“The Census Bureau? Wasn’t the Census 2 years ago?”

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By: Sean Kline

Recently, I had the privilege of working in our Commodity Analysis Branch (CAB) for three months to learn more about the things they do on a regular basis. As part of this assignment, I frequently called members of the trade community. One of the things I learned quickly is that most people have no idea that the Census Bureau is the agency responsible for collecting the nation’s export statistics and publishing the U.S. merchandise trade data. When they think of the Census Bureau they think of this guy knocking on their door…

If I introduced myself as “Sean Kline with the Department of Commerce,” there was no confusion, but my alter ego, “Sean Kline from the Census Bureau,” put people in a tizzy. Now that my time in CAB is over and I’m back to my blog-writing ways, I thought it would be a good opportunity to explain exactly why the Census Bureau collects export information.

The Census Bureau is responsible for collecting, compiling, and publishing export trade statistics for the United States under the provisions of Title 13, United States Code, Chapter 9, Section 301. This gives the Census Bureau the authority to collect export information for the nation. As a result, we collect information on the physical movement of goods leaving the U.S. We also collaborate with other agencies such as the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), who publish data on services exports, and Customs and Border Protection to publish the monthly International Trade Statistics. In addition, we work with agencies such as the State Department and Bureau of Industry and Security to ensure that the export of sensitive commodities is monitored and regulated properly.

As you can see, in addition to publishing information about our nation’s population, the Census Bureau provides statistics on U.S. foreign trade. So if you get a call from the Census Bureau’s Foreign Trade Division at some point in the future, it’s unlikely the caller will be asking where you were on Census day.

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One Response to “The Census Bureau? Wasn’t the Census 2 years ago?”

  1. Anthony says:

    Do Census and accompaning agencies have the capability to exclude exports that are not sales transactions and for the support of overseas equipment like airlines from GDP statistics?

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