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Blog Entries from December 2011

Census Bureau Projects U.S. Population of 312.8 Million on New Year's Day 2012

Map of U.S. with "312,780,968" superimposed

As our nation prepares to ring in the new year, the Department of Commerce's U.S. Census Bureau projects the January 1, 2012, total United States population will be 312,780,968. This would represent an increase of 2,250,129, or 0.7 percent, from New Year's Day 2011, and an increase of 4,035,430, or 1.3 percent, since Census Day (April 1, 2010). The Bureau continues to analyze and disseminate the data gathered from the 2010 Census.

In January 2012, one birth is expected to occur every eight seconds in the United States and one death every 12 seconds.

Meanwhile, net international migration is expected to add one person to the U.S. population every 46 seconds in January 2012. The combination of births, deaths and net international migration results in an increase in the total U.S. population of one person every 17 seconds.  More Holiday Facts for Features

The U.S. Department of Commerce wishes you a Happy 2012!

2011: A Great Year for American Inventors and Innovation

Photo of USPTO Headquarters

Guest blog post by David Kappos, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO

As December draws to a close , it’s difficult to imagine a more historic year for the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) than 2011. The dedication and hard work of our talented public servants has enabled the Agency to make significant strides in the quality, efficiency, and certainty of patents and trademarks granted to technological enterprises. And our collaboration with the small business community has allowed us to level the competitive playing field by offering new tools and resources for independent inventors to acquire intellectual property rights with more ease. As this year comes to an end, I want to take a moment to recount what our extended USPTO family has helped accomplish for American inventors and American innovation, through the lens of a few numbers and key dates that were important this year.

A Look Ahead to 2012: NTIA by the Numbers

National Broadband Map

In the coming year, the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) will continue its focus on three key areas: expanding high speed Internet access and adoption, freeing up more spectrum for wireless broadband, and promoting policies that preserve the Internet as an engine for innovation and economic growth. Here are some numbers to illustrate these challenges.  Shown: National Broadband Map

NIST Research/Collaboration Efforts Key to Innovation and Economic Growth

Computer scientist Murugiah Souppaya investigates security techniques for protecting cloud computing systems from cyber attack  (Photo © Nicholas McIntosh)

Innovation drives economic growth and creates skilled, high-wage jobs. To maintain a high standard of living for its citizens, the United States must continue to produce new, high quality products and we must sell them in the global marketplace.  As Secretary John Bryson said recently, the U.S. must “Build it here and sell it everywhere.”

Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) helps U.S. companies innovate and improve their global competitiveness by providing world class laboratory results and services, business and technology assistance, and research grants.

As we look to the start of a new calendar year, here are just a few numbers that describe how NIST helps U.S. industry and science to create and retain jobs through an innovation-based economy:

  • 8 billion:  The number of times per day that computers across the United States and the world were synchronized with NIST official time over the Internet by the end of FY2011 using the automated NIST Internet Time Service. This number is continually growing. NIST official time is essential for everything from time stamping electronic financial transactions to operation of the U.S. electrical grid to precision timing of computer networks.
  • $8.3 billion:  The amount of new and retained sales generated in FY2010 through business and technology assistance from the NIST Manufacturing Extension Partnership according to an FY2011 survey of participating U.S. companies. Through a network of local centers providing services in every state and Puerto Rico, the program helps companies nationwide to create and retain jobs, increase profits, and save time and money.
  • Up to $5 billion: The amount of money the federal government may be able to save by 2015 by using cloud computing services and consolidating or closing 962 data centers as a result. In FY 2011, NIST issued a technology roadmap (PDF) to help speed the U.S. government’s adoption of cloud computing services. More than 1500 individuals from the public participated during FY2010 and FY2011 in NIST workshops to propose ways the government can exploit the cost advantages of cloud computing reliably and securely.
  • 19.1 million, 32,864, and 18,195:  The number of data sets downloaded from the Web, Standard Reference Materials (SRMs) sold and calibrations provided by NIST to help companies and researchers worldwide produce the highest quality products and scientific measurements. To name just a few examples, NIST data, SRMs and calibration services help high tech companies make computer chips with “wires” only 10s of billionths of a meter wide; build  aircraft engines made of high strength, corrosion resistant alloys; and ensure the safety of drinking water, medical tests, and pharmaceuticals.
  • 2900:  The number of guest researchers, facility users, and other associates hosted by NIST in FY 2011 from industry, academia, and government agencies. State-of-the-art technical knowledge shared through collaborations like these supports billions of dollars in sales of U.S. products that depend in some way on advanced technologies, data, and measurements. In FY 2011, NIST also had numerous patents available for licensing, had 103 formal Cooperative Research and Development Agreements in place with companies and scientific organizations, and published about more than 1,200 research papers in the open scientific literature.

EDA Investments and Programs Help Strengthen America’s Economic Ecosystem, Create Jobs

i6 Challenge logo

Guest blog post by U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development John R. Fernandez

With the private sector creating more than three million new jobs over the last 21 months, and nine straight quarters of positive GDP growth, the U.S. economy is showing signs of recovery. But with millions of people across the nation still unemployed, there is nothing more important right now than working to accelerate business development and job growth.

