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Blog Category: Data

New BEA Data Provide Entrepreneurs with a Fortune 500 Research Department

Is consumer spending growing faster in North Dakota or North Carolina? How do consumers in different regions respond to economic downturns? Which state has the fastest growing consumer market for motor vehicles?

Some Fortune 500 companies have research departments to help answer these questions, but new BEA data on consumer spending broken out by state – released in August – provide startups and entrepreneurs with crucial insight into consumer behavior at the state level. In December 2015, we are planning to release a fresh batch of consumer spending by state statistics that will cover the year 2014 as well as some earlier years.

The prototype Personal Consumption Expenditure by state statistics are designed to be used in conjunction with other macroeconomic and regional data we produce, like statistics on Gross Domestic Product by State and State Personal Income.  This suite of statistics can offer entrepreneurs a better understanding of what’s driving or restraining economic activity at the state level, and thus inform their decisions about things like investing, financing, locating and hiring.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis’ experimental consumer spending by state statistics were released on Aug. 7 and covered the years from 1997 to 2012. So the fresh batch of statistics that will be out next year will be more up to date.  

Commerce Data: Then & Now

Guest blog post by Mark Doms, Under Secretary for Economic Affairs

In July, Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker announced that our department will be hiring our first ever Chief Data Officer (CDO), building on her commitment to Commerce’s role as “America’s Data Agency.” She also announced the formation of a data advisory council comprising private sector leaders who will help the CDO navigate new and dynamic data challenges. This is the latest chapter in Commerce’s long history of adapting to serve the needs of an ever-changing American economy.

The United States Department of Commerce has been a trusted provider of data and statistics for centuries. The first decennial census took place in 1790 and the first patent was issued that same year.  Today, because of advances in technology, we are able to provide Americans with more data, faster and more accurately than ever before. This transformation can be seen in the evolution of the Census Bureau.

Article 1 Section 3 of the US Constitution states that the U.S. government shall enumerate the population of the United States every 10 years. Beginning with the 1790 Decennial Census and once every decade since then, the federal government has provided this invaluable information, making the United States the first country to produce a regular count of its citizens.   

By the early 1800s it became clear that in addition to the important demographic information flowing from the decennial census, there was also an imperative for regular collection of business information. In response to that need, in 1810, the U.S. Census Bureau established a census of businesses, also known as the economic census.  The initial focal points were manufacturing, lumber yards and butcher shops. In 1902, Congress authorized the establishment of the U.S. Census Bureau and directed that the census of manufacturers be taken every five years (a “quinquennial” census).  As the economy grew, the Census Bureau responded accordingly and by 1930 it had expanded the economic census to include services.  The breadth of the survey has since changed to keep pace with our nation’s growing economy.  The 2012 economic census data are currently being released.

1776 Roundtable: Businesses Growing Out of Data

Under Secretary Mark Doms Addresses Entrepreneurs at 1776

Guest blog post by Mark Doms, Under Secretary for Economic Affairs

This morning, I visited start-up hub 1776, to discuss the Department of Commerce’s efforts to make government data more accessible and informative – to build businesses, grow the economy and help governments and individuals make more informed decisions.

One of my roles as the Under Secretary for Economic Affairs is to connect with our data users, (our customers), to discuss our strategic initiatives in the data space, and gather feedback from interested businesses, government officials, and the public.

At 1776, we met with key stakeholders from innovative start-ups like ID.me, Haystack, Narrative Science, Brigade, Ride Scout (just purchased by Daimler), and firms like Yelp, which has graduated from the start-up phase to employ thousands with offices around the world.

All are users of federal, state and local data, and all are making a contribution to our economy, through employment and the deployment of new technologies that spur innovation and improve peoples’ lives. It was a great conversation, and we gathered some excellent ideas to explore, such as the possibility of using private sector developed APIs for public sector data dissemination.

As a convener and facilitator of world class talent, 1776 sets the model for start-up hubs across the country. Thanks to our hosts and participants for a great event!

Using Data to Connect Workers & Employers at Career Building Data Jam

Using Data to Connect Workers with Employers at the 21st Century Career Counseling Data Jam

Cross post by Mark Doms, Under Secretary for Economic Affairs

On Friday, I was part of the team from the Department of Commerce, Department of Labor, Office of the Vice President, and White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) who joined up with Baltimore’s Morgan State University (MSU) to "data jam" on how to get America’s youth connected to jobs and on the path to rewarding careers.

Labor force participation for America’s youth is at historic lows. Only about 1 in 2 people in their teens and early 20s are working or looking for work. While it is easy to point to increasing college enrollment as a reasonable explanation, the workplace offers the opportunity to gain skills to complement academic, career and technical training. The cost of young people staying out of the labor market is all too real. Failure to join the labor market means reduced financial self-sufficiency, lost opportunities to apply academic skills or gain occupation-specific experience, and acquire more general workplace skills such as teamwork, time management, and problem solving.

The Data Jam brought together entrepreneurs, technology leaders, and policy experts to explore ideas for tools, services, and apps for young job seekers to explore career options, training opportunities, and new industries. Technology can help young people find connections to the labor market; assess academic, career, and technical training information; and, simply learn more about the world of work. The proliferation of labor market and career information from federal and state governments and the private sectors can provide great content and inspiration for new tools and apps. So, it was fitting that MSU, with competitive STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) coursework and state of the art facilities, opened its doors to national technology experts, and regional and federal government leaders to connect young workers with the training and resources they need to identify and seize upon employment opportunities.

Secretary Pritzker Discusses the Power of Government Data and Announces the Department of Commerce Will Hire Its First-Ever Chief Data Officer

Announces the Department of Commerce Will Hire Its First-Ever Chief Data Officer

Today, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker discussed the Department of Commerce’s expanding role as “America’s Data Agency” at the 2014 Esri International User’s Conference in San Diego, California. The annual conference, hosted by Esri, a geographic information systems (GIS) software development company is attended by 16,000 data experts, including those from federal, state, local, and regional governments; Fortune 1000 companies; small business owners; university scholars; and K-12 teachers. 

During her address, Secretary Pritzker described how the Department of Commerce’s data collection – which literally reaches from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun – not only informs trillions of dollars of private and public investments each year and plants the seeds of economic growth, but also saves lives. Because of Commerce Department data, Secretary Pritzker explained, communities vulnerable to tornados have seen warning times triple and tornado warning accuracy double over the past 25 years, giving residents greater time to search for shelter in the event of an emergency. The breadth of the Department’s data collection and dissemination, which touches of the lives of millions of Americans every day, is why many, including Secretary Pritzker call the Department of Commerce “America’s Data Agency.”

