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Uses of High-Frequency Statistics During COVID-19 Era

Thursday, January 21
2:00 PM Eastern


Catherine Buffington, Head of Special Projects and Research, Economic Programs, and Survey Director, Small Business Pulse Survey, U.S. Census Bureau 

Jason Fields, Senior Researcher for Demographic Programs and the Survey of Income and Program Participation, U.S. Census Bureau 

John Friedman, Professor of Economics and International Affairs and Public Policy, Brown University; Founding Co-Director, Harvard University's Opportunity Insights 

Moderator: Julia Pollak, Labor Economist, ZipRecruiter 

Presentation Slides (PDF):

The Economic Tracker was released May 7, 2020, by Opportunity Insights to measure social and economic impacts of COVID-19 and to track recovery activity. It measures selected economic activity at a high frequency and at low levels of geography using data from private firms and publicly-available data. It reports real-time statistics on consumer spending, business revenue, employment rates and other key indicators. John Friedman, Professor of Economics and International and Political Affairs at Brown University, was a key contributor to the Economic Tracker and will be joining us to talk about this innovative tool. 

The U.S. Census Bureau, in collaboration with multiple federal agencies, deployed two new surveys to measure the social and economic effects of COVID-19 on American households and small businesses. The Household Pulse Survey collects data to measure household experiences during the pandemic. Data are disseminated in near real-time to inform federal and state response and recovery planning. The Small Business Pulse Survey collects data to measure the effect of changing business conditions on our nation’s small businesses. It issues weekly data products that provide high-frequency, detailed information on the challenges small businesses are facing. Jason Fields, Senior Researcher for Demographic Programs at the Census Bureau, and Catherine Buffington, an Economist at the Census Bureau, were instrumental in designing the surveys and will join us to discuss these new surveys and resulting products.

Speaker/Moderator Bios:

Cathy Buffington leads the Special Projects & Research staff for Economic Programs at the U.S. Census Bureau, where she has been on staff since 1998.  She holds a BA and an MA in economics. Cathy has held production and research roles at the Census Bureau, most recently both while as the survey director for the Small Business Pulse Survey.  

Jason Fields is the Senior Researcher for Demographic Programs and the Survey of Income and Program Participation, establishing scientific objectives based on the needs of the Census Bureau and the external SIPP user community; establishing survey objectives; determining SIPP questionnaire content; and engaging the data user community and other stakeholders to identify evolving needs for data. Jason began his career at the Census Bureau in the Population Division in 1997 as a family demographer in the Fertility and Family Statistics Branch. Since 2006, Jason has been integrally involved with the re-engineering of SIPP, and he has been the SIPP Survey Director from 2012 - 2018. Between 2015 and 2018, he added the National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH), the National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses (NSSRN), and the National Survey of Psychiatrists (NSP). He has promoted the integration of administrative data into production survey processing, adaptive design, and implemented a proactive paradata evaluation, management and quality assurance program. His research interests include survey methodology, the integration of administrative and survey data, longitudinal survey design, disclosure avoidance, and substantive interests include: family demography, living arrangements, health and well-being, and the long-term social and health consequences of childhood and family poverty and instability.  

John N. Friedman is a professor of economics and international affairs and public policy at Brown University. He is also a founding co-director of Opportunity Insights at Harvard University, a research and policy institute using big data to understand the forces influencing upward mobility and develop scalable policy solution to increase it. Friedman's research has yielded policy-relevant insights on a wide range of topics, including education access and quality, taxation, healthcare, and data privacy. His work has appeared in top academic journals as well as in major media outlets. His most well-known papers estimate the effects of childhood influences (including neighborhoods, teacher and education quality, and access to higher education) on long-term outcomes such as earnings and incarceration. Friedman served as Special Assistant to the President for Economic Policy at the National Economic Council in the White House from 2013-2014. He is a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research and Co-Editor of the American Economic Journal: Economic Policy.  

