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Blog Category: Environment

Statement from Under Secretary Blank on July 2009 Personal Income and Outlays

Blank portrait.

The U.S. Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Analysis today released personal income and outlays for July 2009. Real personal spending increased 0.2 percent and personal income increased less than 0.1 percent, after decreasing 1.1 percent in June. “During the first half of the year, more than 95 percent of working families benefitted from tax relief under the Recovery Act, which has boosted Americans’ disposable income,” U.S. Commerce Under Secretary for Economic Affairs Rebecca Blank said. “This increase has helped stabilize economic conditions in the wake of the worst economic environment in generations.” (Release)

Statement From Undersecretary Blank on Housing Permits and Starts for June 2009

Department of Commerce seal.

The Department of Commerce's U.S. Census Bureau today reported that permits to build privately-owned new housing units rose 8.7 percent in June 2009, well above the expectation for a 1.9-percent rise. Housing starts rose 3.6 percent, better than the expectation of no change for the month. Today’s stronger numbers reflect an increasing confidence—the percent of households who recognize that this is a good time to buy a house has risen over the last year. While the economic environment remains challenging, continued Recovery Act investment into the economy should encourage growth in a range of industries including the housing sector. (Statement)

Physicists Find Way to Control Individual Bits in Quantum Computers

Optical lattices use lasers to separate rubidium atoms (red) for use as information “bits” in neutral-atom quantum processors -- prototype devices which designers are trying to develop into full-fledged quantum computers. NIST scientists have managed to isolate and control pairs of the rubidium atoms with polarized light, an advance that may bring quantum computing a step closer to reality. Click for larger image.

Physicists at Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have overcome a hurdle in quantum computer development, having devised a viable way to manipulate a single “bit” in a quantum processor without disturbing the information stored in its neighbors. The approach, which makes novel use of polarized light to create “effective” magnetic fields, could bring the long-sought computers a step closer to reality. A great challenge in creating a working quantum computer is maintaining control over the carriers of information, the “switches” in a quantum processor while isolating them from the environment. (More)

Secretary Locke Kicks Off President Obama's 'United We Serve' Initiative with Visit to Homeless Shelter

Secretary Locke is shown reading to children with Rep. Harry Mitchell. Photo courtesy Tracy Hayes. Click for larger image.

Photo courtesy Tracy Hayes, A New Leaf

In an effort to inspire Americans to serve their communities, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke visited a homeless shelter in Mesa, Ariz. as part of the President’s summer service initiative, ‘United We Serve,’ focusing on four key areas: energy and the environment, health care, education and community renewal. Locke joined other senior officials in the Obama administration, including fellow Cabinet members and the First Lady, who participated in service projects on Monday in communities across the country. Locke is shown with Ariz. Rep. Harry E. Mitchell, reading to children at the shelter. The initiative will continue through the National Day of Service and Remembrance on September 11th. (President Obama’s Video on ‘United We Serve’)

Secretary Locke Statement on May 2009 Retail Trade Numbers

Photo of Secretary Locke.

File Photo

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke issued the following statement on the release of the May 2009 U.S. Retail and Food Services Sales. Today’s report showed that U.S. nominal retail sales rose 0.5% in May. Motor vehicle and parts sales also rose 0.5% in May. Gasoline sales increased 3.6%, partly reflecting the renewed rise in prices, while other sales edged up 0.1%. “Today’s numbers reflect improving consumer confidence. The Recovery Act is making life a little easier for families and businesses, and there are early signs of progress across the country. But May sales are still below their first-quarter average, reminding us of how difficult the economic environment remains.” (More) (Report)

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke Statement on Trade Numbers

U.S. Department of Commerce seal.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke issued the following statement on the release of the April 2009 U.S. International Trade in Goods and Services that showed that U.S. exports decreased by 2.3 percent to $121.1 billion since March 2009. Imports decreased 1.4 percent to $150.3 billion. Overall, the trade deficit grew 2.2 percent during the same time period. “Today’s numbers remind us just how challenging the world economic environment is.That’s why it’s important we continue supporting American businesses by removing trade barriers and encouraging other countries to resist protectionist impulses.” (More)

NOAA Announces New Cooperative Institute for Climate and Satellites

Satellite image of Hurricane Katrina. Click for larger image.

Scientists from Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have teamed up with experts from the University of Maryland and North Carolina State University to form the Cooperative Institute for Climate and Satellites. The new institute will use satellite observations to detect, monitor and forecast climate change, and its impact on the environment, including ecosystems. “To help us understand climate change, we have to find ways to best leverage all of our available resources, including the information we get from satellites,” said Mary Kicza, assistant administrator for NOAA’s Satellite and Information Service. (More)

Vice President Biden and Secretary Locke Outline Funding for Smart Grid Initiatives

Vice President Biden and Commerce Secretary Locke at podium. Click for larger image.

Vice President Joe Biden, on a visit to Jefferson City, Mo. with U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, detailed plans by the Department of Energy to develop a smart, strong and secure electrical grid, which will create new jobs and help deliver reliable power more effectively with less impact on the environment to customers across the nation. As part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the Vice President and Secretary outlined plans to distribute more than $3.3 billion in Smart Grid technology development grants and an additional $615 million for Smart Grid storage, monitoring and technology viability. (White House Release) (Secretary’s Remarks)

NOAA Submits Proposed Recovery Plan to Congress to Help Create Jobs, Improve Coastal Communities and Protect Habitat

ARRA logo. Click to go to Commerce.gov/Recovery.

Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) submitted to Congress its proposed Recovery plan to create jobs, strengthen the economy, and restore our environment. Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, NOAA was provided $830 million. NOAA estimates its planned expenditures will create a significant number of new jobs and strengthen the economy, spurring the creation of additional jobs.NOAA’s investments in weather forecasting and research, fisheries, ocean and coastal management are aimed at safeguarding lives and putting Americans to work. (More)