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Blog Category: Bureau of the Census

More Data in the Census Bureau API to Help You #hackforchange

Guest blog post by Logan Powell, Developer Engagement Lead, U.S. Census Bureau

Two years ago, the Census Bureau launched its application programming interface (API), giving developers access to a variety of high value data sets, including our flagship 2010 Census and American Community Survey five-year statistics, providing information for every neighborhood in the nation. Since that initial launch, we have added key economic indicators, as well as the 1990 and 2000 Censuses, and additional American Community Survey data and key economic indicators.

By continuing to release new data sets into the API, and adding more of the Census Bureau’s rich economic statistics to our demographic products, we are giving developers greater flexibility to create new tools to better understand our communities and solve real world issues. Recently, we released even more data sets to the API. These include population estimates, establishment and payroll data from county business patterns, nonemployer statistics, and the latest statistics from the 2012 Economic Census. These statistics allow developers to create a variety of apps and tools, such as ones that allow business owners to find the latest establishment data needed to plan for new or expanded business.

We are continuing to work toward meeting the goals of the Digital Government Strategy for a more “customer-centric” approach. For example, the Census Bureau partnered with Data Innovation DC, a Washington, D.C. meet up group of 1,000 members composed of data scientists, data journalists, civic hackers and data-oriented entrepreneurs, and participated in this year’s National Day of Civic Hacking. We asked real-life data users to discuss their data-related problems. By directly engaging with our customers, we can develop strategies to make our statistics easier to use so that customers can make data-driven decisions. 


We will continue searching for ways to make more of our data available for developers to build apps that make our public data more accessible anytime, anywhere and on any device. By taking part in both local and national “civic hacking” events, we hope these relationships will help us to build stronger ties with our customers while reaching new audiences with our statistics.

I encourage you to visit our API, look for ways to combine our statistics with other sources, and create useful apps that will benefit the public. We look forward to what you will create. 

Collecting Reliable, Timely and Local Census Data

The map shows the percentages under the current, mandatory approach. As a mandatory survey, less than five percent of counties have 80 percent or more of their tracts with unacceptable levels of quality data. This impacts about 15 million people.

Cros-blog post by John H. Thompson, U.S. Census Bureau Direrector

I was pleased to recently participate in the inaugural conference of the American Community Survey Data Users Group. This conference brought together a diverse group of data-loving number crunchers from local governments, nonprofits, economic development agencies, researchers and private sector companies from across the U.S. Their common connection: the reliable, timely and local data about their communities provided by the American Community Survey.

Sessions included case studies on how the American Community Survey statistics are used by cities, rural communities and businesses to measure disaster impacts, create jobs and develop policy for transit, housing and health care. Data users said the ACS is the most authoritative source of data on these topics for communities of every size, and how they rely on the availability of a common source of reliable data.

I was also asked about the challenges to survey data collection, the availability of the data and the impacts to the American Community Survey. They asked me what would happen to the survey if it were not mandated by law. As we have explained in the past, we have looked at this question and our research shows that a voluntary survey would reduce the self-response rates significantly. To make up the shortfall, we would have to increase the number of households surveyed and conduct much more in-person follow-up, at an additional cost of more than $90 million annually. If we weren’t able to increase the number of households surveyed we would collect much less data and accuracy would decrease due to increased sampling variation. This would disproportionately affect the accuracy of the results that we produce for many small areas and small population groups.

The American Community Survey (ACS) is an ongoing survey that provides data every year -- giving communities the current information they need to plan investments and services. Information from the survey generates data that help determine how more than $400 billion in federal and state funds are distributed each year.  Data are used to help decide everything from school lunch programs to new hospitals.

Research for 2020 Census Continues – Census Bureau Opens Temporary Office

Research for 2020 Census Continues – Census Bureau Opens Temporary Office

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

Today, we marked an important milestone on the road to the 2020 Census with the opening of the Local Census Office for the 2014 Census Test. We will conduct the test in parts of Washington D.C. and Montgomery County, Md., and it was gratifying to see the community support for this important research endeavor.

Why is it so important to conduct this first of several field tests now? By investing in this research and testing, we can take steps to reduce the cost of the census and make it easier for people to respond. Those who are selected to participate in the 2014 Census Test are helping us produce a better census in 2020.