To develop and implement a vision for the next phase in the open data revolution, Secretary Pritzker announced that the Department of Commerce will hire its first-ever Chief Data Officer. This leader, Secretary Pritzker explained, will oversee improvements to data collection and dissemination in order to ensure that Commerce’s data programs are coordinated, comprehensive, and strategic. To bolster the Chief Data Officer’s efforts, Secretary Pritzker explained that the Department will create a data advisory council, which will be comprised of private sector leaders who will advise the Department on how to best use and unleash more government data.

Secretary Pritzker also announced the launch of the International Trade Administration’s “Developer Portal,” which will centralize data that is vital to exporting businesses across the country. Finally, Secretary Pritzker invited conference attendees to participate in a panel discussion later in the week in San Diego on how businesses can best utilize data from the American Community Survey (ACS), an annual statistical survey that helps guide $400 billion in federal spending each year.

New Commerce Department report explores huge benefits, low cost of government data

Fostering Innovation, Creating Jobs, Driving Better Decisions: The Value of Government Data

Cross post by Mark Doms, Under Secretary for Economic Affairs

Today we are pleased to roll out an important new Commerce Department report on government data. “Fostering Innovation, Creating Jobs, Driving Better Decisions: The Value of Government Data,” arrives as our society increasingly focuses on how the intelligent use of data can make our businesses more competitive, our governments smarter, and our citizens better informed. 

And when it comes to data, as the Under Secretary for Economic Affairs, I have a special appreciation for the Commerce Department’s two preeminent statistical agencies, the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Economic Analysis. These agencies inform us on how our $17 trillion economy is evolving and how our population (318 million and counting) is changing, data critical to our country. Although “Big Data” is all the rage these days, the government has been in this  business for a long time: the first Decennial Census was in 1790, gathering information on close to four million people, a huge dataset for its day, and not too shabby by today’s standards as well. 

Just how valuable is the data we provide? Our report seeks to answer this question by exploring the range of federal statistics and how they are applied in decision-making. Examples of our data include gross domestic product, employment, consumer prices, corporate profits, retail sales, agricultural supply and demand, population, international trade and much more.

Response to NOAA's data RFI - "let's get started." And we are!

National Weather Service Data Visualization

Did you know that NOAA gathers 20 terabytes of data every day - twice the data of the entire printed collection of the United States Library of Congress? This environmental intelligence comes from a wide variety of sources including: Doppler radar systems, weather satellites, buoy networks and stations, computer models, tide gauges, real-time weather stations, as well as ships and aircraft. This network provides valuable and critical data that are instrumental in protecting lives and property across the country. But only a small percentage is easily accessible to the public and, as demand increases for this data and information, NOAA recognized it needed to find ways to effectively and efficiently distribute this data to decision makers and industries.

With that in mind, this past February NOAA announced a new effort to unleash the power of its data to foster innovation, create new industries and job opportunities. NOAA issued a Request for Information, or an RFI, to engage private industry to help make NOAA's data available in a rapid, scalable manner to the public. Through this process, American companies were asked to provide possible solutions for NOAA to be able to turn this untapped information into usable products or services.

So what does this mean to the economy? According to a 2013 McKinsey Global Institute Report, open data could add more than $3 trillion in total value annually to the education, transportation, consumer products, electricity, oil and gas, healthcare, and consumer finance sectors worldwide. If more of this data could be efficiently released, organizations will be able to develop new and innovative products and services to help us better understand our planet and keep communities resilient from extreme events.

NOAA received more than 70 responses to the RFI that closed on March 31st.  Responses came from industry and academia and ranged from single organizations to broad, integrated teams. NOAA has reviewed the responses and is continuing to engage with industry to elicit feedback for the best way to make this data accessible and useful.

Overall, respondents to the RFI provided a clear message - get started. And we heard this again at the Open Data Roundtable last week at the White House. So NOAA is talking to other agencies and formulating a plan for implementing a new, innovative model of public-private partnership around open government data, all in support of the Obama administration’s efforts to make data more accessible. NOAA intends to incrementally implement this partnership by enabling the government and industry to work together by testing the best methods for not just making data available, but creating an ecosystem around the data that will make a meaningful and lasting impact on the economy.

International Statistical Update: Health- and Education-Related Travel Now Part of Travel Services

Cross-post, Bureau of Economic Analysis

You may have noticed some data on international travel services look a little bit different. With the release of the monthly trade report on June 4, spending on health- and education-related travel are now counted in the travel services category. Previously, both were included in a category called “other personal services.”

Expenditures on goods and services by border, seasonal, and other short-term workers, which were also previously included in other private services, are reclassified to travel as well.

While this change alone will not affect the overall trade balance, the category measuring travel services – both imports and exports – will be larger. However, BEA will also report quarterly on health- and education-related travel separately from other more traditional business and personal travel so that users can track travel spending in several ways. You can see the new travel services category as well as the subcategories in a new table that will be available on June 18. A template is available now.

This change is part of the Comprehensive Restructuring of BEA’s International Economic Accounts, which we discussed in a recent blog post.

An example of health-related travel is when a foreign person travels to the United States for surgery. In this case, health-related travel exports would include the cost of medical procedures the person receives, in addition to any accommodations and other expenses he or she incurs in the United States.

An example of education-related travel is when a foreign person travels to the U.S. to attend school here. In this case, education-related travel exports would include all costs the foreign student incurs in the United States, including tuition at a U.S. institution. Like other changes to BEA’s international accounts, moving health- and education-related travel to the travel services category brings the U.S. international accounts into closer harmony with data produced by our trading partners and was a recommendation of the International Monetary Fund’s Balance of Payments and International Investment Position Manual, 6th edition.

New Commerce Data Supports Better Economic Decision-Making by Businesses and Policymakers

This week, the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) released two new data products that will help American businesses, consumers, policymakers and academia gain important information about the performance of the U.S. economy.

Yesterday, BEA released inflation-adjusted estimates of personal income for states and metropolitan areas, which are being released for the first time as official statistics. Americans looking to move or take a job anywhere in the country can now compare these inflation-adjusted incomes to better understand how their personal income may be affected by a job change or move. In addition, businesses looking to relocate or establish new facilities can use this data to get a comprehensive and consistent measure of differences in the cost of living and the purchasing power of consumers nationwide.

Also for the first time, BEA today released quarterly estimates of the economic activity generated by 22 industries – including manufacturing, construction, finance, transportation, retail, health care, educational services, and the arts. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) data – one of our government’s most valuable data resources – shows how different industries helped or hindered the U.S. economy’s growth in a given quarter. These new statistics will enable industries in all sectors to better measure their contributions to GDP and understand and identify emerging trends more quickly. This economic intelligence can help make businesses more competitive and innovative, as well as guide their decisions about investing and hiring.

New BEA Data Proves Valuable for Retail Industry

Jack Kleinhenz, Ph.D., Chief Economist, National Retail Federation

Guest blog post by Jack Kleinhenz, Ph.D., Chief Economist, National Retail Federation 

NRF is the world’s largest retail trade association, representing discount and department stores, home goods and specialty stores, Main Street merchants, grocers, wholesalers, chain restaurants and Internet retailers from the United States and more than 45 countries.

