The U.S. Census Bureau is the prime source of information on the economy, reporting regularly on retail sales, manufacturing, exporting, and other sectors. Recently, the Census Bureau held an Innovation Day event to highlight the latest tools and techniques being used to do its work more efficiently and for less money.
If you rely on government information for your marketing, or are just curious to know how the economy is doing, you’ll want to learn about developments at the Bureau. Some of the innovations already implemented or underway include:
- Collaboration tools for Census Bureau teams
- Data collection using mobile devices (expected in the future)
- Deployment of mobile apps to enable immediate access to statistical information (The Economic Statistics app is expected to be released this August.)
- New data products, such as the Local Employment Dynamics program, which provides local information about businesses and the characteristics of the employees working in those businesses
- The use of crowdsourcing to update electronic map files
- Business reporting
Be sure to comply with required reporting to the Census Bureau. Based on the NAICS code, some businesses must report monthly, quarterly, or annually; others report every four or five years. The data typically covers your gross receipts, employment information, and expenditures.
The data you report is confidential; they are exempt from the Freedom of Information Act so your competitors won’t be able to access your company’s reported information. Failure to file a required survey can result in penalties.
Check your reporting requirements at the Bureau’s Business Help Site.
Barbara Weltman is an attorney, author (with such titles as J.K. Lasser’s Small Business Taxes and The Complete Idiot's Guide to Starting a Home-Based Business), and trusted professional advocate for small businesses and entrepreneurs. She is also the publisher of Idea of the Day® and monthly e-newsletter Big Ideas for Small Business® at www.barbaraweltman.com, and host of Build Your Business radio. Follow her on Twitter: @BarbaraWeltman.