In the 2011 fiscal year, Commerce's U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) continued its important work of investing in competitive projects across the country that are spurring innovation at the regional level, helping to create jobs, and mitigating the effects of natural and man-made disasters.

The 2010 Holiday Season Facts and Features from the U.S. Census Bureau

Image of the Commerce headquarters with red bows

The holiday season is a time for gathering to celebrate with friends and family, to reflect and to give thanks. At this time of year, the Department of Commerce’s U.S. Census Bureau presents holiday-related facts and statistics from its data collections, including details about mail, retail sales, toys, trees and decorations and much more. The nation's projected population as we ring in the New Year is estimated to be more than 312 million.  Happy holidays from the U.S. Department of Commerce! 

Holiday facts and features

U.S. Census Bureau: 2011 A Year of Successes and Anticipating 2012

In 2011, the Commerce Department's U.S. Census Bureau continued to provide quality statistics to governments and businesses to inform the decisions that affect everyone’s lives. These statistics touch every aspect of Americans’ lives–health, crime, income, education, labor force participation, housing conditions, consumer expenditures and a host of others.

While we have plenty to be proud of, here we highlight some of this year’s big successes.

Innovating Efficiencies:

The Census Bureau is building on the $1.9 billion in savings from the 2010 Census last year by looking for ways to innovate, become more efficient and to save money. The Improving Operational Efficiencies program has generated thousands of ideas from staff, including saving $24 million over a five-year period alone by consolidating IT storage and establishing an enterprise storage area network. We've also worked to streamline our regional office structure. By realigning the field infrastructure, the Census Bureau is saving taxpayer money and keeping pace with current developments in survey work worldwide. The restructuring is projected to result in $15 to $18 million in annual savings to the Federal government commencing in FY 2014. The Census Bureau is striving to be a responsible steward of taxpayer money and, like many in the current economic climate, is committed to the basic premise of doing more with less.

Delivering 2010 Census Products and ACS Data:

The Census Bureau has delivered its many 2010 Census and American Community Survey data products on time and on budget, including the statistics used by states in their redistricting and providing valuable local insights that paint a portrait of America. The ACS provides the most timely estimates available for thousands of small places and population groups on key social and economic attributes. For many of these places and groups, these are the only detailed socioeconomic characteristics available. In the Fall of 2011 the Census Bureau produced detailed statistics for over 700,000 distinct geographic areas, permitting local governments and businesses to make the case to new employers about the value of building new job producing activities in their locales.
Feeding the Nation's Appetite for Data:

Here at the Census Bureau, we know that our users want more statistical information; they want it in a more timely fashion; they want it on smaller geographic areas and subpopulations. So we're supplementing our talent in small area estimation, hopefully increasing the breadth of our estimates in many programs. We're redesigning the way that users can access our statistical information on the Web. We want everybody to be able to access our estimates on the Web using any device they happen to use. We are building new statistical products by combining multiple data sets behind our firewalls. We are investing in visualization tools to widen the audience of our statistical information. We will extract more information from the same data sources by increasing our analysis of the data we collect.

This coming year we will see more with our Web transformation and with new tools like the economic indicator dashboard and the county business and demographics map. We will also be gearing up for the Economic Census, and working hard to increase access to our data and participation in our surveys so we can continue to provide quality statistics about the nation's people, places and economy.

Weather By the Numbers: 2011 Remembered as "Year of Severe Weather"

Satellite image of Hurricane Irene

2011 will be remembered as the year of extreme weather. From extreme drought, heat waves and floods to unprecedented tornado outbreaks, hurricanes, wildfires and winter storms, a record 12 weather and climate disasters in 2011 each caused $1 billion or more in damages—and most regrettably, loss of human lives and property. NOAA's National Weather Service has redoubled its efforts to create a "Weather-Ready Nation," where vulnerable communities are better prepared for extreme weather and other natural disasters.  Video of Hurricane Irene approaching the U.S.  |  Severe Weather blog
Here are some fast facts for weather by the numbers in 2011:

  • 3 million-plus: the number of residents who lost power during an unseasonably early nor’easter storm that spanned West Virginia to Maine (Oct 29-31)
  • -31 degrees F: the record low temperature reported in Nowata, Oklahoma, on February 10, 2011, which is the coldest temperature on record for the state!
  • 343: the largest outbreak of tornadoes ever recorded (April 25-28), which left a deadly path of destruction from Alabama to Virginia.
  • 199: the number of confirmed tornadoes across the Southeast on April 27, the most on record for any single day in the United States!
  • 1 million-plus: the number of acres burned across just Texas, during a record wildfire season for the Southern Plains states.
  • 3 billion: the potential cost (dollars) to rebuild Joplin, Mo., after it endured the single costliest tornado in U.S. history on May 22. It was the 7th deadliest tornado the U.S. has seen, with 158 lives lost.
  • -7.97: the value of the Palmer Hydrological Drought Index (PHDI) for Texas in September that indicated the most intense drought to affect the state in 117 year period of record.
  • 300 percent: three times the amount of average precipitation (mainly rainfall) in the Ohio Valley that caused historic flooding along the Mississippi river.
  • 19: the number of tropical storms in the Atlantic this year, the 3rd busiest season since record keeping began in 1851

