We were thrilled to see so many of you at our celebration of the past and future of national statistics on October 13 and at sessions at recent conferences on our 50th anniversary. Thank you to Emilda Rivers and Cynthia Clark for serving as discussants for our session at the Joint Statistical Meetings in August. Thank you to Bob Goerge, Shelly Ver Ploeg, Jim Ziliak, and Bradley Hardy for a great session, Celebrating 50 years of CNSTAT: Helping Improve Federal Statistics to Inform Policy, at Association for Public Policy Analysis & Management in November. Let’s keep the conversation going!
In case you missed it, we have a fantastic new video out about the value of objective national data and statistics. We’re certain you know someone who would like to see it—or better yet, some organization that would like to share it. Will you take 3 minutes to check it out and then send it to a colleague?
CNSTAT Thanks Albert E. Fontenot, Jr., and Congratulates Deborah Stempowski
We thank Al Fontenot for his steadfast leadership at the U.S. Census Bureau, serving as associate director for decennial programs, and effectively overseeing the 2020 census and guiding it through the COVID pandemic. The nation is in his debt. Previously, he served as assistant director for field operations and director of the Chicago Regional Office. He joined the Census Bureau in 2009 as a temporary census employee in the Los Angeles region and served in numerous roles during the 2010 census including assistant and regional director. He also had extensive executive leadership experience in the private sector and served as a U.S. Army officer with combat service in Vietnam. Al will be moving to a new role as executive senior advisor for Decennial Census Programs.
We congratulate Deborah Stempowski on being named associate director for decennial programs. She was previously assistant director and acting assistant director for decennial programs beginning in September 2019. She moved to the Decennial Programs Directorate in May 2015, first as chief of the American Community Survey Office and then in May 2016 as chief of the Decennial Census Management Division. Over her 31-year Census Bureau career, she has worked in the Director’s Office, the Economic Programs Directorate, and the Research and Methodology Directorate, and also completed a detail to the Office of Management and Budget’s Statistical Policy Office. She has a B.A. in economics from Penn State University and an M.A. in financial management from the University of Maryland.
Recent Events and Reports
Celebrating 50 Years of CNSTAT and Looking to the Future: Toward a 21st Century National Data Infrastructure
Video and other materials available from this site.
2020 Census Data Products: Workshop on the Demographic and Housing Characteristics Files, June 21-22, 2022
Video and other materials available from this site.
Toward a Vision for a New Data Infrastructure for Federal Statistics and Social and Economic Research in the 21st Century Workshop 2: The Implications of Using Multiple Data Sources for Major Survey Programs, May 16 and 18, 2022
Video and other materials available from this site.
Reassessment of the Department of Veterans Affairs Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry, a consensus report, chaired by David Savitz (Brown University) and sponsored by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, was released October 14, 2022. Free PDFs are available here.
Beginning with the 1990–1991 Gulf War, more than 3.7 million U.S. service members have been deployed to Southwest Asia, where they have been exposed to a number of airborne hazards, including oil-well fire smoke, emissions from open burn pits, dust and sand, diesel exhaust, and poor-quality ambient air. Many service members, particularly those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, have reported health problems they attribute to their exposure to emissions from open-air burn pits on military installations.
In 2013, Congress directed the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to establish and maintain the Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit (AH&OBP) Registry to “ascertain and monitor” the health effects of such exposures. This report serves as a follow-up to an initial assessment of the AH&OBP Registry completed by an independent committee of the National Academies in 2017. This reassessment does not include any strength-of-the-evidence assessments of potential relationships between exposures to burn pits or airborne hazards and health effects. Rather, this report assesses the ability of the registry to fulfill the intended purposes that Congress and VA have specified for it.
Research and Data Priorities for Improving Economic and Social Mobility: Proceedings of a Workshop was released October 3, 2022. Free PDFs are available here.
