Friday, August 31, 2007

Of Game Shows and Blogs

I'm linking the post I made to my work blog this week here to show how having an unofficial mechanism can work to one's advantage.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Numbers Guy

RECOMMENDED BLOG: The Numbers Guy. "Carl Bialik examines the way numbers are used, and abused." Free from the Wall Street Journal. Recent examples:

The Trouble With Ranking Life-Expectancy Numbers (August 27)
Calculating the Cost of Weddings (August 23): noting the difference between the mean and the median price of matrimony
Increasingly in Baseball, Stealing Pays (August 21): Go, METS! Literally.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Plenty of Apples, but Possibly a Shortage of Immigrant Pickers

Provided by the The New York Immigration Coalition.


HAMPTONBURGH, N.Y., Aug. 16 — With a look of supreme satisfaction, Jeff Crist squinted at the Ginger Golds and Jonamacs ripening under an incandescent sun at his apple orchard here: the trees were so laden that they almost seemed to strain under the effort.

"It’s a vintage crop — a solid quality crop, which means good sugars in the apples," he said. "They should eat very nicely, almost like a good wine."

This is the third year in a row of near-perfect weather, and Mr. Crist, a fourth-generation apple grower, like many other growers in the Hudson Valley, is finally feeling secure after a disastrous string of harvests marred by early frost and hail. In fact, Mr. Crist is so bullish that he recently bought a 164-acre orchard nearby, bucking the decades-long trend of apple orchards being sold to housing developers.

But while weather conditions have cooperated and industry experts say demand for apples nationwide has approached an all-time high, there are new fears in New York and around the nation over whether there will be enough hands to pick the crop. This month, the Bush administration announced new measures to crack down on employers of illegal immigrants.

Nationwide, growers’ associations estimate that about 70 percent of farmworkers are illegal immigrants, many of them using fake Social Security numbers on their applications. Under the new rules, if the Social Security Administration finds that an applicant’s information does not match its database, employers could be required to fire the worker or risk being fined up to $10,000 for knowingly hiring an illegal immigrant.

"Farmers are required to validate the legal status of their workers, which they do," said Peter Gregg, a spokesman for the New York Apple Association, a nonprofit group representing more than 670 commercial apple growers in the state. "But a lot of times the paperwork is false, so they’re unwittingly or unknowingly hiring workers who are here illegally. And then a raid will occur, and all of a sudden their workers will leave."

For apple growers in New York, where the forces of nature and the market have at last come together in their favor, the potential fallout from the new immigration initiative is particularly unsettling. "We have three billion apples to pick this fall and every single one of them has to be picked by hand," Mr. Gregg said. "It’s a very labor-intensive industry, and there is no local labor supply that we can draw from, as much as we try. No one locally really wants to pick apples for six weeks in the fall."

Mr. Crist, who was recently named apple grower of the year by a leading fruit industry magazine, lobbied in Washington for passage of a new guest-worker program. But the program was part of the overall immigration reform proposal that collapsed on the Senate floor in late June. Growers say that only 2 percent of farmworkers nationwide come from the current guest-worker program, which, they say, is plagued by red tape, low capacity and delays.

Another Hudson Valley apple grower, Mark S. Roe, of Roe’s Orchards in Blooming Grove, will get five workers through the existing program for this fall’s harvest. He said he planned to hire about seven additional pickers. As for past workers, Mr. Roe said: "It’s hard to tell who’s legal and who’s not. They all have documents."

He, too, is worried about the tougher immigration rules and what they might mean for his 240-acre fruit and vegetable farm, which was started by his great-great-grandfather in 1827 and is still worked by his grown children, who represent the sixth generation of growers. "We need something better, something grower-friendly," he said.

So far, the Hudson Valley has not been subject to the federal raids that have rippled through farms and orchards in western New York, especially in the Buffalo area. "Last year, there were significantly more raids targeting agriculture in New York," Mr. Gregg said. "A lot of growers lost numerous workers at the peak of the harvest. They had to scramble to try to find someone else. It was difficult. In a lot of cases, there were apples left hanging on the trees."

