A New Era Begins For Our Field Directorate

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The Closing of Six Regional Offices

Written by: Acting Director Tom Mesenbourg

Eighteen months have passed since we first announced the planned December 2012 closure of six regional offices and a significant change in how we manage survey data collection through our 7,000 field interviewers.  Our goal was to reduce costs and improve data quality by allowing local home-based field supervisors to manage a trained, professional staff who know their communities and are experts in eliciting responses from sometime reluctant households.

This realignment was a complex, demanding undertaking with an aggressive schedule.  This task was even more challenging in that it resulted in the loss of jobs and a major realignment of office and field responsibilities.  Many other organizations have failed in implementing even more modest proposals, but the Field Directorate, as always, accomplished this mission and did it in a superb manner.

Regional offices in Boston, Charlotte, Dallas, Detroit, Kansas City, and Seattle will close on December 31, 2012.  Our six regional offices in Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, New York, and Philadelphia will assume responsibilities for all data collection using reconfigured regional boundaries that now more evenly balance the field workload.

We knew this realignment would not be easy.  Yet managers and staff in the regions and headquarters rose to this challenge and performed amazing feats under trying circumstances. Even though staff in the closing offices were facing the loss of their jobs or earlier than planned retirements, while the remaining offices were expected to absorb double the work, the regional office staff performed professionally and exceptionally.  In the midst of significant change, the staff continued to meet our ongoing survey requirements, even as they changed the way we conduct and manage surveys.  Just as was the case with the 2010 Census, the mission came first and the Field delivered.

Just during the past 12 months, more than 625 home-based field supervisors were hired and trained, survey data collection databases were reconfigured to support the new boundaries, and new technology was deployed that permits home-based supervisors to have full and secured access to Census Bureau systems through our Virtual Desktop Interface technology.  Throughout the realignment process, ongoing data collection has continued without interruption and data quality has never suffered.

As this 50-year era of 12 regional offices ends and an even more demanding  era begins, I want to sincerely thank each of our regional staff for their unparalleled professionalism and  inspiring “get it done” work ethic.  Through your effort, dedication, and sacrifice the Census Bureau is well positioned to adapt to a rapidly changing future that demands new ways of doing business both in the regions and at Headquarters.  The Field Directorate has shown the rest of the Census Bureau how to implement transformational change professionally, on time, and under budget.  The ongoing effort to transform how we manage our reimbursable surveys and the work being done by the Center for Adaptive Design rely on your innovations.  The entire organization owes each and every one of you that worked on this Field realignment our gratitude and respect.

Finally, a special thanks to all the employees that worked in one of the six closing offices.  This realignment was especially difficult for you.  While we were able to find jobs for many of you in other Census Bureau locations, or assist others finding jobs in your local area, others are retiring or still looking for employment.  Yet, each one of you carried out your responsibilities throughout the realignment. Thank you for your notable accomplishments and your many years of dedicated service.  I wish each and every one of you only the best.

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Remembering Louis Kincannon

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Written by: Acting Director Tom Mesenbourg

It is with sadness that I share the news of the passing of Charles Louis Kincannon, our former director. As we mourn the loss of Louis, we share the knowledge that while Louis often spoke softly, his career and life were tributes to values such as dedication, honor, and friendship.

Louis believed in public service and began his career as a statistician at the U.S. Census Bureau in 1963, and held positions of increasing responsibility in the economic, demographic, and administrative areas. In 1974, he became chief of the program review staff in the Commerce Department’s Social and Economic Statistics Administration.

In September 1975, during the Ford administration, he joined the staff of the Office of Management and Budget and served as the statistical liaison to Vice President Nelson Rockefeller’s office.  Louis returned to the Census Bureau and was appointed deputy director and chief operating officer in January 1982. He continued in the post until September 1992. Louis was then appointed as the first chief statistician in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, where he served until June 2000.

President George W. Bush nominated Louis for director of the Census Bureau in November 2001, and the Senate confirmed him unanimously on March 13, 2002. He served as our director until the end of 2007.

Throughout his career, Louis received many honors, such as the Presidential Rank Award of Meritorious Executive and the Department of Commerce Gold Medal, and he shared his experience and wisdom with many. Even in retirement, Louis continued in public service, as he was a member of his neighborhood board and continued to share the importance and utility of Census Bureau programs, such as the American Community Survey, with many audiences.

