and Texas. Each of the 10 fastest-growing states was in the South or West with the exception of North Dakota. 

Six states lost population between July 1, 2013, and July 1, 2014: Illinois (9,972 or -0.08 percent), West Virginia (3,269 or -0.18 percent), Connecticut (2,664 or -0.07 percent), New Mexico (1,323 or -0.06 percent, Alaska (527 or -0.07 percent) and Vermont (293 or -0.05 percent).

The United States as a whole saw its population increase by 2.4 million to 318.9 million, or 0.75 percent.

In addition to the 50 states and the District of Columbia, the new statistics also include estimates for Puerto Rico. On July 1, 2014, Puerto Rico had an estimated population of 3.5 million, a decline of 47,000, or 1.3 percent, from one year earlier.

The Census Bureau produces population estimates each year, allowing the public to gauge the growth and demographic composition of the nationstates and communities. These statistics use administrative data to estimate population change between census years, using the decennial census count as a starting point. Local governments use estimates to locate services, and estimates are used by the private sector to locate businesses.

The Census Bureau also released today estimates of the number of people 18 and older in the U.S., states and Puerto Rico. The downloadable file also includes total population and the percentage of people 18 and older. Internet address: http://www.census.gov/popest/data/datasets.html.

During 2015, the Census Bureau will release estimates of the 2014 population of counties, cities and towns, and metropolitan and micropolitan statistical areas as well as national, state and county population estimates by age, sex, race and Hispanic origin.

Business Sunday Comes to South Florida

By Marie R. Gill, Operator and Executive Director of the MBDA Business Center in Miami and Josh Dickson, Director of the Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships at the US Department of Commerce

Earlier this month, Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) Business Center in Miami hosted its first Business Sunday at Samaritan Christian Center in Hallandale Beach, Florida, in partnership with the Miami District Office of the Small Business Administration (SBA), the Hallandale Parks and Recreation Department, the Hallandale Beach Community Reinvestment Agency (CRA), Career Source South Florida, the City of Miami and ACCION USA. Business Sunday is a program focused on promoting local economic growth and job creation by connecting congregations and communities with the valuable business development resources offered by the Federal Government.  A collaboration between the U.S. Department of Commerce, the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Minority Business Development Agency and BusinessUSA Business Sunday builds ladders of opportunity by meeting people where they are at and ensuring they have access to everything they need to start or grow their business.

Business Sunday in Hallandale Beach featured business development presentations from MBDA and SBA at Samaritan Christian Center, followed by a two-hour, one-on-one networking and information-sharing session at the Community Center at Foster Park. In her presentation, Ms. Marie R. Gill, Operator and Executive Director of the MBDA Business Center in Miami, explained the various services that are available from federal agencies, provided information on resources available through the BusinessUSA website and highlighted ways that the MBDA Business Center can support the growth and competitiveness of minority-owned businesses through access to capital, access to contracts and access to domestic and global markets. She also discussed the various collaborations the Center has formed - including a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the SBA - to provide the requisite level of support for MBDA’s clients. In addition, Ms. Althea Harris, a Program Director at the Miami District Office of the SBA, provided information on services and resources available directly from the SBA and its program partners.

During his presentation, Bishop Adderley, speaking to the 250-person congregation, thanked MBDA, SBA and all the supporting partners for choosing Hallandale Beach to launch Business Sunday in South Florida. “It is wonderful that these programs and resources are being brought directly to us in our community,” he said, “and I encourage all members attending, and those listening and watching online, to take advantage of these opportunities.”

As a result of this first initiative, the MBDA Business Center in Miami will embark on a new collaboration with the City of Hallandale Beach CRA in order to more easily access local businesses and to provide specialized consulting services and managerial coaching to minority-owned businesses.

Intellectual Property Attachés Discuss Protecting U.S. Interests Abroad

Intellectual Property Attachés Discuss Protecting U.S. Interests Abroad

The United States Patent and Trademark Office hosted its annual Intellectual Property (IP) Attaché consultations at its Alexandria, Va. headquarters during the week of December 15. Each year since 2007, participants from the USPTO and other government agencies, organizations, associations, and universities attend the event to exchange information about international IP issues and the work of USPTO’s IP attachés. The consultations provide a platform for all 11 IP attachés to share their accomplishments, participate in briefings on patent, trademark, and copyright developments in the United States, and collaborate with other organizations, stakeholders, and foreign IP attachés. The consultations enable information exchange and coordination with U.S. stakeholders, with a goal of improving IP protection and enforcement abroad.

