My Two Census

Formerly the non-partisan watchdog of the 2010 US Census, and currently an opinion blog that covers all things political, media, foreign policy, globalization, and culture…but sometimes returning to its census/demographics roots.

Posts Tagged ‘economy’

Doubts over 2010 Census’ ability to jumpstart economy

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

The U.S. government is hiring about 1.2 million temporary workers for the 2010 Census, but it’s questionable whether those positions will give a major, sustained boost to the economy.

Though news outlets such as the New York Times and Bloomberg have reported on expectations that census hiring will jumpstart an economic recovery, others, such as Daniel Indiviglio in the Atlantic, are now asserting that the rebound will be weak at best.

As we’ve noted before, these positions are temporary — about six weeks — so they don’t provide the long-term income that could lead to increased spending or significant improvements in the unemployment rate, now at 10 percent. Indiviglio also makes some interesting points about the nature of the census jobs:

What’s worse, these jobs are utterly unproductive. These aren’t manufacturing jobs where these individuals are creating products to be sold overseas. They’re not infrastructure jobs that will improve roads and make commerce more efficient. They’re not even construction jobs to weatherize homes and help drive down U.S. energy costs. These workers will be walking from door to door and taking a count. Nothing will be produced except for some statistics, with no direct economic value.

Finally, census work might be better than no work, but that’s all it’s better than. These are likely jobs that will contribute very little to most of these individuals’ skill sets and career development. That means, other than perhaps timing, they’ll likely be in no better position to get a good job after the census ends than they were beforehand.

That said, the Census Bureau needs workers and, in this economy, it’s hard to be too critical of officials and economists touting the jobs the census brings, even if the claims of a major economic impact are dubious. As Bloomberg notes, the census is still likely to be the biggest single source of new jobs in the coming months:

The surge will probably dwarf any hiring by private employers early in 2010 as companies delay adding staff until they are convinced the economic recovery will be sustained.

Census could shape corporate strategy

Friday, January 8th, 2010

Besides states seeking funding and representation in Congress and workers seeking temporary employment, another group stands to benefit from the 2010 Census: corporations.

The Economist reports that businesses plan to use census data to help them make decisions about where to open stores and what to stock. Target, for example, tells the magazine that it began offering more Spanish-language children’s books and hair products for African Americans after seeing data from the 2000 Census.

And due to the economy, more firms than ever are expected to utilize census data:

According to Zain Raj, the boss of Euro RSCG Discovery, a marketing firm, even more companies than normal will be poring over the census this year. The recession has made them reluctant to expand without good market data, he argues, yet it has also caused them to cut back on research, making the free census data all the more vital.

And some experts predict that this year’s data will lead more companies to push micro-targeted ad campaigns:

Peter Francese, a demographer at Ogilvy & Mather, an advertising agency, thinks the 2010 census will permanently change marketing. When companies analyse the census data, they will see that cities, and even some neighbourhoods, are so diverse now that broad advertising campaigns are no longer suitable. Mass-market advertising, he says, will become “extinct”. Marketers will instead have to focus on reaching specific households—just as the Census Bureau is preparing to do.

The Census Bureau has about 47,000 corporate partners that are helping to market the census, more than double the number in 2000, according to the Economist. It’s clear that the businesses, too, have a stake in the data.

Tough economy aids search for census workers

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

As Census Bureau director Robert M. Groves said in a conference call last month, the recession is helpful to the Bureau because it means a larger, and more qualified, applicant pool.

The nationwide unemployment rate was 10 percent in November 2009, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (new data is scheduled to be released tomorrow). That number, Time reports, is higher than any census year since 1940.

Time also reports how the Bureau is handling the influx of applications:

In this slow economy, the Census has been overwhelmed by both the quantity and quality of applicants. “We’re getting a lot of people who are professionals, people who have been laid off from the large companies, people with master’s degrees and higher,” says Lillie Eng-Hirt, who manages the Census office in Memphis, Tenn. One man was so grateful at being offered work, she relates, that he had the Census employee hiring him in tears after hearing his story of going without a job for so long.

Enthusiasm about the jobs has been so great that the Census pulled plans to advertise them nationally. Last spring, the Census did run ads when it was hiring canvassers for the summer — people who walk up and down every block in the U.S. to verify each address. The Census was hoping to get 700,000 applications in order to fill 200,000 spots. Instead, the bureau received 1.2 million. (Those applicants will be considered for the new positions too.) This time around, says decennial recruiting chief Wendy Button, the Census will run advertisements only in areas where it anticipates having trouble filling positions, such as inner cities, extremely rural areas and neighborhoods with large percentages of non-English-speaking residents.

