Stephen L. Buckner is Director of the Center for New Media and Promotions at the US Census Bureau.
The U.S. Census Bureau is the largest statistical agency in the U.S. and is most closely associated with its statistics about our increasingly diverse and changing population. But did you know they also help measure the health of the U.S. economy? Through many surveys and an Economic Census, the Census Bureau has a wealth of information it collects about the public and private sectors. Additionally, key economic indicators are produced and made available each month or quarter, depending on the industry.
The Census Bureau debuted its first ever app, America's Economy, in Google's Play Store last month. The easy-to-use app showcases critically important and much talked about statistics, including 16 key indicators such as gross domestic product, international trade, unemployment, retail sales, new construction and housing starts—just to name a few.
The indicators showcased in the Measuring America app are produced by the Census Bureau, as well as the Bureau of Economic Analysis and Bureau of Labor Statistics. After seeing an initial dashboard showing the latest numbers for each economic indicator, users can drill down into the numbers by clicking on any indicator to see recent trends in simple, to digest chart, with options of viewing the numbers over a longer period of time.
In addition to providing almost real-time updates, users can choose from a range of options to customize the app’s features—including importing the statistical release schedules into their personal calendars, or setting alerts to receive notifications when indicators are updated. Users can also share the latest indicator figures through both Facebook and Twitter.
The America’s Economy mobile app is part of the Census Bureau’s digital transformation effort to provide the general public and government, non-profit and business sectors with access to information “anywhere, anytime, on any device.”