Tag Archives: Census

Data Advocacy Update

2017 has brought a great deal of change to Washington, with a new Administration and Congress. With so many new faces and political developments, it can be hard to keep up. There are a few important developments that you need to pay attention to.

The “skinny budget” proposed by the Trump Administration contains a series of substantial cuts to federal statistical agencies. This budget provides $1.5 billion, an increase of more than $100 million, for the U.S. Census Bureau to continue preparations for the 2020 Decennial Census. This additional funding prioritizes fundamental investments in information technology and field infrastructure, which would allow the bureau to more effectively administer the 2020 Decennial Census. However, the Census Bureau will require significant increases in its budget to prepare for and administer the rapidly approaching Census.

The proposed budget consolidates the mission, policy support, and administrative functions of the Economics and Statistics Administration within the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the U.S. Census Bureau, and the Department of Commerce’s Office of the Secretary. It will also reduce funding for USDA’s statistical capabilities, while maintaining core Departmental analytical functions, such as the funding necessary to complete the Census of Agriculture.

Keep in mind that Congress has the power of the purse and that the drastic cuts proposed by the President are only proposals. A full budget will emerge later in the spring with more details, and this is when the real decisions will be made about the FY 2018 budget. It is increasingly likely that the FY 2017 budget will be a continuing resolution, effectively extending funding at current levels until the end of the fiscal year.

There are also important decisions to be made regarding leadership for the Census Bureau and Bureau of Labor Statistics. Census Bureau Director John Thompson’s five-year term expires at the end of 2017, while Bill Wiatrowski is serving as Acting Commissioner of the BLS following the end of former Commissioner Erica Groshen’s term. It is important that President Trump appoint quality leaders who understand the importance of these agencies.

There are several other legislative priorities to consider with regard to federal statistics. While there is less support for making the American Community Survey voluntary, which would dramatically reduce response rates, there are other concerning developments. The Local Zoning Decisions Protection Act of 2017, introduced by Rep. Paul Gosar (R., Ariz.) and Sen. Mike Lee (R., Utah), could limit data available for Department of Housing and Urban Development geospatial data. There are concerns that the Census could become politicized by the inclusion of questions of immigration status in the survey.

C2ER is working hard to ensure that these valuable data resources are protected and supported in Congress. We will continue to monitor these developments and educate policymakers about the critical importance of federal statistics to C2ER members.

President’s Budget Overview for Economic Development and Statistics

Economic Development Related Cuts

  • The Budget proposes to eliminate funding for many independent agencies, including: the Appalachian Regional Commission; the Delta Regional Authority; the Denali Commission; the Northern Border Regional Commission.
  • Eliminates the Economic Development Administration, which provides small grants with limited measurable impacts and duplicates other Federal programs, such as Rural Utilities Service grants at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and formula grants to States from the Department of Transportation. By terminating this agency, the Budget saves $221 million from the 2017 annualized CR level.
  • Eliminates the Minority Business Development Agency, which is duplicative of other Federal, State, local, and private sector efforts that promote minority business entrepreneurship including Small Business Administration District Offices and Small Business Development Centers.
  • Saves $124 million by discontinuing Federal funding for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program, which subsidizes up to half the cost of State centers, which provide consulting services to small- and medium-size manufacturers. By eliminating Federal funding, MEP centers would transition solely to non-Federal revenue sources, as was originally intended when the program was established.
  • Reduces duplicative and underperforming USDA programs by eliminating discretionary activities of the Rural Business and Cooperative Service, a savings of $95 million from the 2017 annualized CR level.
  • Eliminates the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, the Title 17 Innovative Technology Loan Guarantee Program, and the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Program because the private sector is better positioned to finance disruptive energy research and development and to commercialize innovative technologies.
  • Expands DOL Reemployment and Eligibility Assessments, an evidence-based activity that saves an average of $536 per claimant in unemployment insurance benefit costs by reducing improper payments and getting claimants back to work more quickly and at higher wages.
  • Decreases Federal support for DOL job training and employment service formula grants, shifting more responsibility for funding these services to states, localities, and employers.
  • Helps states expand apprenticeships, an evidence-based approach to preparing workers for jobs.
  • Eliminates funding for the Essential Air Service (EAS) program, which was originally conceived of as a temporary program nearly 40 years ago to provide subsidized commercial air service to rural airports. EAS flights are not full and have high subsidy costs per passenger. Several EAS-eligible communities are relatively close to major airports, and communities that have EAS could be served by other existing modes of transportation. This proposal would result in a discretionary savings of $175 million from the 2017 annualized CR level.
  • Eliminates funding for the unauthorized TIGER discretionary grant program, which awards grants to projects that are generally eligible for funding under existing surface transportation formula programs, saving $499 million from the 2017 annualized CR level. Further, DOT’s Nationally Significant Freight and Highway Projects grant program, authorized by the FAST Act of 2015, supports larger highway and multimodal freight projects with demonstrable national or regional benefits. This grant program is authorized at an annual average of $900 million through 2020.
  • Eliminates funding for Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund grants, a savings of $210 million from the 2017 annualized CR level. The CDFI Fund was created more than 20 years ago to jump-start a now mature industry where private institutions have ready access to the capital needed to extend credit and provide financial services to underserved communities.
  • Achieves $12 million in cost savings from the 2017 annualized CR level through identifying and eliminating those SBA grant programs where the private sector provides effective mechanisms to foster local business development and investment. Eliminations include PRIME technical assistance grants, Regional Innovation Clusters, and Growth Accelerators.

