Earlier today, Secretary Pritzker visited the Census Bureau's Atlanta Regional Office. She met with Census Bureau employees as well as staff from the Economic Development Administration and Minority Business Development Agency. Her latest stop on her listening tour, and the first at a Census Bureau regional office, gave her the opportunity to thank the employees for their hard work collecting the data that allows the Census Bureau to measure America's people, places and economy.
The Census Bureau's six regional offices form the backbone of the data collection process. Field representatives in the Atlanta region follow up with respondents from South Carolina to Louisiana to gather data for surveys such as the American Community Survey, which provides the only local statistics available for every neighborhood in the nation.
Secretary Pritzker toured the regional office and thanked staff for their hard work and dedication to gathering data critical to the nation: "The information you collect helps government at all levels -- federal, state and local. Your data is critical for entrepreneurs and business owners who want to make good decisions. I've discussed the importance of the Census Bureau to the President himself, and we talked about how we need to capitalize on our data-rich environment to promote the administration's initiatives."
Atlanta Regional Office Deputy Director Reggie Bigham, along with assistant director Katrina Carter, led the office tour. He thanked Secretary Pritzker for including Atlanta on her tour: "We are thankful that you have taken the time to visit our regional office and that you took the time to personally hear from our staff about the many quality activities we perform to collect the vital statistics needed for our nation. We look forward to hearing from you about your vision for our organization as members of the Department of Commerce."
The Atlanta region staff work hard to collect a variety of data to increase our knowledge of how the economy is doing throughout the country. Not only do they collect data for the American Community Survey but also for the Current Population Survey, which is used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to produce the monthly unemployment rate. Georgia's unemployment was 8.8 percent in July.
In addition, Census Bureau statistics inform business leaders about the Atlanta economy. For example, the median household income in the Atlanta metro area in 2011 was $52,639 and the mean travel time to work was 30.6 minutes (for the nation, it was 25.5. minutes). Commute times are important for planning purposes, such as looking at where to build roads to alleviate traffic congestion.
In addition, 407,140 Atlanta metro area residents had a graduate or professional degree and 327,553 were veterans. These are just a few of the statistics available from the American Community Survey that help business leaders make informed decisions. In September, new statistics from the American Community Survey will be available for Atlanta (and other places with more than 65,000 people) for 2012.
The work of the regional offices is vitally important to making sure we have accurate, reliable demographic and economic statistics. Nationwide, including the other five regional offices, there are double the staff as at the Census Bureau's headquarters in Suitland, Md. They visit more than 2.5 million households per year to gather the data that the Census Bureau uses to produce statistics. In turn, these statistics inform decisions made by everyone from entrepreneurs and small business owners to city planners and local government leaders.