Commerce’s EDA Investing to Strengthen Tennessee Businesses and Grow Nashville’s Hospitality Industry

Workers prepare to reconstruct flooded road (File photo: National Park Service)

Guest blog post by U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development John Fernandez

Between March and May of 2010, severe storms and floods devastated many parts of Tennessee, Kentucky, Nebraska and Rhode Island. While Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) is not a first responder to such disasters, the agency quickly got to work assessing the damage and connecting with local leaders regarding their needs as they began to pick up the pieces and rebuild. Recognizing the critical role that EDA can play for these communities, Congress provided $49 million in supplemental funding for EDA to award to these states to help them in their recovery efforts.

Last week, businesses in Tennessee got some good holiday news, when EDA announced its investment of $5.8 million to help build critical infrastructure to support Tennessee businesses and jobs and to develop a strategic marketing strategy to grow the Nashville hospitality sector following the floods of 2010.

These grants will assist in Tennessee’s recovery and redevelopment efforts by funding the necessary improvements that will ensure the resilience of physical and economic infrastructure and include:

  • $2 million to the Jackson Energy Authority to build core sewer infrastructure to protect major regional employers, including the Jackson-Madison Hospital and numerous industrial and manufacturing businesses, from flooding. The project is expected to result in the retention of 9,690 jobs, according to grantee estimates;
  • $1.49 million to the city of Dyersburg to help build an elevated water storage tank that will improve water capacity for manufacturing and industrial businesses and will serve new tracts of land being developed outside of the flood plain to accommodate business needs. The project is expected to save 433 jobs, create 200 jobs and generate $4 million in private investment, according to grantee estimates;
  • $1.3 million to Conexion Americas of Nashville to help build the Casa Azafran Community Center, which will provide expanded business startup or expansion assistance to Latino small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs;
  • $1 million to the Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureau to implement a regional marketing strategy that will support the city’s economic recovery by promoting the hospitality industry, which lost hundreds of millions of dollars in the wake of the flooding that impacted the city in 2010.

In announcing the grant, U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson said “The Obama administration is committed to helping communities impacted by natural disasters rebuild stronger and smarter to protect businesses and jobs. These critical EDA investments will provide the infrastructure needed to help keep businesses running and workers productive in the event of future floods, expand vital business assistance to Nashville’s Latino community and help Nashville revitalize its critical hospitality sector to create new jobs.”

In May 2010, President Obama signed the Tennessee Disaster Declaration and ordered Federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the area struck by severe storms, flooding, straight-line winds, and tornadoes beginning on April 30, 2010, and continuing. The president's action made Federal funding available to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster.

New Job Creation and Economic Impact Dominate Big Numbers for Minority Business Development Agency

Warehouse with workers (Photo: USDA)

2011 proved to be another highly productive year for Commerce's Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA)—the only federal agency tasked to promote the growth and global competitiveness of the minority business community. MBDA is a leader in strengthening the economy and improving the lives of all Americans. We support job growth and economic expansion through a network of MBDA business centers, collaboration with federal, state and local government agencies, and strategic partnerships. The U.S. economy continues to benefit from a strong minority business sector as illustrated by our big numbers below.

  • $1.0 trillion—The combined economic output of the nation’s 5.8 million minority-owned and operated businesses that provide goods and services across all industry sectors, including renewable energy, environmental remediation, manufacturing, information technology and telecommunications.  
  • $10 billion—The total dollar value of public and private sector contracts and capital that MBDA and its network of business centers obtained for minority-owned firms since the beginning of the Obama administration.
  • 15,000 plus—The number of new jobs created by minority business enterprises as a result of working with MBDA and its network of business centers during the first three years of the Obama administration. 
  • 125X—The return on investment the U.S. taxpayer receives from MBDA due to its increased operating efficiencies and focus on job creation.  

We anticipate 2012 will be another great year for the Minority Business Development Agency as we launch new business services, push global exporting opportunities and release recommendations from the National Advisory Council on Minority Business Enterprise. To learn more about what we have planned and how we can help you create jobs and improve your business, subscribe to the MBDA newsletter, visit an MBDA Business Center, and come to our 30th National Minority Enterprise Development (MED) Week Conference.

Census Report Reveals Shifts in State Populations, Texas Gains Most

Alternate TextMap of U.S. showing population shifts

First population estimates since 2010 show slowest national growth since the 1940s

A new report from the Commerce Department's U.S. Census Bureau reveals that the United States population grew to 311.6 million between April 1, 2010 and July 1, 2011, an increase of 2.8 million. This marks the lowest overall growth rate for the U.S. since before the baby boom, according to Census Bureau Director Robert Groves. “Our nation is constantly changing and these estimates provide us with our first measure of how much each state has grown or declined in total population since Census Day 2010.”

