Economic census at risk of being killed
Funding cuts pushed by federal lawmakers could kill a key economic report that guides policymakers in setting fiscal priorities and gives economists crucial data to measure activity across all sectors of the U.S. economy. The U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations is scheduled to vote on the Census Bureau's appropriation tomorrow, two months after the House of Representatives voted to slice the agency's funding 25%, or $294 million, in fiscal 2012. That budget cut, if left in place by the Senate, would force the Census Bureau to eliminate its 2012 economic census, according to the National Association for Business Economics. "Reliable business statistics from the Economic Census are critical to the ability of NABE members to assess the condition of the U.S. economy," said NABE in a statement. The association is sponsoring a briefing at the House of Representatives Monday, Sept. 26, to highlight the importance of the report. The Economic Census, published every five years, provides detailed data that covers most of the U.S. economy, from the national to the local level. Industry reports include statistics such as the number of businesses, employment, payroll, capital expenditures, cost of supplies, value of shipments and receipts. The real estate data is broken down in a number of ways, including by product line, and lists revenue at businesses that sell property management services, for example, or property appraisals. The 2007 economic census counted 384,297 real estate and rental and leasing establishments, with total revenue of $485 billion. "There is no question that the Economic Census is the most important building block to the economic picture, and it must be preserved," said Maurine Haver, chair of NABE's statistics committee and president of Haver Analytics, in a column run by the association in August. "It is important that we not sit back while the fundamental data used to inform us about current economic activity is put at risk." Write to Liz Enochs.