Tuesday, May 22, 2012

NYS DOL Regional Business Expansions and Contractions Data

The NYS Department of Labor website has some great basic data - all the things you'd expect such as number of employed full time and part time workforce, unemployment rates, etc. All of this data is searchable by region. For Herkimer and Oneida Counties, you need to look at the Labor Statistics for the Mohawk Valley.

Buried within that page is some interesting data on business expansions and contractions. These are available by county. The Mohawk Valley contains six counties as conceived by the DOL - Fulton, Herkimer, Montgomery, Oneida, Otsego and Schoharie Counties. The data on the website provides information on firm-specific hiring and layoff announcements. Information in this report is derived from press releases, newspapers, business journals, newsletters, and other public sources. It does not include all expansions and contractions, only those for which public information has been obtained. An attempt is made to present only current information events that have recently occurred or will in the near future.

So while there is some limitation to what it is that you can see, it still provides a nice summary of what businesses have been (at least publicly) expanding or contracting.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Happy Birthday to Us ! Happy Birthday to Us !

I found this fascinating infographic on The Daily Viz about how common each day of the year is for birthdays in the United States. I say fascinating because while it is sort of interesting to look at your own birth date (mine happens to be January 1st) and see how unique or how common yours is, it is the patterns in the chart that intrigue me.

For example, clearly one of the most common months for births is September, and in particular mid-September to early October. Think about that... Nine months earlier is more or less Christmas and the New Year's holiday season.

Then there is the lack of births around July 4th. Lots of vacations, not just for pregnant moms but also for doctors around that holiday. The same thing can be said for the periods around Thanksgiving and Christmas.Obviously people's celebrations have impacts on the likelihood of scheduled, and unscheduled, births.

Then there is the one that most caught my eye. Instead of looking at months, look at the dates - horizontally across the graphic. The obvious date with the least births is the 13th of any month ! And imagine if it was a Friday the 13th at that !

So while an infographic can be just interesting to look at on the surface, they often tell even more about human activities and values than one might think at first glance !

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Census Director's Assessment of Impact of Budget Cuts

Here's is a link to the Director of the US Census Bureau's blog where he discusses the impact of recent passed cuts by the House of Representatives to the census budget and American Communities Survey.

In his words...

  • The Appropriations Bill eliminates the Economic Census, which measures the health of our economy. It terminates the American Community Survey, which produces the social and demographic information that monitors the impact of economic trends on communities throughout the country. It halts crucial development of ways to save money on the next decennial census. In the last three years the Census Bureau has reacted to budget and technological challenges by mounting aggressive operational efficiency programs to make these key statistical cornerstones of the country more cost efficient. Eliminating them halts all the progress to build 21st century statistical tools through those innovations. This bill thus devastates the nation’s statistical information about the status of the economy and the larger society.

The loss of these important data sources could be devastating to local agencies and governments as they compete for fewer and fewer federal resources.

Monday, May 14, 2012

American Communities Survey Under Attack

The U.S. House of Representatives voted last week (232 - 190) to eliminate all funding for the Census Bureau's American Community Survey (ACS), which was a survey created to replace the traditional census long form starting with the 2010 Census.  The vote essentially was along party lines, with all but 11 Republicans voting in favor and all but four (4) Democrats voting against.  The amendment was sponsored by Rep. Daniel Webster (R-FL).

In addition, right before the House considered the Webster amendment, it approved, by voice vote, an amendment sponsored by Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX) to make response to the ACS voluntary, by prohibiting both the Census Bureau and the Justice Department from using funds to enforce penalties in the  Census Act that make survey response mandatory.

While this move in the House of Representatives is but a first step to stripping the ACS from the Census Bureau, it would still have to be approved (and assumedly brought back to committee) by the Senate and then ultimately approved and signed by the President. These seem less likely to occur but are not outside of the realm of possibilities.

The American Community Survey, which collects data on some 3 million households each year, is the largest survey next to the decennial census. The ACS—which has a long bipartisan history, including its funding in the mid-1990s and full implementation in 2005—provides data that help determine how more than $400 billion in federal and state funds are spent annually. Businesses also rely heavily on it to do such things as decide where to build new stores, hire new employees, and get valuable insights on consumer spending habits. 