The USPTO IP Attaché Program assigns experts to U.S. embassies or consulates overseas to represent the USPTO and advocate U.S. government policy positions on IP. IP attachés have assisted many industry associations, businesses, and other U.S. stakeholders in their efforts to protect and enforce their IP rights and navigate local IP laws in regions around the world. Each IP attaché has expertise in the fields of international IP law, policy and enforcement. 

In the week prior to the Alexandria meetings IP attachés met with the public in San Francisco and San Jose, including representatives from high tech organizations, legal associations, and universities. These consultations provided education and built contacts with a broad range of organizations interested in learning more about the IP Attaché Program and U.S. government IP policy overseas.

The consultations also included a half-day discussion sponsored by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, where IP attachés exchanged views with chamber members and the public on various international IP issues. The discussion centered on ensuring that IP systems help protect U.S. interests abroad while reducing trade barriers and encouraging strong economic growth.

During a career roundtable webcast, USPTO employees discussed potential career opportunities with the public and explained what it is like to work as an IP attaché. Participants asked questions and heard first-hand some of the accomplishments and challenges faced by IP attachés while on assignment. If you missed this roundtable, you can view the webcast on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce website.

The USPTO extends its gratitude to all those who participated in the IP attaché consultations and to those who contributed to making the event a productive exchange of information, helping to reinforce a strong and effective IP system worldwide. Visit the IP Attaché Program on the USPTO website to learn more about it.

25th U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade Concludes with Key Outcomes

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman today hosted a Chinese delegation led by Vice Premier Wang Yang for the 25th session of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT) in Chicago, IL

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman hosted a Chinese delegation led by Vice Premier Wang Yang for the 25th session of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT), which took place in Chicago. At the conclusion of the discussions, the United States announced key outcomes in the areas of agricultural market access, intellectual property rights protection, innovation policies, and competition law enforcement.

Through sustained engagement over the course of this past year, the United States and China have reached agreement in several areas of key importance to U.S. farmers, innovators, manufacturers and workers, including in the following areas:

  • Agriculture market access:  China has made commitments that should promote significant increases in U.S. exports of soybeans, corn and dairy products to China.  Specifically, China announced that it would approve the importation of new biotechnology varieties of U.S. soybeans and corn ­– current annual U.S. exports of soybeans and corn to China total $14 billion and $3.5 billion, respectively – and also that it would pursue a regular dialogue with the United States focused on the benefits of the increased use of innovative technologies in agriculture, for both the United States and China. China also agreed to strong IP protections for products that use trademarks or common names like "parmesan" or "feta" cheese, which in recent years have begun to demonstrate a potential for rapid export growth vis-à-vis China.
  • IPR protection:  China's IPR-related commitments cover a range of needed improvements, which should benefit U.S. businesses in a wide variety of industries that rely on the ability to protect their trade secrets, as well as U.S. holders of patents, trademarks and copyrights. For example, in the area of trade secrets, building on prior bilateral commitments made by China, the United States has gained China’s agreement to take specific additional steps to protect companies’ trade secrets and to work on a new trade secrets law to further enhance their protections.  The United States also has secured China’s agreement to, among other things, bring new focus to the two countries’ work together to determine how best to foster a better environment for facilitating increased sales of legitimate intellectual property-intensive goods and services in China.
  • Innovation policies:  The United States continued to pursue changes to Chinese policies and practices that have pressured foreign companies to transfer valuable intellectual property rights to enterprises in China.  For example, China committed to ensure that they treat foreign IP rights the same as domestic IP rights.  China also has agreed to streamline China’s regulatory processes and cut red tape for imports of new, innovative pharmaceuticals and medical devices, which should lead to increases in U.S. exports and U.S. jobs in these two important sectors.  Indeed, according to industry data, the U.S. pharmaceuticals industry directly employs more than 810,000 workers and supports a total of 3.4 million jobs in the United States, while annual exports of U.S. pharmaceutical products to China have exceeded $1.2 billion.  The U.S. medical device industry, meanwhile, includes over 7,000 companies, most with less than 100 employees, supports 1.9 million U.S. jobs overall, and was responsible for $2.7 billion in exports to China in 2013. 
  • Competition policy enforcement:  The United States was able to address a significant concern for many foreign companies, which have expressed serious concern about insufficient predictability, fairness and transparency in the investigative processes of China’s Anti-Monopoly Law enforcement.  The Chinese side agreed that, under normal circumstances, a foreign company in an Anti-Monopoly Law investigation would be permitted to have counsel present and to consult with them during proceedings.  China also made several additional commitments, including to treat domestic and foreign companies equally and to provide increased transparency for investigated companies.

