Author Archive for lisan

Census Bureau is on the radar

The Census Bureau is losing its director at the end of this month and due to the pace of political appointments by the administration it could be a long time before it gets a director. This is serious because the Census Bureau is ramping up to the 2020 Census without enough money and was included in the High Risk Report compiled by the Government Accountability Office.

But, instead of focusing on this, Senator Ron Johnson, R-WI noticed that a subcontract for the media campaign has potential political leanings and wants an investigation:

GOP senator voices concerns about pro-Dem firm working 2020 Census
Will Carr | Fox News
June 5, 2017
Fox News has learned that last summer, a pro-Democratic analytics firm that describes itself as “a platform for hope and change” was included as a subcontractor in a $415 million advertising contract for the 2020 Census.

The editorial team at Bloomberg News is focused on the big picture:

Avoiding the Census Fiasco of 2020
Editorial Board | Bloomberg News
June 5, 2017
More is at stake than you might think.

Here are a few snips from this editorial

The fact that the census of 2020 is shaping up to be a fiasco is no small matter.

The troubles at the Census Bureau aren’t new. Nonetheless it falls to President Donald Trump to fix the problem — and to do this, he’ll need to move quickly.

Soon it will be too late to get back on track. Without delay, Trump must nominate competent people to fill the empty posts, and Congress must allocate money for the necessary tests. The census debacle of 2020 is looming.

So, to the nominations or “help wanted” problem:

white house with help wanted sign

Here’s a tracking database on the status of political appointments for President Trump. There are a lot of open nominations. In spite of a Trump tweet that Congress is obstructing his appointments, the bigger story is how few nominations there are. As of this post, there was no nominee for 441 of the 559 key positions requiring Senate confirmation. See tracking data base below to check on the status of his appointments.

This tracking database is a cooperative project by the Partnership for Public Service and the Washington Post. Click either link for access:

Partnership for Public Service | Washington Post

New Data Visualization Technique

Here are several examples of data visualizations that show the results by state, but order the data by the geographic location of the state. Note that these are also good sources for geographically referenced data:

Higher Education Spending by State
The Assault on Colleges – and the American Dream
David Leonhardt | New York Times
May 25, 2017

higher ed funding by state

Data Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

Coal Consumption
States’ Appetite for Coal Shrinks, Except in Nebraska
Yvette Romero | Bloomberg
May 30, 2017

coal consumption by state

Data Source: Energy Information Administration (EIA)

Here is one more example from Bloomberg on the availability of Planned Parenthood clinics across states

Planned Parenthood Closings Leave Some Patients With No Options
Yvette Romero | Bloomberg
June 1, 2017

planned parenthood clinics by states

Census Bureau director resigns

The Census Bureau director has just given notice that he’ll be resigning on June 30, 2017. His term officially ended in December 2016, but he has continued his role as director. This is a crucial time for the Census Bureau as it is ramping up for the 2020 Census without enough funds – at least in historical terms.

funding graph

[Link to FiveThirtyEight post on Census Bureau funding]

Here’s the coverage of John Thompson’s resignation in reverse chronological order:

The U.S. census is in trouble. This is why it’s crucial to what the nation knows about itself
Henry Farrell | Monkey Cage Blog, Washington Post
May 15, 2017

Excellent synopsis of an interview with Ken Prewitt, former Census Bureau director. And, a nice conclusion as well:

President Trump must now step in, name a high-quality director and insist that Congress provide the Census Bureau the money it needs. The 2020 Census will begin in April of that year — right in the middle of primary season. The bureau’s troubles pre-date Mr. Trump’s ascension, but the census is happening on his watch. If it fails, he will own it.

Is the census heading for a crisis?
Danny Vinik | Politico
May 13, 2017

The director resigns just as the $1.5 billion agency heads into its biggest test. Next in command may be a weather forecaster.

The Head of the Census Resigned. It Could Be as Serious as James Comey
Haley Sweetland Edwards | Time
May 12, 2017

In a week dominated by President Trump’s firing of FBI director James Comey, you could be forgiven for missing the imminent departure of another, less prominent federal official.

Yet the news this week that John H. Thompson, the director of the Census Bureau, has abruptly resigned is arguably as consequential to the future of our democracy. That’s because the Census Bureau, while less flashy than the FBI, plays a staggeringly important role in both U.S. elections and an array of state and federal government functions.

