llllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll LM095661 Department of Commerce Department of Labor U- 133182 To the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the liollse of Representatives This report presents our findings on more reliable data needed as a basis for providjng Fcdcral assistance to econom- ically distressed areas, The report dea.ls with the inadequacy of statistical data furnished by the Departments of Commerce and Labcir that are used in qualifying redevelopment areas for assistance under the Public Works and Economic Development Act of 1965, c?s amended (42 U.S.C. 3123). Our review was made pursuant to the Dudget and Account- ing Act, 1921 (31 U.S.C. 53), and the Accountillg and Auditing Act of 1950 (31 U.S.C. 67). Copies of this report are being sent to the Director, Office of Managernc,nt and Budget; the Secretary of Commerce; and the Secretary of Labor. Co2nptroller General ---- 50TH ANNiVERSARY 1921- 1971 ---- - -DIGEST _ - - -- -- The Economic Devc:iop:iient Administration, Departwnt of Commerce, pro- ides financial o. tccl-inical 9 and planning assistance to aid long-range economic development cf distressed areas. As authorized by 12~:~ the S~~~~di~j~-o~~'Comii!c-rcc designates areas eligible for a;sistanc,e on the bi!sir, of statistical dat a developed by the Departments of Labor and the Interior and t?ik-%?'$u"'i,f the Census. (See p. 8.) For the most part, i.he Economic Development Administration's akJility to identify properly areas eligible for assistance hinges on the soundness of unw~plo,ym~nt 2nd -incow data. The desigtl,;tions of cconcm-ic distress may in<'iu:=nre thtl distrikt!on of monies and benefits from other federal agencies. For cxanlple, -i'ikms located in arcas of high unei;:ployment are eljgitjle for Federal pror;urement preference. (See p. 10.) There-rorc the Cenwn 1 Accounting Office (GAO) made a revsw! of the c!irrentncss and accuracy of the st&istical data used for determin-iny sn ar*ca's eligib-il- ity for assistance. ~__. _.-..-..Y'_ Unanploywnt 2nd income data used by the Econc\r;;ic Pevelop;ncnt: Adminis'ira- tion in de1 nw1in-i ng the eligibility of local areas ax not current and arc of qucstionat~lc accuracy. The data should he -iiT!F:!movedto C;ISU~C re- alistic eco;iwic artpraisals of those areas. GAO qusstivns :thether the areas of th2 United States experqerxing economic distress, as indicattld by high uxmployn~ent and/or 70~ irxonle levels, are, in all instances: being proycr'is/ ider;tified. (See p. 14.) GAO did not a-ttmpt to cvalu- ate the ailpt-opriateness of' uncniployment and incc,l;le levels as criteria for eligibili,Ly. The questionable reliability of the unrm:,lo~wnt data is attk-ibut;iblc to conceptu;-1 ~wai:n~~sses -in the methodology fcr estimating tiP~ill~l~l>'tl,cnt - as ~11 as to problem in deve!oping unmploylr;ent rates for small r:rrc‘:!s, (See p. 14.) This repel-t discusses these weaknesses which raise considerable doubt as to the Gccuracy and reliability of the unemploy- ment estfinates imde for sm1 1 drld rural arcas. (See pp. 18 to 40.) The many problems associated with the development of current and reli- able statistical data are not subject to ready solution. This is espe- cially true of small areas --characteristically redevelopment areas-- where statistical data normally are not gathc;-cd on a continuing basis and p/here the costs of developing meaningful statisticE? data are sig- nificnntly higher thsn those connected with developing data en a national or regional basis. (See p. 10.) Within reccn!: years the Department of Labor has initiated and sponsored studies designed to produce information which could be used to improve the methodology established for estimating unemployment in State and lo- cal areas. Except far a modification with respect to one major element of th.is methodology, however, the studies have not resulted in an im- proved methodology, and it remains basically the same as that introduced in 1960. GAO evaluated the unemployment-estimating practices in two States. In both States the prescribed methodoloqy was subjected to varied degrees of modiPicat,ion and was not applied uniformly. State agencies are severely