The Washington Post

Census mobile app a hit

It may be premature to call it a runaway hit, but in the first month since the Census Bureau released its first mobile application, it’s been downloaded more than 32,000 times.

The app, called America’s Economy, provides updated statistics from the Census Bureau, the Bureau of Economic Analysis and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It includes 16 monthly economic indicators, such as house sales, personal income, international trade, Gross Domestic Product and the unemployment rate.

“The economist in me finds this app a cool new tool,” wrote Tom Mesenbourg, acting director of the Census Bureau, in the blog he took over when his predecessor, Robert M. Groves, stepped down last month to become provost at Georgetown University.

The app is the latest step the census has taken to use the Internet more in both collecting and disseminating statistics. Last month, the White House cited the Census Bureau as an example of a federal agency that is “making great strides towards putting a solid foundation for a 21st Century digital government in place.”

In January, the census will offer people who receive the American Community Survey the option to answer over the Internet instead of filling out a form and dropping it in the mail. The ACS, which replaced the long form in previous census questionnaires, collects a wide range of data, such as incomes and commute times.

Screenshot of America's Economy app. (U.S. Census Bureau)

The ACS questionnaire will be mailed out in late December and will contain directions on how to complete the survey online.

The mobile app can be downloaded for both iPhones and Android smartphones, as well as for tablets.

Carol Morello is the diplomatic correspondent for The Washington Post, covering the State Department.

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