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Blog Category: Economics and Statistics Administration

Tapping Experts to Improve Federal Statistics: The Federal Economic Statistics Advisory Committee

FESAC members with Acting  Deputy Secretary Rebecca Blank

Guest blog by Robert Groves, Director, U.S. Census Bureau.

Major economic statistics tell us fundamental facts about the state of the economy – where we have been and how we are doing.  They allow citizens, businesses, and governments to assess how things are going.  Examples of such statistics include Gross Domestic Product (GDP), produced by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA); U.S. international trade in goods and services, produced by the U.S. Census Bureau; and the consumer and producer price indexes, produced by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).  While each example statistic is issued by only one statistical agency, some – such as GDP - hit the statistical “trifecta” because they are built from data from all three agencies.

Keeping those statistics up-to-date and relevant to an ever-changing economy is central to the credibility of statistical organizations such as the Census Bureau, BEA, and BLS.  It is also a significant challenge for the agencies. We use many tactics and strategies to make sure our data are current and relevant.  Getting good advice from experts in relevant fields, through advisory committees, is one of those strategies.  Hearing about both the strengths and weaknesses of our data in an open and public setting is essential to improving our data and maintaining their credibility.

I am excited that we get advice from the Federal Economic Statistics Advisory Committee (FESAC).  FESAC advises the heads of the Census Bureau and BEA – both in the Department of Commerce – as well as the Department of Labor’s BLS. FESAC’s mission -- to recommend research to address important technical problems -- aims at improving exactly complex economic statistics relying on data from not just one, but two or three of these agencies. 

2010 Census Shows Nation’s Hispanic Population Grew Four Times Faster than the Total U.S. Population, While Overall Population is Aging

Official census taker pushing a doorbell

The U.S. Census Bureau today released two 2010 Census briefs summarizing important demographic trends on the Hispanic population and Age and Sex Composition in the United States over the past decade.

The Hispanic Population: 2010 looks at an important part of our nation’s changing ethnic diversity with a particular focus on groups of Hispanic origin, including Mexican, Dominican and Cuban. Between 2000 and 2010, the Hispanic population grew by 43 percent – four times the 9.7-percent growth of the total U.S. population. The increase was a difference of 15.2 million people and accounted for more than half of the total population increase of 27.3 million people.

Age and Sex Composition: 2010 reports on our nation’s changing age and sex composition and shows that while Americans have gotten older, the male population has grown faster than the female population over the last decade. Of the total 2010 Census population, 157.0 million people, or 50.8 percent, were female and 151.8 million, or 49.2 percent, were male. 

For more information on today’s 2010 Census releases, visit www.2010.census.gov/news.

Commerce's Chief Economist: ESA Releases Report on 'U.S. Trade in Private Services'

Report on “U.S. Trade in Private Services.”

Guest blog post by the Department of Commerce's Chief Economist Mark Doms.

Today the Commerce Department and ESA released a brief report on “U.S. Trade in Private Services.” The report (PDF) shows that the United States has consistently run a record services trade surplus that is driving overall exports growth and topped half a trillion dollars in 2010.

Most of the time when you hear about trade, it is about trade in goods, in part because it is easier to wrap our minds around the idea of goods (pictures of large container ships help, and we often notice the markings on products that note where they were made).  However, the United States exports a sizable amount of services (non-tangible items of value, such as school tuition or an airplane ticket), and they are leading the way toward doubling U.S. exports in support of several million new jobs under President Obama’s National Export Initiative.

A few reasons why greater emphasis should be placed on our trade in services: 

  1. Services make up a big part of the economy: 80 percent or so depending on how you define it.
  2. In 2010, we exported over a half trillion dollars (wow) of services, an all-time high.
  3. The trade surplus in services in 2010 topped $526.6 billion. 
  4. Services jobs represent high-skill, high-wage jobs.
  5. From 2002-2008, our private services exports grew at an annual average rate of 11.1 percent.
  6. Many services are “tradable”, especially in today’s increasingly globalized world: legal services can be traded, computer services can be traded, engineering services, medical services, etc.
  7. Exports of services are likely to show continued growth, taking advantage of the skill of the U.S. workforce and supporting living-wage U.S. jobs. 