For now, both Mr. Crist and Mr. Roe say they have enough pickers for the initial harvest. Workers are now plucking Ginger Golds, one of the first varieties to ripen, and placing them in wooden bins that each hold 2,000 to 3,000 apples.

A crew leader who for decades has recruited workers for Mr. Crist’s orchards said that if the current source of labor dried up there would be few other alternatives. The workers are mostly Hispanic men who pick citrus fruits in Florida and then move north for the apple harvest.

Despite the labor concerns, growers seem to be optimistic, having emerged from the stretch of growing seasons that were devastated by storms and wild swings in temperature.

"Five or six years ago, we were ready to wrap up our affairs," said Mr. Crist, who owns six orchards, totaling 600 acres, in Orange and Ulster Counties. "It looked pretty dismal, and a number of growers either chose to get out or they had to get out. There are less of us today than there used to be. But we’re back on solid footing."

In the past two decades, the number of farms in Ulster County, the second-highest apple-producing county in the state, behind Wayne County, has steadily declined, according to Michael J. Fargione, an educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension, which provides research information and educational programs to farmers. In 1985, 104 farms covered 11,629 acres in Ulster County. By 1996, the number had slid to 63 orchards on 8,632 acres.And by 2001, the most recent year for which figures are available, there were 56 apple orchards on 5,669 acres.

But growers and agriculture experts say that in recent years fewer orchards in the Hudson Valley seem to have fallen to housing developers. "My impression is that over the last three years, the decline has either stabilized or at least reduced its rate," Mr. Fargione said.

Mr. Roe, whose farm stand was awash in the rosy hues of just-picked peaches and plums, said his family had no intention of selling. Indeed, the weather this season — with ample rain and sunshine — seems to have strengthened his zest for farming.

"It’s been practically perfect," he said. "It’s just one of those things you hope for and dream about, and it rarely happens."

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Every New Yorker counts in 2010 census

Featuring the NYSDC's own Bob Scardamalia! Oh, yeah, and Warren Brown.

August 17, 2007

Every New Yorker counts in 2010 census: Federal funding, Congress seats at risk if state population comes up short by Dan Wiessner

Billions of dollars in federal funding and some of New York's seats in Congress could be lost if county officials don't take steps to ensure that everyone is counted in the 2010 census, experts said Thursday.
Population growth in the state has been below national rates for decades. From 2000 to July of last year, the country's population increased by 6.4 percent, while New York's went up only 1.7 percent, to about 19 million. Florida saw an increase of 13.2 percent, to about 18 million.
If the trend continues, the Sunshine State will overtake New York as the third-most populous in the United States before the '10 count. (California at 36.5 million and Texas at 23.5 million have the most people.)
This means the state could lose billions in federal funds and two seats in the House of Representatives, according to Robert Scardamalia, a demographer with the state-run Empire State Development Corp. New York has lost 10 House seats since 1980 and now has only 29.
"This is a troubling trend but there are things we can do to mitigate these figures," said Sean Silvernial of the state Association of Counties. "We need to become more involved, as leaders of our communities, in the state's effort to ensure a full and accurate count in 2010."
The U.S. census is based on housing information. Census officials use postal records to compile a master list of addresses throughout the country — there are currently about 120 million — and then mail questionnaires to every address asking for demographic information.
"The census doesn't really care about population, which sounds odd, but they care about housing units," Scardamalia said. "The risk for New York is there are an awful lot of addresses we can't find."
He said this method is open to error for several reasons. It's difficult to keep track of single-family homes that are converted into businesses or multiple apartments or rented out to several people. Keeping tabs on new homes and buildings in areas of rapid growth such as Orange County is also a challenge, he said.
Housing records might also not be reflective of the migration of college students, prisoners and people who live in nursing homes or community residences. Local officials can check potential miscounts by delving into phone and other utility records and keeping track of building and demolition permits and mobile-home placements, Scardamalia said.
Since 2005, only 12 of the country's 3,100 counties have challenged the yearly estimates the census provides, according to Warren Brown of Cornell University. Of those 12, seven were in New York.
But counties can only challenge figures once they've been released. The only opportunity local officials have to directly influence the tally is an optional program that allows them to review and update the Census Bureau's list of housing units.
New York City did this during the 2000 census and came up with 369,000 addresses that the Census Bureau missed — nearly 10 percent of the city's entire housing stock — and the population was boosted by 164,000.
"What would be ideal is to have an ongoing register of all living quarters within your jurisdiction, updated with building permits or certificates of occupancy," said Brown, who is also a liaison between census officials and the state.
The Census Bureau also checks for population shifts by subtracting deaths from births and looking for address changes on tax returns and Medicare enrollment forms. But, Brown said, discrepancies likely occur when officials try to track immigration from abroad and migration of military personnel and young adults beginning their careers.