handicapped in their attempts to develop reliab'le ur;c!:i:,loJq::ent rates us- ing this methcdology, because of the lack of current 1i;bor market data for local areas. (See p. 27.) Further study is required to determine the extent to which the practices and experiences of ihc States included in @,0's review are indicative of those in other States. GAO believes, however, th;lt, afthozgh they may vary in degree, the problems experienced by tile t\s:o States are charac- teristic of those in many other States, because of the general lack of labor market data for small and rural atveas. (See p. 27.) Family income data for States and local areas are available only from census information gathered once every 10 years. There are two pro- nounced drawb;?,cks to the use of these data in determining current eligi- bility. --They do not provide a reasonably current measure of income. --The preciseness and reliability of the data developed for small . areas is questiondblc. (See p. 48.) Because current fai:lily income data are not available, the Economic De- velopment Admir;-istr;1tion is not able to make the annual review of area eligibility based on income that is required by the Public Works and Eco- nomic Development Act of 1955, as atnended (42 U.S.C. 3127) or to base its determinations of maximum grant rates on recent data. 2 DIGEST -----.- -c’ c CJ ti G l-4 . GAO believes that the Ecozotnic Devcloplrcnt Administration should COII-- sidcr the feasibility of using per capita incollie data (dev~'l~~p~d by the Office of Rusiness Ccononiics, C~~I~~~till~~lt Of CGll~liil2I~‘LC)~15 Oil? lii?GrTls by whi ch income levels colrld be measured more friqueMl-\~ l;hi:n ~'very 10 years. Any departure from using median family incollIe crite,>ii;, how- ever, will require a chanr?e in legislation. The proc-iscnes:z ;!nd rcli- ability of the per capita incozie data has not been fully .ic:i.cd. GAO is not necessarily advocating the use of these data in their present form. (See p* 56.) - RECOMW~l24TIO:iS OR ,SlII;GEST3Xi&’ ___-- GAO is making several recommendations designed to improve the system. For example: --The Secretary of Labor should ascertain changes needed to improve unemployment estimates and to monitor State unenl~loy~~!~ni:-estimating practices. (See p0 46.) --The Secretary of Commerce should study the probl~s associated with developing current unemplo~~llent and income data, consider the use of the more current per capita income data, and re~o~~,ci;d changes in legislation as warranted. (See p. 57.) Other recommendations are contained on pages 46 and 57. The Department of Labor said that--in line with GAO's rccommnndations and within the constraints of budnet resources and staffing ceilings-- it would take steps to ensure uniformity -in th c application of the prc- scribed estimating techniques and to improve the acc\lrzicy and compara- bility of data. The Department said also that it would consider the GAO report as part of the Department's evaluation of the unemployment- estimating procedures that currently was being made. (See p. 46.) The Department of Labor agreed with GAO's recomzendation that the firId- ings of research studies on estimating unemployment should be converted into timely and meaningful action, where practicable c?nd feasible, and that the Department should improve the review and monitoring procedures r of the unE:;;ploymcnt,-estimat'ing practices of the State cimp?oyl;jent secu- rity agencies. (Se2 p. 47.) - The Department of Labor said further that the -iq~rovCments necessary in the methodology ~:ould be made by the end of fiscal yF:dr 19?7 and would take account of GAO's findings as well as the Pindin:;s of reyt3;rch sti!dies 3 sponsored by tht: 1.r?-?r'ttl,::r\t ;;nd by the affi LP 1 iated StGtc emr:loywnt se- curity agcncics. (See pn CL) . Further, a work group is studyirrg per czpita incwz data, b!~t much re- mains to be dox before they can be usud to il>t?as~~~~arca xonomic d.is- tress. (SW p. 50.) Also the Secretary of Comxcrcc may seek chan:_;~s in legislation ,c'n the basis of the rev-iw ~'E!col;‘~e~:d~d 13~ GAO of tile probl:<>is zssociatcd with developing unemplt,yr;wtt aad incow data, GAO believes that this rkpor-t will be uwTi to -itie Congwss in consid- ering these matters . -3 C 0 1-1 1. e 11 t - s _--_.