Monthly Archive for May, 2012

On the ACS: The Tea Party does not speak for all Republicans

This is a compilation of articles/blogs by mostly business interests who are against the House action that defunds the ACS explicitly and the Economic Census implicitly. On many other fronts, these authors and their readers probably lean Republican. The sentiment can best be summarized with this quote:

Funding US statistical agencies is not about being a Democrat, Republican, or Independent. It is not about liking Obama or Romney. It is about having the statistical base which is vital to the interests of the entire United States population and all of their business interests. [David, Kotok, Chairman & Chief Investment Officer, Cumberland Advisors]

Top Economists are Fuming after House Passes Census Budget Cut
Rob Wile | Business Insider
May 21, 2012

Congressional Threat to Every Investor, Business Owner and Citizen – Part 2
David Kotok | Cumberland Advisors
May 21, 2012

This note also includes the full text of the US Chamber of Commerce Letter in support of the Census Bureau.

Comment: We need more and better data, not less
Bill McBride | Calculated Risk
May 20, 2012

Congressional Threat to Every Investor, Business Owner and Citizen – Part 1
David Kotok | Cumberland Advisors
May 19, 2012

Shocking Drive-by on the Census Bureau
Diane Swonk | Mesirow Financial
May 18, 2012

The GOP’s Census Takers
Editorial | The Wall Street Journal
May 11, 2012

This article is behind the WSJ paywall. If you go to Google and type in the title above, you’ll get a direct link to the article. Otherwise, we have extensive excerpts from the article here.

Killing the American Community Survey Blinds Business
Matthew Phillips | Bloomberg Business Week
May 10, 2012

The War on Data Collection
Menzie Chinn | Econbrowser
May 7, 2012

Census 2010: Undercount, Overcount or Both?

The word is just in via Twitter:

@CommerceGov DepSec Blank on release of data measuring 2010 census accuracy: “On time, under budget and accurate.”

The 2010 Census had a very slight overcount, but some groups (renters, blacks, and Hispanics) were undercounted. But, there are improvements compared to previous censuses.

Press Release

Press Kit
The press kit is very detailed. There are multiple sets of presentations slides and then many technical reports.

While the Press Kit has excellent handouts, users may wish to watch the press conference to get the additional details that a slide cannot convey. Below are links to the video of the press conference on the Census Bureau’s USTREAM channel. It is broken into 3 segments. The first is an overview and not real technical. The afternoon session is technical, appropriate for survey methodologists and others with an interest in sampling, weights, and small area measurment. That session is divided into two segments as there was a break.

Census Coverage Measurement Press Conference

Coverage Measurement Press Conference: Technical Session (part 1)

Coverage Measurement Press Conference: Technical Session (part 2)

Video streaming by Ustream

The ACS survey is “Random” rather than “Scientific”

More coverage on the ACS. Most of the press coverage for the ACS is positive.

GOP Rep Daniel Webster Bashes Census Survey As “Random” Rather Than “Scientific”
Matthew Iglesias | Slate
May 20, 2012

The title says it all.

[Selected Excerpts]
[Paragraph 2] In reality, of course, what would not be cost effective would be to try to survey every single American on such a frequent basis. By making the sample random the Census Bureau is able to make scientifically valid inferences about the state of the overall population. It’s a little bit sad that any member of congress doesn’t understand this, but effective representative democracy (thankfully) doesn’t require members of congress to be well-informed about every subject under the sun. It does, however, require members of congress to try to be well-informed about the sub-set of issues they choose to become active on. Webster is badly, badly failing that test here.

The Beginning of the End of the Census?
Catherine Rampell | New York Times
May 20, 2012

Editorial also includes a nice graphic that shows the history of questions in the Census/ACS since 1850.

The upshot of this editorial is that the likely outcome of a Senate/House appropriations bill is that the ACS will be voluntary rather than mandatory. While that is better than a de-funded ACS and Economic Census, the quality of the data are likely to suffer and the ACS will be more expensive.

[Selected Excerpts]
Paragraph 1]THE American Community Survey may be the most important government function you’ve never heard of, and it’s in trouble.