Monday, August 27, 2007

North American Cities of the Future 2007/08

This list was released on April 25, 2007 by Foreign Direct Investment and can be found here.

In the major cities category, NYC scored well in population under 25, fall in unemployment 2004-2005, and manual wage cost. It was 3rd in best development and investment promotion, 2nd in best human resources, 4th in most business friendly, and 2nd in quality of life.

In the large cities category, Rochester scored well in fall in unemployment 2004-2005.

In the small cities category, Albany did well in the population under 25, and percentage of population with a degree. Albany was 3rd of the top 10 small cities of the future, 1st in best human resources, 1st in quality of life.

In the micro cities category, Poughkeepsie and Plattsburgh did well in population under 25 and in percentage of population with a degree, Plattsburgh and Troy in fall in unemployment 2004-2005. Plattsburgh was 4th in most cost effective and 9th of the top 10 micro cities of the future; Poughkeepsie was 10th in the top micro cities list.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Best Cities For Singles

Best Cities For Singles from, 08.21.07. NYC is second, Buffalo is 31st out of 40. But here's a Newsweek My Turn story about someone with a family moving back to Buffalo.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

POP Clock Fun

OK, I’m curious: WHY did Census have on the American FactFfinder page:

U.S. Population Clock
10:59 am EST Jan 7, 2005
at 12:55 pm EDT on August 23, 2007?

A minute later, it was all corrected:
U.S. Population Clock
16:56 GMT (EST+5) Aug 23, 2007

Estimates by Age

Lenny writes:

The Missouri Census Data Census has added data for 2006 to its Population Estimates by Age web application.

The raw data used in this application has been downloaded from the National Center for Health Statistics web site and added as enhanced SAS datasets to the archive. These datasets can be accessed via Uexplore/Dexter in the popests/nchsbri subdirectory.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

SBA Supports Census

On August 16, 2007, the Office of Advocacy sent a letter to the House Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Chairman and Ranking Member describing the unintended consequences of a proposed funding cut to the Census budget in the FY 2008 Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations bill (H.R. 3093). If enacted, the cut would jeopardize the Survey of Business Owners and Self-Employed Persons (SBO), on which Advocacy and researchers depend to understand the contributions and challenges of small business.

A copy of Advocacy's letter may be found here and a fact sheet summarizing Advocacy's letter can be found here.

For more information about the Office of Advocacy, please visit the website or telephone 202-205-6533.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Geo within Geo

At the joint SDC Affiliate/Dept. of Labor session last year, I mentioned Geo within Geo on the Census Web Page, American Factfinder. After the session, about a half dozen people noted that they had no idea what I was talking about.

If you go to the Detailed Tables or Quick Tables, the tab on the right is Geo within Geo. You can find all the places within a county, or all the block groups in a place, or any of those designations that don't come up naturally (states in the country, counties in the state, county subdivisions in the county).

Beats the heck out of trying to find all the places in Westchester County on a map, which I once tried to do.

Friday, August 17, 2007

N.Y. Regulator Expects All Insurers at Pandemic Flu Exercise

For several years, I've been receiving a weekly "Continuity e-Guide" from the Disaster Resource Guide. This week's post featured the title above, with an abstract of the article:

Call it a command performance: The New York State Insurance Department is holding a drill in September to evaluate how ready the nation’s financial services are to survive a flu pandemic, and it expects all state insurance companies to take part.

According to an article on the Insurance Journal website, the test has a bigger scope than any done so far in the United Sates. “Designed to simulate a global influenza outbreak, the exercise is being sponsored by the US Department of the Treasury and major financial services trade organizations,” the article says.