For the test, July 1, 2014, is Census Day, or the reference day for measuring the population of the test area. I strongly encourage you to participate, if selected, and be a part of building an innovative and cost-effective 2020 Census. Approximately 200,000 households will be included in the test. Respondents should fill out the questionnaire based on the people and circumstances of their household as of July 1, 2014.

Participating, if selected, is not the only way you can help us with the test. We are also hiring about 1,000 temporary workers locally to conduct it. If you live in the area and are interested in applying for a job, you can find more information here.

We will have a series of tests leading up to the 2020 Census and for the 2014 Census Test, some of our research will test Internet response. Although the 2010 Census did not offer it as an option, we have been using it for the American Community Survey and other surveys for several years now. Our enumerators will also use a smartphone app for quicker and more accurate data collection from non-responding households.

Grow Your Business With U.S. Foreign Trade Data

Guest blog post by Omari Wooden, Senior Foreign Trade Advisor at U.S Census Bureau

In today's economy, businesses are continually looking for new ways to remain competitive and may not know there are resources available from the Census Bureau and the Commerce Department as a whole to help them understand international markets. Whether you need to evaluate your company's export potential or identify key foreign markets, you can make data-driven decisions through resources available from the Census Bureau.

Did you know that in 2013 American exports totaled $2.3 trillion, surpassing the previous record of $2.2 trillion in 2012? In 2013, our top three trading partners were Canada ($300B), Mexico ($226B) and China ($122B). However, between 2012 and 2013, the following countries had some of the greatest increases in imports from the United States: Monaco (1,818%), Brunei (254%), Equatorial Guinea (225%), and French Guinea (202%). U.S. businesses use our data to find the large markets, but they can also use this data to determine emerging markets.

On a monthly basis we release detailed information on over 9,000 export commodities and 18,000 import commodities. This information can be used to identify the global marketplace for your product and possible opportunities to expand your business. You can find more information here: http://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/Press-Release/current_press_release/

Another great resource is USA Trade Online, where you can easily explore trading trends and market outlook by product and country. You can also evaluate the current and historical trends of U.S. exports and imports. This level of market research can help you determine where there is a market for your product. Currently, we are offering free trials, so I would encourage you to register today at USA Trade Online.

Big Data is Big Business for Commerce

Under Secretary for Economic Affairs Mark Doms (center) along with Erie Meyer, Joel Gurin, Waldo Jaquith, and Daniel Castro at the Center for Data Innovation hosted “The Economic Benefits of Open Data” event

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

Big Data and Open Data are all the rage these days. However, Commerce was into Big Data before Big Data was cool. As far back as 1790, we began collecting data on patents in the U.S. and the Census Bureau conducted the first Decennial Census the same year. In 1870, the National Weather Service was created – which today is one of the biggest data producing agencies around.

Back then, our economy was based largely on agriculture. Over the years, our economy evolved through the industrial revolution, later giving rise to the strong service sector. Today, we are at the nascent stages of the next era in our economic growth, the information age. On a daily basis, there is an ever-increasing amount of data becoming available, and the demand for data is increasing exponentially. We have before us both great opportunity and fascinating challenges to understand how best to harness this national resource. This is a key focus of Commerce’s Open for Business Agenda.

You may not know it, but the Department of Commerce is home to many agencies that are your primary source for data that you likely use every day.

For example:

  • How many people live in the U.S. or in your hometown? You might know the Census Bureau is the authority on population, but did you know the Census Bureau’s data goes well beyond just population? Census also produces huge volumes of data on our economy, demographics, and fascinatingly insightful data describing our communities – or, if you are a business, your customers.
  • The Bureau of Economic Analysis is a little know agency that produces key economic data and many of the closely watched economic indicators that move markets, drive investment decisions and guide economic policy. Do you know which industries are the leading sources of income in your community, or to your customers? BEA data can tell you.
  • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, is your primary source for weather, ocean and climate data – they are collecting data every minute of every day from land, sea, and even spaced-based sensors. When you hear the local forecast or hear about severe weather warning, that is NOAA data informing you about your environment in real time.
  • The National Institute of Standards and Technology, locally known as NIST, is our nation’s authority on broad swaths of scientific, cyber, and physical data – including, officially, what time it is.
  • We also have data on patents going back more than 200 years at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, which is a gold mine of inspiration for innovation.
  • Other agencies in Commerce provide data on economic development, minority businesses, trade, and telecommunications and the Internet.

