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BEA Constantly Innovates to Produce New Statistics Measuring the U.S. Economy

BEA Blog Feed - Mon, 02/09/2015 - 23:27

bea_logo_0The Bureau of Economic Analysis is producing new economic statistics over the course of this year that offer businesses and households additional tools to make informed decisions and illustrate BEA’s innovative approach to better measure the dynamic U.S. economy.

Arts and Culture Statistics: These new annual statistics, released on Jan. 12, show the impact of arts and culture on the U.S. economy. The new data provides detailed information on spending on arts and culture as well as employment in those industries.

Health Care Statistics: BEA released data on Jan. 22 that — for the first time — provides information about the changes in prices to treat different diseases — illustrating trends in prices from 2000 through 2010. BEA also released new statistics on spending to treat different medical conditions for those same years. Data for 2011 and 2012 will be released in the spring.

• State Economic Activity: BEA on Sept. 2 will start releasing on a regular basis new quarterly statistics detailing economic activity in each state. The data offers a more up-to-date picture of how the states economies are faring and provides a more detailed view of economic activity across the entire United States.

• Consumer Spending by State:  BEA will begin producing these new annual statistics on a regular basis starting Dec. 1.  The data shows how much consumers spend in each state and provides details on the kinds of goods and services they buy.

New International Investment Statistics: These statistics, which BEA plans to release later this year, provides information on “greenfield” investment – investment that occurs when a foreign firm establishes a new U.S. business or expands an existing one by building a new plant or facility.

While each of these new statistics target different pieces of the U.S. economy, they all demonstrate BEA’s innovative approach to economic measurement. The first four examples leverage existing sets of source data in new ways to provide additional insight into the workings of the U.S. economy. The last item represents a new data collection effort that will pave the way for a new set of statistics on foreign investment.

Other innovations at BEA will allow more regional economic statistics to be released.

The new data provides businesses with more tools to make decisions about hiring and investment and can aid individuals looking to relocate for a job or to find a new job.

These new estimates are just a few of the ways that BEA is innovating to better measure the 21st Century economy. Providing businesses and individuals with new data tools like these is a priority of the Commerce Department’s “Open for Business Agenda.”

Categories: BEA Feed Category

December 2014 Trade Gap is $46.6 Billion

BEA Blog Feed - Thu, 02/05/2015 - 20:10

The U.S. monthly international trade deficit increased in December 2014 according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis and the U.S. Census Bureau.  The deficit increased from $39.8 billion in November (revised) to $46.6 billion in December, as exports decreased and imports increased. The previously published November deficit was $39.0 billion. The goods deficit increased $6.9 billion from November to $66.0 billion in December. The services surplus increased $0.1 billion from November to $19.5 billion in December.

Monthly Balance on Goods and Services Trade Feb5

Exports
Exports of goods and services decreased $1.5 billion in December to $194.9 billion, reflecting a decrease in exports of goods. Exports of services increased.

  • The decrease in exports of goods was more than accounted for by a decrease in industrial supplies and materials. An increase in capital goods was partly offsetting.
  • The increase in exports of services reflected increases in transport, which includes freight and port services and passenger fares, in financial services, and in travel (for all purposes including education).

Imports
Imports of goods and services increased $5.3 billion in December to $241.4 billion, mostly reflecting an increase in imports of goods. Imports of services also increased.

  • The increase in imports of goods mostly reflected increases in industrial supplies and materials and in automotive vehicles, parts, and engines.
  • The increase in imports of services mostly reflected increases in transport and in travel (for all purposes including education).

Goods by geographic area (seasonally adjusted, Census basis)

  • The goods deficit with Canada increased from $1.6 billion in November (revised) to $3.3 billion in December. Exports decreased $0.8 billion to $25.8 billion and imports increased $0.9 billion to $29.0 billion.
  • The goods surplus with South and Central America decreased from $4.3 billion in November to $2.6 billion in December. Exports decreased $0.7 billion $14.8 billion and imports increased $1.0 billion to $12.2 billion.
  • The goods deficit with Germany decreased from $6.3 billion in November to $5.6 billion in December. Exports increased $0.1 billion to $3.9 billion and imports decreased $0.6 billion to $9.6 billion.