The simulation kicks off on September 24 and is expected to last three weeks. Participants will take part at their own locations by accessing a secure website to respond to such scenarios as transportation, communications and telecommunications disruptions.

"By participating, insurance companies will have an opportunity to review, test and update their pandemic plans against realistic scenarios that could cause massive absenteeism," NYSID Deputy Superintendent Louis W. Pietroluongo told the publication.

"Continuity plans typically focus on disruptions, like earthquakes, that are limited in time and place, but a flu pandemic could hit in waves over a protracted period of weeks or months," he added.

To read the full August 9 article from Insurance Journal, click here.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Post-Upfront Survey results published in Advertising Age

The most significant new trend to emerge in the 2007-08 upfront market is the switch to a new ratings system, according to a survey of media buyers and sellers participating in TV Guide Network’s 2007 Upfront Opinion Study.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Book Sales

Sales Barely Up, Book Trade Yearns for Next Blockbuster
from June 1, 2007, New York Times, Section C, Page 3, Column 1

ABSTRACT - Book Industry Study Group report shows publishers sold 3.1 billion books in 2006, up just 0.5 percent from 3.09 billion sold year before; net revenue rose 3.2 percent as result of higher retail book prices, to $35.7 billion from $34.6 billion; strongest growth segment in publishing last year continued to be religious books, where 263.4 million were sold, up 3.1 percent from previous year; adult trade paperbacks increased unit sales by 3.5 percent, to 418.2 million, with net revenue rising 6.1 percent, to $3.69 billion; sales of adult hardcovers dipped 0.1 percent, to 406 million copies last year, although revenue rose 2.4 percent, to $5.49 billion.

However, from Publishers Weekly: Book Sales Projected to Increase 4% in 2007.

From the Book Industry Study Group, Book Industry TRENDS 2007 Shows Publishers' Net Revenues Rose 3.2 Percent in 2006 to Reach $35.69 billion. Not so incidentally, "The BISG office has been closed since July 19 due to the steam pipe explosion that occurred immediately outside our building. We do not yet have a definite date when we will be able to return to our offices. We are able to access voice mail and e-mail so please do not hesitate to contact us. We will deal with all enquiries as quickly as we can. We apologize for any inconvenience and expect to resume normal service as soon as possible."

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

A Business Continuity Newsletter

I hope that you can click on the link to access the August 2007 issue of the CPM-Global Assurance e-Newsletter. If you can not open the link this way, you may have to subscribe. It's free. It may be useful for you, and if you're dealing with economic development, to your clients as well.

Monday, August 13, 2007


The Rockefeller Institute has completed a study of the Capital Region Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) Supervisory District of Albany, Schoharie, Schenectady, and Saratoga Counties for the New York State Department of Education. The study includes recommendations on Capital Region BOCES’ structure relative to neighboring BOCES regions; individual school districts in Schoharie County; the City School District of Albany; and the potential for further study of BOCES operations in the area from the Catskills to Hamilton, Herkimer, Madison and Oneida counties.

Here's a list of BOCES programs throughout the state. Here's another list.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Manufacturing companies and their plant locations


"Does anyone know of a directory or database of manufacturing companies and their plant locations? I don't need subsidiary or division locations. There are plenty of database for that. I need to be able to determine where a company's manufacturing plants are located."

REPLY #1: "Try searching the EPA envirofacts warehouse to find plant locations. This source obviously does not cover every company or facility but it is free and easy to use.

"For example enter General Motors in 'facility selection' and then scroll to the bottom to hit search, when the results come up click on 'view facility information' - you get some basic information plus a map of the location and the Duns number so you can run a D&B report or obtain additional information from a D&B database."

REPLY #2: "This is true and an excellent resource and at last count had more than 1.3 million US facilities. However, remember two points about this database:
1. The database is about 24 months out of date
2. Any facility listed must have EPA registered emissions or waste (air, water, hazmat, etc.). Gasoline stations are exempt; i.e. no emissions and the facility will not be listed.
However, most plant facilities have some kind of emissions. Even Keebler Cookie plants are listed.

Another good site to see a companies facilities with address is the searchable OSHA database.