The National Retail Federation closely monitors economic conditions in order to gauge the health of the overall industry and the consumers who represent nearly 70% of the national GDP. By having quarterly updates on the economic performance of 22 sectors, we will be better served when representing retailers and their needs as it relates to economic forecasts, labor markets and job reports, and much more.

Having higher frequency GDP data by industry will be extremely valuable in assessing current economic conditions and shaping economic forecasts. The new data series should provide reliable information on the changes in growth for specific industries, and offer insights into whether the growth is well-above, well-below, or average relative to overall GDP growth. In the past, the annual data could not provide perspective on the fits and starts in marketplace activity, so I am encouraged that a more detailed picture is now more accessible. 

No modeling effort can accurately capture the dynamics and complexity of the U.S. economy nor consider all the variables. The difference now is that we don’t have to wait a year to find out how different industries are performing and contributing to the United States’ economic growth. This data will add to our toolkit for forecasting both short and long-term trends. Additionally, these quarterly reports will provide a better barometer of when an industry might be poised for a surge or a drop – otherwise known as turning points – that can possibly be a signal for the direction of the larger U.S. economy.

All in all, the access to this new statistical product will add to more informed decisions by all who need reliable and timely data on the performance of the economy.

New Online Tool Gives Public Wider Access to Key U.S. Statistics

U.S. Census Bureau logo

Census API lets developers create custom apps, reach new users

Commerce's U.S. Census Bureau has released a new online service that makes key demographic, socio-economic and housing statistics more accessible than ever before. The Census Bureau’s first-ever public Application Programming Interface (API) allows developers to design Web and mobile apps to explore or learn more about America's changing population and economy.

The new API lets developers customize Census Bureau statistics into Web or mobile apps that provide users quick and easy access from two popular sets of statistics:

  • 2010 Census (Summary File 1), which includes detailed statistics on population, age, sex, race, Hispanic origin, household relationship and owner/renter status, for a variety of geographic areas down to the level of census tracts and blocks.
  • 2006-2010 American Community Survey (five-year estimates), which includes detailed statistics on a rich assortment of topics (education, income, employment, commuting, occupation, housing characteristics and more) down to the level of census tracts and block groups.

The 2010 Census and the American Community Survey statistics provide key information on the nation, neighborhoods and areas in between. By providing annual updates on population changes the survey helps communities plan for schools, social and emergency services, highway improvements and economic developments.  Census press release

Census Innovation Day: Government at the Speed of Business

Groves address the adience

Guest blog post by Robert Groves, Director of Commerce's U.S. Census Bureau

I’m blogging from the Census Bureau’s Innovation Day event. We’re highlighting for all our staff the newest tools and techniques that we’re developing to do our work more efficiently.

These are the fruits of programs that seek ideas from every staff member, from the newest to the most senior, about how to do our work for less money, to do it faster, and to complete it with higher quality. Hundreds of proposals were submitted and scores of projects are underway to introduce the new procedures. The depth of creativity within the staff rivals that of any organization.

What are we up to?

The Census Bureau produces most all information we know about the socioeconomic and demographic characteristics continuously. We also are the key supplier of information on the economy—retail sales and other service sector volume, manufacturing, foreign trade, state and local government finances, and a host of others. Almost every week, information that answers the question, “How are we doing?” is released.

NOAA Releases New Views of Earth’s Ocean Floor

A view of Delgada Canyon offshore Northern California, as portrayed in NOAA’s new online viewer.

NOAA has made sea floor maps and other data on the world’s coasts, continental shelves and deep ocean available for easy viewing online. Anyone with Internet access can now explore undersea features and obtain detailed depictions of the sea floor and coasts, including deep canyons, ripples, landslides and likely fish habitat.

The new online data viewer compiles sea floor data from the near shore to the deep blue, including the latest high-resolution bathymetric (sea bottom) data collected by NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey primarily to support nautical charting.

“NOAA’s ocean bottom data are critical to so many mission requirements, including coastal safety and resiliency, navigation, healthy oceans and more. They are also just plain beautiful,” said Susan McLean, chief of NOAA’s Marine Geology and Geophysics Division in Boulder, Colo.

McLean’s division is part of NOAA’s National Geophysical Data Center, responsible for compiling, archiving and distributing Earth system data, including Earth observations from space, marine geology information and international natural hazard data and imagery. NGDC’s sea floor data have long been free and open to the public in original science formatting, but that often required the use of specialized software to convert the data into maps and other products.

Commerce Department Agencies Unveil New Website Home Pages

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

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

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

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.

How You Can Analyze Federal Programs Using BEA Statistics: A Look at Unemployment Insurance Benefits Payments

Bureau of Economic Analysis logo

The national income and product accounts, produced by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), provide a consistent and comprehensive picture of the nation’s economy; as a result, they provide a useful tool for analyzing the economic effects of recent federal legislation designed to stabilize and stimulate the economy.   For example, it’s logical that reduced income tax rates and expanded tax credits lowered personal current tax receipts, but by how much? It makes sense that a reduction in the social security tax rate lowered contributions for government social insurance, but how do you put that reduction in context?  Or by how much did federal assistance to states increase over previous periods?  BEA’s national accounts can help you find the facts and answer these sorts of questions.

Here’s an easy and interesting example:   What government program explains the increase in government social benefits over the course of the recent recession? 

Data from the BEA show that total government social benefits, as a share of personal income, increased from 14.2 percent in the first quarter of 2008 to 18.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2010. That’s a notable increase, but what’s behind those numbers?

USPTO Teams With Google to Provide Bulk Patent and Trademark Data to the Public

Under Secretary of Commerce and Director of Commerce's United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) David Kappos announced today that the USPTO has entered into a no-cost, two-year agreement with Google to make bulk electronic patent and trademark public data available to the public in bulk form. Under this agreement, the USPTO is providing Google with existing bulk, electronic files, which Google will host without modification for the public free of charge.  This bulk data can be accessed at http://www.google.com/googlebooks/uspto.html.

"The USPTO is committed to providing increased transparency as called for by the President’s Open Government Initiative. An important element of that transparency is making valuable public patent and trademark information more widely available in a bulk form so companies and researchers can download it for analysis and research,” said Under Secretary Kappos. “Because the USPTO does not currently have the technical capability to offer the data in bulk form from our own Web site, we have teamed with Google to provide the data in a way that is convenient and at no cost for those who desire it.”

Read more

NOAA: Above-Normal Temperatures and Below-Normal Precipitation in April

Graphic of temperature mapNOAA's State of the Climate report shows the April 2010 average temperature for the contiguous United States was 54.3 degress F, which is 2.3 degrees F above the long-term (1901-2000) average (14th-warmest April on record). April's average precipitation was 2.18 inches, 0.25 inch below the 1901-2000 average, based on a 116-year record since 1895, this monthly analysis is prepared by scientists at NOAA's National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. (Release) (Temperature graphic) (Precipitation graphic)

Statement from Under Secretary Blank on March 2010 Personal Income and Outlays

Blank portrait.