Read the full report.

Categories: BEA Feed Category

2014 Trade Gap is $505.0 Billion

BEA Blog Feed - Thu, 02/05/2015 - 19:48

The U.S. international trade deficit increased in 2014, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis and the U.S. Census Bureau. The deficit increased from $476.4 billion in 2013 to $505.0 billion in 2014, as imports increased more than exports. As a percentage of U.S. gross domestic product, the goods and services deficit was 2.9 percent in 2014, up from 2.8 percent in 2013. The goods deficit increased from $701.7 billion in 2013 to $736.8 billion in 2014, and the services surplus increased from $225.3 billion in 2013 to $231.8 billion in 2014.

 

Balance on Goods and Services Trade feb5

 

Exports
Exports of goods and services increases $65.2 billion, or 2.9 percent, in 2014 to $2,345.4 billion. Exports of goods increased $42.3 billion and exports of services increased $22.9 billion.

  • The largest increases in exports of goods were in capital goods ($15.8 billion), in consumer goods ($10.1 billion), and in foods, feeds, and beverages ($8.1 billion).
  • The largest increases in exports of services were in travel (for all purposes including education) ($5.9 billion), in charges for the use of intellectual property ($5.7 billion), and in financial services ($5.4 billion). 

Imports
Imports of goods and services increased $93.9 billion, or 3.4 percent, in 2014 to $2,850.5 billion. Imports of goods increased $77.5 billion and imports of services increased $16.4 billion.

  • The largest increases in imports of goods were in capital goods ($36.8 billion), in consumer goods ($25.2 billion), and in automotive vehicles, parts, and engines ($19.0 billion).
  • The largest increase in imports of services were in travel (for all purposes including education) ($6.7 billion), in other business services ($5.6 billion), and in transport ($3.7 billion), which includes freight and port services and passenger fares.

Goods by geographic area (Census basis)

  • The goods deficit with China increased from $318.7 billion in 2013 to $342.6 billion in 2014. Exports increased $2.3 billion to $124.0 billion, while imports increased $26.2 billion to $466.7 billion.
  • The goods deficit with the European Union increased from $125.4 billion in 2013 to $141.1 billion in 2014. Exports increased $14.5 billion to $276.7 billion, while imports increased $30.2 billion to $417.8 billion.
  • The goods deficit with OPEC decreased from $68.0 billion in 2013 to $49.4 billion in 2014. Exports decreased $2.0 billion to $82.7 billion, while imports decreased $20.6 billion to $132.1 billion.

Read the full report.

Categories: BEA Feed Category

Using Technology and Innovation to Reengineer Our Surveys and Data

CENSUS Directors Blog - Wed, 02/04/2015 - 08:02

Written by: John H. Thompson

At the U.S. Census Bureau, we’re researching ways to use technology to transform the way we do business. Not only will this transformation keep our censuses and surveys quick, easy, and secure, it will reverse the decades-long trend of increasingly more expensive operations.

Over the past four years, we’ve researched cost-saving innovations. We’ve come up with an exciting blueprint of what is possible in a census when we entirely rethink our operations and leverage technology. The President’s FY 2016 budget, released yesterday, funds the design of these systems and the testing of those together with new operations.

While 2020 might seem like a long way off, it is coming quickly: we must design operations, test systems and bring them together to “lock down” the final plan by 2018 to be ready by 2020. Our proposals for transforming the census through technological innovation include:

• Reengineering address canvassing: Prior to every Census, we compile a list of every housing unit in America. Developing a high-quality address list is crucial to the success of the census. By using address updates from the U.S. Postal Service and local governments – combined with imagery and private sector sources – we can drastically cut the cost of editing this list.

