This site contains information from January 2009-December 2014. Click HERE to go the CURRENT website.

Blog Entries from August 2009

Secretary Locke Talks Health Insurance Reform with Maria Bartiromo on CNBC's "Closing Bell"

Image of video screenshot. Click for interview.

CNBC Video

Secretary Gary Locke appeared on CNBC’s “Closing Bell” to talk about why health insurance reform is critical for American businesses. Continuing the discussion from his op-ed in The Wall Street Journal last week, Locke stressed that the status quo will prevent companies from growing, result in more Americans losing their health coverage and cripple the U.S. economy in the long term. Rising health care costs have put U.S. firms at a competitive disadvantage and contributed to flat wages, as more and more revenues are going toward the cost of health care. Reform is critical and will result in greater efficiency and smarter delivery of care, Locke said. (Video)

Secretary Locke to Participate in Americas Competitiveness Forum in Santiago, Chile

ACF III logo. Click to go Web site for more information.

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke announced he will participate in the third annual Americas Competitiveness Forum (ACF) September 27-29, 2009, in Santiago, Chile. The ACF brings together representatives from the public and private sectors to discuss ways to spark innovation, create jobs, and expand trade among the countries of the hemisphere. The Commerce Department hosted the first two ACFs in Atlanta in 2007 and 2008. “I am looking forward to traveling to Chile to participate in the third Americas Competitiveness Forum,” Locke said. “Exports have always been crucial to American prosperity, and they have assumed an even greater significance in the current economic climate.” (More)

EDA Announces Ongoing American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Funding to Create Jobs, Boost Development

Image of Flagship Enterprise Center. Click for larger image.

Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) invested $2.7 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds to the Flagship Enterprise Center, Inc. and the city of Anderson, Ind.,(pictured here), to help build a business and industrial facility, which will house early-stage businesses that are working to establish themselves in the community. Other recent ARRA grants have been announced for Memphis, Tenn.; Spring Valley, Minn.; Tupelo, Miss.; Fosston, Minn.; Scottsburg, Ind. and Bristol Bay Borough, Alaska. (EDA Recovery Web site)

NOAA Report Explains Sea Level Anomaly this Summer Along U.S. Atlantic Coast

Tide and Currents logo. Click to go to NOAA Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services Web site.

Persistent winds and a weakened current in the Mid-Atlantic contributed to higher than normal sea levels along the Eastern Seaboard in June and July, according to a new technical report from Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). After observing water levels six inches to two feet higher than originally predicted, NOAA scientists began analyzing data from select tide stations and buoys from Maine to Florida and found that a weakening of the Florida Current Transport—an oceanic current that feeds into the Gulf Stream—in addition to steady and persistent Northeast winds, contributed to this anomaly. (More)

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)

NOAA Administrator to Lead U.S. Delegation to World Climate Conference-3

NOAA seal.

Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Administrator, will lead a U.S. delegation to Geneva, Switzerland, August 31- September 4 for the World Climate Conference-3 in efforts to establish a Global Framework for Climate Services. This framework is intended to help meet accelerating demands for useful information on the impacts of climate change.U.S. officials from more than 10 government agencies and departments will be actively engaged at the conference, learning from the international community and sharing American knowledge and innovations. (More)

Secretary Locke Announces Over $11.9 Million in Recovery Act Grants to Create Jobs, Boost Development in Seven States

EDA seal.

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke announced over $11.9 million in Economic Development Administration (EDA) American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) grants to help seven states boost private investment and create new jobs. The grants will make water treatment facility upgrades in Kentucky; help build an access road to serve an industrial park in Minnesota; help make roadway updates to improve access to an industrial park in Illinois; help build water and sewer infrastructure needed to spur business development in Georgia; convert an existing building for use as a regional vocational training facility in Idaho; expand an existing dock and install a crane to boost the commercial fishing sector in Alaska, and extend an avenue and provide water infrastructure in Washington state.

Secretary Lock Gives Keynote at MED Week, Follows White House Event for National MED Week Awardees

MED Week logo. Click to go to MED Week Web site.

