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Blog Category: Bureau of the Census

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.

Evaluating the American Community Survey: The ACS Content Review

American Community Survey Brochure

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

Every month of every year, and in every county across the nation, a relatively small number of households receive notice that they have been randomly selected to receive the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.

The American Community Survey, or ACS, is the lesser known part of the every-ten-year census. To produce more timely statistics between census years, the former “census long form” questions were moved to this rolling survey format after the 2000 Census.

Many of the detailed socio-economic and housing questions on the American Community Survey can trace their genesis back to the 19th century, some even earlier. James Madison, Father of the Constitution and fourth U.S. president, ensured that the Constitution authorized Congress to include questions in the census that provided the level of detail needed to effectively govern the new country.

“In order to accommodate our laws to the real situation of our constituents,” he explained, “we ought to be acquainted with that situation.”

Today, the American Community Survey provides the objective basis for the distribution of more than $400 billion in federal programming decisions. ACS statistics are used by all communities to more clearly plan for investments and services.

Quality ACS statistics are dependent on the participation of all households in the survey. The survey takes time to fill out, with more than 70 questions on dozens of topics.

As the Nation Ages, Seven States Become Younger, Census Bureau Reports

As the Nation Ages, Seven States Become Younger, Census Bureau Reports

The median age declined in seven states between 2012 and 2013, including five in the Great Plains, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates released today. In contrast, the median age for the U.S. as a whole ticked up from 37.5 years to 37.6 years. These estimates examine population changes among groups by age, sex, race and Hispanic origin nationally, as well as all states and counties, between April 1, 2010, and July 1, 2013.

"We're seeing the demographic impact of two booms," Census Bureau Director John Thompson said. "The population in the Great Plains energy boom states is becoming younger and more male as workers move in seeking employment in the oil and gas industry, while the U.S. as a whole continues to age as the youngest of the baby boom generation enters their 50s."

The largest decline in the nation was in North Dakota, with a decline of 0.6 years between 2012 and 2013. The median age in four other Great Plains states — Montana, Wyoming,South Dakota and Oklahoma — also dropped. Alaska and Hawaii also saw a decline in median age. (See Table 1.) In addition, the median age fell in 403 of the nation's 3,143 counties, many of which were in the Great Plains. Williams, N.D., the center of the Bakken shale energy boom, led the nation with a decline of 1.6 years. Next to Alaska, North Dakota had a heavier concentration of males (51.1 percent of the total population) than any other state.

The nation as a whole grew older as the oldest baby boomers became seniors. The nation's 65-and-older population surged to 44.7 million in 2013, up 3.6 percent from 2012. By comparison, the population younger than 65 grew by only 0.3 percent.

These statistics released today also include population estimates for Puerto Rico and its municipios by age and sex.

Our nation is a study in contrasts when it comes to local age structure. There was a more than 42-year difference in the median ages of the county with the highest median age — Sumter, Fla., at 65.5 — and the county with the youngest median age — Madison, Idaho, at 23.1.