We will mourn the loss of this faithful friend to the Census Bureau and share our sorrow at his passing with his family, including his wife, Claire, and his daughters, Indya and Alexandra, and the five grandchildren. The family would like you to share your thoughts and memories about Louis, and we encourage you to do so in the comments below.

Please find below details about the memorial service:

Memorial Service for Louis Kincannon
11:30 a.m.
Monday, January 7th, 2013
Christ Church of Capitol Hill
620 G Street, SE
Washington, DC 20003
Posted in About the Agency | 35 Comments

The American Community Survey – The Big Data Source for Information about your Community

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Written by: Acting Director Tom Mesenbourg

For just the third time, today we released the American Community Survey five-year estimates, which are for 2007-2011. These annual five-year estimates, represent a major statistical innovation in that they provide detailed economic, social, demographic, and housing information for over 700,000 communities, information that prior to the ACS was available only once a decade.  There is much media hype about Big Data, but the ACS five-year statistics, containing almost 11 billion estimates, deliver on the Big Data promise. They provide local communities with the information they need to make informed decisions.

Each year, approximately 2 million survey responses are collected from households. If you participated in the American Community Survey, I thank you. Your response allows us to provide the detailed information that your community uses to decide where to build new hospitals or new schools or to assess the socio-economic condition of residents. Businesses also rely on ACS statistics to identify market opportunities, assess the characteristics of the workforce and the housing stock, and make investment decisions.

Just last week, we released a data product that shows the power of the American Community Survey in action. Relying on the 2006-2010 ACS five-year estimates, we produced the Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Tabulation, sponsored by four federal agencies. With more than 19 billion statistics and requiring more than 1 trillion calculations to complete, it provides a comprehensive profile of the American workforce. Without the ACS, we would not have this important resource available to organizations wishing to compare the diversity of their labor force with the diversity of the areas from which they draw their workers.

When we look at the American Community Survey five-year estimates released today, they provide new insights about the nation’s communities, including information about age distributions, educational attainment and whether residents rent or own their homes. For example, they tell us that in Sierra County, NM, 23.8 percent of households had a person 65 and older who lived alone, among the highest in the nation.

I can also look at the statistics to learn more about the community where I live. In my town of La Plata, MD, 6.5 percent of the population age 5 and older speak a language other than English at home. In addition, 28.7 percent of the population age 25 and older have completed a bachelor’s degree or higher.

I encourage you to explore these statistics and learn more about your local community. Soon it will be even easier for you to use this important data source. We continue to look for ways to make Census Bureau information more accessible and useful. I am excited to tell you about a new tool that we will be unveiling in the coming weeks and two that are already available.

Today, we updated QuickFacts with the new American Community Survey statistics, which allows you to find information about a town, county or state with just a few clicks. Today, we also released “Easy Stats,” which will allow users to build tables by selecting a desired topic and a specific geography. Early next year, we will also unveil “Dwellr,” our first mobile app that uses ACS statistics.

Besides making Census Bureau information more accessible, we are committed to providing respondents with new tools that make it easier to respond to our surveys and censuses. Beginning in mid-December (for the January 2013 panel), American Community Survey sampled households will be able to provide their survey responses online.

For more information about the American Community Survey and the estimates released today, please visit the ACS page.

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2012 Economic Census – Learn why Business-Owner Response Makes a Difference

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Written by: Acting Director Tom Mesenbourg

econ census image of business ownersWhile many of you may be familiar with the decennial census, are you aware that 2012 is the year of the next economic census? At the Census Bureau, we have been busy making preparations for this important event.

The 2012 Economic Census is under way. On October 24, approximately 500,000 classification forms were mailed to small businesses where we had incomplete information about their business operations.  These responses are used to determine the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code for single-unit establishments where the Census Bureau does not have a complete NAICS code.  On October 31, we mailed economic census forms to 2,000 of our largest businesses, operating almost 750,000 individual locations. The remaining economic census forms will be mailed in mid-December.

What is the economic census?

The economic census is the U.S. Government’s official five-year measure of American business and the economy. Collected for years ending in “2” and “7,” economic census results serve as the foundation for the gross domestic product (GDP) and other indicators of economic performance. This cornerstone of  U.S. business activity  provides an essential benchmark for our nation’s economic indicators.

Many people rely on economic census data. Chambers of Commerce rely on statistics from the economic census to promote economic development in their industries and local areas. Business associations use economic census statistics for strategic planning. Businesses also use the information to research and identify new markets for their products or services. Government offices, at every level, also rely on economic statistics for making important decisions affecting cities, counties and states.