The following two articles provide a variety of insight into last week's Congressional action. The first is from Business Week  and the other was posted by the Washington Times. Regardless of one's political perspective, one of the great dangers in the elimination of nationally collected data on everything from education, to poverty to miles driven to work is that agencies that rely on such data for grant applications will now have to figure out how to get it on their own. Much of the data can ONLY be found in the ACS.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Transitioning Into Retirement: Metlife Study Finds More “Boomers” Retiring at 65

Despite the popular belief that Baby Boomers will continue to work well past the traditional retirement age of 65, those born in 1946 are retiring in droves, according to Transitioning into Retirement: The MetLife Study of Baby Boomers at 65. This study is a follow–up to the 2008 MetLife Mature Market Institute study, Boomer Bookends: Insights into the Oldest and Youngest Boomers (released in 2009), which looked at the same segment of Boomers at age 62 and includes 450 of the same interview subjects from the original study. 

The study reports that 59% of the first Boomers to turn 65 are at least partially retired – 45% are completely retired and 14% are retired, but working part-time. Of those still working, 37% say they’ll retire in the next year and on average plan to do so by the time they’re 68. Half (51%) of those who are retired say they retired earlier than they had expected. Of those who retired early, four-in-ten say they did so for health reasons. The majority (85%) of respondents consider themselves healthy, and almost all (96%) retirees say they like retirement at least somewhat. Seven-in-ten (70%) like it a lot.

 In Herkimer and Oneida Counties, more than half of the residents age 65 or older are presently receiving some form of retirement income. In Herkimer County 53% of all people age 65 and over receive at least some retirement income; in Oneida County it is nearly 60% of the population age 65 and over. But not all Baby Boomers age 65 and over are retired. As many as one out of every seven residents (14%) age 65+ are still a part of the work force and employed. 

Click here to read the Metlife report on Baby Boomers and Retirement.

United Stats (Yes, Stats) of America: Tonight on the History Channel

Tonight on the History Channel will be the premiere of a new show entitled The United Stats of America. It is offered as a way to rethink some of what we think we know statistically about life in the U.S., as well as being a lighthearted and interesting way to get introduced to the statistics that make up our lives.

Randy and Jason Sklar were born a statistic: They're identical twins and stand-up comedians who also just happen to have an obsession with numbers and an amazing knack for finding the incredible stories behind the stats. The wisecracking brothers are the hosts of United Stats of America, which reveals the stories behind the most interesting and surprising statistics in American history—stories that tell us more about who we are as individuals and as a nation. Randy and Jason bring their irreverent brand of humor to locations across the country, uncovering hidden facts about America and Americans while engaging in stunts and experiments that help them uncover the story behind the stats. The Sklars will also utilize cutting-edge computer technology and visually stunning infographics to help bring these numbers to life.

Episodes explore the stats that help us understand how much money we make (and what we spend it on), how long we will live (and how we will die), what we do with our free time (and how to make more of it) and a whole lot more. In one episode, the Sklars explain how the deadliest animal in America is neither the snake nor the shark but rather the deer. In another, viewers learn that Americans waste 4.2 billion hours a year stuck in traffic and that, in a nation with over 3.5 million square miles of territory, 99 percent of us are crowded into only 8 percent of the land.

So check it out on the History Channel at 10 P.M. tonight !

Business Dynamics Statistics in Herkimer and Oneida Counties: Establishment Births and Deaths

The Business Dymanics Statistics Program  (BDS) is a product of the U.S. Census Bureau and includes measures of establishment openings and closings, firm startups, job creation and destruction by firm size, age, and industrial sector, as well as several other statistics on business dynamics. The U.S. economy is comprised of over 6 million establishments with paid employees. The population of these businesses is constantly changing –– some businesses grow, others decline and yet others close altogether. New businesses arise to replenishing this pool. The BDS series provide annual statistics on gross job gains and losses for the entire economy and by industrial sector and state. Currently the BDS covers the years 1976 through 2010 These data track changes in employment at the establishment level, and thus provide a picture of the dynamics underlying aggregate net employment growth.

The Herkimer and Oneida Counties region (or what is known as the Utica-Rome Metropolitan Statistical Area, or U-R MSA) has faced incredibly difficult hurdles over the last 20 years. With the closing of several major businesses, as well as the realignment of Griffiss Air Force Base (GAFB), the economic impacts on the region have been unprecedented. Below are several pieces of data from the BDS data base, as well as the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Office of Advocacy . The SBA Office of Advocacy offers data through its Statistics of U.S. Businesses (SUSB) program to track establishment births and deaths, as well as the associated job creation and loss with each of those respectively.