Washington (May 3)—The U.S. Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis released personal income and outlays data for March 2010. Personal income increased 0.3 percent in March, and real disposable personal income rose 0.2 percent. Real personal consumption expenditures increased 0.5 percent in March. “Today’s personal income data, particularly the growth in employee compensation, indicates that the recovery is taking hold across America,” said U.S. Commerce Department Under Secretary for Economic Affairs Rebecca Blank.” (More) (Release—PDF)

America Matches Mail Participation Rate from 2000 Census

2010 Census logo. Click to go to Web site.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke today congratulated the nation for its strong participation in the 2010 Census to date, as the Census Bureau released the latest mail participation data showing that 72 percent of U.S. households have mailed back their 2010 Census forms so far—the same rate the nation achieved at the end of the mail-back period during the 2000 Census. “It’s fantastic that we were able to match the 2000 participation rate despite all the predictions that it couldn’t be done,” Locke said. (More)

Secretary Locke Statement on New Residential Construction in March 2010

Commerce Department seal

The Commerce Department’s U.S. Census Bureau today released new residential construction data for March 2010. Permits for new housing units jumped 7.5 percent in March, housing starts increased 1.6 percent in March and starts in February were revised up considerably. Permits have advanced 37.6 percent and starts have risen 30.7 percent above their low points in April 2009. (More)

NOAA: Global Temps Push Last Month Hottest March on Record

Temperature anomolies map. Click for larger image.

The world’s combined global land and ocean surface temperature made last month the warmest March on record, according to Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Taken separately, average ocean temperatures were the warmest for any March and the global land surface was the fourth warmest for any March on record. Additionally, the planet has seen the fourth warmest January-March period on record. The monthly National Climatic Data Center analysis, which is based on records going back to 1880. (More) (Temperature anomalies graphic). (State of the Climate report)

NOAA: U.S. Averaged Warmer-than Normal, Drier-than-Normal in March

Map of March temperature. Click for larger image.

NOAA’s State of the Climate report shows the March 2010 average temperature for the entire contiguous United States was warmer-than-average with several New England states experiencing one of the warmest March’s on record. Average precipitation for the U.S. was below normal, but heavy rainfall set March records in parts of the Northeast. Based on data going back to 1895, the monthly analyses are prepared by scientists at NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, North Carolina. (More) (Temperatures) (Precipitation levels)

Commerce Department Releases Open Government Plan

Screenshot of Commerce's Open Government Website

In response to President Obama’s Open Government Directive, the Department of Commerce released its first iteration of its Open Government Plan. The plan creates a process for making more data available to the public and identifies three flagship Open Government initiatives that help make the Commerce Department more accessible and interactive. In a blog post on the Department’s Open Government Web site, Secretary Gary Locke noted that the plan, “establishes clear goals and benchmarks for success, and lays the foundation for continued work on increasing openness, participation and collaboration at Commerce in the months and years to come.” (Open Government Plan) (Open Government Web site) (Secretary’s post)

Statement from Under Secretary Blank on Personal Income and Outlays in February 2010

Portrait photo of Under Secretary Blank.

The U.S. Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis today released personal income and outlays for February 2010. Personal income and real disposable income were nearly unchanged in February. Real personal consumption expenditures increased 0.3 percent. “Today’s data indicate that, as the Administration’s economic recovery efforts have pulled us back from the brink and taken hold, American families have been able to save more and improve their financial positions,” U.S. Commerce Under Secretary for Economic Affairs Rebecca Blank said. (More) (Release)

Under Secretary Blank Statement on Third Estimate of GDP in the Fourth Quarter 2009

Department of Commerce seal.

The U.S. Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis released the third estimate of gross domestic product (GDP) for the fourth quarter of 2009. Real GDP grew 5.6 percent at an annual rate, nearly unchanged from the previous estimate of 5.9 percent. “As more fourth quarter data become available, it is evident that the administration’s efforts to promote economic recovery have helped create the conditions that lead to economic growth,” Commerce Under Secretary for Economic Affairs Rebecca Blank said. (More) (Release)

NOAA: Sixth-Warmest February in Combined Global Surface Temperature, Fifth-Warmest December-February

Last month’s combined global land and ocean surface temperature made it the sixth-warmest February ever recorded. Additionally, the December 2009-February 2010 period was the fifth-warmest on record averaged for any similar three-month Northern Hemisphere winter-Southern Hemisphere summer season, according to scientists at NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. Based on records going back to 1880, the monthly NCDC analysis is part of the suite of climate services NOAA provides to businesses, communities and governments so they may make informed decisions to safeguard their social and economic well-being. (More)

Statement from Secretary Locke on Retail Sales in February 2010

Photo of Secretary Locke.

File Photo

The Commerce Department’s U.S. Census Bureau today released retail sales data for February 2010. Retail sales grew an unexpected 0.3 percent compared with private-sector forecasts of a 0.3 percent decline. Excluding motor vehicles, retail sales grew 0.8 percent. Retail sales have grown 3.9 percent over the past year. (More) (Release)

NOAA: U.S. Winter and February Cooler Than Average

U.S. map graphic with temperature ranges. Click for full-size graphic.

Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reports that temperatures were below normal for the contiguous U.S. for the winter season (December through February). The winter season was wetter than normal; however precipitation in February alone was slightly below average. Based on data going back to 1895, the monthly analyses are prepared by scientists at NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. (More) (Temperature map) (Precipitation map) (State of the Climate Report)

Newest NOAA Geostationary Satellite Reaches Orbit

GOES emblem

Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and NASA officials announced a new Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES), launched tonight, successfully reached its initial orbit, joining four other GOES spacecraft that help NOAA forecasters track life-threatening weather and solar activity. “Our geostationary satellites are the nation’s weather sentinels in the sky,” said Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “With more than 35 million Americans living in hurricane prone areas and more than 1,000 tornadoes touching down in the U.S. annually, we need the reliable, accurate data that these satellites provide.” (More) (Launch image)

U.S.-Chinese Working Group Reports on Differences in U.S.-China Trade Data

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The U.S. Department of Commerce is releasing findings of an analytic report on the differences between the official trade statistics produced by the United States and China. This report was prepared cooperatively by analysts in the United States and China as part of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade Statistics Working Group (JCCT SWG). “This report is the culmination of significant effort by the Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade,” said U.S. Commerce Department Under Secretary Rebecca Blank. “The findings will help to inform our understanding of trade data going forward and this effort lays the foundation for further statistical cooperation between both countries.” (More) (Report—PDF)

NIST, NASA Launch Joint Effort to Develop New Climate Satellites

One of the three CLARREO satellites, which will make observations of the energy the Earth absorbs from the sun and radiates back into space. Click for larger imae.

