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Blog Category: Bureau of the Census

Spotlight on Commerce: Nancy Potok, Associate Director for Demographic Programs

Nancy Potok, Associate Director for Demographic Programs

Ed. Note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series, which highlights members of the Department of Commerce who are contributing to the president's vision of an America Built to Last.

I direct the Demographic programs at the Census Bureau. We calculate annual population estimates for each area of the US, calculate the official poverty rate numbers, and work with data from the decennial census and the American Community Survey to create numerous reports and products that inform our nation about the changing characteristics of our growing population. We also conduct surveys on behalf of other Federal agencies such as the National Crime Victims Survey, which the Bureau of Justice Statistics uses to calculate the crime rate, the Current Population Survey, which the Bureau of Labor Statistics uses to calculate the unemployment rate each month, and many others.  One unsung area of the Census is our strong international program. That group, in cooperation with USAID and other agencies, offers technical assistance to countries on how to set up their own scientific and objective statistical activities and conduct censuses and surveys of their population.

The President has laid out a vision to build an America that lasts, and the Census Bureau contributes to that future. Much of the data that we produce is used by state and local Economic Development Authorities to bring businesses to their area.  Businesses use the information to make relocation decisions and to target their marketing appropriately.  We also report, at various geographic levels such as states, counties, cities, and small towns, on educational attainment, income, poverty, how people make various use of government assistance programs, and other critical information needed to inform our communities on how we as a nation are doing and where we need to invest our resources to strengthen our future.  Without the data collected by the Census Bureau, we would not have the information we need to grow our economy, create jobs, improve our schools, build roads, and other activities critical to our civil society.

I grew up in Detroit, but have been living in the Washington, DC area for many years now. I earned my Masters in Administrative Science from the University of Alabama and then became a Presidential Management Fellow at the US Department of Transportation. I went on to earn my Ph.D. in Public Policy and Public Administration from the George Washington University. Since I enjoy school and learning so much, I’ve returned as an adjunct professor there, teaching in the Trachtenberg School of Public policy and Public Administration.

2010 Census Shows Asians are Fastest-Growing Race Group

Graph of the Percent Growth of the Asian Population 2000 to 2010

Commerce's Census Bureau has released a 2010 Census brief, The Asian Population: 2010 (PDF), that shows the Asian population grew faster than any other race group over the last decade. The population that identified as Asian, either alone or in combination with one or more other races, grew by 45.6 percent from 2000 to 2010, while those who identified as Asian alone grew by 43.3 percent. Both populations grew at a faster rate than the total U.S. population, which increased by 9.7 percent from 2000 to 2010.

Out of the total U.S. population, 14.7 million people, or 4.8 percent, were Asian alone. In addition, 2.6 million people, or another 0.9 percent, reported Asian in combination with one or more other races. Together, these two groups totaled 17.3 million people. Thus, 5.6 percent of all people in the United States identified as Asian, either alone or in combination with one or more other races.  Census press release

March 1: Anniversary of Census Act of 1790

Relief by James Earle Fraser on Department of Commerce headquarters

Today is the anniversary of Congress passing the Census Act of 1790. President George Washington signed the law, which authorized the collection of population data by U.S. Marshals. Although the act included the specific inquiries marshals asked at each home they visited, they did not receive printed forms on which to record the data. Marshals used their own paper and designed their own forms—a practice followed until the U.S. government began supplying printed census schedules in 1830.

Census Day was on the first Monday in August 1790 and was conducted under the supervision of Thomas Jefferson. Today, the law requires that the census be conducted on or about April 1, and every ten years after that. The most recent decennial census was conducted in 2010, on time and under budget. The Census Bureau is part of Commerce's Economics and Statistics Administration. The image here is a limestone relief by James Earle Fraser, one of many panels adorning the Department of Commerce headquarters in Washington, D.C.