On any given day, the Department will generate in excess of 20 terabytes of data, and sometimes much more. Yet, we think we can do more with this resource. We want to take every step we can to open access to it to the entrepreneurs and innovators of America, as we are pretty convinced that there is huge unmet value and potential. We understand that a huge part of the value of data is when it is not seen alone, but as part of a rich tapestry of information. We believe that there is great opportunity to solve problems, innovate new businesses, and improve data-driven decision-making, and we are committed to that path.

That is why I was so glad to be a part of today’s launch of the Open Data 500 Project, housed out of the GovLab at NYU. This exciting project has verified what we were certain must be true: That hundreds of American companies are using Commerce data every day to innovate and deliver important goods and services to their customers.

Census Bureau’s API Continues Commitment to Innovation

Census Bureau’s API Continues Commitment to Innovation

By Lisa Wolfisch, U.S. Census Bureau

In July 2012, the U.S. Census Bureau launched its first-ever application programming interface, allowing developers to design Web and mobile apps to explore or learn more about America's changing population and economy. The API allows developers more direct access to statistics and easier customization of their applications.

The API serves data from across the decades from the 1990 Census through the 2012 American Community Survey.  These programs offer statistics for every neighborhood in the U.S. and delivers on the Census Bureau’s commitment to create a platform for innovation by “opening up its data.”  Just last month, the Census Bureau updated the API with 13 monthly and quarterly economic indicators.

This information-centric approach promises to be the new default for all public data. Users of all varieties will benefit by creating new ways and tools to explore the data they want, rather than through restrictive PDFs and impossible to download formats.

Developers can use the statistics available through the API to create a variety of apps and tools, such as ones that allow homebuyers to find the latest new residential construction statistics. By combining Census Bureau statistics with other data sets, developers can create tools for researchers to look at topics such as school quality, toxic waste or restaurant locations and how they affect a community.

The Census Bureau not only created the API but is using it to create tools for you to access statistics, such as Easy Stats, a Census Bureau data access program, and dwellr, a mobile app released last November and since refreshed with the latest data.  Both of these tools offer easier access to American Community Survey statistics.

Department of Commerce releases FY 2014-2018 Strategic Plan

Plan priorities are in direct alignment with the Department’s “Open for Business Agenda”

Today the Department of Commerce released its Strategic Plan for fiscal years 2014 to 2018. The five-year plan, along with the recently released FY15 budget, provides the pathway for meeting the Department’s long-term goals and objectives. The plan, summarizes the key strategies and initiatives that will drive progress in the Department’s five priority areas:

  • Trade and Investment. Expanding the U.S. economy through increased exports and foreign direct investment that leads to more and better American jobs.
  • Innovation. Fostering a more innovative U.S. economy—one that is better at inventing, improving, and commercializing products and technologies that lead to higher productivity and  competitiveness.
  • Data. Improve government, business, and community decisions and knowledge by transforming Department data capabilities and supporting a data-enabled economy.
  • Environment. Ensuring communities and businesses have the necessary information, products, and services to prepare for and prosper in a changing environment.
  • Operational Excellence. Delivering better services, solutions, and outcomes that benefit the American people.

The creation of the strategic plan was a collaborative effort involving staff from every Department of Commerce bureau and serves as a foundation for economic growth and opportunity. The plan is in direct alignment with the  “Open for Business Agenda,” which reflects the Department’s role as the voice of business, and the Administration’s focus on economic growth and job creation. Department leaders and employees will use this plan to transform strategies into actions, and actions into results.

Read a summary of the plan or the entire plan.