Increasing the Reach of Census Bureau Data

Increasing the Reach of Census Bureau Data

Guest blog post by Raul Cisneros, director, Center for New Media and Promotion and Rebecca Blash, chief, Center for Enterprise Dissemination Services and Consumer Innovation (CEDSCI), U.S. Census Bureau

The U.S. Census Bureau is committed to operational excellence by making the statistics that define our growing, changing nation more accessible than ever before. In an age of instant communication and 24/7 information sharing, the needs and expectations of the Census Bureau’s data users have changed. We have listened to our customers, and this is what we have heard: Our users want easy access to timely, relevant statistics. They want access anywhere and anytime.  And, they want their data to be shareable, embeddable, downloadable and customizable.

In response, the Census Bureau has undertaken a comprehensive digital transformation effort, developing new tools using the latest technologies.  Almost 50 million people visit Census.gov annually, and we’ve made major improvements to the site so that they can more easily find the information they want. We also created an application programming interface (API) to increase the accessibility and usability of our data. The API gives developers quick and easy access to an ever-increasing pool of publicly available data, allowing them to create Web or mobile apps. More than 7,000 developers have requested access to the API, and the databases have been queried more than 600 million times. Because these apps subsequently reach new users, they have the added benefit of increasing the circulation of our demographic, socioeconomic and housing statistics even more.

We also want to make our data accessible and appealing to as wide an audience as possible. Our three mobile apps are a good example of this. America’s Economy provides real-time updates of 20 key economic indicators, making it easy for casual or serious followers of the U.S. economy to see the latest trends. Our two other tools, dwellr (an app that helps users discover cities and towns that fit their lifestyle) and Census PoP Quiz (a population challenge quiz), tap into statistical information from the American Community Survey for casual data users.

NOAA’s National Hurricane Center Implements New Products to Help U.S. Coastal Communities Become More Resilient

NOAA’s National Hurricane Center Implements New Products to Help U.S. Coastal Communities Become More Resilient

The 2014 hurricane season is over and, once again, no major hurricanes (Category 3 of higher on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale) struck the United States. That's a record nine years in row! Of course, it's foolish to believe this remarkable streak will last, and we have to be ready for it to end next season. 

The stakes couldn't be higher. In its latest figures, the Commerce Department's U.S. Census Bureau finds 185 coastal counties along the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico, home to 58 million people, at risk to a hurricane. It all comes down to preparation, education and accurate forecasting. It's easy to see why one of NOAA's primary goals is to provide the information and services to help communities become more resilient. 

With that in mind, this year the Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Hurricane Center introduced an experimental five-day Graphical Tropical Weather Outlook to complement its text-only product for both the Atlantic and eastern North Pacific basins. This new outlook provided easy to understand graphics depicting the likelihood of development and the potential formation areas of new tropical cyclones over a five day period. The hurricane center also introduced an experimental Potential Storm Surge Flooding Map for those areas along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts of the United States at risk of storm surge from an approaching tropical cyclone. First used on July 1 as a strengthening Tropical Storm Arthur targeted the North Carolina coastline, the map highlighted those geographical areas where inundation from storm surge could occur and the height above ground that the water could reach. This information was vital for emergency management authorities and the public in the affected areas. 

Additionally, upgrades to NOAA’s newest hurricane model, the Hurricane Weather Research and Forecasting (HWRF), produced excellent forecasts for Hurricane Arthur’s landfall in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, and provided outstanding track forecasts in the Atlantic basin through the season. The model, developed by NOAA researchers, is also providing guidance on tropical cyclones around the world and is used by several international operational forecast agencies. All of these improvements are an integral part of the ongoing evolution currently underway at NOAA's National Weather Service.

JCCT Day One Emphasizes A Shared Vision of Global Economic Partnership

JCCT Day One Emphasizes A Shared Vision of Global Economic Partnership
JCCT Day One Emphasizes A Shared Vision of Global Economic Partnership

Secretary Pritzker and U.S. Trade Representative Froman, along with a high-level Government of China delegation led by Vice Premier Wang Yang, kicked off a day of side events with American and Chinese private sector leaders around the Joint Commission on Trade and Commerce (JCCT). For the first time, the JCCT schedule included a full day of events designed to facilitate private sector engagement with officials from the U.S. and Chinese governments.  

Thirty-one years after the JCCT’s inception, Secretary Pritzker, Ambassador Froman and Vice Premier Wang Yang committed to re-imagining the JCCT. Their hope is for the JCCT to serve as more of a platform for government leaders to hear from the business community, as well as continue to serve as a forum for addressing bilateral trade and investment issues and promoting commercial opportunities between the United States and China.