For more information about the first, 1790 Census, visit Census 1790 Overview and 'Pop' Culture: 1790 Census Facts

Census Bureau Releases National-Level Data on Education Levels, Bachelor's Degree Attainment Tops 30 Percent for the First Time

Census Bureau Releases National-Level Data on Education Levels, Bachelor's Degree Attainment Tops 30 Percent for the First Time

The U.S. Census Bureau yesterday released five data products that show many facets of educational attainment across the nation and present statistics on the levels of education achieved by various demographic characteristics. In March 2011, for the first time ever, more than 30 percent of U.S. adults 25 and older had at least a bachelor's degree, the U.S. Census Bureau reported. As recently as 1998, fewer than one-quarter of people this age had this level of education. In addition, more than one-third (20 million) of the nation's 56 million bachelor's degree holders held their degree in the broad field of science and engineering, including 4 million each in the social sciences and engineering and 3 million in biological, agricultural and environmental sciences.

This information comes from Educational Attainment in the United States: 2011, a collection of national-level tables from the Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplement (CPS ASEC). Historical tables go back to the late 1940s, when the CPS first began collecting data on attainment.

“This is an important milestone in our history,” Census Bureau Director Robert Groves said. “For many people, education is a sure path to a prosperous life. The more education people have the more likely they are to have a job and earn more money, particularly for individuals who hold a bachelor's degree.”

From 2001 to 2011, the number of Hispanics with a bachelor's or higher education increased 80 percent from 2.1 million to 3.8 million. The percentage of Hispanics with a bachelor's or higher education increased from 11.1 percent in 2001 to 14.1 percent in 2011. Overall, the increase in the proportion of the population with a bachelor's degree or higher went from 26.2 percent to 30.4 percent. Release

Acting Commerce Deputy Secretary Rebecca Blank Announces Computer Contract Expected to Save Taxpayers $20-25M

As the president said when he launched the Campaign to Cut Waste in June 2011, “No amount of waste is acceptable, not when it’s your money. Just as families are living within their means, government should, too, so we can invest in the things that we know will create good jobs and grow the economy.” As part of those ongoing efforts to make government more accountable to the American people and cut wasteful spending, I am happy to report today that the Commerce Department has awarded a contract for computers that is expected to save taxpayers $20-25 million over the next five years.

Through the contract with Intelligent Decisions Inc., we will reduce our cost for desktops and laptops by 40 percent. The contract leverages the large volume of computers that Commerce purchases each year and standardizes specifications to achieve significant cost reductions. Making wise spending decisions like this will enable Commerce to focus resources on its primary mission, which is supporting innovation, helping American businesses create jobs, and driving U.S. competitiveness around the world.

Intelligent Decisions Inc., is a small business reseller offering products manufactured by Dell Inc. By awarding this contract to a small business, the Commerce Department will increase its small business participation for computer purchases by over thirty percent. Intelligent Decisions Inc.  will be providing valuable services to Commerce, including helping to better monitor its inventory of computers, improving delivery time, and loading custom images onto computers.

BusinessUSA Launches Offering Businesses One Location to Find Key Federal Information and Data

BusinessUSA

Over the past three years, business owners and entrepreneurs have told us that they don’t have the time or resources to navigate the maze of government agencies and need a one stop shop where they could go for all the assistance they need at every stage of their development.  As President Obama said in his State of the Union address last month, we need to give U.S. businesses every opportunity and tool to succeed and not a maze to navigate.  And as Secretary Bryson has said multiple times while traveling to manufacturers in Columbus, Norfolk, Pittsburgh, and Minneapolis, we need to support American businesses so they can build their products here in America and sell them everywhere around the world.

This is why the Obama Administration is launching a new online platform, BusinessUSA, to help small businesses and exporters of all sizes find information about available federal programs without having to waste time and resources navigating the federal bureaucracy. BusinessUSA combines information and services from 10 different government agencies through one consolidated website and coordinate telephone support through a single 1-800 number. The BusinessUSA website went live today with hundreds of business resources consolidated in one place including Commerce’s International Trade Agency, Census Bureau, Patent and Trademark Office, several other Commerce bureaus, as well as, multiple other government agencies.

BusinessUSA is a platform to make it easier than ever for businesses to access services to help them grow and hire from the day they need technical assistance to start a business, to the day they start building a product and need financing, to the day they are ready to export and need help breaking into new markets overseas.

