Census Bureau Launches Economic Indicator Database

The Census Bureau just announced the launch of an online Economic Indicator Database that anyone can use to search and download in multiple formats.

More on this development, its uses and potential are featured in these comments by Robert Marske of the Census Bureau’s Office of Economic Planning and Innovation, posted at the Census Bureau Blog:

Right now, four economic indicators are included in the new tool: three monthly reports (international trade, wholesale trade, and manufacturers’ shipments, inventories, and orders), and the quarterly services survey. By the end of next year all twelve indicators will be included. We developed the new tool to provide a user-friendly web application — a one-stop-shop for data from all of the Census Bureau’s economic indicators. Easy enough for anyone to use.

The new tool incorporates best practices in many dimensions: it employs a web delivery tool similar to that used by other agencies. It uses state-of-the art open source software. It’s 508 compliant (accessible), and it employs standard file formats for data and metadata so it will be easy to adapt to other applications. An online brochure shows how to use the new tool, including sample tables.

The new tool will have many uses and users. Outside users (business analysts, the press, economic researchers) can use it for quicker access to the data they need for modeling, trend analyses, and other research. As a bonus, the Census Bureau’s own industry analysts are finding the tool makes it easier for them do specific kinds of analysis before releasing the data. That, in turn, means the new tool is improving the quality of the data we publish.

So far, feedback from data users has been very positive — and more important, sharp increases in web traffic over the last few months means more folks are relying on the Census Bureau’s data.

We invite you to try out the new tool yourself. And stay tuned for the inclusion of additional economic indicators in the near future.

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