New Data Strategy to Enhance Equitable Economic Growth, Spur Good-Paying Jobs for All Americans

The strategic leverage of data will also provide increased competitive advantage to U.S. businesses and research institution. 

Today, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo announced a series of tools and initiatives to execute the Department of Commerce’s Data Strategy for fiscal years 2021-2024. With representation from every bureau, Commerce’s Data Governance Board (CDGB) developed this innovative Data Strategy to address some of our most pressing equity challenges around job growth, distribution of resources, and other measures of economic well-being.

“The 2020 Census, which was carried out accurately and dutifully in the face of unprecedented circumstances by the civil servants here in Washington and their partners across the country, showed that people of color now represent more than two-fifths of Americans and over half of the nation’s youth,” said Deputy Secretary of Commerce Don Graves. “Here at Commerce, and across the federal government, we have an obligation to create economic conditions that recognize the power of diversity and favor the inclusion of all Americans, while using data to brighten the future of our nation’s children.”

“With women, particularly women of color, earning pennies on the dollar in wages compared to white men, and the number of working minority business owners suffering due to this pandemic, Commerce data is needed now more than ever to enhance equitable economic growth and help our communities build back better,” said Secretary Raimondo.” “By leveraging Commerce data, we will spur good-paying jobs, empower entrepreneurs to innovate and grow, and help all American workers and businesses to compete here at home and abroad.”

Several tools and initiatives are currently underway at the Department, relying on the exponential amount of data on the nation’s economy, population, and environment that the Department generates, collects, stores, and analyzes. Here are just a few of the exciting initiatives that will be enhanced by the new Commerce Data Strategy:

  • Making the Data Available and Accessible: Through the implementation of this strategy, the data tools within the Commerce Data Hub will enable insights to the nation’s economy and population, including demography, housing, socioeconomics, and businesses. These publicly available datasets and tools assist federal agencies and other entities in the equitable distribution of resources and identifying underserved communities to empower all Americans. The Commerce Data Hub will provide a Commerce-wide data inventory and search portal that will ultimately aggregate and promote all its data assets in one location showcasing each bureau’s specific data search capabilities
  • Driving Technological Innovation: The Opportunity Project (TOP) drives innovation by helping companies, non-profits, and universities utilize federal data to develop new technologies and innovative solutions which advance equitable economic growth. Currently, TOP has focused its efforts on challenges such as improving minority businesses’ access to capital (MBDA), tackling the climate crisis through climate-smart communities (NOAA), increasing content accessibility for multilingual communities (NYC Mayor’s Office), and others.
  • Democratizing Data: Commerce wants to empower communities to leverage data that will inform their decisions and drive lasting change. By producing a series of Data for Everyone Summits, we seek to partner with community organizations, advocacy groups, and government partners to understand the barriers to accessibility of government data and improve usability in underserved communities. Ensuring that individuals have the tools they need to effectively use government data. The Big Data Project (BDP) enables innovation in environmental services using NOAA data accessed through Cloud Service Providers (CSPs). Through public-private partnerships with CSPs, Commerce aims to democratize access to NOAA data by reducing and removing obstacles to the public use of NOAA data. With increased access to key data, communities have an enhanced capacity to implement a resilience plan that allows them to withstand and recover from the impacts of a changing climate. Using a data-driven approach for climate resilience is more crucial than ever.
  • Promoting Appropriate Date Use: The Department recognize the importance of protecting privacy, respecting intellectual property, addressing cybersecurity concerns, and fostering an ethical data lifecycle that minimizes algorithmic risk of unintended bias. The Census Bureau will soon be launching The Combating Bias Toolkit, which aims to curate a collection of tools that help mitigate and correct sources of bias in federal data.

America’s Strong Marine Economy Vital to Building Back Better

America’s marine economy contributed about $397 billion to the nation’s gross domestic product in 2019 and grew faster than the nation’s economy as a whole, according to the most current results of the first official Marine Economy Satellite Account released today by two Department of Commerce agencies.

“America’s strong marine economy is absolutely vital for building back better,” said Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo. “President Biden sees the immense value and potential of strengthening America’s blue economy, and this administration will continue to take actions to combat the climate crisis, conserve our oceans, and protect our coastal communities.”

“These statistics show how powerful America’s blue economy is as a driver of jobs, innovation and economic growth,” said Ben Friedman, acting NOAA administrator. “This information will assist our nation’s economic recovery by helping policymakers, industry advocates, and organizations track and accelerate investments in target markets.”