It’s a “No Wrong Door” approach for small businesses and exporters, creating a common platform to match businesses with the services relevant to them, regardless of where the information is located or which agency’s website, call center, or office they go to for help.  And as more federal agencies publish content through web services, the more we will be able to highlight the most relevant information and programs from across the government. 

Census Bureau Reports Post-Recession Growth in 10 of 11 Service Sectors

Graphic of motion picture and video industries change (graph: Census Bureau)

The Department of Commerce's U.S. Census Bureau today released its 2010 Service Annual Survey, which shows that of the nation’s 11 service sectors, 10 showed an increase in revenues for employer firms between 2009 and 2010. These figures are the first findings from this survey to track the revenues of services after the December 2007 to June 2009 recession.

The statistics cover multiple service sectors: the information services sector; the health care and social assistance sector; the finance and insurance sector; and the arts, entertainment and recreation sector. The information sector increased from $1.08 trillion to $1.1 trillion. Within this sector, Internet publishing and broadcasting continued to see increased revenues, up 11.3 percent from $19.1 billion to $21.3 billion in 2010. Television broadcasting increased 12.0 percent from $31.6 billion to $35 billion. Cable and subscription other programming as well as wireless telecommunications carriers also saw increases in revenue of 7.3 percent and 5.3 percent, respectively, to $55.2 billion and $195.5 billion.

See the complete list on their full press release.

This growth within the service sector mirrors a May 2011 report that showed the record services trade surplus that continues to grow. U.S. trade in private services totaled $526.6 billion in 2010, representing a trade surplus that is growing, rising from $66.7 billion in 2003 to $168 billion in 2010.

2010 Census Shows Nearly Half of American Indians and Alaska Natives Report Multiple Races

National Museum of the American Indian Director Kevin Gover (Photo: Heather Schmaedeke )

U.S. Census Bureau Director Robert Groves released a 2010 Census brief on the American Indian and Alaska Native population (PDF) yesterday and joined an expert panel in addressing the current social and economic impact of this population and at a forum held at the National Museum of the American Indian. The event highlighted statistics from the 2010 Census, providing a portrait of the American Indian and Alaska Native population in the U.S. and its size and growth at various geographic levels.

The brief, The American Indian and Alaska Native Population: 2010, shows almost half (44 percent) of this population, or 2.3 million people, reported being American Indian and Alaska Native in combination with one or more other races. This multiracial group grew by 39 percent from 2000 to 2010.  Census infograph

Federal Government Help for Manufacturing Companies: How Commerce Contributes

US-Made Auto Parts

In last night's State of the Union address, President Obama laid out proposals for how to bring about a new era of American manufacturing, with more good jobs and more products stamped Made in the USA.  A few of the proposals are:

  • Reward companies for bringing jobs back to America.
  • Lower tax rates for companies that manufacture and create jobs in the United States.
  • Get tough on trade enforcement.
  • Create more jobs and make us more competitive by rebuilding America using half of the savings from ending foreign wars.

These proposals build upon the efforts already underway by the White House.

At the Department of Commerce, we support manufacturers in a multitude of ways:

Commerce Department Agencies Unveil New Website Home Pages

Two agencies of the Department of Commerce unveiled new home pages for their websites in December—the result of efforts to make news and data more readily available and easily accessible to users. The agencies studied user feedback and website best practices to create a more visual and less confusing approach to the mission of informing the public. Both feature links to agency blogs written by their leadership and guest authors and links to economic indicators and career and business opportunities.

On December 20, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) announced the launch of the newest version of its website at www.uspto.gov, while at the same time making its retired home page available to users in the transition to its new iteration. In announcing the change, USPTO said it is “just the first of several new changes . . . in the coming months that will help modernize our services for online visitors.” The USPTO is encouraging both positive and negative comments and suggestions that may help the agency with future design enhancements through newhomepage[at]uspto[dot]gov.

On the same day, Commerce’s U.S. Census Bureau unveiled its overhauled website with features designed to improve navigation and ease of use, and to make statistics more discoverable, with an interactive map showing business and demographic information for the U.S., as well as states and counties. Like USPTO, this is the start of a series of anticipated ongoing improvements to the Census Bureau website. | census.gov home page