The report shows that Texas gained more people than any other state during the Census period (529,000). Other fast-growing states included California (438,000), Florida (256,000), Georgia (128,000) and North Carolina (121,000). Combined, these five states accounted for slightly more than half the nation’s total population growth. California remained the most populous state, followed by Texas, New York, Florida and Illinois. While the District of Columbia experienced the fastest growth, with a population climbing by 2.7 percent, Rhode Island, Michigan and Maine each saw a decrease in total population. The Census Bureau will release 2011 estimates of the total population of counties and incorporated places beginning in 2012.  Census release  |  Comunicado de prensa en español

Protecting Personal Computers at Start-Up: NIST Offers Guidelines

A new draft computer security publication from Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) provides guidance for vendors and security professionals as they work to protect personal computers as they start up.

The first software that runs when a computer is turned on is the "Basic Input/Output System" (BIOS). This fundamental system software initializes the hardware before the operating system starts. Since it works at such a low level, before other security protections are in place, unauthorized changes—malicious or accidental—to the BIOS can cause a significant security threat.

"Unauthorized changes in the BIOS could allow or be part of a sophisticated, targeted attack on an organization, allowing an attacker to infiltrate an organization's systems or disrupt their operations," said Andrew Regenscheid, one of the authors of BIOS Integrity Measurement Guidelines. In September, 2011, a security company discovered the first malware designed to infect the BIOS, called Mebromi. "We believe this is an emerging threat area," said Regenscheid. "These developments underscore the importance of detecting changes to the BIOS code and configurations, and why monitoring BIOS integrity is an important element of security." NIST release

Commerce's BEA Keeps its Finger on the Economy's Pulse

BEA logo

Throughout 2011, Commerce's Bureau of Economic Analysis, the agency charged with keeping a finger on the economy’s pulse, has been hard at work measuring an ever-changing economy. During the year the Bureau instituted new methodologies, new techniques, released new Web-based analytical tools, and made continual improvements to the national accounts to keep pace with the changing economy.  2011 proved to be a stronger year for the economy, for the performance of U.S. companies and the spending behavior of American consumers. Fortunately, there have been some improvements on all three fronts over the last year.  

BEA’s Four Big Numbers to highlight in 2011 are:

  • $15,180,900,000,000 (That’s $15 trillion). That’s the total size of the U.S. economy as of the 3rd quarter of 2011 on an annualized basis.
  • $1,977,400,000,000 (That’s $1.9 trillion).  That’s the value of corporate profits as of the 3rd quarter of 2011. Profits of corporations in the United States climbed to the highest level on record stretching back to 1947. 
  • 2.3 percent.  That’s the real growth rate of consumer spending in the 3rd quarter of 2011. Consumer spending, the goods and services which we all buy on a daily basis, accounts for roughly 70 percent of all economic activity in the United States. The growth rate is the fastest seen so far this year. Consumer spending on services–like haircuts, sports tickets and going out to bars and restaurants–grew by nearly 3 percent, the strongest pace since 2006. 
  • 15.6 percent growth in business investment in equipment and software. This rate of investment is at its strongest pace in a year, and this is crucial as these investments are critical in supporting economic recovery and driving growth.

The International Trade Administration’s Four Big Numbers for 2011

New York Harbor

This has been a very eventful year for the International Trade Administration (ITA). We are very proud of our efforts to improve the lives of our fellow Americans. We have accomplished a great deal by working diligently on the President’s National Export Initiative (NEI) goal of doubling exports by the end of 2014, supporting well-paying jobs tied to exporting, helping U.S. service companies find new markets, and pursuing new venues for U.S. companies to connect with overseas buyers.  While we have plenty to be proud of, we have compiled our Four Big Numbers to highlight our biggest successes.

  • 25 – The percentage of growth in exports since the launch of the National Export Initiative in January 2010. Just in 2011, we’ve seen six record-breaking months of exports (Jan, March, April, July, Aug and Sept). This is a trend that will continue as long as American companies are finding buyers and partners in markets such as Brazil, India, Korea, and Russia.
  • 9.2 million – The number of jobs supported by U.S. exports in 2010. This represents seven percent of total non-farm employment in the United States. Additionally, exports contribute, on average, an additional 18 percent to workers’ earnings in the U.S. manufacturing sector.
  • $148.1 billion – Our U.S. trade surplus in services through October 2011. In dollar terms, through the first ten months of 2011, growth of U.S. services exports are double the growth of our services imports. Through October, services exports are up 10.6 percent or $48.2 billion from the same period last year. In 2010, travel and tourism accounted for 26 percent of our services exports and business, professional, and technical services combined for 24 percent.
  • 15,555 – The number of foreign buyers who traveled to the United States to participate in 35 designated International Buyer Program (IBP) trade shows. The IBP recruits thousands of qualified foreign buyers, sales representatives, and business partners to attend U.S. trade shows each year, giving exhibitors excellent opportunities to expand business globally.