You'll notice that on the bar to the right, I've added a contraption that provides gas prices by ZIP code. If you have suggestions of other things to add to this blog, please leave in the comments section, or e-mail me.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Nearly 10% of U.S. Counties Now "Majority-Minority"

303 of them out of 3141 counties.

A story about this.

A Question of SIC and NAICS Codes

Question I see on a listserv: Been working with a group here this week. They're trying to update some data on some commercial loans and are asking me to verify SIC/NAICS for them. Come to find out that through D& you can get SIC's, but they are listing NAICS codes. Patron also wants NAICS codes, especially for the companies where D&B's code doesn't match what they already had internally.
Problem is some of these businesses are pretty small.... Any ideas on sources of NAICS codes for small companies. (Have already tried Ward's

So I write: You might try Reference USA, available in many public and state libraries, which lists both SIC and NAICS codes for the companies listed.
If the company's not in there, and you have the SIC, you could do the conversion using this site, though it'll be tricky because many of the conversions aren't one-to-one.
Hope this is useful.

And I think I'm done. No such luck:

Some folks have been kind enough to point out the government site where you can move from SIC to NAICS. Our problem is that we have a conflict between the SIC in the patron's internal system and the information we're getting from D&B. The folks in the office don't always know exactly what the company does, so it would be hard for them to determine it themselves.
They'd like a source to go straight to the NAICS.....

I reply: "They'd like a source to go straight to the NAICS....."

If I understand your statement correctly, it seems that you are looking for the "standard" NAICS code. But look at the link here, particularly questions 5 and 6. It's quite possible that - and I'm making the example up - that D&B will assign IBM the NAICS code for computer manufacturer, Hoover will select software manufacturer, and Reference USA something else.
Which one is right? Based on the way information is gathered, perhaps all of them.

If I were doing your project, I'd decide that the either the client list is correct or the D&B list is correct, then fill in the holes, because you're not likely to find the consistency you seek, in my experience.

I was happy to get some confirmation from another librarian:
I agree. I have not ever ended up using the NAICS codes as much as my Library school professor promised I would, but I learned exactly what you are saying, had it drilled into my head, and then experienced it in some practice too: that for both SIC or NAICS, or really any classification system, there is some arbitrariness(?), maybe even a great deal of it. Further, for some it is the directory that does the assigning of the classifications and for some it is the company itself that checks a box (for example) assigning them to themselves. So much room for variables. Never going to be perfect. Must do what you suggested and just dive in and start.

So, now here's MY question: when you're looking for a primary SIC/NAICS code for a business - and recognizing that some will have multiple codes - what do YOU use?

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Business Intelligence Resources

"A Subject Tracer™ Information Blog developed and created by Internet expert, author, keynote speaker and consultant Marcus P. Zillman, M.S., A.M.H.A. for monitoring business intelligence resources and sites on the Internet" located here. Some are links to paid sites, but most are free.

Walk This Way

I came across this site called "Walk Score TM". You type in an address, see a walking map. "Walk Score helps people find walkable places to live. Walk Score calculates the walkability of an address by locating nearby stores, restaurants, schools, parks, etc."
The site asks, "Why is walking important?". Some of the reasons: "Walkable neighborhoods offer surprising benefits to our health, the environment, and our communities."
*Better health
*Reduction in greenhouse gas
*More transportation options
*Increased social capital (promotes face-to-face interaction with your neighbors)
*Stronger local businesses

The scoring range:
* 90 - 100 - Walkers' paradise
* 70 - 90 = Very Walkable
* 50 - 70 = Some Walkable Locations
* 25 - 50 = Not Walkable
* 0 - 25 = Driving Only

The test is very upfront about its flaws. It doesn't factor in:
* Street width and block length: Narrow streets slow down traffic. Short blocks make it easier to navigate the grid.
* Safety: How much crime is in the neighborhood? How many traffic accidents are there? Are crosswalks well marked and streets well lit?
* Pedestrian-friendly design: Are there walking paths? Are buildings close to the sidewalk with parking in back? Are sidewalks shaded by trees?
* Topography: Hills can make walking difficult, especially if you're carrying groceries.
* Public transit: Good public transit is important for walkable neighborhoods.
* Freeways and bodies of water: Freeways can divide neighborhoods. Swimming is harder than walking.
* Weather: In some places it's just too hot or cold to walk regularly.