[Paragraph 24]If the American Community Survey were made voluntary, experts say, the census would have to spend significantly more money on follow-up phone calls and in-person visits to get enough households to answer.

[Paragraph 25]But Congress also plans to cut the census budget, making such follow-ups prohibitively expensive.

[Paragraph 26]“If it’s voluntary, then we’ll just get bad data,” said Kenneth Prewitt, a former director of the census who is now at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. “That means businesses will make bad decisions, and government will make bad decisions, which means we won’t even know where we actually are wasting our tax dollars.”

Census surveys aren’t down for the count
Steven Dinan | Washington Times
May 20, 2012

In a previous post, the Washington Times was a bit more positive in its coverage of Webster, This article is more muted but covers most of the Republican talking points: the questions are not constitutional; the census shouldn’t enumerate non-citizens; maybe businesses could pay for the data [no discussion of other interested users like the public].

Oddly enough, the article sounds like it would be in favor of the use of statistical methods for correcting for the problems of a voluntary ACS:

Some lawmakers in the House have even floated the idea of making businesses pay for the data as a way of recouping costs, while others said the Census Bureau — which has occasionally advocated using statistical sampling for the decennial census — could make use of that technique to correct for any errors in a voluntary census.

Without survey, guess who suffers?
Mary Sanchez | Kansas City Star
May 20, 2012

A regional newspaper provides an excellent summary of the issue.

[Selected Excerpts]

[Paragraph 1]Here’s a fiscal mess in the making that has slipped by most Americans.

[Paragraph 2]This one is pushed by the folks who claim that government is too big and intrusive.

[Paragraph 3]The U.S. House of Representatives is attempting to eliminate funding for an annual socioeconomic survey of the U.S. population. Sounds like a little harmless nipping at the overblown federal budget, right?

[Paragraph 9]Clearly, this is an issue where current political mantras overtook rational thinking. The attitude driving this ill-considered move is that the government has no business asking questions about the ages of your household members, income, marital status, military service, mortgage, rent payments or other personal information.

[Paragraph 10] But without the data, government funding would be based on guesswork. That is hardly a fiscally responsible approach.

The ACS: “It’s just a make-work project”

Here is additional coverage about the currently defunded ACS. Some of these include quotes from House members (as in the title).

As in the previous post, these are posted with the most recent at the top.

Research Cuts Are Akin to Eating Seed Corn
Norman Ornstein | Roll Call
May 15, 2012
The title says it all. The excerpts I’ve clipped are mostly about the cuts to the Census Bureau. However, he also discusses the excising of political science dollars from NSF.

[Selected Excerpts]
[Paragraph 6] If ever we need evidence of ideology run rampant, these actions become exhibit A. Learning about the population and about the economy are fundamental for a society to understand where it has been and where it is going, for industries to plan their future investments and for the country to be prepared for wars and other exigencies. The first census taken after the Constitution was enacted included questions designed to pinpoint the number of able-bodied males older than 16 to be able to assess preparedness for conflicts and for the workforce.

[Paragraph 9] The questions asked by the ACS are vetted by Congress, and strict privacy controls are in place. The economic pluses of the survey are huge and obvious; it will constrain our economy significantly if we do away with it, and it will also make the task of law enforcement and traffic control, among other things, much more difficult.

[Paragraph 10, partial] The Economic Census director noted that “the 2012 Economic Census provides comprehensive information on the health of over 25 million businesses and 1,100 industries. It provides detailed industry and geographic source data for generating quarterly GDP estimates. The economic census is also the benchmark for measures of productivity, producer prices, and many of the nation’s principal economic indicators.

[Paragraph 11] In their zeal to cut domestic discretionary spending to save every dollar of defense appropriations and to avoid a dime in tax increases on the highest earners (while imposing a tax increase, via a cut in the child tax credit, on others), House Republicans have begun a major effort to eliminate the nation’s seed corn, the fundamentals for building and growing the economy. The “No-Nothings” are on the rise.

[Paragraph 13]. . . the key question here is an intrusive government, via a set of politicians, throwing grenades into a carefully designed and balanced peer-review process for scientists, physical and social, to determine what research benefits society enough to use some taxpayer funds.

