Category Archives: Data

CREC Publishes State Data Sharing Report

State governments are demanding more rigorous analysis and evaluation of government funded economic and workforce development programs.  Administrative records, which are data regularly collected through the operation or administration of state or local programs, contain important information on the characteristics and behaviors of companies and workers.  These records, such as corporate tax and unemployment insurance filings, hold great promise to improve program outcomes.

The Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness (CREC) report, Improving State Administrative Data Sharing: A Strategy to Promote Evidence-Based Economic and Workforce Development Policymaking, highlights the legal and regulatory environment, best practices, and reform efforts that encourage safe and secure data sharing in ways that protect confidentiality while improving program evaluation.

As part of this project, CREC collected information about data-sharing issues from 65 national and state experts, supplementing those insights with the development of a database of the actual laws and regulations governing data-sharing in more than 40 states.

The report summarizes the findings from our research and offers a new framework for understanding individual state policies.  States can use administrative records to analyze and evaluate programs to their benefit in a number of ways.  For instance, data sharing helps improve the quality of program evaluation efforts, reduces the costs associated with conducting rigorous evaluations, ensures that agencies can more readily identify potential program related fraud, and provides a third-party source for benchmarking data provided directly to the program agency by client firms or individuals.

Despite these benefits, significant barriers limit data-sharing.  These are also discussed, including state data governance policy, data sharing process management, information technology requirements and limitations, and user understanding and accessibility.

The CREC report recommends that state efforts to encourage data-sharing focus on four areas:

  • Educating state leaders on the value of administrative data and how it can support more evidence based policymaking while reducing government costs to evaluate programs;
  • Encouraging agency leaders and staff to understand that sharing data for appropriate purposes and maintaining the highest standards of data confidentiality are not mutually exclusive;
  • Providing greater visibility to and more resources for agency efforts to streamline data sharing policies and processes; and
  • Establishing more structured and transparent processes for reviewing data sharing requests.

The report is part of a two-year State Data Sharing (SDS) Initiative. While focused on economic and workforce development, the lessons can inform actions in broader policy areas, like education, health, and criminal justice policy. SDS seeks to improve public policy program outcomes by enabling evidence-based policymaking through greater sharing of state administrative records in support of rigorous policy analysis and program evaluation. CREC has also created a website to share information and tools about the SDS Initiative, www.statedatasharing.org.

The Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness is a national nonprofit organization focused on encouraging evidence-based economic and workforce development policy.  The SDS Initiative helps achieve that mission by improving the quality of data to support better decision making.

Support the 2020 Census

We need your help.  We need you or your organization to help educate your Congressional leaders on the importance of funding the 2020 Census as well as related “periodic programs” such as the American Community Survey (ACS) and the Economic Census.

The U.S. Congress is back in session this week (November 28), and they are taking up the federal budget.  The federal government is currently funded through December 9 through a continuing resolution (CR).  Congress is expected to pass another extension through March rather than completing action through the end of the fiscal year.  Census needs attention because we are at a critical planning stage for the 2020 Census. Not only is it important to count our citizens accurately, but adequate 2020 Census funding also has potentially critical impacts on other data programs that are funded from the same program account, including the ACS and Economic Census.

First, planning for the 2020 decennial census is in a precarious funding position.  As the Census Bureau ramps up planning for 2020, the agency typically receives budget supplements to accomplish important preparatory tasks. While these tasks require funding, the CR process provides resource increases only if Congress approves a “spending anomaly” for Census, authorizing more funds.  Congress did not do this in the first CR passed in September.

In the coming fiscal year, Congress is asking the Census Bureau to complete tasks that it would not typically have to undertake outside the 2020 Census planning cycle.  For instance, the Bureau must test and submit topics for both the 2020 Census and the American Community Survey and begin testing alternative data collection methods designed to drive down overall costs for the 10-year cycle. Census is also testing new information technology systems and completing a dry run in 2018. Census is also seeking other ways to hold costs down, including using Internet responses – an option it could not use in 2010 due to lack of funding that ironically ultimately increased the cost of the Census.  The irony is that insufficient funds now could lead to cost overruns later in the 2020 planning cycle.