Since around 1980, fewer Americans than before have been doing better than their parents – that is, more have experienced downward social and economic mobility in occupational status and income. This trend in downward mobility is occurring amidst high and rising levels of inequality in income, wealth, health, and life expectancy. To better understand the factors that influence social and economic mobility, the Committee on Population and the Committee on National Statistics hosted a workshop on February 14-15, 2022. Courtney Coile (Wellesley College) chaired the workshop planning committee. The proceedings from this workshop, prepared by rapporteur Erin Hammers Forstag, identify key priorities for future research and data collection to improve social and economic mobility.
Toward a 21st Century National Data Infrastructure: Mobilizing Information for the Common Good, a consensus report, chaired by Robert Groves (Georgetown University) and sponsored by the National Science Foundation, was released September 15, 2022. Free PDFs are available here.
Historically, the U.S. national data infrastructure has relied on the federal statistical system and the data assets that it holds. Data and statistics from surveys were essential to what we know about the well-being of the society and economy, and provided an infrastructure for empirical social and economic research. Today, national statistics face both grave threats and, also, a historic opportunity. Declining survey participation poses a severe threat to the quality of statistical information. Yet, at the same time, the country produces unprecedented amounts of digital data about the activities of individuals and businesses.
Toward a 21st Century National Data Infrastructure: Mobilizing Information for the Common Good is the first of three reports funded by the National Science Foundation to explore the many issues surrounding a new data infrastructure. The report describes the need for a new national data infrastructure, presents an initial vision, and describes expected outcomes and key attributes of a new national data infrastructure. The report also discusses the implications of blending data from multiple sources as well as the organizational implications of cross sector data access and use. The report concludes by identifying short- and medium-term activities that facilitate progress toward the full vision. These tasks provide a possible roadmap that permits progress toward a full vision.
Innovation, Global Value Chains, and Globalization Measurement—Proceedings of a Workshop was released August 26, 2022. Free PDFs are available here.
In recent decades, production processes of intermediate and final products have been increasingly fragmented across countries in what are called global value chains (GVCs). GVCs may involve companies in one country outsourcing stages of production to unrelated entities in other countries, multinational enterprises (MNEs) offshoring stages of production to units of the MNE overseas, or both. GVCs can also involve completely independent companies sourcing their parts from whichever upstream company may be the most competitive, with no control arrangement necessarily involved. The changing global trade environment and the changes in firms’ behavior have raised new and more complicated issues for policy makers and have made it difficult for them to understand the extent and operations of GVCs and their spillover effects on national and local economies.
To improve the understanding, measurement, and valuation of GVCs, the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics requested the Board on Science, Technology, and Economic Policy in collaboration with CNSTAT to convene a workshop, May 5-7, 2021. Susan Helper (Case Western Reserve University) and Wolfgang Keller (University of Colorado Boulder) co-chaired the workshop planning committee, and Constance Citro, Gail Cohen, and Sean Strunk served as rapporteurs who prepared this proceedings as a factual summary of what occurred at the workshop.
Evaluation of Compensation Data Collected Through the EEO-1 Form, a consensus report, chaired by William Rodgers, III (Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis) and sponsored by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, was released July 28, 2022. Free PDFs are available here.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) expanded EEO-1 data collection for reporting years 2017 to 2018 in an effort to improve its ability to investigate and address pay disparities between women and men and between different racial and ethnic groups. These pay disparities are well documented in national statistics. For example, the U.S. Census Bureau (2021) found that Black and Hispanic women earned only 63 percent and 55 percent as much, respectively, of what non-Hispanic White men earned.
Evaluation of Compensation Data Collected Through the EEO-1 Form examines the quality of pay data collected using the EEO-1 form and provides recommendations for future data collection efforts. The report finds that there is value in the expanded EEO-1 data, which are unique among federal surveys by providing employee pay, occupation, and demographic data at the employer level. Nonetheless, both short-term and longer-term improvements are recommended to address significant concerns in employer coverage, conceptual definitions, data measurement, and collection protocols. If implemented, these recommendations could improve the breadth and strength of EEOC data for addressing pay equity, potentially reduce employer burden, and better support employer self-assessment.
