Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Importance of Data Occupations in the U.S. Economy

The Economics and Statistics Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce released a March 12, 2015 report entitled The Importance of Data Occupations in the U.S. Economy. The report identifies "occupations where data analysis and processing are central to the work performed" and measures "the size of employment and earnings in these occupations, as well as in the industries that have the highest concentration of these data occupations."

The key findings of the report are:
  • Employment where data is central to the job was about 10.3 million in 2013 (of which 1.6 million were government workers), or about 7.8 percent of all employment. However, including occupations where working with data is at least an important part of the job dramatically increases that number: to 74.3 million jobs, or over half of the workforce.
  • Hourly wages for private-sector workers in data occupations, which are concentrated in the broad categories of business and computer/mathematical occupations, averaged $40.30 in 2013, about 68 percent higher for all occupations
  • For these top data occupations, two-thirds or more of the workers have at least a college degree; in comparison about one-third of workers across all occupations have a bachelor’s degree or higher.
  • Private sector industries with the highest concentration of data occupations added 1.8 million jobs over the last decade, representing about 31 percent of total private job growth which was four times faster than in private industries overall
  • Data intensive industries are located in many states, but the highest concentrations are in Washington, D.C.; Virginia; Massachusetts; Maryland; and Connecticut.

Friday, March 06, 2015

The 2015 Economic Report of the President written by the Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers is now available for download (full report or by chapter) in PDF format. Statistical appendix tables are also available in either PDF or Excel format.

In the introduction President Obama notes that 2014 was a "breakthrough year" with the lowest unemployment rate in over six years, health coverage for more Americans, continued investment in renewable energy and a cut in dependence on foreign oil. For 2015 President Obama would like to focus on three initiatives for the middle class:

  • affordable childcare, college, health care, a home, and retirement
  • upgraded skills so more Americans can "earn higher wages down the road."
  • high-skilled, high-wage jobs supported by "21st century infrastructure — modern ports, stronger bridges, better roads, clean water, clean energy, faster trains, and the fastest internet."

Ferguson Police Department Investigation Report

The U.S. Department of Justice released its Investigation of the Ferguson Police Department dated March 4, 2015. The following paragraph from the summary section of the report highlights issues of concern:
Ferguson’s law enforcement practices are shaped by the City’s focus on revenue rather than by public safety needs. This emphasis on revenue has compromised the institutional character of Ferguson’s police department, contributing to a pattern of unconstitutional policing, and has also shaped its municipal court, leading to procedures that raise due process concerns and inflict unnecessary harm on members of the Ferguson community. Further, Ferguson’s police and municipal court practices both reflect and exacerbate existing racial bias, including racial stereotypes. Ferguson’s own data establish clear racial disparities that adversely impact African Americans. The evidence shows that discriminatory intent is part of the reason for these disparities. Over time, Ferguson’s police and municipal court practices have sown deep mistrust between parts of the community and the police department, undermining law enforcement legitimacy among African Americans in particular.
The report ends with broad recommendations about changes Ferguson should make to its police and court practices and states that the Justice Department will "work with the City of Ferguson toward developing and reaching agreement on an appropriate framework for reform."

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Fair Use Week, Feb. 23-27, 2015

ARL, the Association of Research Libraries, is coordinating a celebration of Fair Use Week from February 23-27, 2015. ARL states:

[Fair Use Week] celebrates the important role fair use plays in achieving the Constitutional purpose of intellectual property rights in the US: to promote the progress of science and the useful arts. The flexible nature of the fair use doctrine has permitted copyright to adapt to new technologies and changes.

Information about ways to participate in Fair Use Week are available from http://www.fairuseweek.org  and from ARL.

Monday, February 09, 2015

National Security Strategy

On February 6, 2015 the White House released the latest National Security Strategy (29p. PDF). In the introduction, President Obama addresses the United States' strengths and speaks of the following challenges:
Now, at this pivotal moment, we continue to face serious challenges to our national security, even as we are working to shape the opportunities of tomorrow. Violent extremism and an evolving terrorist threat raise a persistent risk of attacks on America and our allies. Escalating challenges to cybersecurity, aggression by Russia, the accelerating impacts of climate change, and the outbreak of infectious diseases all give rise to anxieties about global security. We must be clear-eyed about these and other challenges and recognize the United States has a unique capability to mobilize and lead the international community to meet them.


For a quick overview, access Fact Sheet: The 2015 National Security Strategy http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/02/06/fact-sheet-2015-national-security-strategy

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

USGS Releases Historic Hydraulic Fracturing Data

According to a January 27, 2015 news release, the U.S. Geological Survey has made available online two new publications about hydraulic fracturing, the Scientific Investigation Report and its companion Data Series, The publications highlight historical hydraulic fracturing trends and data from 1947 to 2010. They "provide a basis for making comparisons of current-day hydraulic fracturing to historical applications" and an "improved understanding of where the practice is occurring and how hydraulic fracturing characteristics have changed over time."


Monday, January 26, 2015

Asteroid Visible from Earth on January 26, 2015

According to NASA, an asteroid about a third of a mile in size (0.5 kilometers), will be visible from Earth with binoculars on January 26, 2015 as it passes by about 745,0000 (1.2 kilometers) miles away.

For more information and to see a graphic and a video depiction, access NASA's new story, "Asteroid to Fly By Earth Safely on January 26."

Friday, January 23, 2015

National Taxpayer Advocate 2014 Annual Report to Congress

The National Taxpayer Advocate, an independent organization within the IRS created to help taxpayers resolve problems with the IRS and/or recommend changes to prevent problems, released its 2014 Annual Report to Congress. According to its newsroom report, taxpayers "this year are likely to receive the worst levels of taxpayer service since at least 2001 when the IRS implemented its current performance measures."

The primary sections of the report include:
A link to the Executive Summary and the full report is available at http://www.taxpayeradvocate.irs.gov/2014-Annual-Report/full-2014-annual-report-to-congress/

The preface to the report was dated Dec. 31, 2014. In January libraries participating in the IRS Tax Outlet program were notified that since Congress cut IRS appropriations in the 2015 Omnibus Appropriations bill, outlets will receive Forms 1040EZ, 1040A and 1040 but not the multi-page instruction booklets (104 pages for 1040; 86 pages for 1040A; 43 pages for 1040EZ). Each program will receive only a reference copy of the popular Publication 17,  the general rules for filing a federal income tax return. Individuals are encouraged to download forms from IRS.gov/Forms or order tax products from IRS.gov/orderforms to be delivered by mail. They may also call 1-800-829-3676, but phone service is one of the problems noted in the report.