Statistics Related News

  • Provides $1.5 billion, an increase of more than $100 million, for the U.S. Census Bureau to continue preparations for the 2020 Decennial Census. This additional funding prioritizes fundamental investments in information technology and field infrastructure, which would allow the bureau to more effectively administer the 2020 Decennial Census.
  • Consolidates the mission, policy support, and administrative functions of the Economics and Statistics Administration within the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the U.S. Census Bureau, and the Department of Commerce’s Office of the Secretary.
  • Reduces funding for USDA’s statistical capabilities, while maintaining core Departmental analytical functions, such as the funding necessary to complete the Census of Agriculture.

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.

C2ER Participates in Census Bureau’s LED Workshop

C2ER staffers Sarah Gutschow, Ron Kelly, and Haden Springer joined more than 350 workforce and economic development researchers and practitioners at the Census Bureau’s Local Employment Dynamics (LED) Workshop, held in Washington, D.C. on September 9th-10th. Through a combination of interactive presentations, expert panels, and demonstrations, workshop participants gained exposure to various ways LED data and tools can support cutting-edge research. Research foci ranged from analyzing “Wage Deserts” in Philadelphia, to redefining Nebraska’s economic regions, to assessing the effectiveness of place-based economic incentives programs in Baltimore, MD and elsewhere. Continue reading

Legislative Update: WIA reauth, Census, and more

This week, C2ER joined its partners in the Workforce Data Quality Campaign for a private briefing on the Hill, voicing its support for continued commitment to education and workforce data.

The big news this week was the House and Senate leadership announcing the release of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), a bi-partisan, bi-cameral legislation to reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act (WIA), which was due for reauthorization eleven years ago. The National Skills Coalition has a page of resources including a summary, statements, and text of the bill. According the The Hill (the publication not the institution), WIOA would eliminate 15 federal programs and overhaul requirements throughout the job training system in a bid to help job seekers gain valuable employment skills. The Chronicle of Higher Education says that while community colleges are generally happy with the compromise, some are also frustrated that the bill would continue to require colleges that accept vouchers to report employment and earnings information for all of their students, and that it would not guarantee the institutions a seat on statewide workforce development boards. Continue reading

Census, Current Population Survey, and “questions”

The Census was all over the news yesterday, as changes to health insurance coverage questions raised concerns that quality of data could be degraded, especially with regard to the Affordable Care Act. Specifically, the Current Population Survey (CPS) will see changes to the wording of certain questions. Continue reading

Public data making the rounds in the media

As the appropriations process gears up on Capitol Hill, government officials, advocates, and journalists are making the case for preserving public data.

C2ER joins 100 organizations in defense of ACS

Good news from the Hill: the move to re-introduce an unpopular bill that would affect the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey has failed.

Late last week, word leaked that House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) would present the bill for markup on Wednesday, March 12. Organized by The Census Project, C2ER joined over 100 other organizations in a letter to the committee leadership urging the Census Bureau’s authorizing committee not to bring up the Poe bill, which would make ACS response voluntary, for a vote this week.  Continue reading