-- 1 5 5 Econoii:ic development assistance 5 Pleasuring economic distress on basis of unemployment arid income 10 2 NEE13 TO IIPKCVE UNEK'LOYKE~T ESTIMATES 14 Methodology pre::i:ribed for estimating unemployment 14 Weaknesses in the methodology for esti- mating unemplloyment 18 Observations on ullemployi-nent-cstinintirlg pracbtices of State agencies 27 Conclusions 41 Agency comlnents and o::r evnl,.ustion 43 Recommelldations to the Secrctxy of Labor 46 3 NEED TO IMPROVE INCOFlE DATA 48 Limitntioxs of data 48 Need for periodic reexamination of maxi- mum grant rate income criteria 55 Conclusions 55 P Agency comments and our evaluation 56 Kecom!nend,ztions to the Secretary of Commerce 57 APPENDIX I Letter dated Novrmber 30, 1970, from the De- partment of Cownerce to the General Ac- counting Office 61 . II Lettc-r dated Ikcember 2, 1370, from tk I DC.- partment of Labor to the Gcrieral Accounting Off ice 65 APPENDIX III Principal officials of the Departments of Commerce> and Labor having responsibility for the activities discussed in this re- port 73 ABRREVIATIOISS ARA Area Redevelopment Administration EilA Economic Development Administration GAO General Accounting Office OBE Office of Business Economics GAO is .making several recommendations designed to im,iYove the system. For cxmpi c : --The Secretary of labor should ascertai'n ch;;rqL:s needed to jmprovc unemployment estimate s ;,nd to mwtitor State un~ii;ployt-i!er;t-es%-imating praciices. (See p. 46.) --The Secretary of COXUIC~C~ should study the probleilis associaled with developitlg current un3iploj4xnt and income data, cons-icier the use of the mot~p current per capita income data, and recor,iir!end ch3 iICJ?S in legi:,lation as warranted. (See p. 57.) Other recom:i!endations are conta-ined on pages 46 and 57. AGimCY -.----.--l_-_-__- 4 CT rims A iY!!J L’Ih?ESOL ;%I7 .r~~xlES The Department of I-ahor said that--in line with GAO's rccoxxendations and with-in the constraints of budget resources atjd staffing ceilings-- it would take steps to ensure uniformity in the appiicztion of the pre- scribed estimating techniques and to improve the accuracy and ccwparci- bility ol" data. The Deparxmcnt said also that it would consider the GAO report 2s part of the Department's evaluation of the unempIo.~,iznt- estimating procedures that currently was being made. (See p. 46.) The Department of Labor agreed with GAO's recommendation that the find- ings of research studies on estimating une:nplcyn~cnt should be convex--l:ed into timely and mean-Ingful action, where practicable and feasib!e, and that the Departmeni should improve the review and monitoring piwceciures of the un~mploymer~t--estilil~ting practices of the State employment secu- I rity agencies. (See pv 47.) The Department of Labor slid further that tl-te improvwnents ncccssary in - ti;? wthodolw!y LJ~U'I2 be triade by the end of fiscal year 197'1 Cznd would take account of GAO's findings as well as the findings of \resp;irch s'iudics 3 sponsored by the Department and by the affiliated State employment se- curity agencies. (See p. 47.) The Department of Labor noted that the reliability of estima'ling unem- ploy,nent by using the prescribed estiw?ing techniques tended to de- crease for small awas. For many seal 'I , prcdoxi'nantly rural areas, the major problem is one of urldwcmoloy writ of available manpowr rather than unemployment which the me-ii~odology is intc&cd to measure. Because of this 9 the Department suggcstcd that alternative approaches to measur- ing economic distress might be needxi. (See p, 43.) The Department of Comerce agreed, in principle, that it would be desir- able to have more recent incams information on a regular !