Archive Page 4

Announcing the Commerce Data Service

data servicesThe Department of Commerce provides valuable services and data products that fuel the modern technology services Americans rely on every day.  These data sets include information on technological innovation from the Patent and Trademark Office, demographic and economic data from the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Economic Analysis, export data from the International Trade Administration, and information on natural phenomena from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  This is why we call the Department of Commerce “America’s Data Agency.”

However, as technology constantly and rapidly advances, people across the country are using public and private sector data in new and exciting ways to drive their businesses and improve society. The vast data resources at the Department of Commerce are contributing to this technological growth. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker recognized this as an opportunity and challenged the Federal government to innovate with data to improve the way we deliver to our customers, the American people.

Consider these opportunities for improving our data to positively impact America’s competitiveness:

  • How should we connect businesses with growth opportunities through data science on U.S. exports in order to improve America’s competitiveness abroad and also improve data-driven decision-making of policy-makers?
  • How should we integrate disparate income data and develop a new engagement technology platform in order to help different groups of people to better understand and take action on relevant issues?
  • How should we build a suite of products to improve the data architecture and systems for delivering patent data to the public in order to help businesses to more easily safeguard and discovery intellectual property?
  • How should we invent and deploy a service that overcomes the pervasive and systemic absence of data standards in order to integrate data from across government Bureaus in order to increase the accessibility, dissemination and use of government data and maximize the positive impacts of Department of Commerce data on society?
  • How should we develop and aggregate use cases, tutorials, and technology user interfaces for processing, analyzing and visualizing Commerce data like oceanic and atmospheric forecasts in order to drive up the consumption of Commerce data for public benefit and increase the integration of Commerce data by businesses to help fuel their growth?

All of these are not just data challenges, but also business challenges.  That’s why the Department of Commerce is excited to announce a new initiative to deliver these kinds of solutions: the Commerce Data Service.

Built in the spirit of America’s entrepreneurial technology ventures, the Commerce Data Service is a start-up within government, that consists of diverse team of top-notch designers, developers, software engineers and data scientists. We are passionate about our mission, building new tools, and delivering improved ways to get work done.  We are agile product developers transforming government services by building world-class software products and raising standards of software development throughout the Department of Commerce. Through partnerships with the twelve bureaus that make up the Commerce Department, the Data Service will deliver products and services to help government agencies better deliver information to their customers.

To help this initiative get off the ground, I am pleased to announce that the Department has hired Dr. Tyrone Grandison to lead our team as the Deputy Chief Data Officer.  Dr. Grandison brings a wealth of experience as an entrepreneur, consultant and software engineer, most recently serving at the Department of Labor as a Presidential Innovation Fellow.

Now we’re actively recruiting data experts, from outside and inside government, from three general professional areas:

  1. Front-End Developers – experience with interface design & development, search engine optimization, and interactive and static visualization.
  2. Back-End Engineers – experience with Extract-Transform-Load (ETL), distributed data systems, devops, and Application Programming Interface (API) construction.
  3. Data Scientists – experience with machine learning, predictive algorithms, and visualization.

If you are an expert data geek, there is no better way to have a giant impact while improving our government than to join the Commerce Data Service.  For more information, and to submit your resume for potential employment consideration, please visit

Industry in Focus: Finance and Insurance and More

This quarter, Industry in Focus is actually Industries in Focus. Beginning with this quarterly GDP by Industry release, we’re delighted to introduce a new set of products—the Quarterly Underlying Detail Tables.  Previously, quarterly GDP by industry statistics were only available for 22 industries.  The new underlying detail tables provide the same data for 71 industries, allowing for even more in-depth analysis of economic trends.