Cross-posted at ESA's blog.

Plato, Mo. Celebrates Recognition as the 2010 Census U.S. Center of Population

In the photo are (left to right) Dr. Robert Groves, Juliana Blackell & Bob Biram  - Village Chairman.

Townspeople, elected representatives, government officials and hundreds of students today celebrated the naming of Plato, Mo., as the 2010 Census U.S. center of population. Amid music, speeches, banners and cheers, village chairman Bob Biram welcomed the crowd, saying, “We’re proud of our village. As one of our students said, ‘we were in the middle of nowhere; now we are in the middle of everywhere.’"

At the event, U.S. Census Bureau Director Robert Groves and Juliana Blackwell, director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Geodetic Survey, revealed a survey disc, commemorating the national center of population as calculated by the Census Bureau and measured by the National Geodetic Survey.

Each decade after tabulating the decennial census, the Census Bureau calculates the mean center of population for the country, as well as for each state and county. The national center of population is determined as the place where an imaginary, flat, weightless and rigid map of the United States would balance perfectly if all 308,745,538 residents counted in the 2010 Census were of identical weight.  Press release

A 'Coming of Age' Event for Local Social and Economic Statistical Information

Director Groves on podium

Guest blog post by Robert M. Groves, Director, U.S. Census Bureau

Very recently the Census Bureau gave to the country the fully-evolved set of statistical information based on the American Community Survey – social and economic characteristics for thousands of communities across the country.

While this was a big deal for us data geeks at the Census Bureau, it marked the beginning of annual estimates for small communities and neighborhoods throughout the country.  Each year, each community throughout the country will get small area estimates of the occupational and industrial sector distribution, commuting patterns to work, health insurance status, disability status, wage levels, school attendance, non-English language spoken, military veteran status, housing structures, fuel use for health, housing costs, and citizenship status.

United States Department of Commerce Plan for Orderly Shutdown Due to Lapse of Congressional Appropriations

This blog post is about an older plan. The United States Department of Commerce Plan for Orderly Shutdown Due to Lapse of Congressional Appropriations at the end of FY 2013 is available here.

The current FY 2011 Continuing Resolution may expire without new budget authority. While it is not anticipated that there will be a lapse in appropriations, the Department must be prepared for a potential lapse in funding that would necessitate a significant reduction in operations.

Prior to a potential lapse in funding, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) requires the Department to submit a draft plan for agency operations in the absence of appropriations (a "shutdown plan"). This plan will likely be modified with additional guidance from the Office of Personnel Management and OMB, as the situation develops, and may be changed by the Department, as circumstances warrant.

This plan complies with the guidance provided by the Office of Management and Budget, the Department of Justice and the Department of Commerce.

Files

Census Bureau Releases New Data on Native Hawaiian- and Other Pacific Islander-Owned Businesses

The Commerce Department’s U.S. Census Bureau today released new data on Native Hawaiian- and Other Pacific Islander-owned businesses from the 2007 Survey of Business Owners. The number of Native Hawaiian- and Other Pacific Islander-owned businesses in the United States increased 31.1 percent between 2002 and 2007 to 37,957 businesses. These firms generated $6.5 billion in receipts in 2007, a 51.6 percent increase from 2002. This compares to a 17.9-percent increase in the total number of U.S. businesses between 2002 and 2007 and a rise in total business receipts of 32.9 percent.

The Survey of Business Owners: Native Hawaiian- and Other Pacific Islander-Owned Businesses: 2007 provides data on the number and percent of Native Hawaiian- and Other Pacific Islander-owned businesses, sales and receipts at the national, state and local levels, as well as other detailed information. The survey is conducted every five years as part of the economic census. The 2007 survey collected data from a sample of more than 2.3 million businesses.