• Maximizing self-response: Our experience with the American Community Survey and the 2012 Economic Census demonstrate the promise of the Internet for maximizing self-responses to surveys. By allowing respondents to easily answer the questionnaire online, we can save millions on the costs of mailing out, getting back, scanning and hand-keying the information from paper forms into our system. At the same time, we need to authenticate online responses to ensure that they are genuine and not duplicative.

• Using administrative records: Another way that we can make our operations more efficient is by using records from other federal agencies to improve our counts of people and places.

• Reengineering field operations: In 2010, much of the on-the-ground work by Census Bureau field representatives was done on paper. By adopting technology to automate work, we can make field operations more efficient and reduce our paperwork burden.

As you can imagine, designing systems of this scale takes time, and we only have one chance to “get it right.” That’s why we began planning for 2020 even before the 2010 Census, and why these next few years of testing, development and implementation are so important. We need to design, develop, and build our data collection and processing systems; test them individually for function; and then test them together to ensure that they function in a real-world setting.

Of course, the Census Bureau’s work includes much more than the decennial census, and our proposals for innovation reflect that. In other areas of our agency, we’re focusing on:

• Census Enterprise Data Collection and Processing: With millions of people responding to our many surveys and censuses each year, the Census Bureau does an enormous amount of data collection and processing. In the past, we created unique data collection and processing systems for every survey. Now, we’ll integrate and standardize those systems across the organization. This will save money and time, and help us to manage our operations in the most efficient way possible.

• Administrative records clearinghouse: Part of the mission of the federal statistical system (which includes the Census Bureau) is to “provide quality, unbiased data to support reasoned, disciplined decisions.” This clearinghouse will include administrative data from federal and federally-sponsored programs, making them easier to use. Researchers, program administrators and policy makers can access and evaluate the program records easily and use them to provide new insights and evidence for sound decision-making.

• Geographic support: The Geographic Support Systems Initiative enable us to make ongoing updates to our address lists and maps, and supports our efforts to reengineer the address canvassing operation for the 2020 Census by continually updating the Census Bureau’s address list throughout the decade. It increases the amount of addresses provided by state and local partners that we can add to our address list, and prepares us to use updates from commercial data and other sources. Crucially, the initiative provides updates for rural addresses, addresses in Puerto Rico, and group quarters.

• American Community Survey: The American Community Survey releases over 11 billion estimates each year, and is used to distribute more than $400 billion of federal dollars each year. We will research how we can reduce respondents’ burden, while keeping data quality high.

• Economic Census and Census of Governments: We need to streamline our processes in order to support 100% electronic responses to these censuses to increase their cost-effectiveness. We will also introduce new data products for maximum data quality and usefulness.

The 2020 Census will be unlike any other in census history. The next few years are critical to this effort. I encourage anyone who is interested in this process to follow along as we research, test and plan. You can watch our meetings online and participate through a civic dialogue. The census – which is an enumeration of the entire nation – will only succeed with the participation of the nation.

For an overview of the Census Bureau’s FY 2016 budget, you can view this infographic.

Consumer Spending Falls In December

BEA Blog Feed - Mon, 02/02/2015 - 20:08

 PI_table_2_2_15Personal income rose 0.3 percent in December, the same increase as in November. Wages and salaries, the largest component of personal income, rose 0.1 percent in December after rising 0.6 percent in November.
Current-dollar disposable personal income (DPI), after-tax income, rose 0.3 percent in December, the same increase as in November.
Real DPI, income adjusted for taxes and inflation, increased 0.5 percent in December after increasing 0.4 percent in November.
Real consumer spending, spending adjusted for price changes, decreased 0.1 percent in December after increasing 0.7 percent in November. Spending on durable goods decreased 0.7 percent in December after increasing 2.5 percent in November.
PCE prices decreased 0.2 percent in December, the same decrease as in November. Excluding food and energy, PCE prices remained flat in December, the same as in November.
Personal saving rate
Personal saving as a percent of DPI was 4.9 percent in December and 4.3 percent in November.

PI_chart_2_2_15

Read the report.

