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The Commerce Blog

Under Secretary Blank Statement on July 2009 Residential Construction Numbers

Portrait of Under Secretary Blank.

The U.S. Commerce Department’s Bureau of the Census released data on new residential construction in July. Starts for single-family homes increased 1.7 percent, while overall permits to build privately-owned housing units declined 1.8 percent and housing starts decreased 1.0 percent. Despite the overall decrease, total permits have risen 12.4 percent from their low in April, after plummeting a total of 78.0 percent between September 2005 and April 2009. Additionally, total starts have increased 21.3 percent, after falling 78.9 percent from their peak in January 2006 to their low in April 2009. (More) (July Residential Construction Release)

Secretary Locke Announces $7.6 Million in Recovery Act Grants to Create Jobs, Boost Development in Four States

Picture of construction site for railway infrastructure improvement. Click for larger image.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke announced $7.6 million in Economic Development Administration (EDA) American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) grants to help four states boost private investment and create new jobs. The grants will: establish a bio-medical manufacturing and business park in Illinois; develop an industrial area in Florida; provide rail service to a technology park in South Carolina and expand an industrial park to accommodate new and existing industry in Michigan.

Back to School 2009-2010 Stats from Census

Image of District of Columbia yellow school bus.

File Photo

Summertime winding down and summer vacations coming to an end signal that back-to-school time is near. It’s a time that many children eagerly anticipate—catching up with old friends, making new ones and settling into a new daily routine. Parents and children alike scan the newspapers and Web sites looking for sales to shop for a multitude of school supplies and the latest clothing fads and essentials. This edition of Facts for Featureshighlights the many statistics associated with the return to classrooms by our nation’s students and teachers. There are an estimated 480,000 school buses in the U.S. (More)

NOAA: Warmest Global Ocean Surface Temperatures on Record for July

Image of Earth featuring oceans. Click for larger image.

The planet’s ocean surface temperature was the warmest on record for July, breaking the previous high mark established in 1998, according to an analysis by NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. The combined average global land and ocean surface temperature for July 2009 ranked fifth-warmest since world-wide records began in 1880. The July ocean surface temperature departure of 1.06 degrees F from the long-term average equals last month’s value, which was also a record. (More) (National Climatic Data Center) (June Analysis)

Secretary Locke Conducts Swearing In Ceremony for USPTO Director David Kappos

Locke, Kimball and Kappos with hand on Bible, taking oath of office. Click for larger image.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke conducted a ceremonial swearing in ceremony for Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), David Kappos. In remarks before thousands of employees on the USPTO campus, Locke said, “David is taking on a big job. . . . Promoting and protecting U.S. inventions, innovation and creativity directly affects our nation’s welfare and prosperity.” Under Secretary Kappos added, “I look forward to. . . working with you to advance [the USPTO’s] mission on behalf of the American people.” (Secretary’s Remarks) (Under Secretary Kappos’s Remarks) (USPTO)

Secretary Locke Statement on July Retail Sales

Locke, seated, gesturing with hands.

File Photo

The U.S. Commerce Department's U.S. Census Bureau today released retail sales for July 2009. Retail sales edged down 0.1% in July, following a strong rise of 0.8% in June. The total increase over the last three months is the strongest three-month performance since December 2007. “Despite the slight decline in retail sales we remain encouraged that the Recovery Act and other economic initiatives have stabilized conditions and helped those harmed by the economic crisis,” U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said. (More)

Locke Travels to Massachusetts, Highlights Administration Commitment to Economic Recovery, Focus on 2010 Census

Secretary Locke with technician at Cambridge Innovation Center. Click for larger image.

Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke traveled to Massachusetts to highlight the Obama administration’s efforts to turn around the economy by supporting innovation and spurring clean energy job growth. In Cambridge, Locke held a town hall meeting with local business leaders and toured the Cambridge Innovation Center, as well as the Genzyme Corp. headquarters building, designed in an environmentally friendly way. In the evening, Locke addressed the annual national convention of the Asian American Journalists Association in Boston, focusing on the 2010 Census and its profound effects on the future of U.S. residents and communities. (Remarks)

Secretary Locke Statement on Trade Numbers

Department of Commerce seal.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke issued the following statement on the release of the June 2009 U.S. International Trade in Goods and Services report by the Commerce Department’s U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Today’s report showed that U.S. exports increased by 2 percent to $125.8 billion, which closely tracked the increase in imports, which rose 2.3 percent to $152.8 billion. The trade gap widened to $27 billion from $26 billion, better than analysts’ expectations. (More) (Release) (Fact Sheet)

Novel Temperature Calibration Improves NIST Microhotplate Technology

Image of microhotplate. Click for larger image.

Researchers at the Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have developed a new calibration technique that will improve the reliability and stability of one of NIST’s most versatile technologies, the microhotplate. The novel NIST device is being developed as the foundation for miniature yet highly accurate gas sensors that can detect chemical and biological agents, industrial leaks and even signs of extraterrestrial life from aboard a planetary probe. (More)

Study: Better Observations, Analyses Detecting Short-Lived Tropical Systems

Satellite image of Tropical Storm Chantal forming south of Halifax, Nova Scotia. Click for larger image.

A NOAA-led team of scientists has found that the apparent increase in the number of tropical storms and hurricanes since the late 19th and early 20th centuries is likely attributable to improvements in observational tools and analysis techniques that better detect short-lived storms. The new study shows that short-lived tropical storms and hurricanes, defined as lasting two days or less, have increased from less than one per year to about five per year from 1878 to 2008. (More)