General

Narrow Request of Data.Gov: Timely Local Area Economic Data

More than likely, a number of persons might have raised this issue. But, on the slight chance it hasn't been raised, I'd like to offer this comment about local economic development data.

 

Please issue economic development data in a timely manner. More specifically, please make the US Census' County Business Patterns and ZIP Business Patterns as current as possible. Only recently, the Census posted 2007 CBP and ZBP data, and we're almost in 2010. So, there's a two-and-a-half year lag. Local officials need current CBP and ZBP data as much as possible, now more than ever, with the dramatic downturn in the economy, and with emerging policy changes with respect to healthcare, small businesses, and global warming, etc., which will affect different-size businesses in different industries in different local areas (ZIP, cities, county) . . . differently. If municipal officials don't have reliable and up-to-date data/estimates on which to observe and benchmark change, how will they know they are making the right decisions with respect to moving their respective areas in the right direction?

 

To be sure, I realize that up-to-date county-level data is available via the US BLS' QCEW -- employment by industry data, as well as labor force data. I also know that timely national level (and in some cases state) data are available via the Annual Services Report, Annual Survey of Manufacturers, and Annual Wholesale Report, etc., etc. I also use the BLS' unemployment dataset, an up-to-date data set which covers localities with more than 20,000 people. The Census also does a good job issuing up-to-date demographic estimates via the ACS regime. I not only appreciate the availability of these timely data sets but am that much more convinced that the feds can issue ZBP and the CBP in a more expeditious manner.

 

As an interim measure: why not issue "preliminary" estimates for ZBP for, say, 2009 in late 2010, and then revise the data set with the "final revised data" issued, say, in early 2011. That way, data consumers such as myself have something to work with. As it is, for much of 2010, I will still be working with 2007 CBP or ZBP data.

 

Thank you for your consideration.

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Idea No. 62