Friday, December 28, 2007

Small Businesses Lead U.S. Growth

Report Documents Small Firms’ Significant Economic Impacts in 2006

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Small businesses continued to lead growth in the U.S. economy in 2006, according to a report issued last week by the Office of Advocacy of the U.S. Small Business Administration. The report "shows that overall, small firms continue to drive a resilient U.S. economy," said Advocacy Chief Economist Chad Moutray. "In releasing this annual small business research report, we are pleased also to showcase new research by economists in the field of small business and entrepreneurship." Moutray released the report at a December 19 meeting of the Rotary Club of Washington, DC. The study, The Small Business Economy: A Report to the President for 2007(PDF) is the Office of Advocacy’s annual report on the state of small business in America.

The report reviews the economic environment for small businesses in the year 2006, including the financial and federal procurement marketplaces. New research focuses on minority- and veteran-owned businesses, social entrepreneurship, and pre-venture planning. Other chapters and appendices provide data on small business and an update on Office of Advocacy initiatives. The Office of Advocacy, the "small business watchdog" of the federal government, examines the role and status of small business in the economy and independently represents the views of small business to federal agencies, Congress, and the President. It is the source for small business statistics presented in user-friendly formats, and it funds research into small business issues.

For more information and a complete copy of the report, visit the Office of Advocacy website. Print copies are also available upon request to the Office of Advocacy (202) 205-6933.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Gateway to Associations

The Hill Library notes: "Industry associations want businesses in their industry to succeed, and because of this will often give away highly valuable information." Check out this gateway to associations from the American Society of Association Executives.

Monday, December 24, 2007

1990 Census Block Data

Because I was curious, I wrote to Census, and got this reply:

Data from the 1990 census at the block level are available from 1990 Summary Tape File 1B (Tape or CD-ROM). You can contact your local State Data Center ( for assistance or purchase the tape or CD-ROM from our Customer Services Center. Their telephone number is 301-763-4636.

We are in the process of decommissioning the e-mail address . Please submit future request to our "Ask Questions" link at From the center of our web site, select the radio button "FAQs" and then go over to the right and click on the "GO" button. Select "Ask A Question." If you forget your password, please contact the Customer Services Center on 301-763-4636.

Again, we appreciate your interest in our data.

So, no, 1990 block data is NOT available from American Factfinder. 1990 block group data, yes; 2000 block data, yes.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Merry Christmas

And in the spirit of regifting, a swipe from the NYS SBDC blog about the holiday.

Plus: from The Office of Fire Prevention and Control, distributed by SUNY System Administration – Department of Public Safety

Guard Against Holiday Fire Safety Hazards

The holiday season brings a sense of celebration and goodwill -festive meals; candlelight; warm, glowing fires; trees and wreaths are among some of our finest holiday traditions. But….they are also some of leading causes for so many destructive fires during the holiday season. The Office of Fire Prevention and Control reminds all New Yorkers to be aware of the dangers inherent to the holiday season and offers the following fire safety tips.
CHRISTMAS TREES: When buying a natural tree, the most important safety factor is freshness. The higher the moisture content the less likely it is to dry out and become a fire hazard. To keep your tree fresh longer, cut off two inches of the trunk and mount in a sturdy water holding stand with wide spread legs. Locate the tree away from fireplaces, wall furnaces and other heat sources. Do not block stairs or doorways. Dispose of the tree when needles begin to fall off in large quantities.
COOKING: Untended cooking is the leading cause of home fires in the United States. Never leave food unattended and watch small children around the stove.
CANDLES: Candle fires are on the rise in recent years. Never leave candles burning unattended or burning around small children or pets. If you do use candles, keep them in proper glass containers.
HOLIDAY LIGHTING: Use only lighting approved by a testing lab. Inspect electrical lights for broken or cracked sockets and frayed wires. Do not use indoor lights outdoors or visa-versa and be very careful to not overload extension cords. Never use lighted candles on or near a tree or other decorations.
FIREPLACES: Fireplaces are very popular during the holidays. Before starting a fire, remove all decorations from the area and be sure that the flu is open. Do not burn wrappings or evergreen boughs, they can burn extremely fast, throwing off sparks and burning debris. Safely dispose of wrapping paper with your normal trash collection.
SMOKE DETECTORS: Make sure your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms are working and mounted properly. Fire extinguishers should also be checked.
The Office of Fire Prevention and Control would like everyone to be fire safe during the holiday season. Following the simple preventative measures outlined above, can significantly help prevent a tragedy. To learn even more about holiday fire safety, please download our Holiday Fire Safety Bulletin. For another Holiday Saftey Bulletin presented by the Division of Code Enforcement and Administration and OFPC, please Click Here.
For an important PSA on educating children of the dangers of lighters and matches this holiday season, please Click Here.
For some additional information and pamphlets with helpful fire safety tips to better prepare you for a safe holiday season, please Click Here.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Disaster Preparedness