Julia Pollak is a labor economist at ZipRecruiter, a leading online employment marketplace that uses AI-driven smart matching technology to connect millions of all-sized businesses and job seekers. She provides insights and analysis on current labor market trends and the future of work. 
Her research has been cited in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post, CNBC, Bloomberg News, Yahoo Finance! and other leading outlets. Prior to working at ZipRecruiter, Julia was an Assistant Policy Analyst at the RAND Corporation and an adjunct economics instructor at Pepperdine University. Julia holds a B.A. in economics from Harvard and a Master of Philosophy in Policy Analysis from Pardee RAND Graduate School. She is a drilling reservist in the U.S. Navy.

Past Events 


Methodological Changes to CPI

March 4, 2020
2:00pm-3:00pm ET

Robert Cage, Assistant Commissioner for Consumer Prices and Price Indexes, BLS

Kathy Bostjancic,
Director, U.S. Macro Investor Services, Oxford Economics

Moderator: Sara Rutledge, Managing Director, Real Estate Products, StratoDem Analytics; NABE Data/Statistics Roundtable Co-Chair

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) regularly makes methodological enhancements to the CPI to improve its accuracy. In recent years, the BLS has been increasing its use of third-party data sources to improve its measurement of consumer prices. Join the Data/Statistics Roundtable for a free webinar on Wednesday, March 4 at 2:00 PM Eastern, with presentations from Robert Cage, Assistant Commissioner for Consumer Prices and Price Indexes at the BLS, on recent methodological changes to the CPI and Kathy Bostjancic, Director, U.S. Macro Investor Services at Oxford Economics, who will share a data user's perspective on these changes.


Labor Market and the 2020 Election

January 16, 2020
2:00-3:00pm ET

As we enter the election year, where does the labor market stand? This webinar will look at economic trends in red, blue, and battleground states, as well as at growing geographic and partisan divides in America.

Jed Kolko, Chief Economist, Indeed

Presentation Slides (PDF)


Revising Economic Indices Without Undermining Trust

March 13, 2018
12:00 pm ET


Tony Hughes, Managing Director, Economic Research, Moody's Analytics

Lucia S. Foster, Chief Economist and Chief, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau

Skylar Olsen, Senior Economist, Zillow


Issi Romem, Chief Economist, BuildZoom; NABE Data/Statistics Roundtable Co-Chair

The usefulness of an economic index is underpinned by users’ trust that it is published regularly and consistently. In order to avoid undermining this trust, revisions due to changes in the methods or data used ought to be made cautiously, infrequently, and with a mind for transparency.

The current explosion of data has greatly expanded the scope for new economic indices, especially those produced by the private sector. In an effort to gain the first-mover advantage in putting forth new indices that drive media attention, companies are often compelled to publish indices whose underlying data and methods are still in flux. The need for revising indices to incorporate better data and methods on an ongoing basis often conflicts with the need for maintaining trust.

How are companies in various positions of the economic index lifecycle handling this trade-off? How do these companies’ strategies compare to those of traditional public-sector publishers of economic indices? This one-hour webinar will dissect these questions and more.

Presentations: Foster (PDF) | Hughes (PDF) | Olsen (PDF)

BuildZoom Building Permit Data and Analysis



Using Big Data to Measure Labor Market Trends

June 14, 2017
12:00 pm ET


Andrew Chamberlain, Chief Economist & Senior Director, Glassdoor, Inc.
Bledi Taska, Chief Economist, Burning Glass Technologies


Kathy Bostjancic, Head of U.S. Macro Investor Services, Oxford Economics

Presentations: Chamberlain (PDF) | Taska (PDF)

Join us for this webinar taking a look at how Big Data can be used to measure labor market trends with presentations from 
Andrew Chamberlain, Chief Economist and Senior Director, Glassdoor, Inc., who will talk about Glassdoor's Local Pay Reports, and Bledi Taska, Chief Economist, Burning Glass Technologies, who will discuss how real-time labor market data can be used to measure "mismatch" unemployment across the business cycle. 



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