Secretary Gary Locke laid out the Obama Administration’s strategy to expand opportunities for minority businesses. In his keynote, Locke outlined how the President’s Recovery Act is giving businesses access to billions of dollars in loan guarantees, and how it seeks to reorient America’s energy policy towards providing new manufacturing jobs in clean energy. Locke called for reform of the healthcare system so that small- and medium-sized businesses can better afford health benefits for their workers. On Wednesday, Secretary Locke and Vice President Joe Biden congratulated the 2009 National Excellence in Minority Business Award Winners at a reception at the White House. (Remarks)

Statement From Undersecretary Blank on Second Estimate of GDP in Second Quarter of 2009

Department of Commerce seal.

The U.S. Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis today released the second estimate of gross domestic product (GDP) for the second quarter of 2009. Real GDP declined at a 1.0-percent annual rate, unchanged from the advance estimate. Most analysts had expected a larger drop of 1.5 percent. “The economy’s better than expected performance in the 2nd quarter suggests that it is beginning to stabilize,” U.S. Commerce Under Secretary for Economic Affairs Rebecca Blank said. (More) (BEA Release)

Statement from Under Secretary for Economic Affairs on July 2009 New Home Sales

Portrait of Under Secretary Blank.

The U.S. Commerce Department’s Bureau of the Census today released new home sales data for July 2009. Sales of new single-family houses rose 9.6 percent, a far stronger gain than the expected rise of 1.6 percent. Sales have risen 31.6 percent above their low in January of this year. “These new numbers are another sign that we have put the brakes on the worst economic downturn in generations,” U.S Commerce Under Secretary for Economic Affairs Rebecca Blank said. (More) (July Residential Sales Release)

Secretary Locke Reads "To the Top!" with DC Grade School Students

Locke seated and holding book while children look on. Click for larger image.

At lunchtime, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Donovan and Education Secretary Duncan participated in the Department of Education’s summer reading initiative, “Read to the Top!” During the reading, Secretary Locke read, “Those Shoes,” a picture book by Maribeth Boelts to a group of District of Columbia grade school students. The Department has partnered with community organizations nationwide to combat summer reading loss in response to President Obama’s national volunteer campaign, “United We Serve,” which challenges all Americans to engage in sustained, meaningful service to meet growing social needs resulting from the economic downturn.

Who Are You? Mobile ID Devices Find Out Using NIST Guidelines

Image of person holding a PDA. Click for larger image.

A new publication that recommends best practices for the next generation of portable biometric acquisition devices—Mobile ID—has been published by Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Devices that gather, process and transmit an individual’s biometric data—fingerprints, facial and iris images—for identification are proliferating. Previous work on standards for these biometric devices has focused primarily on getting different stationary and desktop systems with hard-wired processing pathways to work together in an interoperable manner. But a new generation of small, portable and versatile biometric devices are raising new issues for interoperability. (More)

Earvin "Magic" Johnson to Keynote MBDA's Annual MED Week Conference

Earvin “Magic” Johnson will keynote the Minority Business Development Agency’s (MBDA) National Minority Enterprise Development (MED) Week Conference in Washington, August 26-28. Also participating as speakers will be U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, new MBDA National Director David Hinson, and Small Business Administration Administrator Karen G. Mills. The conference will focus on fostering innovation, competitiveness and opportunities for minority businesses to retool and rebuild America’s infrastructure under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. (More) (Registration)

Locke Addresses U.S.-UAE Business Council, Highlights Promising Economic Opportunities

Locke behind lectern with flags behind him.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce to the US-UAE Business Council about the bilateral economic and security relationship that has continued to develop between the emirates and the United Sates. Secretary Locke addressed the promising business opportunities available to U.S. firms resulting from a proposed civilian nuclear arrangement. He also explained how the proposed agreement might serve as a model for civilian nuclear cooperation between the U.S. and other Middle Eastern nations. (Remarks)

Secretary Locke Announces $40 Million in ARRA Projects to Support Efficient Marine Navigation and Create Jobs

Captain Barnum and Secretary Locke on pier. Click for larger image.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke announced in Norfolk, Va. $40 million for critical hydrographic survey and chart projects across the United States that strengthen the economy, create jobs, and support safe and efficient marine commerce and trade. Funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will allocate $32 million to utilize hydrographic surveying contractors to collect data in critical coastal areas which are used to map the seafloor and update nautical charts. (More) (Remarks)

Secretaries Locke, Napolitano and Sebelius Announce Flu Season Guidance for Business and Employers

Cabinet secretaries on stage anouncing guidelines. Click for video of press conference.