For these statistics, experts from NOAA and the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) described 10 sectors representing businesses dependent on the nation’s oceans, coasts and Great Lakes between the years 2014 and 2019. Marine-related gross domestic product grew 4.2% from 2018 to 2019, faster than the 2.2% growth of the total U.S. gross domestic product as measured in inflation-adjusted dollars. Businesses included in the report also generated a total of $665.7 billion in sales and supported 2.4 million jobs in 2019.

The 10 sectors ranked by their sales are:

  • Tourism and recreation, including recreational fishing ($235 billion)
  • National defense and public administration ($180 billion)
  • Offshore minerals ($93 billion)
  • Transportation and warehousing ($64 billion)
  • Commercial Ship and boat building ($31 billion)
  • Living resources, including commercial fishing and aquaculture ($27 billion)
  • Utilities ($12 billion)
  • Research and education ($10.4 billion)
  • Construction ($7.0 billion)
  • Professional and technical services ($6.3 billion)

“These statistics are further proof that our waters are vital for America’s economy,” said Nicole LeBoeuf, acting director of NOAA’s National Ocean Service. “It is nearly impossible to go a single day without eating, wearing, or using items that come from or through our ports and coastal communities.”

Last year, NOAA and BEA released the Ocean Economy Prototype statistics which covered 2014-2018 and were the most comprehensive measurement of the marine economy at the time. This year’s statistics offer improved national estimates for ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes-related economic activity by major sector, accounting for inflation. 

STATEMENT BY U.S. SECRETARY OF LABOR SCALIA ON THE SEPTEMBER JOBS REPORT

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia issued the following statement on the September 2020 Employment Situation Report:

“Today’s report shows 877,000 private-sector jobs added back in September, and an additional 145,000 jobs from July and August. However, the report reflects a seasonally-adjusted loss of 350,000 jobs in public and private education. Large gains were made in lower-wage jobs in retail and leisure and hospitality, and manufacturing added 66,000 jobs, its largest increase since June. ”

“More than half the jobs lost from the pandemic have now been restored, and the third quarter ended with a 7.9 percent unemployment rate, half the15.8 percent third quarter unemployment rate projected by the Congressional Budget Office in May.”

U.S. Economy Adds Another 224,000 New Jobs in June As Wage Increases Remain Strong

The White House issued a press release said, The United States economy continues to flourish, according to the June Employment Situation Report released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Total nonfarm payroll employment in June rose by 224,000 jobs, far exceeding market expectations (162,000). With July marking the longest economic expansion on record, it is a testament to the strength of the Administration’s economic policies that the economy continues to generate monthly job gains of this magnitude.

Including revisions for the months of April and May, the average pace of job growth has been a vigorous 192,000 jobs per month over the past year. In total, the economy has added more than 6 million jobs since President Donald J. Trump was elected. The June jobs report also reflects a rebound in job growth, suggesting that May’s revised outcome (+72K) was not a trend (see figure).

The education and health services industry, which added 61,000 jobs, experienced the largest job growth in June. Manufacturing jobs increased as well, gaining 17,000 jobs last month. Since the President’s election, the manufacturing industry has added more than 500,000 jobs.

The June report indicates that robust jobs growth is coupled with consistently strong wage growth. Nominal average hourly earnings rose by 3.1 percent over the past 12 months, marking the 11th straight month that that year-over-year wage gains were at or above 3 percent. Prior to 2018, nominal average hourly wage gains had not reached 3 percent since April 2009.

There is evidence that real wages are also growing when taking inflation into account. Based on the most recent Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) price index data from May, inflation in the past year was 1.5 percent, and based on the most recent Consumer Price Index (CPI-U) price data from May, inflation in the past year was 1.8 percent. (June inflation data is not yet available for either series.)

A separate household survey released by BLS shows that the unemployment rate ticked up to 3.7 percent in June—a change that is not significant—making June the 16th consecutive month at or below 4 percent. The Asian-American unemployment rate dropped to 2.1 percent, its lowest rate since at least 2003 when the current series began. The African-American unemployment rate ticked down by 0.2 percentage point to 6.0 percent, just above the May 2018 series low of 5.9 percent. (Consistent measurement began in 1972.)