The industries we’ll discuss this quarter highlight some of the advantages of these new data. In the second quarter of 2015, the finance and insurance industry was the largest contributor to GDP growth, contributing 0.84 percentage point to the overall 3.9 percent increase in real GDP.  Finance and insurance is an aggregate of four detailed industries—Federal Reserve banks and credit intermediation; securities, commodity contracts, and investments; insurance carriers; and funds, trusts, and other financial vehicles.  With the new underlying detail tables, we can now see that these industries exhibited differing behavior, with three of the four finance and insurance industries showing strong growth.  Federal Reserve banks and credit intermediation grew 18.2 percent, contributing 0.48 percentage point to the growth in real GDP; insurance carriers grew 13.2 percent, contributing 0.33 percentage point; and funds, trusts, and other financial vehicles grew 69.0 percent, contributing 0.13 percentage point.  At the more detailed 71-industry level, these three industries were the second, fourth, and thirteenth largest contributors to growth.   This helps to explain why the aggregate finance and insurance industry was the largest contributor to growth at the 22-industry level.

However, you may have noticed that securities, commodity contracts, and investments actually contracted in the second quarter, decreasing 6.6 percent and subtracting 0.10 percentage point from real GDP growth. Without the underlying detail data, this piece of information would go unnoticed.  Growth in finance and insurance was strong because of the three other industries, but underlying detail lets us see that not all of the finance and insurance industries had a strong quarter.

A logical question to ask is, “Why would one industry contract in the second quarter when three related industries grew?” The answer is that each of the four industries has a different focus, even though all four relate to finance or insurance.  The securities and commodity contracts industry includes establishments that underwrite and make markets for securities and commodities, act as agents between buyers and sellers of securities and commodities, and manage portfolios of assets.  If you own shares of a company’s stock or follow the Dow Jones Industrial Average, you’re well acquainted with the activities of this industry.

Federal Reserve banks and credit intermediation, on the other hand, encompass two activities that don’t work directly with securities. Federal Reserve banks and similar monetary authorities manage the country’s money supply, while credit intermediation involves much of what you typically think of as consumer and commercial banking—taking in deposits and lending funds.  While the Federal Reserve banks and credit intermediation industry and the securities and commodity contracts industry both relate to finance, and while the two industries can have an impact on each other, they don’t necessarily exhibit the same growth.

In the second quarter of 2015, for example, the decline in the securities and commodity contracts industry may be traced to concerns in the stock market, perhaps reflecting worries about the Greek debt crisis and uncertainty about whether or not the Federal Reserve would raise interest rates. This may have led investors to pull money out of the stock market, as both the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average fell during the quarter.

Where did that money go? Some of it may have gone to regular savings banks, as evidenced by the growth in credit intermediation.  The FDIC reported that in the second quarter, net income for FDIC-insured institutions (which includes your neighborhood bank) was the highest on record.  This was reflected in the industry’s strong growth.  Concerns about the stock market can lead investors to pull their money out of the market and place it in the more stable accounts offered by savings institutions.  Conversely, a strong stock market can lead investors to put more of their money into securities.

You can see this in our historical data. In nine of the past fourteen quarters, Federal Reserve banks and credit intermediation moved in the opposite direction of securities and commodity contracts.  So while the two industries broadly deal with finance, their differing roles within finance mean they often differ in growth.  This example illustrates some of the many benefits of the quarterly underlying detail tables.  The new detail enhances economic analysis much in the same way that quarterly GDP-by-industry data provides more tools to analyze national GDP.  The standard quarterly GDP-by-industry data allow users to see differing patterns among industries; similarly, the quarterly underlying detail tables enhance the ability of users to see differing patterns within industries.

Finance and Insurance Led Growth in the Second Quarter: Gross Domestic Product by Industry

Finance and insurance; professional, scientific, and technical services; and wholesale trade were the leading contributors to the increase in U.S. economic growth in the second quarter of 2015. Overall, 18 of 22 industry groups contributed to the 3.9 percent increase in real GDP in the second quarter.

Real GDP by Industry 1105

  • Finance and insurance increased 12.4 percent in the second quarter, after decreasing 3.8 percent in the first quarter.
  • Professional, scientific, and technical services increased 7.6 percent, after increasing 4.4 percent.
  • Wholesale trade increased 8.4 percent, after decreasing 1.0 percent.

GDP By industry pt2 1105

For more information, read the full report.