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Blog Category: Bureau of the Census

The Survey of Business Owners and Self-Employed Persons Is Key to Explaining America’s Economy

The Survey of Business Owners and Self-Employed Persons Is Key to Explaining America’s Economy

Cross blog post by John Thompson, Director, U.S. Census Bureau

Did you know that there are 27.1 million non-farm businesses in America? The U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Business Owners and Self-Employed Persons provides the only comprehensive source of statistics about business ownership in the U.S. The Census Bureau conducts the SBO every five years. This is the first time the SBO is being conducted primarily online.

If you own a business, such as a salon or a landscaping company, you may be one of the one million Americans selected to participate in the Survey of Business Owners. Even if you do not have employees other than yourself, we want to hear from you. By participating online now, you can help provide consistent, comparable, and comprehensive statistics on U.S. business performance. For example, the 2007 SBO showed us that 5.9 percent of responding firms reported income from e-commerce – an important insight into how the Internet is shaping our economy.

Right now we are in the process of asking respondents to fill out the Survey of Business Owners, which is part of, and benchmarked to, the 2012 Economic Census. We begin the Survey of Business Owners after the data collection phase of the Economic Census is complete. It provides information every five years on business characteristics (e.g., if a business is home-based, or how much start-up capital it received) and owner characteristics (such as gender, race and ethnicity, and veteran status) for businesses of all sizes across America.

Businesses of all sizes are crucial to the U.S. economy and having quality statistics on businesses is critical. Some of the ways that government leaders and others use SBO statistics include:

  • Business owners are able to analyze their operations in comparison to similar firms, compute their market share, and assess their growth prospects.
  • Entrepreneurs can make informed decisions about what types of products and services to sell, and where to sell them. They can also use SBO data in business plans and loan applications.
  • The Small Business Administration can assess business assistance needs and allocate available resources.
  • Local government commissions are able to establish and evaluate contract procurement practices.
  • Federal, state, and local government agencies have a framework for planning, directing, and assessing programs that promote veteran-, women-, and minority-owned businesses.
  • Researchers can analyze long-term economic and demographic shifts, and differences in ownership and performance among geographic areas.

Back to School -- Census Bureau Introduces the Statistics in the Schools Program

Statistics in Schools

Cross blog post by John H. Thompson, Director, U.S. Census Bureau

A lot of our work at the Census Bureau looks toward the future – next year’s American Community Survey, or the decennial Census in 2020, for example. One exciting forward-looking initiative is our Statistics in Schools (SIS) program. Research shows that jobs related to statistics are expected to increase by more than 25 percent over the next decade, and SIS is part of our efforts to help make sure students are prepared for them.

Statistics in Schools supports statistics education by providing grade-appropriate classroom activities in math and history, and many resources – such as maps, news articles, videos, infographics, and games – for K-12 teachers to use. Staff from all areas of the Census Bureau worked together to create these activities, which are available online at no charge. Some examples of the activities teachers can find are:

  • Tools for identifying the demographics of specific states and metro areas.
  • Activities to analyze information correlating income to educational attainment.
  • Specific data, such as the number of single-father households, vehicles per household, and salary based on industry sector.
  • Worksheets to graph state population demographics.
  • Activities for estimating how many people in the U.S. walk to work.

The activities are aligned to national standards, including Common Core State Standards and the UCLA National Standards for History. They aren’t intended to replace existing curricula, but rather complement existing lesson plans.

The Value of Government Weather and Climate Data

Guest blog post by Jane Callen, Economics and Statistics Administration

The U.S. Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) collects weather and climate data. As we noted in a recent Commerce Department report on the Value of Government Data, the return to society on investment in government meteorological data is large.

For example, one survey found that the overwhelming majority of people said they used weather forecasts and did so an average of 3.8 times per day. That equates to 301 billion forecasts consumed per year!

The study’s authors note that, other than current news events, there is probably no other type of information obtained on such a routine basis from such a variety of sources. Certainly, the researchers say, no other scientific information is accessed so frequently. And while the information is being delivered from an array of sources, most of it directly or indirectly originates from NOAA’s National Weather Service (NWS). Americans check to learn what is happening in the weather, and we plan our days – and lives – based on this data.

