Not every census release is germane to business reporters but the one slated for Tuesday certainly is. And it’s the start of a months-long roll-out of household economic data that you can incorporate into future reports, too.
At 10 a.m. on Sept. 13, the Census Bureau will hold an online news conference and release national “Income, Poverty and Health Insurance” overall 2010 figures from the Current Population Survey. (The CPS, conducted jointly each month with Bureau of Labor Statistics, is the same one that generates the monthly employment situation report and other wage/employment related data.)
The access information for both Internet and telephone audio conferencing is available at this press release; note that journalists will be able to ask questions. The data will be posted on the site during or shortly after the news conference. Note also that the bureau is offering one-on-one phone interviews with subject-matter experts; you might want to phone in today and make your request.
Then, on September 22, the bureau will release information from its American Community Survey, which will include local-area data on health insurance, employment and household income. Here’s the press release outlining that and the rest of the rollout so you can mark your calendars.
When 2009 figures were released a year ago, the reports of growing poverty and increasing lack of health care insurance among Americans created quite a stir. And after another year in which the economy failed to gain much traction, it’s a pretty good bet that Tuesday’s release will contain some startling figures too.
Since Tuesday’s data is national, you might prep to localize it by taking a look at last year’s report to see how your region or market tracked the overall U.S. figures. Talk with area economists, analysts, low-income advocates, lenders and consumers about what they’re seeing now compared to last year. It’ll be mostly anecdotal until you can get your hands on more specific data — but reports like this are good springboards into topics everyone is concerned with.
According to this preview by Bloomberg Business Week, the new report is expected to reflect more working-age adults in poverty; that’s certainly an angle that you can tie in with local unemployment rates. How does that translate to area businesses? Are landlords seeing more workers doubling up on apartments or other housing? Are bars and restaurants losing clientele as workers in what used to be prime earning ages are cutting out frills? Business up at consignment shops? Down at snowmobile dealers? Are more stores and restaurant chains applying to your state to accept food assistance cards and other welfare programs, as this USA Today piece notes? What else are businesses in high-unemployment neighborhoods doing to survive?
How is lack of health insurance affecting hospitals and health systems, in terms of bad debt, uncompensated care and other financial tolls?
On a related note, the Pew Charitable Trust just announced a new report about downward economic mobility; while mostly a demographic report rather than one tied to business, finance or the economy, it might be helpful if you are looking at human factors that keep people persistently unemployed.
Also note that the non-partisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities will hold a briefing Tuesday afternoon with commentary on and analysis of the new census report; here’s the press release with information about how to join the conference; you might tune in if you need help formulating questions for local business leaders.