Did you know that over 904,000 children were served by Head Start in 2009? Or that college graduation rates for women have increased by over twenty percentage points between 1970 and 2009 but that nearly 13 percent of women still don’t graduate from high school? Or that, despite working full-time, year-round, 1,168,000 women still lived in poverty in 2008?
All of this information can be found from the Census Bureau’s Statistical Abstract of the United States.
In recent days, Robert Samuelson and Paul Krugman both railed against the potential demise of the Statistical Abstract - a comprehensive summary of statistics published by the U.S. Government. It’s a one stop shop for information on the social, political, and economic organization of our country. But the Abstract is set to stop publishing in 2012, a casualty of proposed fiscal year 2012 budget cuts.
So what’s the big deal about losing the Statistical Abstract? If the Statistical Abstract were to be eliminated we would lose easy access to large amounts of important data. The Abstract is full of data that keeps voters informed, provides reliable data for journalists, researchers, and students, and allows our policy makers to make informed decisions that impact the state of our country. The Statistical Abstract brings together in one place data that can often be hard to find on other government agencies’ websites, and compiles data from private organizations as well.
Cutting the Statistical Abstract will only save the Census Bureau $2.9 million – small savings for a big loss. As Samuelson writes, “Without the Stat Abstract, statistics will become more hidden, and our collective knowledge will suffer." When knowing is half the battle, losing the Statistical Abstract is a major setback.
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