>asis but stated that the costs of securing such information by dupiicatiny Bureau of the Census procedures and techniques appeared prohibjtive. By us.ing other data sources3 such as Office of Business Economics per capita income, however, the Economic Devel~p~et-~t Administration hopes to develop rcason- ably accurate income estitnates. (See p. 56.) Further, a work group is studying per capita income data, but much re- mains to be done before they can be used to mcitsure area economic dis- tress. (See p. 58.) Titles I through IV of the Public b!orks and Ec~nn:~iic Dcvelolxxnt Act of 19C5 expire at the close of fiscal year 1977. The House Cc~i,??littce on Public Works plans to conduct extensive he6:rinrJ's on thr: Economic Devel - optnent Ad,ninistration and its programs in mid-1971. Also the Secretary of Commerce may seek changes in legislation on the basis of the review recommended by GAO of the prublcms associated k/ith developing unemployment and income data. GAO believes that this report will be useful to the Congress in consid- ering these matters. 4 dcvelopmcnt of areas and regions through the creation of new cmplo);ment opportunities by developing new facilities and resources and expanding existing ones. EDA provides financial, technical, and planniiig assis- tance through --grants and loans to help build or expand public facil- ! ities, / --business development loans to private industrial and comipnercial firms and to local gover~ncnt a~,,;r~cic~9 --technical assistance contracts and grants to help areas assess their needs for economic growth and plan specific projects, and --planning grants to assist public bodies in drawing up and carrying out economic development progr;:ms. As of October 31, 1970, EDA had approve? i3hz sranting of financial assistance for 3,396 projects total.i;:z about $1.3 billion, comprising grants of about $949 miii ion and loans of $359 million. To be eligible for assistance, a project m,:;s't: be lo- cated in (1) an area designated by the Secretary of Com- merce as a redevelopment areas (2) an area which tlie Sccre- tary of Labor found to have been an area of substailtial jln- employment during the preceding calendar year (referred to as a Title I area), (3) an economic development district, or (4) an economic development region. A redevelopment area may be a county, a labor area, an Indian reservation, or a municipality having a population of 250,000 or more. The majority of the redevelopment areas qualified by EDA for Federal assistance in fiscal year 1969 were collnties made up of rural communities, Economic development districts must contain at least two redevelopment areas and either a redevelopment center or an economic development c(Jnter. The development center must be an area or city of sufficient size and potential to foster the economic growth activities necessary to alleviate the distress of redevelopment areas within the district. Centers within redevelopmilt arcns 'I'he act provides that the Secretary of Labor deterwine the rate of unemployment and provide the data to be used by the Secretary of Commerce in making determinations of sub- stantial and persistent unemployment. The act defines substantial and persistent unwploy- ment as: 1 e Unempl.oymcilt of 6 percent or more during the latest calendar year, 2. An annual average rate Of unznployme~-lt of at lQa:jt 6 percent for one of the time periods specified in item 3 below, 3. An annual average unemployment rate of at least: a. 50 percent above the national average for 3 of the preceding 4 calendar years. b, 75 percent above the national average for 2 of the preceding 3 calendar years, c, 100 percent above the national average for 1 of the preceding 2 calendar years. The al'kiual. av~?rage unemployment rates used in 1969 for substantial and persistent unewp:lo~V- 7 National Calendar average unem- 50% 75% 100% year p1oymznt --- ra.te --above above above -- 1965 4.5 6.8 7.9 9.0 1966 3.8 5.7 6.7 7.6 1967 3.8 5.7 6.7 7.6 19G8 3.6 5.4 6.3 7.2 Also section 102 of the act provides for the designa- tion of areas suffering from substantial unempl-oyincnt, Which is statutorily defined as 6 percent or more during the pre- ceding year. These areas (Title I areas> are eligible only for public works and development facilities grant assistance and not for public works or business development loans. Eligible areas must indicate their desire to partici- pate in the EDA program by making a formal request for des- ignation and by submitting an overall economic development program. EDA makes determinations of area eligibility on the ba- sis of data supplied