Federal Statistics: Robust Information Tools for the Urban Investor

Andrew Reamer and
Andrew Reamer Former Brookings Expert
Pari Sabety
Pari Sabety Director,<br>Urban Markets Initiave,<br>Metropolitan Policy Program,<br>The Brookings Institution

October 1, 2005

In this Living Cities Policy Series paper, Andrew Reamer and Pari Sabety discuss the importance of federal statistics in driving healthy urban markets.

Sound investments in urban communities depend on good information.

Investors all need reliable information, whether they are managing businesses, government programs, or non-profit organizations. Far too often, accurate, up-to-date information about urban neighborhoods is not available to investors.

The federal government’s role in providing statistics is vital to a well-functioning market economy.

The federal government is the nation’s primary reporter, collector, disseminator, and analyst of data. Historically, this role has been justified because markets work best when public and private investors have ready access to socioeconomic statistics that are accurate, available and accessible. Information tools derived from federal statistics have an impact on millions of markets decisions every day—from Main Street to Wall Street.

Much can be done to give investors better information about cities.

The federal government has more power than any other entity to improve the quality of available information about urban neighborhoods that could benefit investors. Among other actions, it can fund the American Community Survey and new measurement efforts to reveal the magnitude of each region’s Gross Metropolitan Product, and provide support to the National Infrastructure for Community Statistics.

The investment in federal statistics provides outstanding returns.

Strong and continued support for Federal statistical programs will go far to bring into focus the true value of urban markets. For urban America, the results will be improved access to goods, service and jobs. For the federal government, and for the nation’s taxpayers, the return on a relatively small investment will be substantial.