"An estimated 25 percent of businesses do not reopen following a major disaster, according to the Institute for Business and Home Safety." Here's a link to the SBA/Nationwide Disaster Preparedness Guide.

"The 10-page guide provides information business owners need to develop an effective plan to protect customers and employees in the event of a disaster. The guide provides key disaster preparedness strategies to help small businesses identify potential hazards, create plans to remain in operation if the office is unusable, and understand the limitations of their insurance coverage."

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The world's largest cities

City has nifty statistics in terms of the largest urban areas, fastest growing urban areas, richest cities by GDP, riches cities by personal earnings, and other world and national figures.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

An answer to city blight

Paul Bray, founding president of the Albany roundtable civic lunch forum, noted in the Albany Times Union recently that Rochester, NY is a pioneer in partnering with nonprofit housing organizations to deal with the problem of vacant and abandoned buildings.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Holiday Facts

From the US Census:

Facts for the 2007 Holiday Season

The holiday season is a time for gathering and celebrating with friends and family, reflection, and thanks. To commemorate this time of year, the U.S. Census Bureau presents the following holiday-related facts and figures from its data collection.

It's in the Mail
20 billion
Pieces of mail the U.S. Postal Service expects to deliver between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year.

The number of malls and shopping centers dotting the U.S. landscape as of 2005, an increase of approximately 12,000 since 1990.

Holiday Names
Places whose names are associated with the holiday season include North Pole, Alaska (population 1,828 in 2006); Santa Claus, Indiana (2,324); Santa Claus, Georgia (245); Noel, Missouri (1,555); and - if you know about reindeer - the village of Rudolph, Wisconsin (419) and Dasher, Georgia (803). There is also Snowflake, Arizona (5,157).

$31.4 billion

Retail sales by the nation's department stores in December 2006. This represented a 44 percent jump from the previous month (when retail sales, many holiday-related, registered $21.8 billion). No other month-to-month increase in department store sales last year was as large.

Other U.S. retailers with sizable jumps in sales between November and December 2006 were book stores (86 percent); clothing stores (49 percent); jewelry stores (155 percent); radio, TV, and other electronics stores (60 percent); and sporting goods stores (65 percent).

$142.6 million
The value of U.S. imports of Christmas tree ornaments from China between January and June 2007 was $142.6 million. China was the leading country of origin for such items. Similarly, China was the leading foreign source of artificial Christmas trees shipped to the United States ($13.4 million
worth) during the same period.

Number of establishments around the country that primarily manufactured dolls and stuffed toys in 2005; they employed 2,480 people. California led the nation with 18 locations and 76 people employed.

1.7 million
The number of people employed at department stores in December 2006.
Retail employment typically swells during the holiday season, last year rising by an estimated 40,600 from November and 174,700 from October.

The number of electronic shopping and mail-order houses in business in 2005. These businesses, which employed 253,677 workers, are a popular source of holiday gifts. Their sales: $162 billion, of which 40.5 percent were attributable to e-commerce. California led the nation in the number of these establishments and their employees, with 2,383 and 30,800, respectively.

$21 billion
Value of retail sales by electronic shopping and mail-order houses in December 2006 - the highest total for any month last year.

$1.3 billion
The value of candles shipped in 2002 by the nation's manufacturers. Many of these candles are lit during Hanukkah and Kwanzaa celebrations.

Friday, December 14, 2007


The FRED® (Federal Reserve Economic Data) database contains over 15,000 downloadable U.S. economic time series in the areas of
Consumer Price Indexes (CPI)
Employment & Population
Exchange Rates
Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and Components
Interest Rates
Monetary Aggregates
Producer Price Indexes (PPI)
Reserves and Monetary Base
U.S. Trade & International Transactions
U.S. Financial Data
Regional Data

For instance, in Employment & Population, you'll find not only Civilian Employment and Labor Force, but Average (Mean) Duration of Unemployment, all going back to 1948.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Design of Desire

From the Hill Library:

Why do people purchase the things they do? Is it neurological? Cultural? Social? American RadioWorks, public radio’s documentary unit, set out to find the answer.