2012 looks like another great year for ITA. Moving forward with the newly approved trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea will open new opportunities for U.S. businesses to export. Stay on top of the latest and greatest from ITA and learn about what we have planned and how we can help you improve your business with these programs by visiting

Secretary Bryson: "Build it Here, Sell it Everywhere"

Bryson, gesturing during Chamber remarks, on podium (photo: U.S. Chamber of Commerce)

U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson today laid out his vision for how the Department of Commerce can best partner with the business community to support the president’s jobs agenda at a speech at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. In his remarks, Bryson outlined his top three priorities to help American businesses "build it here and sell it everywhere," focusing on supporting advanced manufacturing, increasing our exports, and attracting more investment to America from all over the world. The former Chairman and CEO of Edison International, Bryson also served as a director on the boards of Boeing and the Walt Disney Company, and as a senior advisor to the private equity firm KKR, and he spoke about his experiences in the private sector and how the Department of Commerce is uniquely situated to support job creation.

“At the Commerce Department, we aren’t waiting to act. . . .We have a major role to play at this critical time to support job creation in America. We have an array of tools to help make our businesses more innovative, more efficient, and more competitive around the world,” he said. “I want to know how this administration and the Commerce Department can best help you. From these conversations, my discussions with the president and my own personal experience, I will prioritize one simple imperative. . . to help American businesses build it here and sell it everywhere.”

The Secretary's remarks at the Chamber marked his first major address, laying out his vision for the Department, focusing on manufacturing, exports and investing in America. Read about the new or recently announced Commerce Department initiatives to support these prioritiesPress release  |  Remarks | Video

Secretary Bryson Delivers His First Major Address Laying Out His Priorities for the Department

As part of the Obama administration’s ongoing efforts to spur job growth, Commerce Secretary John Bryson will lay out his priorities for the Department, including initiatives related to trade, manufacturing and increasing investment in the United States.

An experienced private sector leader, Bryson led Edison International as Chairman and CEO for 18 years. He also served on the boards of Boeing and Disney and as a senior adviser for the global private equity firm KKR. In little more than a month in office, Secretary Bryson has led trade talks with China to help level the playing field for American companies and workers and has reached out to numerous CEOs, including meeting with the Steering Committee of the President’s Advanced Manufacturing Partnership.

Read his complete remarks on how American businesses can Build it Here. Sell it Everywhere.

Building a Weather-Ready Nation

Luchenco on-screen video conference

This week, the Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) kicked-off a national dialogue to improve our nation’s readiness for extreme weather. At the Weather-Ready Nation: A Vital Conversation workshop, held in Norman, Okla., participants assessed why the nation has become more vulnerable to severe weather and identified ways to improve the public’s awareness, preparedness and response to future extreme events.

More than 1,000 lives have been lost this year to extreme weather, including about 550 from tornadoes. And the economic losses are equally staggering—at least 12 separate weather disasters, each with $1 billion or more in economic losses.

These impacts moved NOAA’s National Weather Service to launch an initiative called Weather-Ready Nation. The goal is to improve America’s readiness for weather events and save more lives and livelihoods. The Norman event is the first in a series of Weather-Ready Nation activities to be held across the country.

Census Bureau Releases New Race and Ethnic Demographic Information from the 2010 Census

Census Bureau Releases New Race and Ethnic Demographic Information from the 2010 Census

The U.S. Census Bureau today released the first in a series of new, detailed demographic information from the 2010 Census for up to 331 different race and ethnic groups down to the census tract level for Nevada and New Mexico. Data for remaining states will be released on a rolling basis through April, 2012. National level data will be released in May.

These Summary File 2 tables add a new layer of detail to the population and housing topics released earlier this year from the 2010 Census. Information, such as age, relationship and homeownership, previously available only for an area's entire population is now available for specific race and ethnic groups in that community.

Each Summary File 2 table is presented for up to 331 population groups. These include iteration groups for the total population, race alone groups, race alone or in combination groups, multiple-race combinations, American Indian and Alaska Native tribal groupings, detailed Asian groups, detailed Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander groups, detailed Hispanic groups, and race/Hispanic groups. Release

Secretary Bryson Promotes U.S.-Iraq Trade Opportunities at U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Bryson, al-Maliki promote trade (photo: U.S. Chamber of Commerce)

Today, Commerce Secretary John Bryson delivered remarks at a luncheon hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce honoring Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in Washington. In his remarks, Secretary Bryson pointed out a variety of resources available to U.S.businesses already in place to encourage and create ongoing trade and investment in a new area of relations between the two countries. These include the U.S.–Iraq Business and Investment Conference, Commerce-led trade missions to Iraq, the Iraq Task Force and Commerce’s Advocacy Center.