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Census Bureau Releases Valentine’s Day-Related Facts and Statistics

Census Bureau Release Valentine’s Day-Related Facts and Statistics

As we celebrate Valentine’s Day today, the Department of Commerce’s U.S. Census Bureau released Valentine’s Day-related facts and statistics.  Expressing one's love to another is a celebrated custom on Valentine's Day.  Sweethearts and family members present gifts to one another, such as cards, candy, flowers and other symbols of affection.  Today, the U.S. Census Bureau released statistics on businesses that benefit from Valentine’s Day as well as statistics about married couples and the number of dating service establishments.

1,148:  Number of U.S. manufacturing establishments that produced chocolate and cocoa products in 2011, employing 35,538 people. California led the nation with 122 of these establishments, followed by Pennsylvania, with 109.

393:  The number of dating service establishments nationwide as of 2007. These establishments, which include Internet dating services, employed 3,125 people and pulled in $928 million in revenue.

29.0 and 26.6 years:  Median age at first marriage in 2013 for men and women, respectively.

23,394:  The estimated number of jewelry stores in the United States in 2011. Jewelry stores offer engagement, wedding and other rings to couples of all ages. In February 2013, these stores sold an estimated $2.8 billion in merchandise.

15,307:  The total number of florists' establishments nationwide in 2011. These businesses employed 66,165 people.

For more Valentine’s Day statistics, please go to the Census Bureau’s Facts for Features: Valentine’s Day 2014

Census Bureau Releases Trends and Facts for Super Bowl XLVIII

Census Bureau Releases Trends and Facts for Super Bowl XLVIII

As we approach Super Bowl weekend, the Department of Commerce’s U.S. Census Bureau released Super Bowl-related facts and statistics examining the demographics of the host city, as well as the cities playing in the Super Bowl: the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks. Super Bowl XLVIII will be played Feb. 2 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. This will be the first time the Super Bowl has been held in the New York City metropolitan area, as well as being the first Super Bowl played outdoors in the northern United States.

  • 270:  How many more people lived in Seattle than Denver on July 1, 2012, making Seattle 0.04 percent larger than Denver. 
  • 22nd and 23rd:  Where Seattle and Denver ranked right next to each other on the list of the nation's most populous cities.  The estimated population of Seattle on July 1, 2012, was 634,535. The estimated population of Denver on July 1, 2012, was 634,265.
  • 8,978:  Population of East Rutherford, N.J., location of MetLife Stadium where Super Bowl XLVIII will be played.

For more statistics about these cities, go to the Census Bureau's Facts for Features: Super Bowl XLVIII

U.S. Census Bureau Releases First-Ever Report on Measuring Alternative Educational Credentials

One-Quarter of Adults Hold Educational Credentials Other Than an Academic Degree, Census Bureau Reports

The U.S. Census Bureau today released the first-ever report examining the prevalence of non-degree certifications and licenses among American adults and their importance to the employment market. The report found that alternative credentials provide a path to higher earnings, underscoring that traditional educational attainment is just one way for workers to attain the skills needed in today’s global economy.  
 
A skilled workforce is an essential part of a modern, innovative economy. However, many U.S. employers today are struggling to find workers with the skills to fill some of the 3.9 million open jobs. That is why, for the first time, the Commerce Department is focusing on skills training as part of its Open for Business Agenda.
 
The report, Measuring Alternative Educational Credentials, found that in fall 2012, 50 million U.S. adults, or one in four, had obtained a professional certification, license or educational certificate apart from a postsecondary degree awarded by colleges and universities. The report shows that, in general, these alternative credentials provide a path to higher earnings. Among full-time workers, the median monthly earnings for someone with a professional certification or license only was $4,167, compared with $3,433 for one with an educational certificate only; $3,920 for those with both types of credentials; and $3,110 for people without any alternative credential.

This report makes it clear that Americans who pursue non-traditional education have the opportunity to obtain get good-paying jobs in emerging fields.  Among the adults included in the report, 12 million had both a professional certification or license and an educational certificate; 34 million had only a professional certification or license; and 7 million had only an educational certificate.

The Commerce Department will continue to work with the Departments of Education and Labor to ensure that workforce training investments are aligned with employer's current and future hiring needs, leading to high-quality jobs for workers and a productive workforce for employers. This collaboration across federal agencies will refine our understanding of non-degree credentials, adding to the critical data that the Census Bureau and others provide to support smart business decisions and sound public policy in workforce training.  Release