Friday, February 29, 2008

State Economic Competitiveness Index

Newt Gingrich noted recently a recent report from the American Legislative Exchange Council called Rich States, Poor States. It's based on the ALEC-Laffer State Economic Competitiveness Index and is compiled by by Arthur B. Laffer and Stephen Moore. It notes how these factors affect out-migration:
Highest marginal personal income tax rate
• Highest marginal corporate income tax rate
• Progressivity of the personal income tax system
• Property tax burden
• Sales tax burden
• Tax burden from all remaining taxes
• Estate tax/Inheritance tax (Yes or No)
• Recent Tax Policy Changes 2005-06
• Debt service as share of tax revenue
• Public employees per 10,000 residents
• Quality of state legal system
• State minimum wage
• Workers’ Compensation costs
• Right-to-work state (Yes or No)
• Tax/Expenditure Limit
• Education Freedom Index

New York does not fare well. Here's a story about the California experience.

Access info on the individual states here.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

1918 Flu Pandemic

Researchers Explain Why 1918 Pandemic Flu Spread Quickly, killing at least 50 million people. "The work could help scientists detect and contain a future bird flu outbreak among humans."

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Switching faiths

Religion Survey Finds Many Americans Swap Faiths.

From NPR: The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life surveyed tens of thousands of Americans and found that more than 40 percent will switch from the faith of their upbringing. Includes a 4-minute audio describing the results.

The complete results of the U.S. Religious Landscape Survey.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Entire Communications Industry, in Less than 200 Pages

As the Hill Library blog puts it, "The 2007 Digital Economy Fact Book (pdf) is a tightwad researcher’s dream: In-depth, statistic-heavy, well-cited, and freely-available online. One could hardly ask for more."

Growth of the Internet (page 1)
Hardware Sector (page 15)
Communications (page 37)
Digital media (page 63)
Electronic commerce (page 83)
Threats to the Digital Economy (page 97)
Worldwide Digital Economy (page 109)

Monday, February 25, 2008

Census Product Update

Like many data detectives, I subscribe to the Census Product Update, "A Biweekly Bulletin from the U.S. Census Bureau". The February 22, 2008 release featured:

USA Counties has just been quarterly updated and is now available on the web. USA Counties now features more than 5,900 data items for the United States, the 50 states (plus the District of Columbia), and all of the nation’s 3,141 counties and county equivalents, and covers areas such as age, agriculture, ancestry, banking, building permits, business patterns, crime, earnings, education, elections, employment, government, health, households, housing, income, labor force, manufactures, population, poverty, retail trade, social programs, veterans, vital statistics, water use, and wholesale trade. It is the most comprehensive source for data on counties in the United States."

U.S. Total Business Sales for December 2006 were $1,147.3 Billion, down 0.5 Percent from the previous month. No surprise.

THIS surprised me: Majority of Children Live With Two Biological Parents. The actual FACT didn't surprise me - "Nearly 45 million (61 percent) of the nation’s 73 million children younger than 18 lived with their biological mother and father in 2004." Maybe I just had an Ozzie and Harriet/Father Knows Best/Donna Reed Show upbringing and had blocked out the proliferation of divorce, single parents and blended families.

To subscribe to Census Product Update, go here.

Friday, February 22, 2008

The Daily Digit

From Data Detective Lenny:

The Daily Digit, from provides an interesting statistical factoid related to government. For example, today's fact is:

Number of workers without proper immigration documents caught by Suffolk County, N.Y., officials in two sweeps of a total of 33 contractors working for the county after a law was approved requiring 6,000 county contractors to affirm that their employees were not illegal immigrants:

Source: New York Times, 2/19/08

I was intrigued by this one:

Number of votes received by Sen. Hillary Clinton from Syracuse, N.Y., voters in the Feb. 5 Democratic primary, according to unofficial results:

Number of votes received by Sen. Barack Obama in Syracuse:

Odds of such a tie occurring, according to a Syracuse University mathematics professor:

Less than 1 in a million
Source: Syracuse Post-Standard, 2/7/08

U.S. Population Projections: 2005-2050

If current trends continue, the population of the United States will rise to 438 million in 2050, from 296 million in 2005, and 82% of the increase will be due to immigrants arriving from 2005 to 2050 and their U.S.-born descendants, according to new projections developed by the Pew Research Center.