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius held a joint news conference to announce new federal guidelines to help employers and businesses prepare for and respond to the upcoming flu season. The event is part of the federal government’s continuing efforts to prepare Americans for an influenza season that will include the H1N1 flu. Rear Admiral Stephen Redd from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Department of Labor Deputy Secretary Seth Harris will also be on hand to answer questions. (More on Guidance) (Press Conference Video)

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)

Secretary Locke Discusses Americas Competitiveness Forum at Council of the Americas

Secretary Locke seated at table.

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke delivered remarks at the Council of the Americas extolling private sector companies to participate in the Americas Competitiveness Forum (ACF). He was joined by Chilean Ambassador José Goñi and Americas Society and Council of the Americas President and CEO, Susan Segal. The ACF is the preeminent commercial forum in our hemisphere and presents leaders from the private sector, government, non-profit organizations, and academia with an opportunity to discuss competitiveness issues in the Western Hemisphere. The 2009 ACF will be held in Santiago, Chile, from September 27-29, 2009. (Remarks)

NOAA Joins Other U.S. Agencies and Canada to Survey Arctic Continental Shelf

Image of U.S. and Canada Coast Guard icebreakers side by side. Click for larger image.

The Department of Commerce’s National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will join a multi-agency joint expedition that will bring together icebreakers from the U.S. and Canada to collect and share data useful to both countries in defining the full extent of the Arctic continental shelf. The Arctic survey is part of the multi-year, multi-agency effort undertaken by the U.S. Extended Continental Shelf Project, led by the Department of State, with vice co-chairs from the Department of the Interior and NOAA. NOAA’s Office of Ocean Exploration and Research provided key funding for the U.S. mission. (More)

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke Visits Tampa for Town Hall and NABJ Convention

Locke speaking before audience with Census 2010 logo.

File Photo

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke visited Tampa today to hold a town hall meeting on trade and discuss the 2010 Census at the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) Annual Convention. The town hall was held at the Tampa Port Authority, where Locke and local business leaders addressed the Department’s trade priorities and the administration’s commitment to grow U.S. exports across the economy. At the NABJ convention, Locke emphasized the importance of Census participation and the critical role journalists can play increasing awareness about the decennial count. (Remarks)

Dennis F. Hightower Confirmed as Deputy Secretary of Commerce

Image of flag flying from facade of U.S. Department of Commerce's Herbert Clark Hoover Building

The U.S. Senate confirmed Dennis F. Hightower as Deputy Secretary of Commerce by unanimous consent. Hightower, a seasoned business executive with a 40-year career in the public and private sectors, takes over general management of the Department of Commerce, an organization with nearly 38,000 employees and an operating budget of over $17 billion. “I am grateful to the Senate for moving quickly to confirm Dennis Hightower, and I’m thrilled to have him on board.” Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said. “His management expertise and strong leadership skills will be a valuable asset to the Commerce team as we work to make American businesses more competitive and strengthen the economy. (More)

Secretary Locke Statement on Confirmation of David Kappos as Patent and Trade Director

Campus of USPTO in Alexandria, Virginia.

The U.S. Senate today confirmed David Kappos as the new Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the U.S Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke issued the following statement: “We are grateful to the Senate for its swift confirmation of David Kappos to lead the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. It’s no secret that the agency currently faces significant and persistent challenges, but David is the right person to meet them and carry out my top priority for the USPTO—dramatically reducing the unacceptably long time it takes to process patent applications.” (More)

Secretary Locke Statement on July Unemployment Numbers

Secretary Locke on podium.

File Photo

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke issued the following statement on today’s release of the July 2009 unemployment numbers by the Labor Department. The report showed that the jobless rate dropped to 9.4 percent from 9.5 percent. "Today's news that the rate of job loss is declining is a welcome sign that our economy is no longer in freefall. But we know that millions of families are still struggling. A 9.4 percent unemployment rate remains unacceptable, and this administration will not be satisfied until people are getting back to work.” (More)

BEA: Personal Income Growth for Metropolitan Areas Slows in 2008 Over 2007

Map of U.S. indicating percent change of personal income.