The Census is funded from a program account that includes the American Community Survey and the Economic Census.  Overruns in the 2020 census implementation could threaten these two critically important programs.  ACS is the only source of granular information about demographics available annually by community that not only Congressional leaders use to understand their districts but that economic and workforce developers use to recruit companies and serve jobseekers.  The Economic Census is the primary data source about business buying and selling activity that we use for econometric models explaining multiplier impacts and a key source for understanding clusters and supply chains.

We are asking you to reach out in 3 ways in the next two weeks:

  1. Contact your Congressional office to let them know how important this issue is to you or your organization’s efforts.  It would be helpful if you could provide 1 or 2 examples of how these data help your organization create jobs and put people to work more efficiently.
  2. Share this call to action with your state or local network; ask your colleagues to reach out as well.
  3. Feel free to blind copy us on any appeals you make on Census’ behalf.

Support for the 2020 Census is vital, not only to ensuring we have an accurate and complete count of Americans but also to ensure that programs such as the American Community Survey and the Economic Census are protected.

Thank you in advance for your help!  We will keep you up-dated on what Congress ultimately decides to do.

The Commission on Evidence-Based Policy Wants to Hear from You!

The Commission on Evidence-Based Policy wants to hear from you. The Commission is soliciting input from stakeholders on issues relevant to the Commission’s charge, established in Public Law 114-140. We are interested in hearing about data access issues, barriers to research, issues related to the capacity of states to engage in data and evidence building and issues related to privacy and confidentiality.

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Puerto Rico Featured in Quarter 1, 2016 Cost of Living Index

The Council for Community and Economic Research (C2ER) is happy to announce the release of the Quarter 1, 2016 Cost of Living Index (COLI) publication. This is the first publication to feature San Juan, Puerto Rico in the official publication. 2016 marks the second year San Juan has participated in COLI’s data collection process. Grocery and utility prices appear to be the highest in the city, almost 30 and 70 percent above the U.S. national average, respectively. The Puerto Rico Institute of Statistics has assumed the responsibility of collecting the data.

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Getting “Within WIOA” at the C2ER Conference and LMI Institute Forum

Akin to the spirit of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), the 2016 C2ER Annual Conference and LMI Institute Forum bring together economic and workforce development practitioners to enable the development of data- and job-driven strategies that foster local and regional economic growth. At the Conference and Forum, you will have many opportunities to learn from peers from across the country about their experiences, lessons, and successes related to WIOA implementation.

Sector Strategies

WIOA requires states to develop, convene, or implement sector strategies. Collecting and analyzing relevant and reliable labor market and workforce information ensures that sector strategies are aligned with local needs for in-demand sectors and occupations. The “Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act – Part I: Targeting Industries” session will explore employer-driven partnerships between industry, educators, and other actors to address urgent workforce needs. This session will be moderated by Stephanie McGarrah, a Senior Strategy Consultant for the UNC Health Care System, and will feature Deidre Myers, President of The Myers Group, LLC, and Hillary Huffer, Labor Market Information Manager for the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing & Regulation.

In-Demand Occupations and Skills

Identifying in-demand occupations is at the foundation of WIOA, but pinpointing the skills required for those occupations is also of utmost importance to a dynamic and high-functioning workforce system. The “Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act – Part II: Matching Skills and Jobs” session will examine both the demand and supply sides of this challenge by analyzing the perceived skills gap and reviewing research tips and techniques to determine whether industries truly have the skills they need. This session will be moderated by Lesley Hirsh, Director of the NYC Labor Market Information Service at the CUNY Graduate Center, Center for Urban Research, and will include experiences from Nebraska and Utah’s LMI offices.

Labor Market Information (LMI) and Program Evaluation

Another important aspect of WIOA is that it makes significant new demands for labor market information and economic evaluation, and therefore creates opportunities for researchers of all stripes to develop and extend capacities to support the public workforce system. During the “Data Tools Roundtable” session, you can engage in a dialogue to learn more about research needs and resources, as well as to brainstorm “entrepreneurial opportunities” for your organization to help provide data and analysis to local and state workforce boards. This session will be moderated by Adrienne Johnston, Director of the Bureau of Labor Market Statistics for the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, and will feature Steve Hine, Research Director for the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.