Commerce's Under Secretary for International Trade Francisco Sánchez led a historic business development mission to Baghdad in October, 2010. The trade mission brought together representatives from 14 U.S. companies with key Iraqi public and private sector decision-makers, including nearly 200 match-making meetings, to pursue investment and sales opportunities. The Department of Commerce had key involvement at the Baghdad International Trade Fair. There, the U.S. participated for the first time since 1988, showcasing 85 American businesses and organizations at the U.S. Pavilion–the largest foreign presence at the event.

“Working together we can continue to strengthen ties between our nations’ business communities," Bryson said. "For example, on Wednesday, we are facilitating a match-making event for U.S. firms to meet with the Iraqi companies visiting Washington with the Prime Minister. . . .  And, of course, we will continue working through the U.S.-Iraq Business Dialogue and with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the U.S.-Iraq Business Council, as Iraq continues to emerge as a promising market in the region.”

Al-Maliki highlighted the growing commercial ties with the United States and called for the U.S. business community to seize the investment and trade opportunities available in Iraq. Iraq is a promising and important emerging market–one that’s set to grow faster than China–and has needs that encompass everything from infrastructure to small consumer goods. Last year, Prime Minister al-Maliki announced Iraq’s five-year National Development Plan. The plan includes more than 2,700 projects worth about $186 billion and is aimed at diversifying Iraq’s economy away from oil. Meeting those needs can help create jobs here in the U.S.

Commerce Secretary John Bryson Hosts Sixth Meeting of the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Commerce Secretary John Bryson Hosts Sixth Meeting of the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Commerce Secretary John Bryson hosted the sixth meeting of the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship (NACIE) today at the Commerce Department. The Council advises Bryson and the administration on key innovation and entrepreneurship issues and supports President Obama's innovation strategy by helping to develop policies that foster entrepreneurship and identify new ways to take great ideas from the lab to the marketplace to drive economic growth and job creation. Council members include successful entrepreneurs, investors, and university and non-profit leaders.

“Innovation and entrepreneurship fuel America’s economy. It’s what enables our businesses to create new products and services and generate good, well-paying jobs,” Bryson said today. “That is my foremost priority as Secretary of Commerce. I want the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship to help this administration develop policies that support the innovation we need to keep the U.S. competitive.” 

Bryson called on the NACIE council members to help develop policies that support the innovation needed to keep the U.S. competitive. Since its creation, NACIE has focused on key issues such as improving the commercialization of university research and access to capital to enable entrepreneurs and businesses to turn innovations into new products, new companies and new jobs. Bryson also wanted to discuss how the Department of Commerce can better leverage the expertise of the group and how to enable NACIE to take a broader role in public participation and thought leadership. Speech

President Obama Names Commerce Secretary John Bryson as Co-Chair of White House Office of Manufacturing Policy

President Obama today announced that Secretary John Bryson would join National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling as co-chair of the White House Office of Manufacturing Policy. The Office of Manufacturing Policy is part of the National Economic Council in the White House and works across federal government agencies to coordinate the execution of manufacturing programs and the development of manufacturing policy.

“At this make or break time for the middle class and our economy, we need a strong manufacturing sector that will put Americans back to work making products stamped with three proud words: Made in America,” said President Obama. “I am grateful that Secretary Bryson and Gene Sperling will head up this office to continue our efforts to revitalize this great American industry and fight for American workers and jobs.”

“John Bryson brings to this role decades of business leadership, a passion for manufacturing, and a strong understanding of its importance for jobs and our nation's economic competitiveness. He will play a key leadership role for the president and his economic team on these critical issues,” said Gene Sperling.

“Supporting the manufacturing sector will further our ability to innovate at home and compete around the world while generating more high-wage American jobs,” Secretary Bryson said. “Since day one, President Obama has been focused on supporting the entire United States manufacturing sector but especially small- and medium-sized businesses on the cutting edge of advanced manufacturing. We are introducing an ‘all hands on deck’ approach that coordinates all of our assets - public and private, federal, state, and regional.”

The White House Office of Manufacturing Policy will convene Cabinet-level meetings to aggressively implement the administration’s priority manufacturing initiatives. Release

Census Bureau Releases Most Up-to-Date Statistics for Every Community Nationwide

Data collected from the American Community Survey are used by transportation planners to improve roads and modes of transportation and reduce traffic congestion

The U.S. Census Bureau today released findings from the American Community Survey — the most relied-on source for detailed, up-to-date socio-economic statistics covering every community in the nation every year — for the combined years from 2006 to 2010.

Consisting of about 11 billion individual estimates and covering more than 670,000 distinct geographies, the five-year estimates give even the smallest communities timely information on more than 40 topics, such as educational attainment, income, occupation, commuting to work, language spoken at home, nativity, ancestry and selected monthly homeowner costs.

“These estimates are ideal for public officials to use to make key decisions,” Census Bureau Director Robert Groves said. “School boards will find them helpful in forecasting demand for classroom space, teachers and workforce training programs, and they will be a tremendous asset to planners in identifying traffic concerns and building roads and transit systems to ease commutes. Local governments will also find them useful in forecasting needs for services such as police and fire protection.”