There was also good news on the labor force participation rate—which includes people who are working and those looking for work—edged up by 0.1 percentage point to 62.9 percent and is 0.2 percentage point above the rate when the President was elected in November 2016. The labor force participation rate for prime-age adults (ages 25-54) which largely avoids the demographic effects of the aging population increased by 0.1 percentage point to at 82.2 percent—0.8 percentage points above its rate in November 2016 when the President was elected.

A prosperous economy stimulated by pro-worker policies is pulling workers off the sidelines. Despite the continued low unemployment rates over the past year, some workers may still be on the sidelines, a situation economists refer to as “labor slack.” Because labor market slack still exists, employment can continue to rise and the economy can continue to grow as workers reenter the labor force. In the second quarter of 2019, 73.7 percent of workers entering employment came from out of the labor force rather than from unemployment.

The June employment data portray an American economy that is humming along briskly, with a continued low unemployment rate, historic trends in job growth, and rising wages.

Foreign Direct Investment in the U.S. Rises in 2018

Graphic on New Foreign Direct Investment Expenditures by Type, 1996-2018. (U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis)

On July 2, the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) released updated annual statistics on the amount and characteristics of new investments in the United States by foreign investors.

Expenditures by foreign direct investors to acquire, establish, or expand U.S. businesses totaled $296.4 billion in 2018, up 8.7 percent from $272.8 billion in 2017.

Additional highlights of the statistics on new foreign direct investment for 2018:

  • Expenditures for acquisitions were $287.3 billion, expenditures to establish new U.S. businesses were $5.3 billion, and expenditures to expand existing foreign-owned businesses were $3.8 billion.
  • Total planned greenfield investment expenditures—expenditures to establish new U.S. businesses and to expand existing foreign-owned U.S. businesses—for investments initiated in 2018, which include both first-year spending and planned spending in other years, totaled $30.8 billion.
  • Employment at newly acquired, established, or expanded foreign-owned businesses in the United States was 430,600 in 2018.

Job creation smashes expectations, unemployment rate falls to 49-year low

The United States economy continued to thrive in April, with the unemployment rate dropping to 3.6 percent—the lowest unemployment rate since December 1969, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) household survey. April also marks the 14th consecutive month of the unemployment rate being at or below 4 percent.

The rapidly growing economy continues to benefit a wide range of demographic groups. The unemployment rate for adult women (20+) reached 3.1 percent in April, its lowest rate since 1953. The unemployment rate for Hispanics fell to 4.2 percent—the lowest rate since the series began in 1973. The unemployment rate for individuals with only a high school degree fell to 3.5 percent—matching the lowest rate since 2000. The unemployment rate for those with a disability fell to 6.3 percent in April—the lowest rate since the series began in 2008. Additionally, the unemployment rate for veterans fell to 2.3 percent—the lowest rate since the series began in 2000.

The U-6 unemployment rate, a broader measure of unemployment that includes those who are unemployed, marginally attached to the labor force, and working part-time for economic reasons, remained at 7.3 percent in April, matching the lowest U-6 rate since December 2000.

A separate survey from BLS, the Employment Situation Report, showed total nonfarm payroll employment in April rose by 263,000 jobs, far surpassing market expectations (190,000). In total, the economy has added over 5.8 million jobs since President Donald J. Trump was elected. The month of April continued the longest streak of growth on record.

Employment gains have exceeded 100,000 jobs in 27 of the 29 months since the 2016 election. Including revisions for the months of February and March, the average pace of job growth has been a healthy 218,000 jobs per month over the past year and 205,000 jobs per month so far in 2019. Job gains were predominantly concentrated in professional and business services (76,000 new jobs), education and health services (62,000 new jobs), and leisure and hospitality (34,000 new jobs). The construction sector added 33,000 new jobs in April, and has added 669,000 jobs since the 2016 election.

On top of the good news about job growth, the report indicates that wages are rising, too. Nominal average hourly earnings in April rose by 3.2 percent over the past 12 months, marking the 9th straight month that year-over-year wage gains were at or above 3 percent. Prior to 2018, nominal average hourly wage gains had not reached 3 percent since April 2009. Taking inflation into account, there is more evidence that real wages are also growing. Based on the most recent Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) price index data from March, inflation in the past year was 1.5 percent, and, based on the most recent Consumer Price Index (CPI-U) price data from March, inflation in the past year was 1.9 percent. This offers evidence that real wages are rising, and people are able to purchase more goods and services with their larger paychecks.