Image: NASA

Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) have launched a joint effort to gather enhanced climate data from spaceborne climate observation instruments planned for a group of satellites now under development. The Climate Absolute Radiance and Refractivity Observatory (CLARREO) Mission includes a fleet of satellites tentatively scheduled for launch later this decade that will gather data for long-term climate projections. (More)

NTIA, Census Bureau Report New Findings on Internet Use in the United States

Image of circle of connected computers. Courtesy of Shutterstock

Image © Francesco Bisignani/Shutterstock

The Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) released a new report taking a first look at data collected through the Internet Usage Survey of more than 50,000 households, commissioned by NTIA and conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau in October 2009. Since 2007, the data show that, while virtually all demographic groups have experienced rising broadband Internet access adoption at home, historic disparities among particular demographic groups overall continue to persist. (More) (Census tables) (NTIA “Digital Nation” report—PDF)

Under Secretary Blank Statement on New Residential Construction in January 2010

Department of Commerce seal.

The Commerce Department’s U.S. Census Bureau today released data on new residential construction in January 2010. Housing starts rose 2.8 percent in January and permits decreased 4.9 percent. Starts have advanced 23.4 percent and permits have risen 24.7 percent above their April 2009 low point. “Despite the mixed performance at the start of the year, the outlook for growth in housing activity remains positive,” Commerce Under Secretary Rebecca Blank said. (More) (Release)

Secretary Locke Statement on January 2010 Retail Sales Numbers

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The Commerce Department's U.S. Census Bureau today released retail sales data for January 2010. Retail sales increased 0.5 percent compared with an expected rise of 0.3 percent. Retail sales rose 7.6 percent at an annual rate in the fourth quarter, following a gain of 6.4 percent in the third quarter. (More) (Release)

NIST's Second 'Quantum Logic Clock' is Now World's Most Precise Clock

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Physicists at Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have built an enhanced version of an experimental atomic clock based on a single aluminum atom that is now the world’s most precise clock, more than twice as precise as the previous pacesetter based on a mercury atom. The new clock is the second version of NIST’s “quantum logic clock,” so called because it borrows the logical processing used for atoms storing data in experimental quantum computing, another major focus of the same NIST research group. (More)

NOAA, Google Join Forces to Visualize Scientific Data

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NOAA’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research and Google have signed a cooperative research and development agreement outlining how they will work together to create state-of-the-art visualizations of scientific data to illustrate how our planet works. Under the agreement, NOAA and Google plan to work together on research and development to join NOAA’s oceanographic, meteorological, biological, and climatological data with Google’s software capabilities. The wide availability of Google’s Internet tools has the potential to bring visualizations of NOAA data to new audiences around the world. (More)

NOAA: December Global Ocean Temperature Second-Warmest on Record

Image of the world's oceans.

The global ocean surface temperature was the second-warmest on record for December, according to scientists at NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C., and based on records going back to 1880. Scientists also reported the combined global land and ocean surface temperature was the eighth-warmest on record for December. For 2009, global temperatures tied with 2006 as the fifth-warmest on record. Also, the earth’s land surface for 2009 was seventh-warmest (tied with 2003) and the ocean surface was fourth-warmest (tied with 2002 and 2004.) (More)

Secretary Locke Statement on New Residential Construction in December 2009

Department of Commerce seal.

The Commerce Department’s U.S. Bureau of the Census released data on new residential construction in November 2009. Permits rose 6.0 percent in November and starts increased 8.9 percent, in both cases exceeding market expectations. Permits have risen 17.3 percent above their low in April, and starts have advanced 19.8 percent above their April low point. These gains reflected increases in single-family activity, while multi-family starts have increased modestly. (More) (Release)

NOAA Produces Images of Haiti for First Responders

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A specially-equipped NOAA jet conducted aerial surveys of earthquake-stricken Haiti on Jan. 17 and 18 as part of the agency’s effort to help responders assess damage and plan recovery efforts. The aircraft is equipped with high-resolution digital cameras and other sensors that collect data vital to disaster response, scientific research and environmental resource management efforts. “NOAA maintains some of the nation’s premier emergency response services,” said Jane Lubchenco, Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “We are proud to be of service in offering experts and expertise to help the people of Haiti during this heartbreaking time.” (More) (Haiti Earthquake Relief Web site)

Secretary Locke Statement on December 2009 Retail Sales

Locke speaking from lectern.

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The Commerce Department’s U.S. Census Bureau released retail sales data for December 2009. Retail sales declined 0.3 percent, following strong monthly gains in October and November. Sales rose 7.0 percent at an annual rate in the fourth quarter, following a gain of 6.4 percent in the third quarter. “While the overall trend is in the right direction, today’s retail sales data show that we have more work to do,” U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said. (More) (Report)

NOAA Ranks December Snowstorm a Category 3 on Northeast Snowfall Impact Scale

Graphic of snowfall accumulation from Dec. 18-21, 2009 storm. Click for larger image

To the surprise of no one affected by the Dec. 18-20, 2009 system that dumped heavy snow from the mid-Atlantic to southern New England, NOAA has rated the storm a Category 3 or “Major” winter storm on NOAA’s Northeast Snowfall Impact Scale, also known as NESIS. Topping the NESIS scale—and the only storms rated Category 5—are the “Superstorm” on March, 1993 followed by the “Blizzard of ’96” in January, 1996. The scale, developed in 2004, catalogues storms dating back to 1888. (More)

The 2009 Holiday Season

U.S. Department of Commerce Fourteenth Street main entrance with holiday wreaths and bows above doors. Click for larger image.

The holiday season is a time for gathering with friends and family to reflect and give thanks. At this time of year, the Department of Commerce’s U.S. Census Bureau presents holiday-related facts and figures from its data collection, including the details about mail, retail sales, toys, trees and decorations and much more. The Census Bureau projects the nation’s population at 308 million as we ring in the New Year 2010. Happy Holidays from the U.S. Department of Commerce! (More)

Under Secretary Blank Locke Statement on November 2009 Personal Income and Outlays

Under Secretary Blank on podium.

The U.S. Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis today released personal income and outlays data for November 2009. Personal income rose 0.4 percent, real disposable personal income increased 0.2 percent and real personal consumption expenditures advanced 0.2 percent. The saving rate in November was unchanged at 4.7 percent. “Consumer spending continues to expand in the fourth quarter of this year in sharp contrast with the declines a year ago,” said Commerce Department Under Secretary Rebecca Blank. (More) (Release)

Census: Nationwide Movement of Goods Reached 12.5 Billion Tons in 2007

Census Bureau seal.