[Paragraph 14] This truly is a slippery slope — political science one day, climate research the next, biological research after that and so on, depending on the ideology and demagogic capacity of the majorities in Congress at any given time.

The American Community Survey is a count worth keeping
Editorial | The Washington Post
May 15, 2012

[Selected excerpts]
[Paragraph 1] ACCORDING TO Rep. Daniel Webster (R-Fla.), it is “intrusive,” “an inappropriate use of taxpayer dollars,” “unconstitutional,” and “the very picture of what’s wrong in D.C.”

[Paragraph 2] What manner of predatory government prompted Mr. Webster — supported by nearly all House Republicans — to issue such categorical condemnation? That intolerable federal boondoggle known as . . . the American Community Survey (ACS).

[Paragraph 4, partial] As James Madison argued around the time of the first census, collecting information on the socio-economic status of the population is one of those basic things that government is uniquely suited to do, and it benefits everyone.

[Paragraph 6, partial] The Constitution explicitly allows Congress to collect demographic data on the American public “in such a manner as they shall by law direct.” As for the expense, eliminating the ACS is like declining to buy stethoscopes in order to reduce health-care expenses

Survey for health, poverty benefits threatened in Congress
Elizabeth Landau | CNN
May 15, 2012

[Selected excerpts]
[Paragraph 7] “If you’re opposed to the survey, you’re opposed to understanding what’s going on in America,” said MIT economist Jonathan Gruber, director of the Program on Health Care Research at the National Bureau of Economic Research.

[Paragraph 16] As examples of the intrusiveness of the survey, Webster cited questions that ask if respondents have difficulty dressing, concentrating and making decisions, how long it takes them to get home from work, and what their emotional condition is. He also said that failure to answer the survey can result in a $5,000 fine.

[Paragraph 17] But Martin Gaynor, professor of economics and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University, called concerns about privacy “very foolish.” “People volunteer all kinds of far more intimate, sensitive information online without a thought about who is watching,” he said.

[Paragraph 18] And there’s a harsher penalty for Census Bureau employees who identify individuals filling out the surveys: five years in prison or $250,000 in fines, or both, according to the Census website. All employees take an oath of nondisclosure, and the information is kept private.

Starving the Census in the Gouse GOP Budget: Penny wise, and dumb
May 15, 2012

[Selected excerpts]
[Paragraph 2] Now, as details of Ryan’s plan emerge, it’s becoming clearer that its spending cuts are equally illusory, relying on alleged cost-saving measures that would likely cost more in the long term than they help right now. Case in point: Ryan’s plan to evis­cerate the Census Bureau and elim­inate its American Community Survey (ACS), an annual survey that provides a rapid-response supplement to the decennial Census.

[Paragraph 3] As Busi­nessweek notes, cuts to Census budgets in the past decade prevented Congress and the Obama admin­is­tration from being able to quickly diagnose the scope of the financial sector’s collapse in 2007. One expert observed, “The government saved $8 million, but how many tril­lions were lost as a result of not being able to see the crisis coming?”

[Paragraph 4] Iron­i­cally, as the New York Times explains, the ACS itself was actually created as a sensible cost-cutting strategy, designed to provide more timely data than the decennial Census could. Even the US Chamber of Commerce has vocally opposed further cuts to Census funding because it helps busi­nesses large and small to inform their planning. Which is why top conser­v­ative policy think tanks support the ACS, too.

[Paragraph 5] An adequately funded Census Bureau is the best vehicle we have for finding a path to sustained economic growth for all of us; there is wide­spread agreement that without its data, we will be flying blind.

Deep-sixing extension of census is misguided
Editorial | Spokesman-Review
May 15, 2012

[Selected excerpts]
[Paragraph 1] In the seemingly bottomless well of issues to divide Americans, here’s another: The U.S. House of Representatives voted last Wednesday to slash the Census Bureau budget and end the valuable American Community Survey.

[Paragraph 2] It was a mere seven years ago that bipartisan congressional forces implemented this ongoing statistical snapshot so that business and government could base decisions on real-world demographic data. Some $400 billion in federal spending is predicated on these surveys, which go out to 250,000 households per month. Businesses use the information to help make decisions on what to produce, where to build and how many people to hire.