This year’s C2ER Annual Conference and LMI Institute Forum focus on the global impact of regional partnerships, and managers from around the U.S. will gather to discuss topics facing industries, the economy, and the talent pool. We will take time during trainings to show trends in data-visualization software and discuss best practices. We invite you to visit the conference site and view the preliminary agenda to learn more.

Video: Applied Data Visualization and Moving from Theory into Practice

One of the best ways to better interpret data, make decisions, and get your message across is to use a visualization that quickly draws attention to sometimes surprising patterns and observations that are not always apparent.

Data visualization, a wide term that applies to visual representations that attempt to help viewers better understand data, can be used to help broader audiences understand and digest complicated data.

This year’s Council for Community and Economic Research Conference (C2ER) and LMI Institute Forum is focused on the global impact of regional partnerships, and managers from around the U.S. will gather to discuss topics facing industries, the economy, and the talent pool. We will take time during trainings to show trends in data-visualization software and discuss best practices. We invite you to visit our event site and view the preliminary agenda to learn more.

Managers to Merge in Minneapolis: Who You’ll See at the 2016 C2ER Conference

This year’s Council for Community and Economic Research Conference (C2ER) and LMI Institute Forum is focused on the global impact of regional partnerships, and managers from around the U.S. will gather to discuss topics facing industries, the economy, and the talent pool.

The conference takes place June 6-10 in Minneapolis. Classes, presentations, and breakout sessions are designed to guide state, national, and regional-level managers that want to be better enabled to make positive impacts both at home and abroad. Frequently, the people we work with and speak come from organizations that either provide strategic international partnerships or are growing their own understanding about globalization’s regional affects on their daily business.

The fundamental reality is that promoting an active global perspective among labor-supply specialists, economic developers, and researchers is essential to developing sustainable regional partnerships. Globally focused relationships and mindsets give leaders the foundations needed for international collaboration that addresses the greatest challenges in producing jobs and improving workforce quality.

C2ER and the LMI Institute, Leaders in the Field:

For 56 years, C2ER and the LMI Institute have brought together chamber leaders, administrators at government agencies and universities, data and labor-market experts, administrators at economic-development and utility firms, and consulting directors. Economic researchers and labor market specialists have added value to their state and municipal agencies after attending the event. We invite you to visit our event site and view the preliminary agenda to learn more.

Addressing the Skills Gap Starts in Your Own Office

NP Employees

A survey from the Chronicle of Higher Education shows that government and nonprofit employers have a more-difficult time with recent-graduate hires. Most of the issues cited involve “soft skills.”

Of the 700 employers in the survey who offered feedback on specific troubles they experienced with recent grads, most mentioned communication and critical thinking. Specifically, the employers stated that they often find candidates who cannot put ideas forward, support those concepts, and build upon them. “Soft skills” don’t just stop with communication and critical thinking. They include collaboration and respect for diversity. All too often, these people skills are becoming the value-add for new hires.

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Advocate for Important Data Programs

Congress and the Administration have reached a budget deal for FY2016 (and FY2017) that will increase the overall spending limit for non-defense discretionary programs by $25 billion for the fiscal year that started October 1st. The House and Senate Appropriations Committees must now revise the 12 annual funding bills, and Congress must enact them, before the temporary spending bill (Continuing Resolution) expires on December 11th.

This is an opportunity for  members to advocate to the House and Senate subcommittees in charge of funding for the Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, and Bureau of Economic Analysis. The new budget framework provides additional resources for the appropriate committees in charge of these vital data programs (Commerce, State, Justice or equivalent in the House/Senate and Housing Education Labor Pensions or equivalent in the House/Senate). The Census Project is currently circulating a letter advocating for full ACS funding. Now would be a good time for your Senator or Congressman to hear about the importance of Census, BLS, and BEA funding.

Highlights of C2ER / Bureau of Economic Analysis Data Focus Group

focus-groupThe Council for Community and  Economic Research organized a teleconference-style focus group on March 11, 2015, to learn more about our members’ most commonly-used data sources and to gather recommendations for future products for the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA).

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