For example, looking at the chart below, you can see how establishment loss spiked in the early and mid-1990s in our region. At the same time, new businesses moving into the area also dropped precipitously just prior to the decision to close GAFB, and then for the remainder of the decade following its closure.
Since the start of the new millennium, business births and deaths appear to both be increasing slightly, but in fits and starts.
So how do establishment births and deaths impact job growth in the region ? Well below is a chart showing establishment births and deaths just for the last 5 years worth of SUSB data (2003-2007). As you can see, in all but one of the years the number of business deaths outnumbered the business births regionally.
However, in three of the last 5 years there have been more jobs created by newly created establishments than lost by those that have closed. This is especially true in 2007. So it’s not just about the number of establishments created or lost, but the size of those establishments. 

In the U-R MSA, about 22.5% of all newly formed establishments are among companies of 20 or more employees; establishments of this size (20 or more employees) only make up about 19.7% of all business “deaths”. So the region is seeing slightly more midsize to large companies creating jobs in new establishments than they are losing.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Infographic: Startup Jobs Across the USA

"Start-up companies" are generally best described in the simplest terms - companies that have been in existence for less than 12 months. Start-up jobs are the jobs that those companies are looking to fill.

Here is an interesting infographic all about "start-up jobs" in the USA. Please note that size of the call-out boxes in the graphic where the jobs within states are being show. Visually, the size of the state call-out boxes and text seems to imply how big the numbers are for each state; however, that’s not the case and it’s misleading to the reader. Massachusetts, for example, had a higher number of start-up job posts than Texas, but the call-out text is much large for TX versus MA. That being noted, it's still an interesting look at where new companies are creating new jobs.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

May Is National Bike Month

National Bike Month  is an opportunity to celebrate the unique power of the bicycle and the many reasons people ride. Whether you bike to work or school; to save money or time; to preserve your health or the environment; to explore your community or get to your destination, get involved in Bike Month and help get more people out riding too!

Sponsored by the League of American Bicyclists ,  the League offers six "Rules of the Road" that will prepare bicyclists for a safe and fun bike commute no matter where they are riding. These 6 Rules include:

  1. Follow the law. Your safety and the image of bicyclists depend on you. You have the same rights and duties as drivers. Obey traffic signals and stop signs. Ride with traffic; use the rightmost lane headed in the direction you are going.
  2. Be predictable. Make your intentions clear to motorists and other road users. Ride in a straight line and don’t swerve between parked cars. Signal turns, and check behind you well before turning or changing lanes.
  3. Be conspicuous. Ride where drivers can see you; wear bright clothing. Use a front white light and red rear light and reflectors at night or when visibility is poor. Make eye contact with drivers. Don’t ride on sidewalks.
  4. Think ahead. Anticipate what drivers, pedestrians, and other bicyclists will do next. Watch for turning vehicles and ride outside the door zone of parked cars. Look out for debris, potholes, and utility covers. Cross railroad tracks at right angles.
  5. Ride Ready. Check your tires have sufficient air, brakes are working, chain runs smoothly, and quick release wheel levers are closed. Carry repair and emergency supplies appropriate for your ride. Wear a helmet.
  6. Keep your cool. Road rage benefits no-one and always makes a bad situation worse. 
So how many bicyclist commuters are there in Herkimer and Oneida Counties ? According to the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey Five Year Estimates, there are roughly 300 people who commute on a daily basis to and from work in the region. Transportation to Work data for each county appear below.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Oneida County's Best Friends: A Census of Licensed Dogs

The Utica Observer Dispatch has a story in today's paper  about the fact that many older people often leave pets for someone to have to care for when they have passed away. It examines the issues of pet ownership among older members of our community, as well as the prospect of leaving a person's estate to their surviving pets.

For the most part, New York only requires the licensing of dogs by municipalities. According to the State,  all dogs over the age of four (4) months must be licensed.  In order to be licensed the dog must have its rabies vaccination certificate from a veterinarian. Licenses are acquired through the town or city clerk's office typically.

Dogs of course do require a lot of attention and work. But they also can provide a great deal of comfort, joy and satisfaction. This article by the Mother Nature Network  explores the benefits of dog ownership.

In Oneida County a recent inquiry to town and city clerks shows that nearly 15,000 dogs were licensed here in 2011 (five towns did not respond to a request for data). Below you can see the counts for the last five years in the County by municipality. For some years, records were either not available or too difficult to get to given the limited scope of this inquiry.