Categories: BEA Feed Category

GDP increases in Fourth Quarter

BEA Blog Feed - Fri, 01/30/2015 - 19:30

Real gross domestic product (GDP) increased 2.6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2014, according to the “advance” estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the third quarter, real GDP increased 5.0 percent. For the full year 2014, real GDP rose 2.4 percent after rising 2.2 percent in 2013.

Fourth-quarter GDP highlights
The increase in GDP in the fourth quarter reflected the following:

  • Consumer spending increased 4.3 percent, compared with 3.2 percent in the third quarter. Spending on both goods and services increased in the fourth quarter.
  • Inventory investment rose, notably by wholesale trade industries and manufacturing industries.
  • Exports of goods and services increased; foods, feeds, and beverages was the largest contributor.
  • Business investment also increased, mainly in intellectual property products.Q2Q Growth in Real GDP Jan30

In contrast, imports, a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, increased.

Gross domestic purchases prices
Prices of goods and services purchased by U.S. residents decreased 0.3 percent in the fourth quarter, after increasing 1.4 percent in the third quarter. Energy prices declined sharply in the fourth quarter. Excluding energy and food, prices increased 0.7 percent in the fourth quarter and 1.6 percent in third quarter.

Personal income and personal saving
Real disposable personal income—personal income adjusted for taxes and inflation—rose 3.8 percent in the fourth quarter after rising 2.0 percent in the third quarter. Personal saving as a percentage of disposable personal income was 4.6 percent in the fourth quarter.

Annual GDP highlights
The increase in GDP for 2014 reflected the following:

  • Consumer spending increased; spending on both services and goods increased.
  • Business investment increased, notably in equipment and structures.
  • Exports of goods increased.Annual Real GDP GrowthJan30

Prices of goods and services purchased by U.S. residents increased 1.4 percent in 2014 after increasing 1.3 percent in 2013.

Read the full report.

Categories: BEA Feed Category

Introducing the New BEA Health Care Satellite Account

BEA Blog Feed - Thu, 01/22/2015 - 23:36

Total health care spending reached 17.4 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2013, and that share is expected to continue to grow significantly, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Given this trend, it is critical to develop an understanding of what those increased expenditures represent.  Are the increases attributable to rising costs of treatment or more individuals receiving medical care? What medical conditions account for the majority of spending? Which medical conditions see the cost of treatment rising most rapidly? Do these spending increases coincide with improvements in treatment? Answers to these questions are necessary in order to formulate policies that allow for society’s efficient consumption of health care as well as for the improvement of the nation’s overall health status.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) has been conducting research to develop a health care satellite account (HCSA)—engaging in methodological research, evaluating new data sources, collaborating with academic researchers, and working jointly across multiple federal agencies (see the SURVEY OF CURRENT BUSINESS articles (2007),(2008),(2009),(2012),(2013)). The account builds on research by prominent health economists, recommendations from two reports of the National Academy of Sciences’ Committee on National Statistics, and years of research both at BEA and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

This first release of the HCSA presents preliminary estimates that may be used to improve our understanding of health care spending trends and its effects on the U.S. economy.

Read the full article.

Categories: BEA Feed Category

Widespread Growth Across Industries Continues in Third Quarter 2014

BEA Blog Feed - Thu, 01/22/2015 - 19:52

Real gross domestic product (GDP) increased at an annual rate of 5.0 percent in the third quarter of 2014, reflecting positive contributions from 20 of 22 industry groups. The private goods- and services-producing industries, as well as the government sector, contributed to the increase.

  • The leading contributors to the increase were finance and insurance; mining; and real estate and rental and leasing.

Real Value Added by Sector Jan22

  • Finance and insurance real value added increased 21.2 percent in the third quarter, after increasing 6.0 percent.
  • Mining increased 25.6 percent, after increasing 11.5 percent.
  • Real estate and rental and leasing increased 4.4 percent, after increasing 0.9 percent.

Real Value Added by Industry Jan22

Read the full report.

