C2ER Blog

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

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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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State of State Business Incentives 2015

C2ER recently completed its annual update of the State Business Incentives Database. As part of the database review process, C2ER researched every U.S. state and territory to ascertain information on what programs have been created, repealed or altered during each state’s most recent legislative sessions. Based on this research, combined with extensive outreach to representatives in every state and territory, the Database now reflects the present status of the more than 1,900 state business incentives in operation around the country.

The State of State Business Incentives 2015 report summarizes the findings from this review. Most striking is the overall growth in the number of state business incentive programs. Since the new millennium, the overall number of state incentive programs targeted to businesses has more than doubled, from less than one thousand in 1999 to nearly two thousand today. The report takes a closer look at the different types and purposes of business incentive programs administered by states and how state incentive portfolios have changed over the past few years in response to recent economic trends, with notable examples of recent state incentive activity.

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.

Cost of Living Index Quarter 3, 2015 Media Release

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C2ER released the Cost of Living Index (COLI) third quarter report for 2015 in late October. Among the 265 urban areas that participated in the 2015 third quarter Cost of Living Index, the after-tax cost for a professional/managerial standard of living ranged from more than twice the national average in New York (Manhattan), NY to almost 20 percent below the national average in McAllen, TX.

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WIC Skills Initiative Summary Report Release

The Labor Market Information (LMI) Institute is excited to release the Workforce Information Council’s (WIC) Skills Initiative Summary Report. This report is the culminating piece of the WIC Skills Initiative, a study group created to engage federal representatives, state labor market information (LMI) directors, and other stakeholders from public policy and higher education in a dialogue around skills. The Initiative’s ultimate goal is to provide a baseline understanding of how various stakeholders perceive the concept of “skills,” and to identify and disseminate best practices in the provision of skills data. A more comprehensive understanding of skills data is especially important given recent legislation in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), which calls for data-driven decision-making around the development of skills and workplace readiness.

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BLS Letter of Support

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Friends of Labor Statistics asks that Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) users directly contact your Senators and Representatives to help prevent BLS from having to cut its statistical programs.

The link below provides a template for organizations and individuals to use and revise to specific concerns and circumstances.

BLS Appropriations Template

Illinois’s State Budget Impasse

Passing the annual budget is often a difficult task for state governments, particularly during lean fiscal periods. Over the past few months, Illinois has found resourceful ways to avoid a complete government shutdown after not passing their annual state budget.

The state is making its way through the second month of the fiscal year without a budget. Previously created laws and court decisions require funding to continue for about 80% of state spending, including paying state employees and Medicaid bills. However, many of Illinois’s economic incentive programs have been suspended as the state deals with no full year plan for spending.

Governor Rauner wanted a substantially reduced budget compared to what was passed by the General Assembly in June. The General Assembly’s proposed budget had revenue increases to fix the state’s current deficit, which Governor Rauner was open to if changes were made to workers’ compensation, civil lawsuit damage award limits, and public union bargaining and contracting rules, as well as a freeze on property taxes. Two months later, neither side seems much closer to an agreement. A small sign of progress occurred August 12 when the State House agreed unanimously to free $5.2 billion in federal funding that had been unavailable since July 1st because no budget has been passed.

While the federal funding will help, 20 percent of recently surveyed state social service providers will run out of money in the next few weeks. Along with economic development programs, state universities are also part of the list of organizations not getting funding. ReBoot Illinois has created a continually updating map of people and organizations that have been impacted by the budget impasse.

Newly-elected Governor Bruce Rauner has wrestled with how best to handle state business incentive programs. In April, the Rauner administration lifted the spending freeze it placed upon $100 million in business tax incentives for the state’s Economic Development for a Growing Economy (EDGE) program. The EDGE program provides tax credits to corporations to encourage the businesses to expand their operations in Illinois. To help reduce the state’s current deficit of $4 billion, at the start of June Governor Rauner suspended the application process for any future economic incentives used to attract and grow businesses. These programs have yet to be reactivated.

Illinois’s unusual situation is risky for the state’s economic future if funding for key state economic growth programs continues to stay low. The state’s credit rating will likely be downgraded soon and Illinois was recently ranked last in financial health by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. Although no end appears to be in sight, Illinois will eventually have to pass a budget or else face running out of money completely. Until then, the future of Illinois’s business incentive and other economic development programs remains uncertain.

State Economic Development Program Expenditures: FY2014-FY2016 Update

The Council for Community and Economic Research (C2ER) has updated its State Economic Development Program Expenditures Database as part of a continuous effort to track investments in economic development across all fifty states. The database now includes all Governor Recommended Budgets for fiscal year 2016. Read the full report on this update here.

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According to the Database, in FY2016 U.S. states are collectively proposing to spend $6.97 billion on economic development investments, representing a slight dip from FY2015 spending levels. In FY2015, states appropriated $7.05 billion for economic development, which was a 7 percent increase over actual economic development spending of $6.65 billion in FY14. Continue reading