These most recent BLS surveys depict a strong American economy. Employment growth in April surpassed expectations with 263,000 new jobs, while the unemployment rate of 3.6 percent is the lowest rate in nearly half a century. With continued positive job growth, sustained low unemployment, and rising real wages, the economy continues to thrive.

U.S. employers added 304,000 jobs in January, soaring past expectations

Treasury yields jumped on Friday after the Labor Department said the American economy added more than 300,000 jobs and more people entered the workforce in the month of January.

U.S. employers added 304,000 jobs in January, soaring past Wall Street’s expectations for an increase of 165,000 jobs, seemingly brushing off a 35-day government shutdown as investors braced for mixed results. It was the 100 straight month of gains.

The unemployment rate climbed to 4 percent from 3.9 percent, while the labor force participation rate rose slightly to 63.2 percent. Average hourly earnings, meanwhile, rose by 3 cents to $27.56. Over the year, average hourly earnings have increased by a total of 85 cents, or about 3.2 percent.

The report is also indicative that despite recent geopolitical turmoil — US-China trade tensions and uncertainty over the Brexit deal in Europe — the U.S. economy will manage to shake off any market volatility, according to Josh Wright, the chief economist for iCIMS and a former Federal Reserve staffer.

Wright, however, warned that the better-than-expected number could complicate the dovish narrative the Fed is currently pushing.

On Wednesday, policymakers at the U.S. central bank unanimously voted to keep the benchmark federal funds rate unchanged, while signaling a patient approach to future interest rate hikes.

“We still see sustained expansion of ecnomic activity, strong labor conditions and inflation near 2 percent,” Fed Chair Jerome Powell said at the time. “But the crosscurrents suggest a less favorable outlook.”

But the blowout jobs number could convince the Fed to reverse course before the end of the year, according to Wright.

“As the shutdown fades into the past (and if another one doesn’t do more damage), the Fed will lose one of its arguments for pausing, leaving it to rely on global headwinds, trade and Brexit uncertainty,” he said. “Financial conditions have already improved considerably. It’s going to be a rocky quarter or two for the U.S. central bank, with a lot of risk to its credibility. Yet if markets find the Fed credible, implied interest-rate volatility should be restrained.”

Jobs numbers follow a report released on Wednesday from payroll processing firm ADP, which revealed the private sector added 213,000 jobs in December, beating analysts’ expectations of 178,000 jobs.

Analysts anticipated that unemployment would hold steady at 3.9 percent, one of the lowest numbers in nearly 50 years, while forecasting the creation of 165,000 jobs, according to economists polled by Refinitiv (formerly Thomson Reuters). In December, job creation was revised to 222,000, down from the original better-than-expected 312,000.

Initially, the White House was bracing for a potentially negative jobs number in January when the Department of Labor releases the payroll data. However, U.S. labor officials said last week they would count the once-furloughed workers as employed because they’re getting paid retroactively once the government is up and running again.

However, the job creation was not coupled with robust wage growth; average hourly earnings rose just three cents on the month, or 0.1 percent, well below the 0.3 percent expected gain. Yields also jumped after the Institute for Supply Manufacturing said activity in the manufacturing sector expanded in January.

The short-term 2-year rate rose 5 basis points to 2.504 percent. The yield on the long-term 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.677 percent at 10:12 a.m. ET. Yields fall as bond prices rise.

DHS Proposes Merit-Based Rule for More Effective and Efficient H-1B Visa Program

WASHINGTON—The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced today a notice of proposed rulemaking that would require petitioners seeking to file H-1B cap-subject petitions to first electronically register with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) during a designated registration period. Under the proposed rule, USCIS would also reverse the order by which USCIS selects H-1B petitions under the H-1B cap and the advanced degree exemption, likely increasing the number of beneficiaries with a master’s or higher degree from a U.S. institution of higher education to be selected for an H-1B cap number, and introducing a more meritorious selection of beneficiaries.

The H-1B program allows companies in the United States to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require the theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge and a bachelors or higher degree in the specific specialty, or its equivalent. When USCIS receives more than enough petitions to reach the congressionally mandated H-1B cap, a computer-generated random selection process, or lottery, is used to select the petitions that are counted towards the number of petitions projected as needed to reach the cap.