“This important look at the economic activity of Native Hawaiian- and Other Pacific Islander-owned businesses is the only comprehensive and regularly collected data on this group,” said Tom Mesenbourg, deputy director of the U.S. Census Bureau. “These data confirm that businesses owned by Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders continue to grow both in number and in sales at rates that are faster than national rates for all businesses.”

States with the highest number of Native Hawaiian- and Other Pacific Islander-owned businesses were Hawaii, with 11,383 firms (30.0 percent of all Native Hawaiian- and Pacific Islander-owned businesses nationwide), and California, with 9,255 firms (24.4 percent of all Native Hawaiian- and Pacific Islander-owned businesses nationwide).

For more results from the 2007 Survey of Business Owners, visit http://www.census.gov/econ/sbo/.

White House Releases First Comprehensive Federal Report on the Status of American Women in Almost 50 Years

Cover of report

Report released on first day of Women's History Month

Today, the White House released a new report entitled Women in America: Indicators of Social and Economic Well-Being, a statistical portrait showing how women are faring in the United States today and how their lives have changed over time.  This is the first comprehensive federal report on women since 1963, when the Commission on the Status of Women, established by President Kennedy and chaired by Eleanor Roosevelt, produced a report on the conditions of women. Women in America Report.

Women in America focuses on five critical areas: people, families and income; education; employment; health; and crime and violence.  The administration will be honoring Women’s History Month throughout March, and will highlight a different section of the report every week.

“The Obama administration has been focused on addressing the challenges faced by women and girls from day one because we know that the success of women and girls is vital to winning the future,” said Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls Valerie Jarrett. “Today’s report not only serves as a look back on American women’s lives, but serves as a guidepost to help us move forward.”

“This collection of data from across the federal government offers the most comprehensive look at women in America since the 1960s,” Acting Deputy Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank said. “With this report, this administration can more effectively manage programs that support women and girls and America’s families, and foster the growth of the U.S. economy.” 

The Office of Management and Budget and the Economics and Statistics Administration within the Department of Commerce worked together with federal statistical agencies to create Women in America in support of the Council on Women and Girls. The information informs the efforts of the Council and is aimed at providing facts to a broad range of interested parties, including policymakers, journalists and researchers.  |  White House press release  |  Presidential proclamation

Secretary Locke Touts U.S.-India Trade, Opens U.S. Pavillion

Locke Meets with Chairman Tata, Minister of Defence A.K. Antony on the margins of Aero India

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke stressed the importance of innovation in the U.S.-India trade relationship today in Bangalore with remarks and a discussion with students and faculty at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) before officially opening the U.S. Pavilion at Aero India 2011.  Bangalore is the second stop of his three-city high-technology business development trade mission with U.S companies to India.

During the discussion at IISc, Locke interacted with students, research scholars, and professors at one of India's premier educational institutions for science and research.  Locke discussed how India's efforts to build a more open commercial environment will help empower the next generation of Indian innovators to help solve some of the world's most pressing problems like climate change, poverty and disease.

"I'm optimistic and confident the world is equipped to deal with the challenges we face – and a big part of the reason is seeing young people like you," said Locke.  Because although these problems are daunting, they do have solutions.  Many of them can be solved with the science, math and engineering skills that are taught and learned at IISC every day."

The secretary added that unlocking the full potential of IISc students and researchers, and indeed the entire U.S.-India trade relationship, depended on India continuing to work towards "a regulatory infrastructure that encourages the freer flow of ideas, people, and technologies across its borders."

Census: The 2010 Holiday Season

Commerce headquarters with holiday wreaths

The holiday season is a time for gathering with friends and family to reflect and give thanks. At this time of year, the Department of Commerce’s U.S. Census Bureau presents holiday-related facts and figures from its data collection, including details about mail, retail sales, toys, trees and decorations and much more. The Census Bureau this week announced the nation’s population at 308,745,538 as of April 1 for the 2010 Census. Happy holidays from the U.S. Department of Commerce!  Holiday facts and features