Building Data Capacity for Patient-Centered Outcomes Research: Priorities for the Next Decade, a consensus report, chaired by George Isham (HealthPartners Institute) and sponsored by the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) and other agencies in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), was released May 18, 2022. Free PDFs are available here.
ASPE/DHHS coordinates a portfolio of projects that build data capacity for conducting patient-centered outcomes research (PCOR). PCOR focuses on producing scientific evidence on the effectiveness of prevention and treatment options to inform the health care decisions of patients, families, and health care providers, taking into consideration the preferences, values, and questions patients face when making health care choices. ASPE asked the National Academies to appoint a consensus study committee to identify issues critical to the continued development of the data infrastructure for PCOR. Building Data Capacity for Patient-Centered Outcomes Research contains findings and conclusions in the areas that could benefit from being prioritized as part of ASPE’s work, and offers input on strengthening the overall framework for building the data infrastructure over the coming years. The committee authoring this report also issued three interim reports, which summarized discussions from three workshops, and are included as appendices in the final report.
Understanding the Aging Workforce: Defining a Research Agenda, a consensus report, chaired by Susan Fiske (Princeton University), and sponsored by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, was released May 5, 2022. Free PDFs are available here.
The aging population of the United States has significant implications for the workforce – challenging what it means to work and to retire in the U.S. In fact, by 2030, one-fifth of the population will be over age 65. This shift has significant repercussions for the economy and key social programs. Due to medical advancements and public health improvements, recent cohorts of older adults have experienced better health and increasing longevity compared to earlier cohorts. These improvements in health enable many older adults to extend their working lives. While higher labor market participation from this older workforce could soften the potential negative impacts of the aging population over the long term on economic growth and the funding of Social Security and other social programs, these trends have also occurred amidst a complicating backdrop of widening economic and social inequality that has meant that the gains in health, improvements in mortality, and access to later-life employment have been distributed unequally.
Understanding the Aging Workforce: Defining a Research Agenda offers a multidisciplinary framework for conceptualizing pathways between work and nonwork at older ages. This report outlines a research agenda that highlights the need for a better understanding of the relationship between employers and older employees; how work and resource inequalities in later adulthood shape opportunities in later life; and the interface between work, health, and caregiving. The research agenda also identifies the need for research that addresses the role of workplaces in shaping work at older ages, including the role of workplace policies and practices and age discrimination in enabling or discouraging older workers to continue working or retire.
Modernizing the Consumer Price Index, a consensus report, chaired by Daniel Sichel (Wellesley College) and sponsored by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, was released on May 3, 2022. Free PDFs are available here.
The Consumer Price Index (CPI), produced by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), is the most widely used measure of inflation in the U.S. It is used to determine cost-of-living allowances and, among many other important private- and public-sector applications, influences monetary policy. The CPI has traditionally relied on field-generated data, such as prices observed in person at grocery stores or retailers. However, as these data have become more challenging and expensive to collect in a way that reflects an increasingly dynamic marketplace, statistical agencies and researchers have begun turning to opportunities created by the vast digital sources of consumer price data that have emerged. The enormous economic disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic, including major shifts in consumers’ shopping patterns, presented an illuminating case study for the need to rapidly employ new data sources for the CPI.
This report presents guidance to BLS as the agency embarks on a strategy of accelerating and enhancing the use of scanner, web-scraped, and digital data directly from retailers in compiling the CPI. The report also recommends strategies for more accurately estimating the composition of households’ expenditures — or market basket shares — by updating information more frequently and using innovative techniques and alternative data sources where possible. The report provides targeted guidance for integrating new data sources to improve the CPI’s estimation of changes in the prices of housing and medical care, two consumer expenditure categories that are traditionally difficult to measure. Because of the urgency of issues related to income and wealth inequality, the report also recommends that BLS identify data sources that would allow it to estimate price indexes defined by income quintile or decile.