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More Cuts at Census

Steve Beleu, Regional Librarian for Federal Govt. Information Oklahoma State Data Center Coordinating Agency, recently alerted the documents community to another set of cuts at the Census Bureau:

  1.  Curtail the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW). The QCEW program provides national, State, metropolitan statistical area, and county data on monthly employment and quarterly total wages and the number of establishments, by 6-digit North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code and by size of establishment. The BLS will achieve savings largely by reducing the scope and frequency of collection for select units in the QCEW survey that is used to validate and update the NAICS code of business establishments. This will result in a small degradation in the quality of QCEW data and make the QCEW slightly less accurate as a sampling frame.

2.  Curtail the International Price Program (IPP). IPP Export Price Indexes measure the price change of goods and services sold to foreign buyers. The BLS will discontinue production and publication of its Export Price Indexes. These indexes currently are used in the production of National Income and Product Accounts and in the calculation of real Gross Domestic Product. In addition, these indexes are used to help understand trends in U.S. real trade balances and competitiveness and issues such as the impact of exchange rate movements.

See Steve’s full post in the govdoc-l archives.

Let us specify up front that these cuts are not the responsibility of the Census Bureau itself, but of the Congress that refuses to fund it adequately.

You should care about Census cuts, particularly ones that include economic data. How can we identify problems in wages or assess the effects of laws passed by state and federal governments to affect the economic if we don’t have accurate data? What business decides that they’ll stop or degrade their sales tracking in order to save money? How would that business measure the effectiveness of their marketing?

We see this as part of a disturbing trend over the past decade or so of willfully turning out the lights on various parts of government that attempt to provide accurate data for the purpose of policymaking. We don’t expect this to end well if left unheralded and unchecked.

We commend Steve Beleu and others in the documents community who are keeping us aware of what we are losing. Please join him. Then tell your Congressmember that if they want to make policy in a given area, they had better be keeping good data – and making it public.

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1 Comment

  1. If they won’t fund data-collection, will they fund data-preservation?

    Don’t forget that when we rely on government agencies to preserve the information they create, then that information may disappear because of lack of Congressional support for preservation (and free access).

    But if libraries selected and acquired that information, then the libraries could preserve it and ensure access to it. Doing this is an opportunity for libraries to demonstrate their value to their user-communities.

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