Census Director to Resign Amid Worries Over 2020 Head Count
Jonah Bromwich | New York Times
May 10, 2017

Census Bureau Director Resigns As Agency Faces Funding Debate
Doreen McCallister | NPR
May 10, 2017

US Census Bureau director abruptly resigns
Brooke Seipel | The Hill
May 9, 2017

U.S. Census director resigns amid turmoil over funding of 2020 count
Tara Bahrampour | Washington Post
May 9, 2017

Census director quits as census ramps up
Michael McAuliff | Huffington Post
May 9, 2017
Facing a major budget crunch, the man who was counting the U.S. population for Trump is resigning

[Bonus content]
Census2020 Oversight Hearing
May 3, 2017

Census Bureau director stepping down amid watchdog concerns
Jory Heckman | Federal News Radio
May 9, 2017

Detroit’s Home Lending Market

This recent article in Crain’s Detroit shows how far Detroit’s comeback has to go to be successful. Only 19% of home sales were via mortgages; however, that is an improvement.

Home mortgages remain a Detroit rarity
Joel Kurth and Mike Wilkinson | Crain’s Detroit
March 30, 2017
Can you call it a comeback if home loans are written only in a few neighborhoods?

The article has an interactive graphic that allows one to get more information on home sales – cash/mortgage, year built, and price. And, you can zero in on specific neighborhoods and streets. The data are from Real Comp II

detroit home sales

[Click to explore home sales data]

In the nick of time?

The Census Bureau released the subjects they plan to collect for the 2020 Census as well as the American Community Survey (ACS). The Census Bureau needs to send this information to Congress before April 1, 2017. They clearly met that deadline. But, there is a draft executive order “Executive Order on Protecting American Jobs and Workers by Strengthening the Integrity of Foreign Worker Visa Programs,” that would have the Census Bureau add a citizenship question to the Census. This information is already asked in the ACS – so it is not difficult for the Census Bureau to provide annual numbers on the size and composition of the foreign born population (citizen or not) x welfare use. So will Congress and/or Trump insist on changes between now and a year from now, when the exact wording of the questions has to be presented?

The Census Bureau has never wanted to collect immigration status data on the Census as they feel it would lower the response rate of non-citizens, particularly those without papers. This was true in the past and is certainly would be the case now.

Subjects Planned for the 2020 Census and American Community Survey
Census Bureau
March 28, 2017

White House proposal to ask immigration status in Census could have chilling effect, experts say
Tara Bahrampour | Washington Post
February 1, 2017

Annual questionnaires from the Census Bureau already ask whether respondents are citizens. But probing into the status of those who are not would be new, and Census experts say it would have a detrimental effect on future counts.

“It will drive the response rate down enormously,” said Kenneth Prewitt, a former director of the Census Bureau who is now a professor of public affairs at Columbia University. Immigrants here illegally are unlikely to answer questions about their status, he said, adding that the resulting undercount could have chilling effects.

“If you drive those people out of the Census, the consequence is that they’re not in it,” he said. “It’s a step toward not counting the people you don’t want to count. And that goes very far in redrawing legislative boundaries.”

Release Of Possible Topics For 2020 Census Raises Concerns
Hansi Lo Wang | NPR
March 28, 2017

WANG: Kenneth Prewitt is a former director of the Census Bureau who served under the Clinton administration. He’s concerned that the immigration debate could determine the questions asked on the census.

KENNETH PREWITT: I think that would set up a huge partisan argument. And the census would be stuck in the middle of that.

WANG: Prewitt adds that besides politics, the bureau is also dealing with uncertain funding from Congress. And that means the bureau may have to scrap more trial tests of its methods, plus follow-up visits to people who don’t respond immediately to its questionnaires.

PREWITT: That means we will not have a very good census. And not having a good census means that we have an undercount. And the undercount will vary by region and by grouping.

Budget Carnage

This is just a proposed budget, but the cuts to NIH and Commerce are not promising. And, NSF isn’t even mentioned:

US science agencies face deep cuts in Trump budget
S. Reardon, J. Tollefson, A. Witze & E. Ross | Nature
March 16, 2017

Rumours of the White House proposal have swirled for weeks, alarming many researchers who depend on government funding — and science advocates who worry that the Trump administration’s stance will jeopardize US leadership in fields ranging from climate science to cancer biology. It is not clear how much of the plan will survive negotiations in Congress over the next several months, however.