And applicants aren’t the only thing the Cenus Bureau has a surplus of this year: The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports that the Bureau is having no trouble finding office space due to high vacancy rates. The paper says:

And the feds are finding plenty of cheap temporary places for desks, in a market in which roughly 20 percent of all office space stands silent.

Counting on census controversy

Monday, January 4th, 2010

From a proposal to ask about citizenship on 2010 Census to a collaboration between Latino groups and evangelical churches to promote the census, we’ve seen a fair amount of controversy, well before census forms are distributed in March.

Audrey Singer, a senior fellow in the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution examines some of the controversies surrounding the upcoming census in an op-ed for CNN.com.

Much of the debate will center on meaning of “home,” she writes:

This coming census — the largest count of the U.S. population with more immigrants and minorities than ever — will be complicated further by the economic downturn and foreclosure crisis because many people are “doubling up” or otherwise living in temporary quarters.

The census questionnaire asks for a count of all people who live and sleep in the household “most of the time,” as of April 1, but not those who are living away at college or in the military or those who are living in a nursing home or who are in a jail, prison or detention facility. (They are counted separately from households.)

“Home” may have changed recently for those whose hardship leaves them little choice but to live with relatives or friends, however temporary that may be. “Home” for displaced residents of the Gulf Coast may be miles away from where they lived before the devastation that Hurricanes Katrina and Rita wrought in their communities.

“Home” for some immigrants is in U.S. communities even though they are not legally residing in the United States. And “home” may be in a prison or detention center in a state far away from the inmate’s hometown residence.

In the comments, let us know what you see as the most controversial parts of the 2010 Census.

Newspaper Publishers Revenues Decline in 2008

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

OK, so the following post isn’t related to the 2010 Census, but it just goes to show you why sites like MyTwoCensus are becoming more and more necessary,  as newspapers across the US go bust! The following comes from today’s Census Bureau press release about the Bureau’s American information economy statistics that were just released:

Newspaper publishers experienced a single-year decline in total revenue
of 8.3 percent — from $47.9 billion in 2007 to $43.9 billion in 2008. This
followed a more modest decline of 2.7 percent in 2007, the U.S. Census
Bureau reported today.

A major contributor to the overall loss in revenues for the industry was
the decline in advertising space revenue for general newspapers, which
dropped 10.2 percent — from $30.9 billion in 2007 to $27.8 billion in
2008. Revenue from newspaper subscriptions remained largely unchanged
over the period, from $8.3 billion in 2007 to $8.2 billion in 2008.

These estimates come from the 2008 Service Annual Survey: Information
Sector Services. The survey provides national estimates of annual revenue
and expenses for industries primarily engaged in producing, processing and
distributing data, which range from motion picture production to libraries.

“When we measure information as a commodity, it allows us to track
trends in various industries, such as newspaper publishers, motion picture
and sound recording industries, and radio and television broadcasting, that
produce and distribute information as the source of their revenue,” said
Mark Wallace, chief of the Service Sector Statistics Division at the U.S.
Census Bureau. “Businesses can then use these data to examine market share,
evaluate business potential and plan their investment strategies.”

Radio stations saw a 6.7 percent decline in revenues in 2008 — from
$13.6 billion to $12.7 billion — a decrease from the relatively flat
levels
observed since 2005. Local radio station air time revenue for broadcasting
advertising and program content (commercials, infomercials, real estate
listings and sponsorships) fell 9.5 percent — from $9.0 billion in 2007 to
$8.1 billion in 2008.

Cable and other subscription programming, such as producing and
broadcasting television programs for cable and satellite television
systems,
continued to see increased revenues, climbing from $40.9 billion in 2007 to
$45.1 billion in 2008 — an 10.1 percent increase.

Over the same period, Internet publishing and broadcasting revenues grew
19.8 percent from $16.7 billion to $20 billion, spurred in part by the
increase in revenue from one of its sources, publishing and broadcasting of
Internet content, which increased 19.6 percent — from $8.7 billion in
2007 to $10.4 billion in 2008.

Summary data (total revenue and total expenses) are provided at the
sector, subsector and industry group level for the survey year and past
years. Detailed expense data are published for select sectors and
subsectors. Industry specific data, such as product line and detailed
revenue
(source of funding), are provided for selected industries.

The information sector is classified under the North American Industry
Classification System as NAICS 51.