[Paragraph 3] But fear-mongering about this alleged invasion of privacy has surpassed common sense and sparked an unfortunate “too-much-information” backlash.

[Paragraph 4] This is foolhardy and misguided. While the survey does ask respondents questions about how they live, their identities are kept a secret. In fact, divulging that data is a serious crime that carries a fine of up to $250,000 or a five-year prison sentence – or both. The information is valuable in the aggregate, not on an individual level.

[Paragraph 6]What small-government opponents of the survey don’t seem to understand is that their actions will cause bureaucracies to grow more inefficient

Census Bureau questionnaires criticized by Rep. Duncan as intrusive
Michael Collins | Knoxville News Sentinel
May 14, 2012

[Selected excerpts]
[Paragraph 13]The monthly survey duplicates data that can be gleaned from other sources, Duncan said, and “is just another way for the Census Bureau to create work for bureaucrats.”

[Paragraph 14] “It’s just a make-work project for the Census Bureau,” he said.

Dan Webster, census taker?
Bill Thompson |
May 14, 2012
This is a relatively long article, for a local paper. It provides an excellent summary of the issues for its readers.

Operating in the Dark
Editorial | New York Times
May 13, 2012

[Selected excerpts]
[Paragraph 1] The Web site of Representative Daniel Webster, Republican of Florida, instructs visitors to click on a link for “Census data for the 8th district” to learn about the area’s economy, businesses, income, employment, homeownership and other important features. And yet, on Wednesday, Mr. Webster declared that the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey — the source for much of that data — is an unconstitutional breach of privacy.

[Paragraph 3, partial] This is know-nothingness at a new level.

[Paragraph 5] The survey cuts would reduce understanding about what is happening in the economy and the effectiveness of business and government policy. Lack of information can lead to paralysis and costly mistakes. When Republicans proposed similar cuts last year, even the deficit hawks at the United States Chamber of Commerce opposed them.

[Paragraph 6] The White House is opposed to the cuts and the Senate will soon have a chance to reject them when it takes up the appropriation bill. It should.

Does government knowledge mean government intrusion?
Suzy Khimm | Wonklog at The Washington Post
May 13, 2012

[Selected excerpts]
[Paragraph 1] Nothing says government overreach like asking about the toilets in your house.

[Paragraph 6] But the GOP’s Big Brother argument could gain traction at a time when Americans are growing increasingly concerned about how their personal information is being collected. But unlike Google or the Internet’s data-scrapers, the Census Bureau ensures that the information it makes public hides the identity of the respondents. And though the survey is mandatory, it’s something that Americans themselves fill out — not information that’s being collected unbeknownst to them.

[Paragraph 7] But perhaps it isn’t a coincidence that the anti-ACS push happened the same week that House Republicans also voted to eliminate funding for political science research through the National Science Foundation, as Ezra Klein explained earlier. Behind both GOP initiatives is the belief that it isn’t the business of government to gather certain kinds of knowledge or information — whether it’s about the country’s individual citizens or the nature of its political systems. But in certain cases, the price of government not knowing is that many others will be left in the dark as well.

Flying Blind: Cutting Funding for Data & Research Programs

At the beginning of the week we thought the ACS was in danger of being made voluntary (and thus increasing its cost by about 60m).

But, instead, funding for the ACS was cut through several amendments – diverting money for community policing (Brown, D-FL and Lynch, D-MA) and making it voluntary (Poe, R-TX). But the biggest blow was de-funding the ACS altogether [previous post]. Maybe we shouldn’t be so surprised about the de-funding. The Week 23 “You Cut” item was to “Reduce Census Bureau data collection that is beyond the Constitutional mandate.”

Here are some reactions to this posted with the most recent articles first. Don’t miss Robert Groves’ blog post/video. He takes his gloves off – not restrained.

The GOP’s Census Takers
Editorial | The Wall Street Journal
May 11, 2012

This editorial decries the decision by the Republican House members to defund the ACS. However, if you read the comments, the readers beg to differ.

With the contempt of the Washington establishment raining down on House Republicans for voting on principle, every now and then the GOP does something that feeds the otherwise false narrative of political extremism. Witness Thursday night’s drive-by on the Census Bureau.