The researchers found a median valuation of weather forecasts per household of $286 per year, which suggests that the aggregate annual valuation of weather forecasts was about $31.5 billion. The sum of all federal spending on meteorological operations and research was $3.4 billion in the same year, and the private sector spent an additional $1.7 billion on weather forecasting, for a total of private and public spending of about $5.1 billion. In other words, the valuation people placed on the weather forecasts they consumed was 6.2 times as high as the total expenditure on producing forecasts. NOAA data is re-packaged and analyzed to produce 15 million weather products, such as air quality alerts, the three, five and ten day extended weather forecast, earthquake reports, and tornado and flash flood warnings. Many end users do not realize that NOAA provides the data they see and hear every day on The Weather Channel, AccuWeather, the radio and in the morning paper.

Profile America: Facts for Features - Labor Day 2014

Cross Post: U.S. Census Bureau

Labor Day 2014: Sept. 1

The first observance of Labor Day was likely on Sept. 5, 1882, when some 10,000 workers assembled in New York City for a parade. That celebration inspired similar events across the country, and by 1894 more than half the states were observing a "working men's holiday" on one day or another. Later that year, with Congress passing legislation and President Grover Cleveland signing the bill on June 29, the first Monday in September was designated "Labor Day." This national holiday is a creation of the labor movement in the late 19th century and pays tribute to the social and economic achievements of American workers.

Who Are We Celebrating?

155.6 million

Number of people 16 and over in the nation's labor force in May 2013.
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Table A-1 <http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/empsit.pdf>

Our Jobs

Largest Occupations May 2013Number of employees
Retail salespeople4,485,180
Cashiers3,343,470
Combined food preparation and serving workers,
   including fast food
3,022,880
Office clerks, general2,832,010
Registered nurses2,661,890
Waiters and waitresses2,403,960
Customer service representatives2,389,580
Laborers and freight, stock, and material movers, hand2,284,650
Secretaries and administrative assistants, except legal
   medical, and executive
2,159,000
Janitors and cleaners, except maids and housekeeping
   cleaners
2,101,810

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupations with the Highest Employment, May 2013, <http://www.bls.gov/oes/2013/may/featured_data.htm#largest>

Census PoP Quiz Mobile App Challenges Knowledge of State Statistics

Census PoP Quiz Mobile App Challenges Knowledge of State Statistics

The U.S. Census Bureau today released Census PoP Quiz, a new interactive mobile application that challenges users’ knowledge of demographic facts for all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The new app, which draws from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, aims to raise statistical literacy about the U.S. population.

Census PoP Quiz provides an introduction to the statistics that define our growing, changing nation and is  a great way for everyone to learn facts about all 50 states, the District of Columbia and the nation in a fun, relevant way.

With each state challenge completed, users will earn a badge to show their knowledge of various state demographic characteristics. After earning badges from every state, the app will unlock the final U.S. challenge. Throughout the quiz, players can share their badges on social media sites including Facebook and Twitter.

The app is free and available for both iPhone and Android smartphones and tablets. Features include:

  • Challenges that test knowledge of topics such as population, housing and commuting.
  • Questions that span locations in all 50 states and the nation’s capital.
  • Badges to share with contacts via social media connections.

Census PoP Quiz is the third in a series of Census Bureau mobile apps. The mobile initiative is one example of how the Census Bureau is working to make America’s statistics available anywhere, anytime to everyone and on any device — consistent with the Department of Commerce’s open data priorities and the federal government’s Digital Government Strategy.

The American Community Survey: Helping Decision Makers Assist People in Times of Need

The U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey provides statistics that communities use to make decisions about resources, such as after a natural disaster. These statistics are critical to emergency planning, preparedness and recovery efforts. For example, the American Community Survey provides detailed information on how many people in a community may need extra assistance during a disaster, such as the elderly or disabled or those who speak a language other than English. Knowing these specific details about local communities gives decision makers the information they need to plan and efficiently deploy resources and to accurately measure the impact of a disaster. Learn how by watching this video. 

Census Bureau Releases Disability Facts and Figures in Recognition of ADA Anniversary

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

Cross blog post from Disability.gov

In preparation for the anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) on July 26, the U.S. Census Bureau released its collection of the most recent data pertaining to Americans with disabilities. The numbers are striking. People with disabilities represented 19 percent of the U.S. civilian noninstitutionalized population. Persons with a disability have a physical or mental impairment that affects one or more major life activities, such as walking, bathing, dressing, eating, preparing meals, going outside the home, or doing housework. A disability can occur at birth or at any point in a person’s life.