And the Trump proposal is notable for what it leaves out. The barebones document omits detail about many programmes and even entire agencies, including the National Science Foundation (NSF).

NIH, DOE Office of Science face deep cuts in Trump’s first budget
Science News Staff | Science
March 16, 2017

Here’s an articulation of the heavy lifting Trump has ahead to enact his budget re-allocation:

To reach that defense spending goal, however, Congress will need to agree to change to change a 2011 law, known as the Budget Control Act (BCA), that places binding caps on defense and non-defense discretionary spending, which accounts for roughly one-third of the $3.5 trillion that the federal government spends annually. (The other two-thirds goes to entitlement programs such as Medicare and Social Security, other kinds spending required by law, and paying interest on the national debt). Changing the BCA could be a heavy political lift, however, requiring 60 votes in the Senate. And, in general, White House budget requests are just one of many factors that Congress considers as it exercises its Constitutional authority to set spending levels. Lawmakers from both parties have already expressed skepticism about some of the cuts Trump has proposed, and the NIH cuts will likely face stiff opposition. Congress won’t decide final numbers until late this year.

The title says it all

“In Order That They Might Rest Their Arguments on Facts”: The Vital Role of Government-Collected Data is a white paper, jointly produced by the AEI and The Brookings Institution (The Hamilton Project).

One should not have to argue about the value of government-collected data, but sometimes the argument has to be made.

Here’s a quote that harkens back to the Founding Fathers – for the Supreme Court originalists?

quoted text

Executive Summary
Full Paper

This document is written for a lay audience, perhaps Congress. But, there are some facts about, justifications for, public-use government-collected data researchers may not be aware of. At the very least, assign it to your students. Or read it the next time PAA has an Advocacy Day.

Anything you can’t measure you can’t manage

Anything you can’t measure you can’t manage

Who said that?

Wilbur Ross, potential Secretary of Commerce in the Trump administration. This quote during his confirmation hearing is relevant as one of the agencies that will be under his purview is the Census Bureau.

He is also sympathetic to funding for the Census Bureau and presumably other statistical agencies:

In recent years, some Republicans in Congress have tried to restrict government data collection and to cut funding to the Census Bureau and other statistical agencies. Ross signaled he will fight those efforts. “It’s been hard getting the commitment for the appropriations that census really needs for its mission”

The Washington Post had an op-ed about the Census Bureau on February 20th and Wilbur Ross is mentioned in it:

IN HIS confirmation hearing last month, Wilbur Ross noted he may be the first secretary of commerce nominee who was once a U.S. census taker. Those skills could come in handy right about now: A recent report indicates the 2020 Census is in trouble.

Sources
What We Learned (And Didn’t) About Wilbur Ross At His Confirmation Hearing
Ben Casselman | FiveThirtyEight
January 18, 2017

Wilbur Ross’s first task should be saving the 2020 Census
Editorial Board | Washington Post
February 20, 2017

New word of the day: frugging

Do you know what frugging means? AAPOR condemned the Mainstream Media Accountability Survey for frugging:

AAPOR Statement on Trump/Pence Campaign Web Survey
American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR)
February 23, 2017

A hint is in the title – campaign. But, otherwise, read the short statement and find out.

As to the ‘survey‘ it could also be criticized for all the double-barreled questions it has. Here’s Question 13:

survey question

The Forgotten Men Index

graph

The Economist has created an index based on the unemployment rate, labor force participation rate, and average hourly wages. The index compares the fortunes of white working class men (WWCM) to all men. It will be updated monthly. So far, the index stands at 100; it was at 62 in 1994.

Details – but not enough, are in the articles below:

Daily Chart: Tracking the fortunes of America’s white working-class men
The Data Team | The Economist
February 20, 2017

The forgotten men index: Tracking the fortunes of the white working-class
The Economist
February 18, 2017

It might be interesting to look at this at lower levels of geography (states, counties, etc.) based on the American Community Survey instead of the original sources, which aren’t necessarily suitable for sub-national geographies.