The link is to the summary; from there, you can go to a 55-page PDF.

Thanks to the Hill Library blog.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Fight Forgetfulness the Fun Way

Can't remember things like you could 10 years--or even a few months--ago? Clear out brain fog with games scientifically designed to strengthen the mind. Whether you want to improve your focus, sharpen your recall, or master multitasking, our games will supercharge your mind.

And when you're at work playing games on your computer, please tell your boss that you're only doing them to become a better employee.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Race: Are We So Different?

Data Detective Ed disccovered this web site:

Race: Are We So Different? - The project is full of census data, personal interviews, specialized bibliographies, quizzes, genetic data and a beautifully done interactive timeline on the race debate.

Friday, February 15, 2008 - R.I.P.

Forbes has awarded one of its “Best of the Web” awards. As Forbes explains, the government site provides an invaluable service to the public for accessing U.S. economic data:

This site is maintained by the Economics and Statistics Administration and combines data collected by the Bureau of Economic Analysis, like GDP and net imports and exports, and the Census Bureau, like retail sales and durable goods shipments. The site simply links to the relevant department’s Web site. This might not seem like a big deal, but doing it yourself–say, trying to find retail sales data on the Census Bureau’s site–is such an exercise in futility that it will convince you why this portal is necessary.

Yet the Bush administration has decided to shut down this site because of “budgetary constraints,” effective March 1.

Siena Sports Fanship Poll

Here are the headlines:
73% of All NY’ers are Sports Fans: 89% of Men, 58% of Women
Athletes Poor Choice for Role Model; Jeter, Tiger exceptions
Kids learn teamwork, discipline from sports; But, Lighten Up Coach

Here are the results.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Rural and Urban Establishment Births and Deaths

Rural and Urban Establishment Births and Deaths Using the U.S. Census Bureau’s Business Information Tracking Series presents an analysis of establishment birth and death rates by rural and urban counties. Surprisingly, the differences in the average rates of establishment births and deaths for urban and rural areas are extremely small. Therefore, the general dynamic of economic activities is not a function of rural versus urban conditions. Also, the underlying datasource of establishment births and deaths by county from 1990 to 2003 used in the paper is documented for future research use.

A full copy of this report is available here (PDF), and the research summary can be found here (PDF). If you need further information, please feel free to contact Brian Headd at (202) 205-6533 or

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Industry Economic Accounts

From the Dept. of Commerce's Bureau of Economic Analysis: "Annual Input-Output Accounts for the U.S. Economy" report, plus info on Research and Development, Travel and Tourism, and Transportation.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Google Uncle Sam

Government Information on the Web

Use Google Uncle Sam, also called Google U.S. Government Search, to find online federal, state, or local government information.
From Hill Library:

Google Uncle Sam will limit your search to government Web sites only. This specialized Google service can be helpful if you are looking for government information related to your business, such as economic reports, tax legislation, employment regulations, patents or trademarks.

To access Google’s U.S. Government Search:

* Go to
* Enter keywords.
* Click on the “Search Government Sites” button.

I like it because it captures all those sites I used to try to get by searching, individually, all the .gov, .mil and .us sites.

While Google is the most ubiquitous name in online search, it’s not the only government search engine on the Web. The U.S. government provides its own portal to online government information at In addition to its search engine, provides a helpful directory of online government information.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Underground Railroad Conference - February 22-24, 2008

FREEDOM'S SONGS - Voices of the UGR

The Underground Railroad History Project/URHPCR of the Capital Region, Inc. will present Kim and Reggie Harris and Nzinga's Daughters in concert on Saturday evening, February 23rd, 2008, at 7:30 PM at St. Joseph's Hall at the College of Saint Rose on Madison Ave in Albany, NY.