I decided to try it out. My house in the Pine Hills of Albany got a 69, about right. My mother's a 37, which I think is high; she's not going to walk across W.T. Harris Blvd in Charlotte.
Just for fun, I did work places. My old job in downtown Albany, not far from where Bob, Lenny, and Nancy work, got an 86.
My new place in Corporate Woods a 38, which is desperately flawed, since more than half the places within a mile of the location is on the other side of Interstate 90, and, as they say, "You can't get there from here."

Still, an interesting concept.

Monday, August 6, 2007

The "Nonprofitization" of Social Services

"A new article by the Rockefeler Institute of Government's Roundtable on Religion and Welfare Policy reports on Congressional consideration of tax incentives for charitable giving, amidst new information about the federal government's increasing reliance on such charitable groups to deliver health care, education, and human services in America. That increase was reflected in more federal money to nonprofit organizations and a growth in the number of public charities, according to a study by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the investigative arm of Congress. Researchers estimated that federal money to nonprofit organizations increased more than 230 percent from 1980 to 2004, when adjusted for inflation. And the number of registered public charities has grown more than 30 percent since 2000 from about 646,000 to 851,000. The new data confirm trends toward the "nonprofitization" of social services, the subject of research at the Rockefeller Institute by Richard Nathan and others."

Friday, August 3, 2007

Hey There, Sports Fans

I'm a sucker for a simple-to-do survey. I'm a member of the Sports Illustrated Box Seat, and as such fill out a number of surveys during the year.

One survey in early 2006 they asked questions about typical shopping habits, the best places to shop for apparel and info about personal style. The results came in, in April 2006:

SI Subscribers are apparel shoppers. During the past 12 months . . .
-74% have shopped for apparel at a Retail Store
-18% have shopped for apparel online
-8% have shopped for apparel from a catalog

SI Subscribers are more likely to visit department stores (such as Macy’s and
Kohl’s), specialty clothing stores (like Banana Republic and The Gap), and Sporting
Goods Stores (such as Dick’s and Champ’s) than mass merchandise stores (like

SI Subscribers' favorite stores to shop for apparel are -- Target, Kohl’s, Old
Navy, Macy’s, Dick’s Sporting Goods, The Gap, and Costco

SI’s Subscribers, who shop for apparel online or via catalogs, gravitate toward
the major and established outlets
-L.L. Bean
-Land’s End

SI Subscribers are brand conscious . . . and recognize the importance of looking
good for one’s career . . . are willing to spend more for apparel . . . and plan their purchases before shopping
-85% agree that quality is more important than trends when choosing apparel
-68% are willing to spend a little more for a good brand name
-65% agree that to be successful, you need to look successful
-38% agree that when shopping for apparel, price is the most important factor
to consider
-66% agree that when they shop, they usually know what they want ahead of
time and plan their purchases before shopping

Thursday, August 2, 2007

A Brain Drain or an Insufficient Brain Gain?

Upstate New York’s weak population and labor force growth in recent years has raised concerns about a loss of educated workers. In new research released this week, the Buffalo Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York finds that upstate New York’s population loss is not due to an unusually large number of educated workers leaving the region; rather, it stems from an unusually low rate of educated workers moving in. Here's a Times Union (Albany) article about the report.

On a related issue, New York State ranks 44th in high school graduation rates, according to this TU piece in today's paper.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Gated Communities

That was the topic du jour last week. While I found a number of relevant pieces, from the Wikipedia piece to a 2003 brief study on the UCLA site, with statistics, I wasn't finding much from Census other than:
1) There were 3 million owner-occupied homes in gated communities;
2) 6.7% of people now live in them; and
2) The 2010 Census will be complicated by them, as the needs between security/privacy and the government imperative will likely clash big time.

But where are those hard numbers? Eventually, I called the folks doing the American Housing Survey. I was told to click on the National Data for 2005, then go to the neighborhood tables (2-8, 3-8, etc.). There, one will find data on "Secured Communities". AHA!