by the 'Manpower ,~dmr;j~isl-.i-r,;-f.or~, Depart- ment of Labor; the Dureau of the Censu:;, Dep;frGX~t of Coin- merce; and the Bureau of Indian Affaii:s, Dzpart~:t~nt of In- terior. As of February 2, 1970, 943 areas were qualified under the various qualifying criteria, as follows: Title I areas 38 Redevelopment areas: Unemployment 412 Population loss 103 Unemployment and population loss 48 Income 150 Unemployment and income 58 Indian reservations 94 Sudden rise in unemployment 27 Other 13 Total 943 EDA uses unemp1.oyment and income data also to establish maxim-c!m gr,ant ra tcs for eligible areas. As of October 1970 the fol?-owing criteria were used for making grant rate de- terminations. I%xFrm!n grant -- Needed --- ..--.to qrralify for rate _-__- ___._- rate Median fani ly Annual average - (percent) income or unemplo-+ment rate-- 80 $1,600 or less 12 percent or higher 70 $1,601 to $1,800 10 to 11.9 percent 60 $1,801 to $2,000 8 to 9.9 percent or double the U.S. average in 3 of the past 4 years 50 over $2,000 Under 8 percent and not double TJ, S, avc~ngc during 3 of the past 4 years The act requiycs EDA to conduct an annual reviz17 of all designated areas to determine whether previously cfuzl.ified areas continue to meet the statutory criterta. The review is made to determine also the maximum grant rate for the follo;Jing year. 9 Also EDA designations may inflwnce the geographical distribution of funds of other Federal agencies. For cx- ample, under the provisions of part C of the Manpower De- veloyment and Training Act of 1962, as ame~~dclcl (42 U.S.C. 26105) 9 tllc Sccrstaries of Labor and of Health, Education, and Xclfarc are authorized to pro~.~i Cl<: ;1 SUpplPZ2; I tarjT 13jYO- gram of training and training alloi*iances for 11ncmployed and underemployed p~ersons residing in areas dcsig:l;-ted as rc- development areas by the Sccrctary of Comm,?rce. Further- more, Federal procurement prefcrencc eligibility is a,ut!lo- rized for firms located in areas of high clnemp,'l:)yment under Deferlse Manpo\\Ter Pol.icy 4 9 revised, and Executi;~e Order 10582 implementing the Buy American Act, Judging from observations made during our review, the problems associated wi.th the development of current and re- liable statistical data by which to measure economic dis- tress are many. liJe recognize that these problems are not subject to simple solutions. It is especially true of small areas.--cll;~l_actE‘.r:i ,stically EDA redevelopment areas-- where statistical data normally are not gathered on a con- tinuing basis and where the costs of devcLoping meani:lgful . statistical dat:-, are significantly higiler than those con- nected with dcv:~lopi.ng data on a national or re&iOilal. basis. The conccl~i-s and definitions used by the Department of Labor and aff i lj ated State employment security agel;cies in m:~asliring uner,pl oymefit on a local-area bar;is are identical with those used in estimating national unemployment. National ~~ncm~:ioym~nt estimates, unlike the State and local estimates; are b;,is12d on survey:; of about 50,000 house- holds tl-1roughout the COUiItrjr . The hcu sehold s arc scientif- ical!y sel-ec ted e‘cch mol-Lt!l for visits by interviewers to gathzr informaI_iu:l on the job-holding and job-seeZ:<.ng acti- vities during I.!IZ peek prccding the interview. The national UII~~l~‘lOyJ!?elIt EsSt i JJI:! I: C S , r;;h?-Ch are those quoted in the news imedia, are more ccxmonly kliown than are local area estimates ~ I The Department of Labor has devel.aped a methodology for measuring c:rrrcnt unemployment of local and State areas that makes use of labor market data developed i.rl administer- ing tile Federal-Stntc er:;ployment security progra..s. This methodoln;;y was initial.?> designed for large metropolitan labor areas; howe\~cr, it wasadopted later for use in csti- mating uno~pIoyme.nt in small areas when it bec,amc evident that such information hnd to be developed to enable the De- partK~Pi?t to meet its re,~;ponsibif.it~~es set i:y Ic~i.sla:-i.011 for econo,nic devclopmci-it proi;rams. The met!