Based in Hartford, Connecticut, "Nzinga's Daughters" is a women's performing ensemble of professionals and trained semi-professionals. The ensemble presents varied programs of African, Caribbean and African-American music, dance, storytelling and poetry. The Underground Railway is a favorite focus. The February 23rd performance will "start in Africa and bring you to America, and end with the Emancipation Proclamation."

Kim and Reggie Harris have been singing and telling stories together for nearly two decades. As singers, songwriters, storytellers, educators, interpreters of history, and cultural advocates, they have developed a stunning reputation amongst college presenters and folk audiences. Their music, alternating between contemporary and historically-based songs, is always rich in emotion, powerful and draws one into its rhythm and beat, and their stunning voices and intelligent harmonies prompted one reviewer to describe them as "vocal acoustic joy!!"

The presentation will bring to an end a full day of workshops and events that comprise part of the 7th annual conference on the Underground Railroad Movement in New York State: "The Underground Railroad: How It Worked: Two Centuries of Resistance, Escape, and the Underground Railroad in New York and Across the Continent."

The Conference will be held in Albany, NY, on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, February 22, 23, 24, 2008. It will begin on Friday evening at the Best Western Sovereign, 1228 Western Avenue, Albany, NY, with dinner and a speech by Spencer Crew, Director of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio. Saturday's
events will be at the College Of Saint Rose. The fee for Saturday evening is $10. There will be open seating.

The conference schedule, description of featured events, a list of workshops, and an online registration form are available at the URHPCR web site.

Underground Railroad History Project
P.O. Box 10851
Albany, NY 12201
Contact: Katherine Storms
Phone: (518) 427-7168 or 265-3418 (cell)

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Consumer Electronics Customer Support Contact List

From Hill Library:

Most businesses these days rely heavily on PCs, laptops, PDAs, cell phones and other consumer electronics. But what happens when these items don’t work? Panic, probably, followed by a mad dash to get them up and running.

The CE Customer Support site can help add a bit of ease to that mad dash. Organized by consumer electronic brand name, you’ll find links to customer support Web pages, phone numbers, and email addresses along with full-text manuals, and in some cases, listings of authorized service centers.

This site may not directly help you fix your electronics problems, but it will help you quickly and efficiently get in touch with someone who can.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

February 12 due date for return of Economic Census forms approaches

Back in December, more than 4 million American businesses, including 320,000 businesses in New York, received a 2007 Economic Census form. Many very small businesses were not sent a form, and no action is required from them, but businesses that received a form are required by law (Title 13, U.S. Code) to complete and return it.

Commerce Department Secretary Carlos Gutierrez calls answering the Economic Census "an act of an act of corporate good citizenship". The Fed's Ben Bernanke calls the census "indispensable" and adds "returning your economic census form helps us all."

So, if your company still has the 2007 Economic Census, please fill it out and send it in today. You can get help with your paper form, or even file your information online, at If you prefer, call 1-800-233-6136.

If you are an entity that deals with businesses, help get out the word now, before the February 12 due date. Among other things, the followup process is far more expensive for taxpayers than returning the form before the deadline.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008


I got this e-mail:
The Essential Pandemic Kit
To respond effectively to a pandemic – its duration, reach and unpredictability - you need more than just a basic crisis communication system.

Varolii's Pandemic Communication Solution is designed for an event of global proportions by protecting employees and core systems, disseminating status updates, and supporting crisis collaboration.

Kit includes:
Forrester report on responding to the avian flu
Whitepaper on pandemic communication
And more

The link was here. Free registration is required and you'll need WinZip. If you can't access it, let me know and I'll try to e-mail the components.

I'm not hot on worrying about a pandemic, but it is interesting reading.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Rockefeller Fiscal Report for State Governments

Looking at the past five recessions, Rockefeller Institute Senior Fellow Donald J. Boyd addresses the question — "What could happen now to state government finances in a recession?" Data are presented on all 50 states. To read the report, go here.
Publication 58 (1/08), Information for Income tax Return Preparers for tax year 2007.