To help you learn more about the economic census, we have an updated website available that helps answer what the economic census is, why it is important, and how the data are used. Business.census.gov is a valuable resource for business owners and business leaders to understand the vital role they play in the 2012 Economic Census. The site contains resources for respondents, such as examples of economic census forms, videos, key dates, and FAQs, and a link to our Business Help Site, with access to our electronic reporting software.

Business.census.gov also offers industry and local area snapshots with statistics from the 2007 Economic Census and links to other data tools.  By using economic census data now, you will learn why your response makes a difference for the 2012 Economic Census. And finally, for organizations interested in promoting response among their membership or readers, the site provides fact sheets, story ideas, talking points, and promotional materials to help us get the word out.

Throughout the 2012 Economic Census, I will provide updates on key milestones. Please visit business.census.gov and watch this blog for the latest information.

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Happy Veterans Day!

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Written by: Tom Mesenbourg, Acting Director

This Sunday we celebrate all of the brave men and women who have served our country. I had the honor to serve in the U.S. Army, and I understand the sacrifices you have endured and the contributions you have made to our country. We salute you and thank you for your service. I hope you have a happy Veterans Day.

As we celebrate our veterans, we also can learn more about them. Our American Community Survey (ACS) statistics provide a detailed portrait of those who served. Veterans Day provides an opportunity to learn more about these American heroes.

According to 2011 ACS statistics, there were 21.5 million veterans of the U.S. military, of whom 1.6 million were women. Today’s veterans are most likely to have served during the Vietnam era with 7.5 million serving, compared with the Gulf War era (from Aug. 2, 1990 to the present) with 5.1 million, World War II (1941-1945) with 1.8 million and the Korean War (1950-1953) with 2.4 million. An estimated 5.4 million served in peacetime only.

In addition to when they served, we also know the demographic characteristics of our veterans. In 2011, about 43 percent (9.2 million) of veterans were age 65 and older. At the other end of the age spectrum, about 8 percent (1.8 million) of veterans were younger than 35. About 80 percent of veterans were white, non-Hispanic, and about 7 percent were women.

In 2011, there were 3.5 million veterans with a service-connected disability, which is an injury or illness incurred or aggravated during active military service. Of this number, more than 800,000 veterans had a rating of 70 percent or higher. Severity of one’s disability is scaled from 0 to 100 percent and eligibility for compensation depends on one’s rating.

Statistics from our Survey of Business Owners show the valuable roles that veteran entrepreneurs and their businesses have played within the U.S. economy. In 2007, the latest year for which the survey was conducted, veterans owned an estimated 2.4 million or 9 percent of all 27.1 million nonfarm businesses nationwide.

Veteran entrepreneurs and their businesses have also experienced longevity. Seventy-five percent of veteran business owners were reported to be age 55 or older, compared with 37 percent of all business owners. Fifty-six percent of veteran-owned businesses with paid employees reported that their firm was originally established before 1990, compared with 39 percent of all employer respondent firms.

In addition, 8 percent of veteran owners were reported to be disabled as the result of injury incurred or aggravated during military service.

In addition, we can learn from the American Community Survey that 9.1 million (75 percent) of veterans age 18 to 64 were in the labor force in 2011. Veterans’ annual median income in 2011 was $35,821 compared with $25,811 for the population as a whole, where income includes not only wages and self-employment, but also Social Security, retirement pensions, VA payments, and other forms of income.

When we look at education, we see that 26.3 percent of veterans 25 and older had at least a bachelor’s degree in 2011. In comparison, 28.5 percent of the total population had a bachelor’s degree or higher.

The Census Bureau’s statistics on veterans are used for a variety of purposes. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) uses information, such as age and disability status, from the ACS for planning purposes. By looking at these statistics for states and local communities, the VA can estimate the demand for medical services and nursing home care for veterans. Statistics about veteran status are used to allocate funds to states and local areas for employment and job training programs for veterans, as well as assess compliance with laws prohibiting employment discrimination.

Private organizations use these statistics to provide services and products to veterans, such as financial products oriented toward veterans. Overall, statistics on veterans provide valuable insight into who the nation’s heroes are and how the nation may continue to serve their needs after their service to the country.

To learn more about our nation’s veterans, please visit our veterans data main page.

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