  • Approximately 57 million Americans have a disability. There are more people with disabilities living in America than the entire population of Canada or the Caribbean.
  • More Americans with disabilities require the assistance of others to perform basic activities of daily living than the entire population of Greece.
  • If you take the population of Ireland and cut it in half, that’s roughly the number of Americans living with Alzheimer’s or other neurocognitive disorders.
  • The number of Americans with vision impairments is comparable to the entire population of Switzerland, and there are more Americans with hearing impairments than in all of Denmark, Paraguay or Hong Kong.
  • By age in the U.S., 8 percent of children under 15 had a disability; 21 percent of people 15 and older had a disability; 17 percent of people 21 to 64 had a disability; and 50 percent of adults 65 and older had a disability.
  • West Virginia had the highest rate at 19% of the U.S. civilian noninstitutionalized population with a disability, the highest rate of any state in the nation. Utah, at 9 percent, had the lowest rate.

On July 26, 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in employment, transportation, public accommodations, commercial facilities, telecommunications, and state and local government services.

Census Bureau Updates Interactive HIV/AIDS Database; New Prevalence Estimates from More Than 100 Countries

Census Bureau Updates Interactive HIV/AIDS Database; New Prevalence Estimates from More Than 100 Countries

The U.S. Census Bureau today released its annually updated interactive global resource on the prevalence of HIV infection and AIDS cases and deaths. First developed in 1987, the database now holds more than 164,000 statistics, an increase of approximately 5,900 new estimates in the last year, and is the most comprehensive resource of its kind in the world.

The Census Bureau database is maintained with funding from the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

The Census Bureau’s HIV/AIDS database is the world’s only resource that consolidates HIV/AIDS information for policymakers, academics and health care professionals who conduct research to help end the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The current annual updates and long time series of globally available findings in the database serve as a comprehensive and valuable resource for the many health care leaders throughout the world conducting research on HIV/AIDS prevention, care and treatment.

The tool consists of a library of statistics from more than 14,900 sources in international scientific and medical journals, individual countries’ annual HIV/AIDS surveillance reports, and papers and posters presented at international conferences. China represents 28 percent of the new records in the database, the largest increase by a single country.

The menu-driven access tool enables users to search for statistical information in countries and territories across the world, as well as by subpopulation, geographic subarea (such as urban and rural), age, sex and year from the 1960s to 2013.

HIV-related statistics for the United States are available separately from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Fourth of July, 2014: Independence Day

The Fourth of July 2014

As we celebrate this Independence Day, we reflect on how America's Founders enshrined the importance of statistics in our Constitution as a vital tool for measuring our people, places and economy. Since 1790, the U.S. Census has been much more than a simple head count; it has charted the growth and composition of our nation. The questions have evolved over time to address our changing needs. Today, the 10-year census, the economic census and the American Community Survey give Congress and community leaders the information they need to make informed decisions that shape our democracy. These statistics are how we know how our country is doing.

On this day in 1776, the Continental Congress approved the Declaration of Independence, setting the 13 colonies on the road to freedom as a sovereign nation. As always, this most American of holidays will be marked with red, white and blue flags, fireworks, parades and backyard barbecues across the country.

For fascinating figures on the Fourth’s fireworks, flags, cookouts, historical facts on the Declaration of Independence and more, see the Census Bureau’s Facts for Features.

Providing Information for Emergency Preparedness as Arthur Approaches

Providing Information for Emergency Preparedness as Arthur Approaches

Cross-post, U.S. Census Bureau's Director's Blog by John H. Thompson

As many Americans begin to prepare for Hurricane Arthur this week, the Census Bureau’s OnTheMap for Emergency Management tool helps provide federal, state and local officials and emergency planners with the information they may need about communities in the projected path of the storm.

OnTheMap for Emergency Management is a Web-based resource that provides a live view of selected emergencies in the U.S., 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It automatically incorporates real-time updates from federal sources so users can view the potential effects of Tropical Storm Arthur (and other disasters) on the U.S. population and workforce.

Through OnTheMap for Emergency Management, the Census Bureau provides information not just on the number of people affected, but also provides useful information on some of their characteristics (for example, whether they are 65 or older) and their work (such as their employment patterns). Following Super Storm Sandy, New Jersey planners were able to estimate the volume of traffic in effected areas.

As the storm continues to develop, the Census Bureau will work closely with our federal partners to make sure they have the information they need.

For those of you preparing for the storm, you can find hurricane safety tips at www.ready.gov/hurricanes. Visit the National Hurricane Center for the latest Arthur forecasts and remember to follow the National Weather Service for active alerts.