In fact, the ACS provides some of the most accurate, objective and granular data about the economy and the American people, in something approaching real time. Ideally, Congress would use the information to make good decisions. Or economists and social scientists draw on the resource to offer better suggestions. Businesses also depend on the ACS’s county-by-county statistics to inform investment and hiring decisions. As the great Peter Drucker had it, you can’t manage or change what you don’t measure.

The ACS costs about $2.4 billion a decade, which is trivial compared with the growth it helps drive. National statistics are in some sense public goods, which is why the government has other data-gathering shops like the Bureaus of Economic Analysis and Labor Statistics. The House action is like blaming the bathroom scale for your recent weight gain.

Florida freshman Daniel Webster denounced the ACS as “the definition of the breach of personal privacy, the picture of what’s wrong in Washington D.C., unconstitutional.” This diminishes all the other things the government does that really are unlawful, especially since the Founders told Congress to enumerate the population “in such Manner as they shall by Law direct.” As for privacy, anyone not living in a Unabomber shack won’t be much inconvenienced by making this civic contribution.

Since the political class is attempting to define the GOP as insane and redefine “moderation” as anything President Obama favors, Republicans do themselves no favors by targeting a useful government purpose.

Robert Groves, Census Director, Hammers House For Cutting Major U.S. Survey
Michael McAuliff | Huffington Post
May 11, 2012

The head of the U.S. Census Bureau hammered the House of Representatives on Friday for passing a bill that he said “devastates” the nation’s ability to measure its economy and understand its people.

The House slashed the bureau’s budget in the appropriations bill for commerce, justice and science programs, which it passed Thursday, and specifically barred the agency from conducting the American Community Survey, some form of which has been done since 1790.

Census officials, who usually stay very nonpartisan, had been relatively restrained in pointing out the damage likely to stem from proposed cuts that were deeper than those already suggested, noting simply that the quality of the nation’s economic data would suffer.

But after the House passed its bill cutting more funds and eliminating the long-form community survey entirely, a Capitol Hill staffer told The Huffington Post, Census head Robert Groves decided to take the gloves off, with administration approval.

“This bill … devastates the nation’s statistical information about the status of the economy and the larger society,” Groves said in a new video released on the agency’s website (see above). “Modern societies need current detailed social and economic statistics. The U.S. is losing them.”

Indeed, data from the American Community Survey are nearly ubiquitous. Most of the House members who voted to end the survey have links to it on their official websites so that constituents can learn more about their communities. Webster’s own site links to the information (see screen shot).

Webster’s office could not immediately be reached for comment.

But Republicans argued that the survey was unconstitutional and too intrusive because it asks such questions as how many flush toilets people have in their homes and whether they are married. A recent study by the Brookings Institution’s Andrew Reamer found that seven of those questions — including the one on marriage — have been on the survey since 1850.

A Future Without Key Social and Economic Statistics for the Country
Robert Groves | Director’s Blog [Census Bureau]
May 11, 2012


in ALL CAPS, because he sounds pretty mad in his video summarizing his blog post:

Annual Census at Risk in House Budget Bill
Sabrina Tavernise | The New York Times
May 11, 2012

“Demographers feel betrayed,” said Andrew Cherlin, a demographer at Johns Hopkins University. “We were told not to worry about the demise of the census long-form questionnaire because we could still get the detailed information from the A.C.S. Now the House wants to end that, too.”

“The situation is very serious,” she [Lowenthal] said, adding that there were legal requirements that rely on the survey’s data, like implementation of the Voting Rights Act, which draws on detailed neighborhood data on race and ethnicity. “I don’t think the leadership in the House has thought through the consequences of this.”

Republicans attack ‘intrusive’ survey from Census Bureau
Pete Kasperowicz | The Hill
May 11, 2012

Who’s Afraid of Economic Data?
Josh Barro | Forbes
May 11, 2012

Republicans think they’re striking a blow for federalism here, but they’re really doing the opposite. In order for state and local governments to serve as “laboratories of democracy,” we need comparable performance data across jurisdictions. Without ACS, it would be a lot harder to figure out what local policies are working.

