DISC News, April 2009

DISC News contains articles about local, national, and international data issues.
It is published twice a semester by the library staff.

Editor: Joanne Juhnke, Special Librarian
Staff Contributors: Lu Chou, Senior Special Librarian


April 2009
(Visit our PDF edition as well!)


Table of Contents
Census 2010—Within A Year
NCES Training Seminars
ICPSR Summer Program: Clogg Award in Sociology
Business Dynamics Statistics
New Studies at DISC
Ranking America

Crossroads Corner

Global Change Master Directory (GCMD)
Center for the Study of Innovation and Productivity
National Government Statistical Web Sites Web Archive


Census 2010—Within A Year
by Joanne Juhnke

The largest peacetime activity of the U.S. federal government—the decennial census—is rolling forward toward an official Census Day of April 1, 2010. The count of all residents living in the United States, Puerto Rico, and U.S. island areas will be targeted to that date.

The 2010 census has been in the news for many reasons in the past few months. The Census Bureau has used the occasion of the April 1 pre-anniversary to create publicity for the benefits of responding to the upcoming enumeration, including communities getting their fair share of political representation and federal funding.

The census has also provided a welcome round of employment, during an economic stretch where unemployment has risen. Up to 143,000 temporary census workers have begun address canvassing, a process that involves walking the streets with handheld computers to account for the addresses which will receive questionnaires by mail in 2010. While most of the hiring for this phase is complete, according to the Census 2010 web site at http://2010.census.gov/2010censusjobs/index.php, another round of recruiting will begin in the fall of 2009 for spring 2010 hires, bringing the total to 1.4 million employees. Many of the 2010 hires will be involved in the Non-Response Follow-Up (NRFU) process between late April and early July, visiting the estimated 35-40 percent of households who do not return their mailed questionnaires.

The major innovation of the 2010 Census is what will not be collected on April 1, 2010: the data on what was previously known as the long form, currently being collected on a rolling basis via the American Community Survey and the Puerto Rico Community Survey. The 2010 April 1 enumeration will consist of the short-form only, among the shortest short-forms ever, with ten questions for the first person and seven questions for anyone else in the household.

By a deadline of December 31, 2010, the Secretary of Commerce must deliver state population totals to the President, along with the corresponding apportionment for seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. By April 1, 2011, the block-level census counts known as P.L. 94-171 data, complete with breakdowns by race, voting age, and housing units and their occupancy status, must be submitted to states that have requested the data for redistricting purposes. Data products will continue to be released on a flow basis through June 2012.

The road to Census 2010 has been less than smooth, both from a management and political perspective. In March 2008, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) designated Census 2010 as a “high-risk area” due to cost uncertainties as well as challenges in managing the hand-held computers that were originally designed for enumeration but eventually scaled back for use only in address canvassing. A follow-up report in January 2009 pointed to progress in some areas but cited remaining concerns, including lack of a full “dress-rehearsal” and a testing plan for NRFU, as well as concerns about potential logjams in the new security measures of fingerprinting hundreds of thousands of temporary census workers. (These reports and others are online at http://www.gao.gov/transition_2009/urgent/census.php).

On the political front, President Barack Obama’s current nominee for Census Director, Robert Groves of the University of Michigan, has yet to be confirmed, though the Washington Post reported that a confirmation hearing will likely be held in early May. A suggestion floated by the Obama administration in February, that the Census Bureau report directly to the president instead of to the Commerce Secretary, was later dismissed by the White House. Legislation introduced by Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney in March, that would reconfigure the Census Bureau as an independent agency separate from the Commerce Department, has been referred to committee and is unlikely to affect the 2010 Census.

In addition to the Census 2010 web site, at http://2010.census.gov/, further information on Census 2010 can be found at The Census Project, http://www.thecensusproject.org/, including the periodic Census News Brief.

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NCES Training Seminars
by Joanne Juhnke

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) will be holding two summer training seminars in Washington, DC on high school longitudinal studies data. Both seminars will cover the same material, focusing on the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 (ELS:2002) and the National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988 (NELS:88) databases.

The first seminar will be on July 13-15 (application due June 1) and the second seminar will be on August 17-19 (application due July 6).

There are no fees to attend the seminars for accepted applicants. The seminars are open to advanced graduate students and faculty members from colleges and universities nationwide, as well as to other researchers, education practitioners, and policy analysts. Participants are expected to outline a research study as part of the application process, describing how the study would be furthered by participation in the seminar. Participants attending the seminar should also have a solid understanding of statistical methods and be proficient in the use of SPSS or SAS.

Full announcement and application information for the July 13-15th seminar can be accessed at http://ies.ed.gov/whatsnew/conferences/?id=404. For the August 17-19th seminar, the materials are at http://ies.ed.gov/whatsnew/conferences/?id=413.

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ICPSR Summer Program: Clogg Award in Sociology
by Joanne Juhnke

As noted in the February issue of DISC News, ICPSR is once again offering its Summer Program in research design, statistics, data analysis, and social science methodology.

The Methodology Section of the American Sociological Association and ICSPR have announced a scholarship award for the ICPSR summer program, in honor of the late Clifford C. Clogg, a major figure in quantitative social science research methodology.

