Census’ Current Industrial Reports on Administration Chopping Block

The American Coatings Association reports that the Administration’s budget submission for 2012 proposes to eliminate the long-standing Current Industrial Reports program.

The American Coatings Association reports that the Administration’s budget submission for 2012 proposes to eliminate the long-standing Current Industrial Reports program which has been conducted by the Bureau of the Census for over 100 years.  These reports include the annual MA325F and quarterly MQ325F reports on the coatings industry. 


The specific language in the budget submission states that "the FY 2012 Request includes a decrease of $4.0 million to terminate the Current Industrial Reports (CIR) Program to fund higher priority programs. Census continues to measure the manufacturing sector through other current program data collection efforts such as the Annual Survey of Manufacturers (ASM), the Monthly Manufacturers' Shipments, Inventories, & Orders (M3), the Quarterly Financial Report (QFR), the Annual Capital Expenditures Survey (ACES), and other products." 


Note that should this program be terminated, although the Census will continue to produce annual reports that provide gross sales figures for the industry, it will no longer provide details on architectural, original equipment manufacturer (OEM), or special purpose coatings, nor will it collect and distribute information concerning the volume (gallons) of coatings shipped by the coatings industry.  This will result in much greater difficulty in benchmarking the performance of the industry and its manufacturers for both manufacturers and suppliers. 


This proposal to terminate this important program will negatively affect not only the coatings industry, but also a wide variety of important U.S. industries, such as oilseeds, fertilizers, lumber, textiles, etc, says the ACA.


As a result, ACA and other affected industries have conveyed their opposition to the proposed elimination of this program in communications to the leadership of both the House and Senate appropriations subcommittees with oversight over the Census Bureau, including meeting or other communications with Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE), Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), and Rep. Jo Bonner (R-AL).


In previous years (such as in its 2009 submission), Census has provided an explanation of the benefits and importance of this program that is at odds with this proposed termination.  For example, Census' previous justification for the Current industrial reports program indicate, among other things, that the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) uses Current Industrial Reports data to prepare the quarterly estimates of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the Federal Reserve Board prepares the monthly index of industrial production, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) develops price indexes based on these data. The International Trade Administration (ITA) and the International Trade Commission use these data to monitor the effects of international trade on domestic production. Census also noted that the CIR are "widely used by thousands of trade associations and private businesses to assess production trends and identify new market opportunities." 


Census also pointed out that this program is a key part of its Trade monitoring responsibility, and indicated that Section 608 of the 1974 Trade Act "requires the publication of Current industrial reports to enhance the comparability of imports, exports, and domestic production statistics. This requires continual revisions of the import, export and output classification systems to promote comparability with the International Harmonized System." 


This article was written by Allen Irish of the American Coatings Association.