Categories: BEA Feed Category

New Health Care Statistics to be Released Jan. 22

BEA Blog Feed - Wed, 01/14/2015 - 22:59

New statistics tracking the changes in the prices to treat different diseases are slated to be available Thursday, Jan. 22 when the Bureau of Economic Analysis publishes a new health care satellite account report.

The statistics – the first of their kind – provide information about the changes in prices to treat different diseases – illustrating trends in prices over time. The statistics cover 2000-2010 and will be contained in a report published in the January Survey of Current Business. Another new set of annual statistics that track how much is spent to treat different diseases over that same 10-year period also will be released. These new statistics are derived from large medical claims databases that include millions of individuals and billions of claims.

BEA’s new detailed, health care statistics will provide businesses, households and policymakers with even more data to make informed decisions.

These new health care statistics emerge from a multiyear project to improve the way health care spending is measured throughout the U.S. economy. Health care spending is an important part of the U.S. economy, accounting for 17.4 percent of Gross Domestic Product in 2013, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Categories: BEA Feed Category

Spending on Arts and Cultural Production Continues to Increase

BEA Blog Feed - Mon, 01/12/2015 - 21:29

Nominal value added from all arts and cultural production (ACP) industries- a measure of this sector’s contribution to gross domestic product (GDP) – increased 3.8 percent, or $25.8 billion in 2012, according to new statistics released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). Value added for ACP accounted for 4.3 percent, or $698.7 billion, of GDP.

“With the creation of new data analyses like this one – which shows how arts and culture contribute to GDP – the Department of Commerce is providing a more detailed picture of what drives the U.S. economy, growth, and job creation,” said Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker. “Making new data available is another example of how the government is working harder and smarter to produce relevant statistics that better inform individuals, business, and decision-makers.”

GDP vs ACPSA

Read the full report.

Categories: BEA Feed Category

Improving Your Access to U.S. Census Bureau Data: Two New Features on Census.gov

CENSUS Directors Blog - Tue, 01/06/2015 - 21:21

Written by: John H. Thompson

Recently, we rolled out two exciting new features on Census.gov — a better search engine and a new version of QuickFacts. Since the launch of Census.gov in 1994, the Internet has changed a lot. In an age of instant communication and 24/7 information sharing, our users want anytime, anywhere access to timely and relevant statistics. The Census Bureau is committed to making the statistics that define our growing, changing nation more accessible than ever before. Through these features, the Census Bureau is increasing the availability and usefulness of the statistics we collect from the American public.

searchOur new “smart search” not only provides the statistics you are looking for directly on the search page, but also shows visualizations of popular search topics and links to related information. You can now get statistics from multiple Census Bureau data sources on popular topics such as income, poverty and population.

For example, if you search for “California population,” the latest state population statistics, tables and visualizations will appear.  You’ll also see other statistics about California that you might be interested in, such as median household income or total housing units. You can filter search results by images and videos as well.

Our search function now also includes NAICS (North American Industry Classification System) codes, making business information easier to access. Business leaders will instantly find information essential to their industries.

Based on customer feedback, we’ve also released a completely reimagined QuickFacts site, available in beta at www.census.gov/quickfacts. Prior to this revamp, the QuickFacts application had been virtually unchanged since its launch in 2000. This new version maintains the original ease of use but also includes many improvements, like fully interactive, customized tables that let you view statistics for up to six locations side by side. Want to view data on a map instead of a table? Now you can.

We’ve also added charting, social media sharing, and type-ahead search. Now you can just enter your desired location and QuickFacts does the rest. And it’s not just functionality that’s new — for the first time, QuickFacts includes profiles for townships, as well as locations in Puerto Rico.

These features are just the latest in the Census Bureau’s digital transformation effort, developing new tools using the latest technologies. We’ve made major upgrades to Census.gov so that our almost 50 million annual visitors can more easily find the information they want. We also created an application programming interface (API), three mobile apps and several interactive data tools.