In the morning, both delegations participated in a roundtable with 24 business leaders from the U.S. and China, sponsored by the Paulson Institute and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. During the roundtable discussion, government and business leaders discussed the opportunities and challenges of bilateral investment between the United States and China, including greater market access for U.S. goods and services, protection of intellectual property—including trade secrets—as well as ways to promote an efficient and level playing field in China, and how to secure best practices in regulatory enforcement, among other issues.

Later in the day at a luncheon hosted by World Business Chicago, Secretary Pritzker emphasized the importance of global commerce in promoting more openness, trade, and business between the United States and China. She also highlighted how Chinese investment in the United States has been a win-win for both countries and noted that Chinese investment has grown 42% between 2009 and 2013, supporting jobs for 14,000 U.S. workers.  

Secretary Pritzker finished the day speaking about the shared vision of a global economic partnership that exists between the United States and China. She noted that the success of the U.S.-China commercial relationship is critical to global economic growth and stability. The two economies are the largest in the world, accounting for nearly 35 percent of global GDP. Combined U.S. and China trade in goods and services add up to about one-fifth of all international trade, so the importance of the bilateral economic relationship to each other and to the global economy cannot be overstated.  

In many ways, the reimagined JCCT is an opportunity for the JCCT co-chairs to build a legacy of cooperation, respect, and stronger U.S.-China economic ties. Leaving this legacy will require a tremendous amount of work, but if it succeeds, the JCCT will become an even more effective mechanism for economic growth.  The co-chairs can use the JCCT to promote more commerce, to deepen trust, and to address real business challenges.

Challenging Mission, Strong Team

Guest blog post by Mark Doms, Under Secretary for Economic Affairs

Our country – the public, businesses, NGOs, non-profits, academic institutions and governments at all levels – relies on the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic & Statistics Administration (ESA) to provide timely, relevant, and high-quality data about our population and economy so they can make better decisions. This is no easy task given the sheer magnitude of our nation – we have over 7 million employer- businesses, 320 million people, a Gross Domestic Product of over $17 trillion, and trillions of dollars in international trade. It can make your head spin.  Additionally, keeping track of our economy and population is made all the more difficult because of the dynamism of our country: hundreds of thousands of new businesses start every year; tens of millions of people move; and new industries arise while others decline. On top of all of this, we are in the midst of a data revolution, with rapid advances in private-sector data availability, new data analysis tools, and ever more and changing ways to disseminate data. 

As the Under Secretary for Economic Affairs, I ensure our people, programs, and policies are properly aligned and resourced to successfully perform our mission in this rapidly changing and increasingly complex environment. ESA’s three operating units; Commerce’s Office of the Chief Economist, the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), and the Bureau of Census include a workforce of more than 10,000 dedicated professionals. In addition to our duties and challenges, ESA has been given another mission: to take the lead in achieving goals under the Data Pillar of the Department of Commerce’s Strategic Plan, working across all bureaus in Commerce to fulfill the imperative to “maximize the positive impacts of Commerce data on society.”

To be successful in both my traditional job as ESA Under Secretary and as a leader of the Data Pillar, I need a capable, nimble, leadership team with a diverse set of skills.  None of us can be successful alone; instead we need to be members of strong teams committed to excellence. This post focuses on just one ESA team, that of my immediate office, which has been revamped in the past year. Team members were chosen and the positions created to meet a specific and diverse list of challenges, the most important being continuity, communication, coordination, and planning.

Presidential Task Force Issues Recommendations to Level Playing Field for U.S. Fishermen

Seafood on ice

Earlier today, the U.S. government took additional steps to level the playing field for legitimate U.S. fishermen, and ensure the vitality of marine fish stocks. The Presidential Task Force on Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing and Seafood Fraud, co-chaired by the Departments of State and Commerce, released 15 recommendations to combat IUU fishing and seafood fraud and increase consumer confidence in the sustainability of seafood sold in the U.S. 

The recommendations released today include:

  • International: Work with international governments, Regional Fisheries Management Organizations, and others to combat IUU fishing and seafood fraud at the international level.
  • Enforcement: Strengthen enforcement tools to combat IUU fishing and seafood fraud.
  • Partnerships: Create and expand partnerships with U.S. state and local governments, industry, and non-governmental organizations to identify and eliminate seafood fraud and IUU seafood in U.S. commerce.
  • Traceability: Create a risk-based traceability program to track seafood from harvest to entry into the U.S. market to prevent entry of illegal product into the supply chain and better inform retailers and consumers.