Total shipments of goods in the United States accounted for nearly $11.7 trillion in revenue and 12.5 billion tons in 2007, according to new data released jointly by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics and the U.S. Census Bureau. That is up from $8.4 trillion and 11.7 billion tons in 2002. These figures come from the 2007 Commodity Flow Survey, conducted every five years as part of the Census Bureau’s 2007 Economic Census. (More)

Secretary Locke Statement on November 2009 New Residential Construction

Department of Commerce seal.

The Commerce Department’s U.S. Bureau of the Census today released data on new residential construction in November 2009. Permits rose 6.0 percent in November and starts increased 8.9 percent, in both cases exceeding market expectations. Permits have risen 17.3 percent above their low in April, and starts have advanced 19.8 percent above their April low point. These gains reflected increases in single-family activity, while multi-family starts have increased modestly. (More) (Release)

Census: China's Population Projected to Peak in 2026, India to Become Most Populous Country in 2025

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China’s population is projected to peak at slightly less than 1.4 billion in 2026, both earlier and at a lower level than previously projected. Meanwhile, India’s population is projected to surpass China’s population in 2025, according to new data being released by the Department of Commerce’s U.S. Census Bureau. These figures come from the population estimates and projections for 227 countries and areas released through the Census Bureau’s International Data Base. This release includes revisions for 21 countries, including China. (More)

Secretary Locke Statement on November 2009 Retail Sales Numbers

U.S. Department of Commerce seal.

The Commerce Department’s U.S. Census Bureau released retail sales data for November 2009. Retail sales rose 1.3 percent, compared with an expected rise of 0.7 percent. Motor vehicle sales rose 1.6 percent, the second advance following the September drop related to the end of the Cash-For-Clunkers program. Sales excluding the volatile motor vehicle and gasoline components rose 0.6 percent, the fourth consecutive advance. (More) (Release)

NOAA: U.S. Temperatures Slightly Above Average, Precipitation Above Normal for 2009

Map showing U.S. temeperatures. Click for full-size map.

Global surface temperatures for 2009 will be well above the long-term average, while the annual temperature for the contiguous United States will likely be above the long-term average, according to a preliminary analysis by NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. The analysis is based on global records, which began in 1880 and U.S. records beginning in 1895. (More) (Temp map) (Precip map) (Precip 1895-2009 graph)

NIST Develops Experimental Validation Tool for Cell Phone Forensics

SIM chip image. © kenny1/Shuttercock. Click for larger image.

Image: kenny1/Shutterstock

Viewers of TV dramas don’t focus on the technology behind how a forensics crime team tracks a terrorist or drug ring using cell phone data, but scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) do. NIST researchers have developed a new technique aimed at improving the validation of a crime lab’s cell phone forensics tools. Early experiments show promise for easier, faster and more rigorous assessments than with existing methods. (More) (Report-PDF)

Census: Homes with Cell Phones Nearly Double in First Half of Decade

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The number of households with cell phones increased from 36 percent to 71 percent between 1998 and 2005, according to new data released by Commerce’s U.S. Census Bureau. This corresponded with a decrease in households with telephone landlines, particularly households headed by young adults. These figures are part of an in-depth look at the living standards of U.S. households using extended measures of well-being. The data were collected in 2005 as part of the ongoing Survey of Income and Program Participation. (More)

NOAA Reports Combined Global Surface Temperature Was Sixth Warmest for October

Photo of melting ice in Arctic Ocean.

The combined global land and ocean surface temperature was the sixth warmest October on record, according to NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. Based on records going back to 1880, the monthly National Climatic Data Center analysis is part of the suite of climate services NOAA provides. NCDC scientists reported that the average land surface temperature for October was also the sixth warmest on record. Additionally, the global ocean surface temperature was the fifth warmest on record for October. (More)

NOAA Scientists Undertake In-Flight Study of Global Levels of Greenhouse Gas Distribution

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Scientists from Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) began the second phase of a mission that will provide a detailed view of how carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are distributed globally. “Missions such as this one are critical to understanding the impacts of greenhouse gases and particulates,” said Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., NOAA Administrator. “The data collected are also essential to help verify if policies to reduce these heat trapping pollutants are having their intended effect.” (More)

Commerce Secretary Locke Statement on Third Quarter GDP

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The Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis released data on GDP in the third quarter. Real GDP increased 3.5 percent at an annual rate in the third quarter, after declining in five of the preceding six quarters. The gain marked the largest quarterly advance since the third quarter of 2007. (More) (Release)

Secretary Locke Statement on September 2009 New Residential Construction

Department of Commerce seal.

The Commerce Department’s U.S. Bureau of the Census released data on new residential construction in September 2009. Permits declined 1.2 percent in September but have risen 15.1 percent since their low in April. Starts edged up 0.5 percent in September and have grown 23.2 percent above their low in April. (More) (Release)

NOAA Scientists Study Historic 'Dust Bowl' and Plains Droughts for Triggers

Image of remains of a cornfield after grasshoppers had completed destruction by the Drought of 1931-32. Click for larger image.

After analyzing historical records and climate model data for two major U.S. droughts in the 1930s and 1950s, scientists from Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) found two very different causes, shedding new light on our understanding of what triggers drought. Studies such as this one that expand our insights into drought are essential for improving forecasts and can aid in the creation of an early warning system to help communities take precautions and prepare. (More)

New Computer Security Guide Can Help Safeguard Small Businesses

Image of video player. Click to watch a new NIST video explaining the reasons why small businesses should be concerned about safeguarding the information on their computers.

Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has published a guide to help small businesses and organizations understand how to provide basic security for their information, systems and networks. Small Business Information Security: The Fundamentals,by Richard Kissel, teaches computer security to groups of small business owners ranging from tow truck operators to managers of hospitals, small manufacturers and nonprofit organizations. The 20-page guide uses simple, clear language to walk small business owners through the steps necessary to secure their computer systems and data. (More) (Video page) (Guide)

NOAA: September Temperatures Above-Average for the U.S

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September 2009 average temperature for the contiguous United States was above the long-term average, according to NOAA’s monthly State of the Climate report issued today. Based on records going back to 1895, the monthly National Climatic Data Center analysis is part of the suite of climate services NOAA provides. The average September temperature of 66.4 degrees F was 1.0 degree F above the 20th century average. Precipitation across the contiguous United States in September averaged 2.48 inches, exactly the 1901-2000 average. (More)

NTIA Announces First State Broadband Mapping Grants

NTIA logo.

The Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced that it has awarded the first four grants under NTIA’s State Broadband Data and Development Grant Program to fund activities in California, Indiana, North Carolina, and Vermont. The program, funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, will increase broadband access and adoption through better data collection and broadband planning. The data will be displayed in NTIA’s national broadband map, a tool that will inform policymakers' efforts and provide consumers with improved information on the broadband Internet services available to them. (More)

Statement from Secretary Locke on August 2009 New Residential Construction

Photo of Secretary Locke.