~~!o?ogy , contzi ned in the "Handbook on Est.imat< ng Unempl-oymeilt" arid the "IIand- book on Development of Basic Labor Narkct Inforrr!ztiorl for Small Areas," is basically the same as that developed in 1960. A modification with respect to one major element of the methodol-ogy-- estimating unemployment among entrants alld rcelItrarlts--s~a~ implemented in mid-1945 to take into account the structural changes in youth unemployment which had oc- curred since the development of the methodology. Witllin re- cent years the Department has initiated and sponsored several additional studies designed to prodlxe information which could be used to improve the methodology; howe\7er, the stud- . 1":: completed to date have not yet resulted in an improved methodology. The unemployment est!'.mates are developed by the State empInymcnt securit-y agencies. Data for about 150 major labor arcas and for those small areas which have an uncn~plojmei~t r?%te of 6 percent or more are furnished to the Department of Labor. The Eanpo;,Jer Admii-pi s tration is responsible for cstab- lislling and i s:;:ling policies, procedures, and regulatlions to 11 State empI11.0ym2nt security ag,eIlcies for ensuring effective, efficient, and economical operatj.on of the program and for as:;isting StnLc age-nc LCJS j.n meeting problems peculiar to their localities. I'he hp2~~:ti!lci-lt makes funds av8ilable to the States for the administration of the employment security Pi-O.gram on the basis of their budget requests and of the Department ' s dete:-mination of the amount necess,ary for the proper and efficient administration of tile employment se- curity pt‘ogram. Department officials informed us that staff resources available to the States for the unempl.oyment rate estimatj.ng program amounted, on the average, to less than one person for each State. The only median family income data available for local areas are those developed as part of the census of popula- tion, conducted once every I.0 years. Altho~~gh some consid- eration has been given to the development of a system by which ar-:l~ual changes in median family income co~~ld be de- termined, to meet the annual rcv.j.ew rcquircments of the legislation, little if any progrc:ss has been made toward implementing such a systern. The concern TJhich we express in the foLXow?ng sections of this report regardi.ng the soundness of the statistical data used in determining area eligib?Lity is not without precedent. During the LO-year period of the administration of the Area Redevelopment Act and the Pubf.ic Vorks and Eco- nomic Development Act, members of the Congress, Federal and State officials, and other interested persons have expressed similar concern. Discussions with officials of the Depart- ment of Labor and a former ARA official and our review of testimony by Department off2ciaI.s before congressional com- mittees indicate to us that the available statistical data on income and unemployment were never considered to be fully satisfactory for the purpose of area designation. The Tresident's Committee to Appraise Employment and lJncmp!.oyment Statistics (Gordon Committee) commented, in its final report to the President dated September 1362, that: "State and local labor-force statistics s-re nei- ther as accurate nor as complete as those on a na- tional level. To judge by comments mad2 to the 12 Committee, there i:; probably no clement in our system of labor-f2 TCC reports which is more in need of improvement ..'I Although the need to improve the accuracy and reliabil- ity of tllc stat~sticai data has been recognized for many YfZWS, we found that the situation had not improved. De- tailed corxnents on the adequacy of the statistical data f0ilow. 13 We believe that the currency and accuracy of unemploy- ment data used by CDA in determining the eligibility of areas for economic development assistance is qclestionable and sho[lId be improved to ensure a realistic appraisal of the economic conditions existing in such a1‘ea.s. It is questionable whether tllose areas of the country experiencing economic distress, as indicated by high unemployment and/or low Income levels, are, in all instances, being properly identified. The questionable reliability of the unemployment data is attributable to conceptual weaknesses in tile prescribed methodology for estimating