Today's release is based on completed interviews with almost 2 million housing units each year from 2006 through 2010. By pooling several years of survey responses, the American Community Survey can generate detailed statistical portraits of smaller geographies. The Census Bureau issues new sets of these five-year estimates every year, permitting users to track trends in even the smallest of areas over time.

Visitors to the Census Bureau website can find their community's estimates in the American FactFinder database. Release

Economic Partnership with Saudi Arabia Will Help U.S. Expand Trade, Blank Tells Saudi Business Forum

Acting Deputy Secretary Blank addresses the U.S.-Saudi Business Opportunity Forum

On Tuesday, Acting Deputy Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank addressed the growing economic importance of Saudi Arabia at the U.S.-Saudi Business Opportunities Forum. In her remarks, Blank stressed the value of a U.S.-Saudi commercial relationship that benefits both Americans and Saudis.

Blank praised King Abdullah for the steps he has taken to encourage economic partnership with the U.S., citing greater public participation within the political system and the appointment of the first woman to lead Saudi Arabia’s education system. These political and social advancements have led to Saudi Arabia’s jump to 12th in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Survey, up from a rank of 64th only a few years ago. Saudi Arabia is committed to expanding and diversifying its economy beyond oil and into new knowledge-based industries, a commitment evidenced by over $750 billion of infrastructure investment to take place over the next five years.

In her speech, Blank reminded us that this progression within Saudi Arabia helps the U.S. expand trade and economic cooperation across our borders. As our 22nd largest market worldwide, Saudi Arabia’s rapidly expanding population and industrial base will continue to provide investment and employment opportunities for American citizens. Last year alone, Saudi Arabia supported more than 1,000 American companies, including some 500 small- and medium-sized businesses. Blank insisted that partnering with Saudi Arabia will be conducive to meeting President Obama’s National Export Initiative goal of doubling exports by the end of 2014.

A Year of Extreme Weather

Aerial view of Burlington, North Dakota inundated with flood waters from the Souris River on June 25, 2011

Guest blog post by Assistant Administrator for Weather Services and Director of the National Weather Service Dr. Jack Hayes

As the extreme weather year of 2011 comes to a close, I want to reflect back on this year’s events and look ahead at ways to reduce the devastating impacts of weather on our society.

Crippling snowstorms in the Northeast and Midwest, violent tornadoes in the South, massive river flooding in the Central U.S., Hurricane Irene in the mid-Atlantic, and the epic drought in the Southern Plains accompanied by heat waves and devastating wildfires in some areas have all combined to make this a record-breaking year.

This is the first year since NOAA began keeping records that 12 separate weather events each caused more than $1 billion in damage.   The real story is not the number of events, but the severity of the impacts. Total economic losses from these 12 events have reached nearly $52 billion, and there have been more than 1000 weather-related death this year.

Could some of these deaths have been prevented; could the economic losses be reduced?   I think so and that is why we have launched a new initiative to build a Weather-Ready Nation.  This effort is designed to improve America’s responsiveness to weather events with the ultimate goal of saving more lives and livelihoods.

Powerful NIST Detectors on Hawaiian Telescope to Probe Origins of Stars, Planets and Galaxies

A composite image of the Whirlpool Galaxy (also known as M51).

The world’s largest submillimeter camera—based on superconducting technology designed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)—is now ready to scan the universe, including faint and faraway parts never seen before.

Mounted on the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope on Mauna Kea in Hawaii, the NIST technology will help accelerate studies of the origins of stars, planets and galaxies.

The new 4.5-ton SCUBA-2 camera, which contains more than 10,000 of NIST's superconducting sensors, is far more sensitive than its predecessor SCUBA (the highly productive Submillimeter Common-Use Bolometer Array), and will enable astronomers to map the sky hundreds of times faster and with a much larger field of view. SCUBA-2 will produce better images and sky maps, image new targets, and support deeper and broader surveys.

The product of an international research collaboration, SCUBA-2 will image objects ranging from comets in the Earth’s solar system to galaxies at the far ends of the universe. The camera is sensitive to objects associated with very cold gas and dust clouds, which absorb visible light (and therefore look black to optical telescopes) but emit the barest whiffs of submillimeter radiation—at wavelengths below 1 millimeter, between the microwave and infrared bands. Submillimeter light oscillates at terahertz frequencies, hundreds of times faster than cell phones.

“The submillimeter is the last frontier in astronomical imaging,” says NIST physicist Gene Hilton, who developed the fabrication method for the NIST instrument. “It’s been very difficult to develop cameras that work at this wavelength, so the submillimeter is largely unexplored. We’re excited to see what SCUBA-2 will reveal.”  Watch this video on how NIST is making a difference in viewing young stars, planets and galaxies.  Release

Working with Florida’s Construction Leaders to Build New Opportunities for Communities

Sánchez speaking at LBA event in Miami

Guest blog post by Francisco J. Sánchez, Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Secretary, Department of Commerce

Entrepreneurs are a major key to U.S. economic growth. Their ideas, creativity and pioneering spirit are among our nation’s greatest resources, and are helping to pave the road to recovery. 