We hope you’ll try out our new smart search and QuickFacts beta. Tell us what you think online or via email at cnmp.web.comments@census.gov. We think you’ll really like what you see.quickfacts

Everything You Want to Know About the Census Bureau Is Just a Phone Call Away

CENSUS Directors Blog - Sat, 12/20/2014 - 01:53

Written by: John H. Thompson

As you might have seen on Twitter, on Tuesday I took a tour of the call center at U.S. Census Bureau headquarters — and even answered a few calls myself. The call center — in addition to our facilities in Jeffersonville, Ind.; Tucson, Ariz.; and Hagerstown, Md. — is one of our agency’s major hubs for answering and tracking questions and concerns from the American public. In a world of instant communication, our customers expect an immediate response to their questions. Our call center staff is here to give real-time answers over the phone, online chat and email.

During my “shift,” I took a call from a college freshman, who asked me what students should know about the Census Bureau. I told him that the data we collect are extremely important to our nation and is used for creating legislative districts, congressional apportionments and funding allocations – and also that the Census Bureau is always hiring in lots of disciplines!

During my “shift,” I took a call from a college freshman, who asked me what students should know about the Census Bureau. I told him that the data we collect are extremely important to our nation and is used for creating legislative districts, congressional apportionments and funding allocations – and also that the Census Bureau is always hiring in lots of disciplines!

So, what kind of questions does the call center get? Many questions are about our censuses or surveys — in fact, our centers in Jeffersonville, Tucson and Hagerstown are dedicated to communicating with survey respondents. Often, people have never heard of the census or survey that has just arrived at their home or business. I talked to one respondent to the American Community Survey, who wanted to make sure the survey wasn’t a scam. I was happy to reassure her that it was legitimate and important — her responses will provide data that federal, state and local leaders use to plan for things like roads, schools and hospitals.

The call center here in Suitland, Md., also answers all kinds of data questions. County and local officials call to ask about their municipality’s official population count. Researchers ask for information on a wide range of topics, from income to housing to international trade. During my visit, I saw one call center employee answer a chat question about how to appropriately cite information from Census.gov.

In addition to helping callers, the call center also helps the Census Bureau by reporting on the questions and data requests they receive. By listening to callers’ feedback, we can make improvements to our mailed materials and website to help the public find the information they need quickly and easily.

The Census Bureau spends a lot of time reaching out to the public to encourage them to fill out our censuses and surveys, and to ensure they trust that we will protect the information that they provide. When someone contacts us, a call center employee is often the first and only Census Bureau employee they interact with— and I’m proud of the good impression that our employees make. No matter what your question for the Census Bureau is, our call center staff are standing by and ready to answer it.

———————–

Census Bureau Headquarters in Suitland, Md. 1-800-923-8282 Monday – Friday: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET Email and chat at https://ask.census.gov Monday – Friday: 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET

If you have been contacted about a survey or census and want to verify that the person who called you is a Census Bureau employee, have a question about a survey form you received, or need to return a call about one of our surveys, please call one of the centers listed below.

Hagerstown, Md. Telephone Center 1-800-392-6975 Monday – Friday: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET Saturday: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. ET Sunday: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET

Jeffersonville, Ind. Telephone Center 1-800-523-3205 Monday – Saturday: 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET Sunday: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET

Tucson, Ariz. Telephone Center 1-800-642-0469 Monday – Friday: 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. MT Saturday: 7 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. MT Sunday: 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. MT

TDD/TTY 1-800-877-8339

 

Using Data to Understand and Combat the Spread of HIV/AIDS

CENSUS Directors Blog - Tue, 12/02/2014 - 02:56

Written by: John H. Thompson

Today is World AIDS Day, an annual opportunity for people around the world to unite against HIV/AIDS, to support those who are living with HIV and to commemorate those who have died. The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) estimates that in 2013, 35 million people worldwide lived with HIV, and there were about 1.5 million AIDS-related deaths.

Map showing Total Population and Population Missing Due to HIV/AIDS Epidemics: 2012 (For Africa)

The HIV/AIDS pandemic has affected the populations of many countries. The 10 countries selected in the above image have suffered the combined loss of more than 14.5 million people.