unemployment as well as to prob- le1n:4 in developing the information necessary to compute the unemployment rates for small areas 0 The methodolo:;y for estimating unemployment entails what is commonly referred to as a building-block approach. This approach reqllires estimates of (1) unemployment related to covered employment-- that is employment comillg under the Federal-State unemployment insurance program, (2) unemploy- ment related to noncovered unemployment, and (3) unemploy- ment related to entrants and reentrants to the work force. Unemployed entrants are tilose persons who have entered the labor market For the first time and who have not found jobs. Unemploy~_d reentrants are those individuals who have had prior work experience and who are now looking for work but who were out of the labor force for some time. The un- empl0yx:~n-t totals for the three blocks are added to arrive 14 at an cstimntlt of al.1 uncnployment within an area. The un- empI.oynwnt rCte estimate i.s computed by dividing the total uncmploymcnt estimate by the total work force estimate.1 Since t1-z work force comprises both employed and unem- ployed, it is necessary to develop information on area em- plojrn!elYcI as wV:?.l as unczploymcnt. Employment data also is an csscnt hi factor in estimating unemployment for industries not covered by the Federal-State unemployment insurance programs. Unemployment figures for covered workers are ba:;ed on un ,nploymrnt compcnsati~on claims data filed with the State em?loymcnt security offices and on estimates of the number of unemployed :rorl:ers who previously held jobs in covered establishments but who are not receiving benefits, Included are those who have been disqualified from receiving bene- fits, have exhausted their benefits, have delayed filing, or have never filed for heneyits. Unemployment estimates for noncovered workers are de- veloped by (1) computing a covered unemploy;i,ent rate and (2) applying this rate to employment estimates for non- cof.7pre-j ';Tor:<"rs on the basis of certain ass\*mptions which have been made regarding tile relationships between the un- employment rates for covered workers and those for non- covered workers. The assump;.ions are based on 1957-59 studies by the Department of Labor of national unemployment conditions which showed that, nationally, there were fairly constant relati~onship s in the incidence of unemployment between covered and noncovered workers. The methcdology prcscribcd by the Department includes the follo:?rin g prcdetcrmined unemployment rates for non- covered groups. - 1 The term "Work force" differs to some extent from the la- bor force corlcept used in measuring national unemploymerlt rates. (ScAe pn 22.1 15 Noncovcrfd zrout3D.S --- Sn~all firms and railroads Nonprofit institutions Domestics Nona~ricu?~tural. scl'- employed and unpn:i.d family workers &ricu%tural wage and salary workers Agricultural self-employed and unpaid faxily workers State and local gowrnments The covered c~~rploymer~t covered rate are ba.r,cd on informat2on S”dLXiti(;!d c!Iz3rterly by firms coming under the Fecleral-- Stutz :-incscpl. f~;;~.',:: lit insur- ance programs. EIPpIOp-lC~X figures for nonc:c!~?:\i.i.A [;roups-- st?ch as farms, small firms, domestics, and nor~piol it insti,- tut.ions- - are derived from va;r-ious source:;. 'Jy>ey;c sources include the censuses of population and a~gricultzrrc; social security information; and, in some instzllce:;, c~~~~l.oyment surveys made by the State employment security agencies. Unemployment estimates For new entrants and reentrants to the work force are developed using an estimating tech- nique prescribed by the Department of Labor in 1965. The technique is bui.l.t on relationships noted in a study of available national data on new-worker unemployment for the 1350-G4 period. The factors used to comptlte unemployment for a State or area are dctermincd from the yout-h-population ratio, which is the ratio between the population aged 14 to 19 years and the population aged 20 yer:rs and over, The accuracy and reliabil ity of the UCl?l3p?.Oj~j~~Xlt rate estim:~te 2 s contingent on the developm,::nt of com;~Y!.ete and accuratr-? data for both empILoymcnt and ,l:nemp7 ojrment. Any in- accuracies Fn estimates of cmplq~~ent and wlqzmpj.oyment for 16 covered workers are compomded further when the rate de- rived from these cstimtes is used in determining u.nen?ploy- mat for norlcovercd wr,r?:~rs. 17 Colm?ptually f the accuracy of the e:;timates yielded by the methodology is based on the reasonin;. that most of the data necessary to pp!:oTGde a me.3::ure of uncmploj,n~r,nt in Staixs ctnct areas arc available througl~ the Federal-State ur?