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The Commerce Department’s U.S. Bureau of the Census released data on new residential construction in August 2009. Permits rose 2.7 percent in August and have increased 16.3 percent from their low in April, after plummeting a total of 78.0 percent between September 2005 and April 2009. Starts have followed a similar pattern, increasing 1.5 percent in August. “The upturn in housing activity and the recent gains in retail sales and industrial production demonstrate considerable progress toward recovery. More stimulus spending in the coming months should help spread growth to other sectors of the economy,” Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said. (More) (Release)

NOAA: Warmest Global Sea-Surface Temperatures for August and Summer

NOAA Visualization

The world’s ocean surface temperature was the warmest for any August on record, and the warmest on record averaged for any June-August (Northern Hemisphere summer/Southern Hemisphere winter) season according to NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. The preliminary analysis is based on records dating back to 1880. NCDC scientists also reported that the combined average global land and ocean surface temperature for August was the second-warmest on record, behind 1998. For the June-August 2009 season, the combined global land and ocean surface temperature was the third-warmest on record. (More)

Statement From Undersecretary Blank on August 2009 Retail Sales

Department of Commerce seal.

The Commerce Department’s U.S. Census Bureau today released retail sales for August 2009.Retail sales rose 2.7 percent in August, well above the increase of 2.0 percent private analysts had expected. Motor vehicle sales jumped 10.6 percent, while sales excluding motor vehicles increased 1.1 percent, and sales excluding motor vehicles and gasoline rose 0.6 percent. These data come after four straight quarterly declines in retail sales. (Statement) (Census Release)

NIST Deploys Experts to Assist In California Fires

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File photo

The Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has sent two experts to California to assist in collecting data on structural fire damage in the ongoing Los Angeles Basin fires, also known as the “Station” fire. This fire is a Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) fire, a type that is growing more prevalent as housing developments push into former wilderness areas. Fire researchers are working to understand WUI fire behavior and the effectiveness of current strategies for best reducing risks from such fires. (More)

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 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)

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

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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)

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)

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)

NOAA: Warmest Global Ocean Surface Temperatures on Record for July

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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)

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

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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)

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 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 www.commerce.gov/recovery. 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)

Commerce Secretary Locke Statement on 2nd Quarter GDP Numbers

Photo of Secretary Locke.

File Photo

The Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis released data on GDP in the second quarter along with comprehensive revisions to the historical GDP data. Real GDP declined 1.0 percent at an annual rate in the second quarter, better than the private-sector expected drop of 1.5 percent. This decline is noticeably less than the larger decreases of 5.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008 and 6.4 percent in the first quarter of 2009. (More)

Secretary Locke Testifies Before Senate Committee to Discuss National Climate Change Policy

Secretary Locke with Director Holdren in background. Click for larger image.

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation to discuss the Department’s contributions to national climate policy. Joined by Dr. John Holdren, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), Locke testified at a full committee hearing on “Climate Services: Solutions from Commerce to Communities.” The Department of Commerce is a leader in climate change research and monitoring, providing critical data and services to all levels of government and the private sector and helping companies and communities understand and adapt to climate change.

Census Bureau: U.S. Business Employers Add 100,000 Establishments in 2007

U.S. Census Bureau seal.

United States businesses with employees added more than 100,000 establishments in 2007, bringing the total number to 7.7 million and adding more than 650,000 employees to their payrolls. Overall, employees of businesses in the United States earned more than $5 trillion in annual payroll in 2007, up from $4.8 trillion in 2006. These economic numbers come from County Business Patterns: 2007, an annual report that contains data covering establishments with paid employees at the national and state levels, and in more than 3,100 counties. (More)

NOAA: Global Ocean Surface Temperature Warmest on Record for June

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The world’s ocean surface temperature was the warmest on record for June, breaking the previous high mark set in 2005, according to a preliminary analysis by NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C., a bureau of the Department of Commerce. Additionally, the combined average global land and ocean surface temperature for June was the second-warmest on record. The global records began in 1880. (More) (National Climatic Data Center)

Census Bureau Opens 2010 Census Data Processing Center in Jeffersonville, Ind.

Census logo. Click to go to Census 2010 Web site.

The Commerce Department’s U.S. Census Bureau opened a data processing center in Jeffersonville, Ind., which will process 58 million 2010 Census forms completed by households in 10 states. The new facility will be at the Census Bureau’s National Processing Center (NPC) and will employ approximately 1,350 people. Census officials were joined by Jeffersonville Mayor Thomas Galligan and other dignitaries at the opening of the data processing center. (More) (Census 2010)

NTIA Unveils Program to Help States Map Internet Infrastructure

NTIA logo.

The Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced details of a grant program to fund collection of state-level broadband data, as well as state-wide broadband mapping and planning, which will assist NTIA in creating a national broadband map. This initiative will provide consumers with better information on the broadband services available to them and inform efforts to increase broadband availability nationwide. “This program satisfies Congress’ mandate that we collect comprehensive information on broadband in America,” said NTIA Administrator Lawrence E. Strickling. (More)

Census Bureau Opens First 2010 Census Data Capture Center

Acting Census Bureau Director Thomas Mesenbourg (third from left) is shown with ceremonial scissors. Also shown (L to R) are Ken Asbury of Lockheed Martin, James Sheaffer of CSC, and Rick Ruiz of Lockheed Martin. Click for larger image.

Commerce’s U.S. Census Bureau opened one of three data capture centers that will process the 2010 Census questionnaires as they are mailed back by households across the nation. The 236,500-square-foot facility will bring more than 2,500 jobs to Baltimore County, Md. “Processing the 2010 Census questionnaires accurately and safely at the data capture centers is a crucial step to a successful census,” said Census Bureau Acting Director Tom Mesenbourg.“The data from each form processed at the facility will help provide a complete count of the nation's population and a new portrait of America.” (More) (2010 Census Web site)

Census Bureau Reports World's Older Population Projected to Triple by 2050

Census Bureau seal.

The world's 65-and-older population is projected to triple by midcentury, from 516 million in 2009 to 1.53 billion in 2050, according to the Department of Commerce’s U.S. Census Bureau. In contrast, the population under 15 is expected to increase by only 6 percent during the same period, from 1.83 billion to 1.93 billion. These figures come from the world population estimates and projections released today through the Census Bureau's International Data Base. This latest update includes projections by age, including people 100 and older, for 227 countries and areas. (More)

NOAA Forecasts Predicts large "Dead Zone" for Gulf of Mexico this Summer

Image of mouth of Mississippi River showing nutrient run-off. Click for data visualization.