The Clogg Award, which waives the Program Fees for the 4 or 8-week ICPSR summer program session, will be awarded to a limited number of advanced graduate students of quantitative methods currently enrolled in Ph.D. programs. The deadline for applications is May 4, 2009.

Application information for the Clogg Award can be found at http://www.disc.wisc.edu/announce/clogg.html. Information about the 2009 ICPSR Summer Program, including online application materials, is available at http://www.icpsr.umich.edu/sumprog/.

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Business Dynamics Statistics
by Joanne Juhnke

Business Dynamics Statistics (BDS) is a new business data series from the Center for Economic Studies of the U.S. Census Bureau, released in December 2008. The annual series describes establishment-level business dynamics with dimensions not found in similar databases including firm age and firm size. Measures include establishment openings and closings, firm startups, and job creation and destruction.

The source of the series is the Longitudinal Business Database, a confidential database available to researchers only via the Census Research Data Center Network and only in context of a stringently controlled data protection process. The BDS offers their public-use tabulations in order to make information from the confidential LBD accessible to a broad range of data users.

The BDS is an annual series, currently covering 1976 to 2005. The site, at http://www.ces.census.gov/index.php/bds, covers the project’s background and scope, along with publications and statistical briefs, in addition to the downloadable data itself.

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New Studies at DISC

  • INDSTAT4: 4-digit level of ISIC code revision 2 and 3, 2008.
  • International migration flows to and from selected countries, 1960-2004: the 2005 revision.
  • National longitudinal survey of youth, rounds 1-10: 1997-2006.
  • Puerto Rican Elderly: Health Conditions (PREHCO) Wave 1, 2002-2003.
  • Puerto Rican Elderly: Health Conditions (PREHCO) Wave 2, 2004-2006.

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Ranking America
by Joanne Juhnke

Mark Rice, professor of American Studies at St. John Fisher College in New York, has created an interesting response to the often-heard claim that the United States is “Number One.” His blog Ranking America aims to help people better understand where the U.S. stands in global rankings on an astonishing variety of measures.

Each post on the Ranking America blog, at http://rankingamerica.wordpress.com/, announces the rank order of the United States on a particular topic (“The U.S. ranks 1st in cutlery;” “The U.S. ranks 4th in automobile accident deaths”). The post then includes a brief explanation of the ranking, a link to the source, and a chart or graph illustrating the ranking.

Topic areas are wide-ranging and include arts and entertainment, the economy, health and welfare, political and social life, and more. A separate page lists some of the most popular questions in alphabetical order.

The sources of the rankings include surveys from international organizations such as the OECD and the United Nations, as well as think tanks and various single-issue organizations.

So far Ranking America has been consistent and prolific, with two or more entries daily, making it useful for current awareness in its particular niche.

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Crossroads Corner
by Joanne Juhnke

Crossroads Corner highlights web sites recently added to the searchable Internet Crossroads in Social Science Data on the DISC web site.

Global Change Master Directory (GCMD)
In recognition of Earth Day (April 22), we highlight the Global Change Master Directory (GCMD), at http://gcmd.nasa.gov. A project of NASA, the GCMD is a large database of records containing annotated links pointing to web pages for “Earth science data sets and services relevant to global change and Earth science research.” The section on Human Dimensions, available as a link from the front page, makes the connection between the physical sciences that are the primary emphasis of the directory and the social sciences upon which global change impacts.

The Human Dimensions section of the directory includes close to 3,400 records in the categories of Attitudes/Preferences/Behavior, Economic Resources, Human Health, Natural Hazards and more. Each record contains links, a brief text summary, contact information for the person or entity that created the site, and in many cases a Google Earth map showing the geographic coverage of the information.

Center for the Study of Innovation and Productivity
The Center for the Study of Innovation and Productivity (CSIP) at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco undertakes to promote understanding of the role of innovation (particularly in technology) and productivity in economies at various levels.

One unique contribution of the CSIP web site, at http://www.frbsf.org/csip/index.php, is the Tech Pulse index, an index that aims to track the health of the U.S. information technology sector. A separate Quick Stats section of the site looks at regional, national, and global indicators in information technology and productivity.

The Data and Charting page of the CSIP site carries downloadable economic series such as real U.S. output per worker, IT industrial production in the U.S., semiconductor sales worldwide, and regional venture capital investments. Depending on the series, comparisons can be charted online across geographical regions or industry sectors. Users can also customize charts by sector, time-frame, or data type. While some of the series start in the early 1990s, others go back as far as 1977 or further. Time series on the site are kept current, depending on whether release schedules are annual, quarterly, or monthly.

National Government Statistical Web Sites Web Archive
Like any currently-maintained web operation, statistical agency web pages are constantly in flux. Many such sites provide links only to the latest information rather than keeping older material accessible.

Indiana University has partnered with the Internet Archive (home of the Wayback Machine at http://www.archive.org/index.php) to create an archived collection of previous web site versions from statistical agencies. Online at http://www.archive-it.org/collections/317, the National Government Statistical Web Sites collection covers approximately 150 such sites from Sub-Saharan Africa, Central Eurasia, East Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, Oceania, Russia and Eastern Europe, South Asia, and Southeast Asia.

The collection brings the addresses together in a handy list, with archived versions of the pages generally from 2006 onwards. However, each page also includes a link to the larger Wayback Machine service, that searches the larger directory and displays previously archived versions of the pages as well.

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