AEI’s Andrew Biggs made this point in his testimony in favor of the ACS earlier this year:

Third, and most importantly, without good data policymakers are essentially flying blind, lacking solid knowledge of the Americans they are seeking to assist. We already suffer too much from what might be referred to as “policymaking by anecdote,” where lawmakers seek to pass legislation before sufficiently examining the severity – or sometimes even the existence – of a perceived problem. Reducing the quantity and quality of data available to policymakers, analysts and researchers threatens to exacerbate this problem.

Wonks: House Plan to get rid of American Community Survey “Absolutely Terrible”
Shani Hilton | Washington City Paper
May 11, 2012

“It’s an absolutely terrible decision—it’s terribly shortsighted,” says David Cooper, an economic analyst at the nonpartisan Economic Policy Institute.

Killing the American Community Survey Blinds Business
Matthew Phillips | Bloomberg Business Week
May 10,2012

Tom Beers, executive director of the National Association of Business Economists, says that without good economic data, businesses would be “flying blind.” He adds: “You end up in a guessing game about what’s going on in the economy. The types of losses that result are far worse than what you end up spending to fund these surveys.”

Webster says ending the ACS could save $2.5 billion over the next decade. Asked to respond to concerns from the business community over the impact of stopping the ACS, Webster’s communications staff referred me to his comments on the House floor, which don’t address those concerns.

House bill reins in Census Bureau, Justice
Stephen Dinan | The Washington Times
May 10, 2012

This article is favor of the cuts – sees it as reining in the Census Bureau.

Conservatives have long argued the agency pries too deeply into Americans’ lives with its long-form questionnaire, which over the past decade has become the American Community Survey. The ACS doesn’t replace the decennial census, but rather is taken every year of a smaller group of Americans, giving the Census Bureau continually updated data.

House lawmakers voted first to halt the Census Bureau from fining anyone who refuses to participate, and then voted 232-190 to end the ACS altogether.

“We need to ask ourselves whether this survey is worth $2.4 billion,” said Rep. Daniel Webster, Florida Republican, who offered the amendment to eliminate the ACS.

House Votes to Cut Census Survey Done Since Thomas Jefferson
Michael McAuliff | Huffington Post
May 9, 2012

“The Republicans have earned a reputation as the ‘do-nothing party’ and now they want to also be the ‘know-nothing party,’ “ said Rep. Carolyn Maloney after the vote. “This vote repeals the work done by Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama and six Congresses to modernize the census, and does so without even a hearing or full debate.”

Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-Pa.), who ran the floor debate for Democrats, seemed especially vexed.

“We’ve been doing surveys in the long form since 1790 as a nation,” Fattah said, referring to the time when Thomas Jefferson oversaw the census. “It’s critically important. The idea that we’re going to leave the greatest country in the world with less information about the condition of communities and of our families — and that we’re going to do that appropriately — defies logic.”

YIKES: Has the ACS been defunded?

The House voted 232-190 on the Webster-Lankford amendment to prohibit the use of funds to conduct the American Community Survey. Here is the record of the votes (232-190).

Below is a clip of Webster (R-FL) presenting his argument that the ACS is an unconstitutional invasion of privacy:

Source: Free Government Information (FGI)

Here’s more detail on the issue, including the caveat that the Senate is unlikely to agree to this funding cut:

House Votes To Cut Census Survey Done Since Thomas Jefferson
Michael McAuliff | Huffington Post
May 10, 2012

It is unlikely that the Senate would pass such a measure, but it also could be attached to other legislation, as the House GOP has managed before with measures the Senate does not like. Webster said his cut would save $2.4 billion.

E-mail to Census Project Colleagues
Terri Ann Lowenthal
May 9, 2012

Now, I cannot imagine that President Obama would sign a Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations bill that eliminates the ACS. But this is a truly cautionary tale. The outcome demonstrates, in my opinion, that all census/ACS data users must be much more pro-active in conveying their support for this and other surveys to all Members of the House and Senate. What if the White House and Senate majority change hands next year? Conceivably, we could lose an awful lot of data in the future.

[See previous post for more information on the appropriations bill, HR5326 that this amendment was added to].