A team of NOAA-supported scientists from the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium, Louisiana State University, and the University of Michigan is forecasting that the “dead zone” off the coast of Louisiana and Texas in the Gulf of Mexico this summer could be one of the largest on record. The dead zone is an area in the Gulf of Mexico where seasonal oxygen levels drop too low to support most life in bottom and near-bottom waters. The mouth of the Mississippi River (imaged here) is an example of how nutrient run-off creates plankton blooms. (More) (NOAA Visualization)

Report Released on National, Regional Impacts of Global Climate Change

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A new report, “Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States,” compiles years of scientific research and takes into account new data not available during the preparation of previous large national and global assessments. It was produced by a consortium of experts from13 U.S. government science agencies and from several major universities and research institutes. A product of the interagency U.S. Global Change Research Program, the definitive 190-page report, produced under NOAA’s leadership, is written in plain language to better inform members of the public and policymakers. (More) (Report Information)

NOAA: U.S. Contiguous States Temperature Warmer Than Average for May

Map of U.S. states. Click for larger image.

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reports that the May 2009 temperature for the contiguous United States was above the long-term average, based on records going back to 1895, according to an analysis by NOAA’s National Climatic Data Centerin Asheville, N.C. The average May temperature of 62.5 degrees F was 1.4 degrees F above the 20th century average. Precipitation across the contiguous United States in May averaged 3.22 inches, which is 0.35 inch above the 1901-2000 average. (More)

Dr. Rebecca Blank Sworn In as Under Secretary for Economic Affairs, Top Advisor to Secretary Locke

Photo of Under Secretary Rebecca Blank being sworn in by Director of Executive Services Denise A. Yaaag.

Dr. Rebecca Blank was sworn in as the new Under Secretary of Commerce for Economic Affairs. Dr. Blank will oversee two of the nation’s preeminent statistical agencies: the U.S. Census Bureau and the Bureau of Economic Affairs. She will also serve as the top economic advisor to Commerce Secretary Gary Locke. “In Dr. Blank we have the right person to handle a series of looming challenges,” Locke said. “She will help the Census Bureau conduct an accurate and complete count in the 2010 Census, and I’m relying on her to provide sound economic data and analysis to guide the nation through the worst economic crisis in 60 years.” (More) (Bio)

Internet Use Triples in Decade, Census Bureau Reports

U.S. Census Bureau seal.

New data from the Department of Commerce’s U.S. Census Bureau show that 62 percent of households reported using Internet access in the home in 2007, an increase from 18 percent in 1997. “These data give us a better understanding of who is using the Internet and from where,” said Thom File, a statistician with the Census Bureau. Among the states, Alaska and New Hampshire residents had among the highest rates of Internet use from any location (home, work or public access) for those 3 and older in 2007. Mississippi and West Virginia had among the lowest rates of Internet use at about 52 percent. (More)

Secretary Locke Urges Sacramento Residents to Prepare for June 12 Switch to Digital Television

Left to right: Congresswoman Doris Matsui, Secretary Gary Locke and Mayor Kevin Johnson. Click for larger image.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke joined Congresswoman Doris Matsui and Mayor Kevin Johnson at the Sacramento public library to urge residents to prepare for the national switch to digital television (DTV) before the June 12 deadline. In the final month before the national switch, the Commerce Department is increasing its outreach efforts into communities that have been identified as the least prepared for the transition, including the Sacramento area. While the city has made progress since February—the original date for the switch—Sacramento is among the top 10 least-prepared cities in the country, according to Nielsen data. (More)

Census Bureau Announces Guam Economy Grew by 36 Percent, 2002-2007

Census Bureau seal.

Guam’s economy generated $6.2 billion in sales in 2007, up from $4.6 billion in 2002, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2007 Economic Census of Island Areas: Geographic Area Series for Guam. The economic census profiles Guam’s economy every 5 years. The 2007 census data include statistics for Guam and its 19 election districts for businesses with paid employees. These data for Guam are available through the Census Bureau’s American FactFinder, an online data tool that allows users to access, filter, manipulate and extract data. Guam is a U.S. territory in the western Pacific Ocean. (More)

NOAA, U.S. Coast Guard: New Ocean Current Data to Improve Search and Rescue Activities

Image of helicopter with responder hovering over water rescuing a victim. Click for larger image.

U.S. Coast Guard Photo

A new set of ocean observing data that enhances the ability to track probable paths of victims and drifting survivor craft should improve search and rescue efforts along the U.S. coast. The data comes from the Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS®), part of a joint effort among Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Mid-Atlantic Coastal Ocean Observing Regional Association, the U.S. Coast Guard and the Department of Homeland Security. The new data sets include surface current maps from high frequency radar systems. (More)

Residential Mover Rate in U.S. is Lowest Since Census Bureau Began Tracking in 1948

Bureau of the Census seal.

Commerce’s U.S. Census Bureau announced that the national mover rate declined from 13.2 percent in 2007 to 11.9 percent in 2008—the lowest rate since the bureau began tracking these data in 1948. In 2008, 35.2 million people 1 year and older changed residences in the U.S. within the past year, representing a decrease from 38.7 million in 2007 and the smallest number of residents to move since 1962. “Even though the number of people who changed residence in 2008 dropped by 3.5 million from the previous year, millions of Americans continue to move,” said Tom Mesenbourg, acting director of the U.S. Census Bureau. “As we gear up for the 2010 Census, we will be looking to get an accurate count of everyone in the country, regardless of whether they moved in the past year or not.” (More)

NOAA Dedicates New Chesapeake Bay Research Vessel

Image of the R/V Bay Hyrdo II speeding through the water. Click for larrger image.

Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) christened a new state-of-the-art research vessel, R/V Bay Hydro II, which will collect oceanographic data in the Chesapeake Bay region—data critical to safe navigation and environmental protection in the nation’s largest estuary. The dedication took place in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, featuring a ceremonial breaking of a champagne bottle over the bow and a cannon salute from the USS Constellation. (More)

NIST: Updated Recommendations for Protecting Wireless, Remote Access Data

NIST logo.

Telecommuting has freed many to work far from the confines of the office via laptop, but the price of working while sipping a latte at that sunny café is the danger that a public network will not keep the data that passes through it safe. Now, to combat the risk inherent in remote access, Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has updated its guide on maintaining data security while teleworking. The revised guide offers advice for protecting the wide variety of private and mobile devices from threats that have appeared since the first edition appeared in August 2002. (More)

BEA and Census Release Data on U.S. International Trade in Goods and Services

Department of Commerce seal.

The U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, through the Department of Commerce, announced today that total December exports of $133.8 billion and imports of $173.7 billion resulted in a goods and services deficit of $39.9 billion, down from $41.6 billion in November, revised. December exports were $8.5 billion less than November exports of $142.3 billion. December imports were $10.2 billion less than November imports of $183.9 billion. (More) (U.S. Export Fact Sheet)

NIST Participates in National Fire Safety Experiments

Image of a firefighter on ladder with building smoke.

International Association of Fire Fighters

This week, the Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is contributing its expertise in measurement science to a series of national fire safety experiments examining the effect of firefighting crew sizes and equipment arrival times on the growth rates of fires and survivability times in structure-related building fires.Data from these experiments will help governments make informed decisions to better match their resources with the risks to the public and firefighters in their communities. (More)