The proposed rule includes a provision that would enable USCIS to temporarily suspend the registration process during any fiscal year in which USCIS may experience technical challenges with the H-1B registration process and/or the new electronic system. The proposed temporary suspension provision would also allow USCIS to up-front delay the implementation of the H-1B registration process past the fiscal year (FY) 2020 cap season, if necessary to complete all requisite user testing and vetting of the new H-1B registration system and process. While USCIS has been actively working to develop and test the electronic registration system, if the rule is finalized as proposed, but there is insufficient time to implement the registration system for the FY 2020 cap selection process, USCIS would likely suspend the registration requirement for the FY 2020 cap season.

Currently, in years when the H-1B cap and the advanced degree exemption are both reached within the first five days that H-1B cap petitions may be filed, the advanced degree exemption is selected prior to the H-1B cap. The proposed rule would reverse the selection order and count all registrations or petitions towards the number projected as needed to reach the H-1B cap first. Once a sufficient number of registrations or petitions have been selected for the H-1B cap, USCIS would then select registrations or petitions towards the advanced degree exemption. This proposed change would increase the chances that beneficiaries with a master’s or higher degree from a U.S. institution of higher education would be selected under the H-1B cap and that H-1B visas would be awarded to the most-skilled and highest-paid beneficiaries. Importantly, the proposed process would result in an estimated increase of up to 16 percent (or 5,340 workers) in the number of selected H-1B beneficiaries with a master’s degree or higher from a U.S. institution of higher education.

USCIS expects that shifting to electronic registration would reduce overall costs for petitioners and create a more efficient and cost-effective H-1B cap petition process for USCIS. The proposed rule would help alleviate massive administrative burdens on USCIS since the agency would no longer need to physically receive and handle hundreds of thousands of H-1B petitions and supporting documentation before conducting the cap selection process. This would help reduce wait times for cap selection notifications. The proposed rule also limits the filing of H-1B cap-subject petitions to the beneficiary named on the original selected registration, which would protect the integrity of this registration system.

On April 18, 2017, President Trump issued the Buy American and Hire American Executive Order, instructing DHS to “propose new rules and issue new guidance, to supersede or revise previous rules and guidance if appropriate, to protect the interests of U.S. workers in the administration of our immigration system.” The EO specifically mentioned the H-1B program and directed DHS and other agencies to “suggest reforms to help ensure that H-1B visas are awarded to the most-skilled or highest-paid petition beneficiaries.”

Additional information on the proposed rule is available in the Federal Register. Public comments may be submitted starting Monday, December 3, when the proposed rule publishes in the Federal Register, and must be received on or before January 2, 2019.

313,000 New Jobs in February, Job Growth Strongest Since President Trump’s Election

The U.S. economy added 313,000 new jobs in the month of February, according to the February 2018 Employment Situation report published today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

More from the Department of Labor:

“Job growth was the strongest since President Trump’s election, with 313,000 jobs created in the month of February. The non-stop job creation since the election has yielded 2.9 million jobs. For the fifth month in a row, the unemployment rate remained at 4.1%, a 17-year low. Goods-producing industries such as manufacturing, mining and logging, and construction collectively had the highest month-to-month growth since 1998. These were among many sectors experiencing significant growth.

“President Trump’s tax reform continues to boost economic confidence with more than 400 companies handing out bonuses, raises, or other benefits to more than 4 million Americans. Today’s report shows that average hourly earnings significantly increased in February and have increased by 2.6% over the last year. We saw positive movement in the labor force participation rate, and we would like to see that continue over the coming months.”

In total, 2.92 million jobs have been added to the U.S. economy since President Trump was elected – including 263,000 manufacturing jobs since President Trump took office. In addition, the number of long-term unemployed Americans is the lowest since 2008.

U.S. Department of Labor graphic: 1.7 Million jobs added to the American economy since January 2017

Dec 8th, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) announced that 228,000 jobs were added to the American economy in November, and 1.7 million jobs have been added since January of this year. This marks a 17-year low for unemployment at 4.1%. In addition, the unemployment rate in manufacturing dropped to 2.6% – the lowest rate recorded since BLS began measuring it in 2000.

Last week, the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) announced in their latest estimate that the U.S. gross domestic product grew at a 3.3 percent pace in their third quarter of 2017 – faster than their initial estimate of 3.0 percent – and personal income increased by 0.4 percent in October 2017, marking the second month in a row that personal income increased by 0.4 percent.