Congressional Quarterly Political Reference Suite

The University of Michigan Library has purchased additional titles to the Congressional Quarterly Political Reference Suite. These new electronic reference books add to their collection of CQ reference works on campaigns, politics and elections. The CQ Political Reference Suite can be accessed here:

New titles include:

    Supreme Court Compendium, 5th Edition
    Cities in American History
    Encyclopedia of Water Politics
    The New York Times on Gay and Lesbian Issues
    Encyclopedia of the U.S. Census
    Federal Regulatory Directory, 15th Edition
    Women in American Politics
    Encyclopedia of US/Latin America Relations
    Exit Polls: Surveying the American Electorate
    African American Electorate
    Elections A to Z, 4th Edition
    and many more.

Census Appropriations & Other Threats

Hot off the desk of the Census Project and the PAA’s Office of Government and Public Affairs:

The proposed funding level for the Census Bureau for FY2013 via the House Appropriations Bill (HR5326) includes a 12 percent cut. This will:

hamper thorough research and testing for the 2020 Census and curtail portions of the 2012 Economic Census, which provides vital benchmarks for key economic indicators such as Gross Domestic Product.

In addition,

The Periodic Censuses and Programs account includes funding for several activities that are vital to testing and planning for the 2020 decennial census. The testing program includes an Internet response option and other bold operational changes that the Census Bureau must fully vet and analyze before it can prudently include them in the 2020 Census design. In our view, the proposed $52 million cut in Census 2020 planning, ostensibly to reduce overall costs for the next decennial census, is pennywise and pound-foolish
for the American taxpayer.

The House Committee is also directing the Census Bureau to hold the line on spending for the 2020 Census to the amount it spent in 2010. That does not take into consideration housing or population growth or the increasing diversity of the future US, which contributes to the “hard to count” and “expensive to count” population.

Read the letter sent by the Census Project to Speaker Boehner and Minority Leader Pelosi.

In addition, there is a threat that Trey Gowdy, (R, SC) will be adding an amendment to this appropriation bill to make the American Community Survey voluntary. Read the Action Alert from PAA for information on this and what to do about it.

Here’s the message I sent to my Representative:

Ted Poe, (R, TX) is sponsoring a bill (HR 931) that would make response to the ACS voluntary. Trey Gowdy (R, SC) is trying to add an amendment to an appropriations bill (HR 5326) for the same purpose.

Please vote against this amendment. It will (a) increase the cost of the ACS by $60m a year; (b ) reduce the reliability and thus usefulness of the data, which is used to allocate $450b in federal funds & for private sector investment decisions.

The Supreme Court has upheld the federal government’s authority to gather socioeconomic data in the decennial census, so the ACS is in no way an unconstitutional exercise of the Census Bureau’s authority.

I believe it would be inappropriate to legislate such a significant change in policy on an appropriations bill.

And, here’s a link to the House of Representatives where you can look up the contact information for your representative:

Households and Families: 2010

By: Daphne Lofquist, Terry Ligaila, Martin O’Connell, and Sarah Feliz
Source: United States Census Bureau

From the news release:

The U.S. Census Bureau today released a 2010 Census brief, Households and Families: 2010, that showed interracial or interethnic opposite-sex married couple households grew by 28 percent over the decade from 7 percent in 2000 to 10 percent in 2010. States with higher percentages of couples of a different race or Hispanic origin in 2010 were primarily located in the western and southwestern parts of the United States, along with Hawaii and Alaska.

A higher percentage of unmarried partners were interracial or interethnic than married couples. Nationally, 10 percent of opposite-sex married couples had partners of a different race or Hispanic origin, compared with 18 percent of opposite-sex unmarried partners and 21 percent of same-sex unmarried partners.

Full text (PDF)

Employment Characteristics of Families, 2011

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

From the Summary:

In 2011, 11.5 percent of families included an unemployed person, falling from a peak of 12.4 percent in 2010, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Of the nation’s 78.4 million families, 79.8 percent had at least one employed member in 2011.

These data on employment, unemployment, and family relationships are collected as part of the Current Population Survey (CPS), a monthly sample survey of approximately 60,000 households. Families are classified either as married-couple families or as families maintained by women or men without spouses present. For further information about the CPS, see the Technical Note.

Table of Contents
Full text (PDF)