Dear NABE Members and Friends:
Last week, we alerted you that the U.S. House of Representatives was considering an appropriations bill for Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (H.R. 5326) that would drastically reduce funding for the Census Bureau and make participation in the American Community Survey voluntary. Thanks to the many NABE members and other data users who contacted their representatives to try to prevent this action. Regrettably, the legislation ultimately passed the House along party lines and was much more damaging than originally proposed. In its current form, H.R. 5326 will "devastate" the nation's economic statistics.
Specifically, the legislation will:
Terminate the American Community Survey;
Cancel the 2012 Economic Census; and
Halt development of cost-saving measures for the decennial census.
The Senate is expected to take up its own FY2013 Commerce, Justice, Science, and related agencies appropriations bill shortly. The Senate and House versions of the bill will then presumably be addressed by a conference committee comprised of members of both bodies.
HOW YOU CAN HELP:
Call or email your senators and representative today to tell them why you value the Economic Census and the American Community Survey. You can use this sample letter below:
I am writing to express my concern over passage of H.R. 5326 by the U.S. House of Representatives, which would drastically cut funding for the U.S. Census Bureau and eliminate the Economic Census and the American Community Survey (ACS) - two of the most important tools we have for understanding the U.S. economy.
These programs are critically important to businesses, policymakers, and government agencies which use the data to make informed decisions and plan for the future. The increased uncertainty accompanying the loss of these data will most certainly result in more missed opportunities and waste for businesses and misallocation of resources by policymakers and government agencies. I urge you to ensure that the Census Bureau receives adequate funding to continue these vital programs.
How are Economic Census data used?
By the federal government as an input to calculate elements of key economic indicators, such as economic growth (GDP), prices, and productivity;
By retailers in evaluating whether to expand into new market geographies;
By economic development commissions in attracting new businesses to their areas; and
By companies to benchmark performance against industry averages
How are ACS data used?
By corporations to examine workforce characteristics of neighborhoods to determine optimal locations for new factories or sales centers;
By homebuilders looking to tailor new subdivisions to surrounding neighborhoods based on income, family size and existing home values; and
By municipal governments in planning to meet the educational, safety and housing needs of their citizens.
The information we glean from the Economic Census and the ACS increases our understanding of current economic conditions and reduces uncertainty, allowing businesses and policymakers to make well-informed, efficient decisions. If we eliminate these programs, we are choosing to "fly blind," an alarming proposition in these challenging economic times. Again, I urge you that you vote to ensure adequate funding for both the ACS and the Economic Census.
David R. Kotok, Chairman and Chief Investment Officer