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August 9, 2012

Census Bureau gets its (biz) geek on

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Wendy Culverwell
Business Journal staff writer- Portland Business Journal

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Calling all business geeks: For those who can’t go more than a few moments without looking up the current international trade balance (-$42.9 billion, you’re welcome), the U.S. Census Bureau has the app for you.

The government’s counting agency released its first-ever mobile application, “America’s Economy,” for Android device users Thursday. The iPhone and tablet versions will be available in coming weeks.

The Census Bureau is creating a suite of apps under the government’s digital strategy to provide more access to its information and services. The debut app is free and available through the Android Play Store. Search for “America’s Economy for Phone”.

America’s Economy compiles 16 key statistics generated by its researchers as well as the Bureau of Economic Analysis and the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics and keeps them updated.

The Portland Business Journal loves to anchor reports in numbers and the Census Bureau is a go-to source on everything from construction spending (trending up slightly in June at an annualized rate of $842.1 billion) to the current homeownership rate (65.5 percent). Needless to say, this is a very cool thing for those of us who obsessively track employment rates, housing starts, GDP, retail inventories and other information.

I found the app relatively easy to use on my Android phone. It loads basic data and charts and offers links to in-depth reports, including press releases and searchable databases. The latter are not optimized for small screens but can be easily called up on a desktop screen.

Wendy Culverwell covers real estate, retail and hospitality.

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