That’s why the Commerce Department, under the leadership of Secretary John Bryson, is firmly committed to supporting American business owners in every way we can.  And, our partnership with the private sector is essential to this work which is why I traveled to Miami, Florida earlier today to meet with the Latin Builders Association (LBA).

Founded in 1971, the LBA is the largest Hispanic construction association in the United States. They have shaped skylines, built neighborhoods and made a significant impact on the South Florida area. And, every day, leaders like them are doing great work on the ground to do more than just rebuild our communities; they are committed to building a better and stronger America.

Obama Administration Investment Promotes Job Growth and Mitigates Environmental Risk in Tribal Communities

Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development John Fernandez Participates in the Third Tribal Nations Conference at the White House

Guest blog post by U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development John R. Fernandez

This year, President Obama hosted the third White House Tribal Nations Conference to hear directly from tribal leaders about their priorities. I had the opportunity to address some of the representatives of federally recognized tribes during a series of briefings and listening sessions hosted by the White House.

The President is committed to strengthening the government-to-government relationship with Indian Country and partnering and investing to find solutions to complex issues and to win the future for Indian Country.

Environmental challenges are affecting tribal economies. The Obama administration has taken significant steps to mitigate environmental risks and strengthen the capacity of reservations to meet the training and economic needs of their communities.

Native Americans living on reservations experience higher incidences of environmentally-related health issues than other groups, including in the upper Missouri River basin. This includes 19 reservations in Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota, along the Missouri River system and its tributaries where minerals and wildlife are abundant both in water and on land. Unfortunately, as concerns about the environment have plagued these communities, the response has not been timely or meaningful. These are areas of the country where the norm is economic depression and generational unemployment. In some cases unemployment rates approach 90 percent. The impacts of environmental degradation have contributed to stagnant business growth in these rural communities and severely limited opportunities for workers.

America on its Way to Hitting Administration’s Exporting Goals, Blank Tells ITAC Leaders

Michael C. Camuñez addresses the business leaders of the ITAC

Today, Acting Deputy Secretary Rebecca Blank participated in an event in the Department of Commerce that thanked business leaders for their service in Industry Trade Advisory Committees while also noting that their hard work was greatly aiding the private sector to export in record numbers.

Blank told ITAC representatives that while traditional drivers of U.S. economic growth – like consumer spending – are currently facing headwinds, exports remain a vital avenue to get Americans back to work. ITACs, public-private partnerships managed by the Commerce Department and the U.S. Trade Representative,  work tirelessly to help U.S. companies and employees across the country compete and win in the global economy by engaging business leaders in formulating trade policy.

NOAA Issues Annual Report Card Outlining Changing Conditions in the Arctic

NOAA Issues Annual Report Card Outlining Changing Conditions in the Arctic

The Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration today announced findings from the annual Arctic Report Card, a report prepared by an international team of scientists from 14 different countries. These scientists monitor the rapid changes in the Earth’s northern polar region say that the Arctic is entering a new state–one with warmer air and water temperatures, less summer sea ice and snow cover, and a changed ocean chemistry. This shift is also causing changes in the in the region’s life, both on land and in the sea, including less habitat for polar bears and walruses, but increased access to feeding areas for whales.   Release  |  Watch the Arctic Report Card 2011 video

Among the 2011 highlights are:

  • Atmosphere: In 2011, the average annual near-surface air temperatures over much of the Arctic Ocean were approximately 2.5° F (1.5° C) greater than the 1981-2010 baseline period;
  • Sea ice: Minimum Arctic sea ice area in September 2011 was the second-lowest recorded by satellite since 1979;
  • Ocean: Arctic Ocean temperature and salinity may be stabilizing after a period of warming and freshening. Acidification of sea water (“ocean acidification”) as a result of carbon dioxide absorption has also been documented in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas;
  • Land: Arctic tundra vegetation continues to increase and is associated with higher air temperatures over most of the Arctic land mass.

Honoring Individuals Who Help Promote Peace and Commerce

Steve Calderia and Jack Earle with Acting Deputy Secretary Blank and Under Secretary Sanchez

Cross post by Cory Churches is a Communications and Outreach Specialist with the Office of Public Affairs in the International Trade Administration.

Today we recognized a few of the recipients of a unique award bestowed by the Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco Sánchez. Eight individuals and organizations received the International Trade Administration’s Peace through Commerce Medal Award for 2011.

Jerry Levine, President of Mentor International, Steve Calderia, CEO of the International Franchise Association and Jack Earle, CEO of the International Franchise Association were on hand to receive their awards and spoke highly of the efforts of the Commerce Department and partners in promoting exports and jobs across America.

The award, reintroduced by Sánchez, recognizes an individual, group, or organization, either domestic or abroad, whose actions have significantly promoted and developed U.S. export initiatives, encouraged innovative approaches, and improved overall U.S. trade relations.