What they came up with is this site: Design of Desire. It chronicles the biological impulses of purchase decisions (Tightwads and Spendthrifts), the ways in which retail design affects buyers (Buying the Tribe), and how branding gets personal online (A Brand of Me).

If you’ve bought or sold anything recently – and we think you probably have – this site might shed some light on that purchase. Think of it as the "why" of buying.
The Story of Stuff.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

What’s In A Name

I’ve mentioned the Wall Street Journal’s The Numbers Guy, who questions the conventional wisdom about statistical report before. Recently, he took on studies suggesting that major league baseball players with first or last initial K were more likely than average to strike out; and business graduate students with initials C or D had lower grades, on average, perhaps reflecting an unconscious affinity to the grades corresponding to their initials. Why IS that, and is that really what's going on?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Front page

Today's Front Pages has over 500 images of front pages from over 50 countries. The Newseum also displays some archived daily newspaper front pages in their original, unedited form.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Agricultural Stats

I was working on a question about agricultural land sales. The LEXIS Deed Transfer file covers all NY counties and includes a field that denotes land use. Using agricultural as the keyword, and inserted a date range, you'll get over 3000 results for NY for one year so you'll need to add the county name to the search. The records also include the number of acres and sale price.

Some sites: has info by state and includes some limited statistics and some farmland protection plans (some of those include some statistics). Within that site, you can change the state in dropdown. Lists ag land converted to developed use 92-97; also see Recommended Data Sources at bottom, then National Resources Inventory (2003) has Land Cover/Use by state.

This site is PA only. Data is by county, gives number of farms/land in various years.

Of course, there's the Census of Agriculture. This table shows Farms, Land in Farms, Value of Land and Buildings, and Land Use for 2002 and 1997. The 2007 stats won't be out until 2009 (they will be sending surveys out to farmers this month). This table is for NY only. There should be similar ones for each state. To access go to and see "Statistics by State" at bottom of left column.

Wyoming county projections/land use trends. Is there more about other counties on this site?

"Rural Landowner Survey 2005" for NY is available on the Ag and Mkts site.

In the NYS Statistical Yearbook, 2006, there is a table of Farm Acreage by Land Use (table N-3, page 559). The same table is available here; click on Farmland Use.

Thanks to the New York State Library for much of this information.

Friday, December 7, 2007

2007 Legislative Report from the Assembly Committee on Real Property Taxation

What I found interesting about this report is the survey of county and local officials, assessors, tax receivers, and taxpayer groups, the results of which may have an impact on state tax policy in the future.

Counties in New York Are Still Among Most Heavily Taxed, according to the Empire Center for New York State Policy.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Ethnic Events

From the Hill Library folks:

Targeting your marketing message to a particular group of people can be a powerful strategy, but also a daunting task. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to get out into a community and just talk to folks, face-to-face?

With Ethnic Events you can find cultural events, festivals, and get-togethers in your area. Search by ethnicity, event date, and event location and then contact the event organizers and ask about sponsorship or the possibility of setting up a booth.

Multicultural marketing doesn’t have to involve a big advertising team and slick, expensive design elements. It can just be you, talking to people about how your product or service can help them. Ethnic Events can help you find those people.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Independent Contractor or Employee?

Some employers have furloughed their employees, only to hire them back as "independent contractors" to avoid governmental obligations that an employee requires, such as matching Social Security payments. Can they do that? Well, "it depends."

The IRS has a PDF document here that describes the definitions of an employee and an independent contractor. (Saying they are independent contractors does not necessarily make them so.)

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Eat Out and Eat Right

Yesterday, I gave you some restaurant caloric horror stories.

Today,, the flip side. If you do "points", a reasonable number of points per meal is between 6 and 8.

Monday, December 3, 2007

The 20 worst foods in America

From Men's Health magazine: "The U.S. food industry has declared war on your waistline. Here's how to disarm its weapons of mass inflation.

Sure, a turkey burger sounds healthy. But is it, really? Not if you order the Bella from Ruby Tuesday, which packs a whopping 1,145 calories. (And yes, that's before a side of fries.)"

More scary stuff here.