Tracking and compiling data are important elements in understanding and combatting the spread of HIV and AIDS. The Census Bureau has tracked key data relating to HIV and AIDS for many years. In 1987, we created the HIV/AIDS Surveillance Data Base in collaboration with the U.S. Agency for International Development, and it continues to be supported with funding from the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.

Today, the Data Base contains over 164,000 records from more than 14,900 sources, with more added every year. It is a major compilation of HIV prevalence and incidence data. In fact, the Data Base is the most comprehensive resource of its kind in the world, and includes records for all countries and areas with a population of at least 5,000, with the exception of North America (including the United States) and U.S. territories. These records help identify patterns in the spread of infection, which can assist decision-makers, academics and healthcare professionals who conduct research to help end the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

Researchers at the Census Bureau also use data to assess the impact of increased mortality due to HIV. Using pregnant women’s HIV infection rates, they can estimate and project the prevalence of HIV infection and mortality rates at a national level. Census Bureau population estimates and projections that incorporate the effect of HIV/AIDS are now available for more than 50 countries.

Information about the HIV/AIDS epidemic and impacts on population is critical for decision-makers in developing countries, program planners and the international development community. I am proud of the Census Bureau’s history of collecting, analyzing and publishing data that can help in efforts to diminish the spread of this disease.

Happy 25th Anniversary, TIGER

CENSUS Directors Blog - Thu, 11/20/2014 - 21:49

By John H. Thompson

When you think of the U.S. Census Bureau, you probably think of surveys and statistics. But did you know that geography is also a big part of our work? Geography plays an important role in creating surveys and collecting data, and it provides meaning and context for our statistics. The Census Bureau conducts research on geographic and address topics, makes reference maps to support censuses and surveys, and creates tools to visualize geographic and statistical data.

The Census Bureau’s history of mapping population data dates back to the 1860s. Under the direction of Census Superintendent Francis Amasa Walker and Chief Geographer Henry Gannett, the Bureau produced the Statistical Atlas of the United States, a landmark publication that contained innovative data visualization and mapping techniques.

Blog_IMG1A century later, the Census Bureau was a leader in the early development of computer mapping. In the 1970s, James Corbett of the Statistical Research Division devised a system of map topology that assured correct geographic relationships. His system provided a mathematical base for most future Geographic Information Systems (GIS) work and helped spark the development of computer cartography.

However, at that time, the Census Bureau still relied heavily on paper maps. Census Bureau geographers and cartographers used some computer-scanned mapping files, covering about 280 metropolitan areas, to create paper maps for enumerators to use. For the rest of the nation, paper maps came from a variety of sources, varied in quality and scale, and were quickly outdated.

Finally, in preparation for the 1990 Census, the Census Bureau, in collaboration with the U.S. Geological Survey, developed the first nationwide digital map of the U.S., Puerto Rico and other territories called the Topologically Integrated Geographic Encoding and Referencing (TIGER) database. As a national digital map, TIGER contains all of the geographic features — such as roads, railroads, rivers, and legal and statistical geographic boundaries — that are necessary to support the Census Bureau’s data collection and dissemination programs. I was a Census Bureau employee when TIGER debuted, and I still remember the excitement surrounding it. It was hugely innovative and represented an exciting step forward in the way we collect data.Blog_IMG2

Over the past 25 years, TIGER has evolved into a dynamic mapping system that helped catapult the growth of the GIS industry and improve Census Bureau data products. Today, TIGER is updated annually and available for free download. It provides the nation with a valuable set of geographic information that anyone can use — including businesses, government, nongovernmental organizations and the public. Every state and local government has the capability to create its own GIS with our small-area census data.Blog_IMG3

The Census Bureau’s history is one of innovation. From the Hollerith tabulating machine to the use of UNIVAC I and the development of TIGER, we have made significant technological advancements — and we will keep on doing so. As the 2020 Census approaches, we are continuing to improve TIGER each year in order to deliver the most timely and reliable statistics.

Happy anniversary, TIGER!

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