Personal income growth slowed in 2008 in most of the nation's metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs), according to estimates released today by the Department of Commerce’s U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). Personal income growth slowed in 322 MSAs, increased in 42, and remained unchanged in 2 MSAs. On average, MSA personal income grew 3.3 percent in 2008, down from 6.0 percent in 2007. Advance metropolitan area income estimates for 2008 are available interactively on BEA's Web site at and select table AMSA. (More)

NOAA Lowers Hurricane Season Outlook, Cautions Public Not to Let Down Guard

According to its August Atlantic hurricane season outlook, Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) now expects a near- to below-normal Atlantic hurricane season, as the calming effects of El Niño continue to develop. But scientists say the season’s quiet start does not guarantee quiet times ahead. The season, which began June 1, is entering its historical peak period of August through October, when most storms form. “While this hurricane season has gotten off to a quiet start, it’s critical that the American people are prepared in case a hurricane strikes,” said Commerce Secretary Gary Locke. (More) (Animation of El Niño in Pacific)

Locke Announces $45 Million in Grants to Accelerate Manufacture and Deployment of Next-Generation Batteries, Vehicles

Photo of Locke and officials at event. Click for larger image.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke announced three grants to accelerate the manufacturing and deployment of the next generation of U.S. batteries and electric vehicles in America. Ten million dollars will go to Smith Electric; $30 million to Ford Motor Company; and $5 million to Missouri University of Science and Technology. These grants are part of 48 new advanced battery and electric drive projects President Obama announced today that will receive $2.4 billion under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and create tens of thousands of new jobs. (More) (Grants Announcement) (President’s Remarks)

NOAA and Partners to Survey Ships Sunk off North Carolina in World War II

Underwater image of shipwrecks. Clicker for larger image.

Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will lead a three-week research expedition in August to study World War II shipwrecks sunk in 1942 off the coast of North Carolina during the Battle of the Atlantic. The shipwrecks are located in an area known as the “Graveyard of the Atlantic,” which includes sunken vessels from U.S. and British naval fleets, merchant ships and German U-boats. “The information collected during this expedition will help us better understand and document this often lost chapter of America’s maritime history and its significance to the nation,” said David W. Alberg, expedition leader and superintendent. (More)

Census: Capital Spending Increases Nearly $201 Billion Between 2000-2007

Census seal.

The U.S. Census Bureau reports that spending by all U.S. nonfarm businesses on new and used structures and equipment increased 17 percent, or nearly $201 billion, to a total of $1.362 trillion in 2007. This compares with an earlier cyclical peak of $1.161 trillion in 2000, according to a report issued today. These data come from the Census Bureau’s 2009 Capital Spending Report: U.S. Capital Spending Patterns, 1999-2007. The report provides historical data from the Annual Capital Expenditures Survey (ACES) on spending for new and used structures and equipment by all U.S. nonfarm businesses with and without paid employees. (More)

Commerce Attends AGOA Forum in Nairobi, Kenya

8th AGOA Forum Logo. Click to visit AGOA Forum Web site.

The eighth AGOA Forum (African Growth and Opportunity Act) will be held in Nairobi, Kenya, August 4-6, 2009. The theme of this year’s Forum is “Realizing the Full Potential of AGOA through Expansion of Trade and Investment.” The Forum will focus on a number of crucial trade and economic issues, including but not limited to how countries can take full advantage of the range of export opportunities that AGOA offers. The Act, signed in 2000, offers tangible incentives for African countries to continue their efforts to open their economies and build free markets. (AGOA Web site) (U.S.-African Trade Profile)

Commerce Department Launches U.S. Recovery Act Project Funding Map

Map of United States. Click to go to interactive ARRA map.

The U.S. Department of Commerce has launched an interactive map indicating the project locations of communities and recipients funded by the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) on Five agencies of the Department of Commerce (NTIA, EDA, NIST, NOAA and the U.S. Census Bureau) received a total of $7.9 billion for U.S. job creation and economic growth as part of the historic economic stimulus bill signed by President Obama in February, 2009. The map also includes data from the USDA and HUD Recovery Web sites. (More) (DOC Recovery Map)