~Tili3Ilo)-~l~LI~ iIlSIlT;!llC? C~pQr^atf9llS nl-~d th-lt UlWiXp~ 0)TIlPJXt as- sociated txith induc r,ci*---; .,eS cr:rvice CnVe%cd Op- by C5lYZlOyi3C?I~t erations accounts for most of the total unemploy:-znt. In support of this reasoning, the "Handbook on Estimating Un- el-rlp1.oyinrlTL” devclopr:d by the Department states that the unenploymcI:nt insurance program covers about 75 percent of all wage and salary workers. The handbook states further: "Relative1.y little data, in addi.tion to tho:;e se- cuj:ed as a byproduct of em;>loymei-lis secl-rity op- erations, are ncccssasy in order to proviclc a rea- sonable measure of u.t~cmploymc~~t in States and areas at a minimum cost," On the basis of several observations we m~idc\. during our revi2?7,T we have concluded that the met7~od~?Lo~y does not provide re~sonsbiy accurate e stinates of conditions cxist- ing in small and rural areas for purposes of area dcsigna- tion, --A substantial number of workers are cmpl.oyed in in- dustries which are not covered by the une:mployment insurance program. The employme,~t security report- ing system used as a bnse for estimating employment does not capture the labor changes for this sector of employment, --The industries not covered by the unemployment in- surance programs are characteristic of those found in small, predominantly rural communities. Such in- dustries are made up of farms, agricultural products processing, maI firms, nonprofit organizations, d0TlEStiC.s) and State and local governments. --Covered employment data are not developed on a resident-labor-force basis. 18 - -‘Ihe bet:rc zcn covt~r~.d and noncovered Y.-p ti0.c; uncmploy- merit and the factor:; for entrant:; and reentrant-s used is1 the lnrthodoi.ogy T;ere devclopcd on the basis of nst:lonc;l sam~lcs and are not sensitive. to the spccis l ccononi.c co7lditions which xay c;:i.::t at the 'iocal.-arEz~~ lmeY-.21c Also the .studics on 1:11ic31 these ratios and fat to-i%s were based are now old, Ijecause EDA rcdevl-~lo;~~!x~nt areas generally invo~:~*c s.i.n;slc counties and because designations are based, in part, on ur,cl-,;~~1.o:~rni~ntin those count?es 3 the recognition of l.oc:,l r--ma economic conditions is essenti;~l to making the p-roper designation of areas. The Manpower I&port of the President, transmitted to the Congress in Pkrch 1970, reported that in calendar year 1968 nearly 17 m?.I.‘ij_on ITage and salary jobs--almost 25 per- cent of all jobs of this kind--were not covered by unemploy- ment in:x!ranae .o 'iTrlc se jobs involved mainly ~orkcrs on farms and in SixIxz and local governments, domc.stic scrv.~c~~, non- profit orgai!.i.-.nt:ions : agrTcultu.ral products process kg, and small f~~xns n '.T%e Fk~ploym~nt Security A~~Y-K?E~~~~ s of 1970 (pub0 Lo 91*-g3) 7;"l'l ,d~e..- extend coverage to as maxy as 4,4 mil- lion more of t!-Je.W zig? and salary jobs. Ever, with this legis~.r:ti.on, ho1:eve.L: 9 a substantial number of jobs kll re- . marn uncovered. The smz~~'l, predominately rural areas, such as those which ,c,enernlly make up the counties designated by EDA as redevehpen i: ~'~2.7s 3 account for much of the noncovered emploj;ix!nt and 'hF17e high concentr<ations of industries not cove-red h; the FccIeral-State un~mplojment insurance pro- grams. As an exnmpl.e, a research study report prepared for - the Nor:,;1 C---, 4~ dl~ri:-t E5fiployment Sccur?.ty Commission :in Nay 1968 03 i-.Je iq:~~~i-~lodology :?-I- for Estimating Uricmployrnent in . Rural. AYCGSI' pointled out that in 1965 E 61 of the State's 100 counties had fewer than 50 percent of their workers covered and "ihat 9 of i:hese 61 counties, 26 fell below 30 per- Ceilt alld tilTE?e b6~l~~~~ 10 pf?TCeTl’t , i The ability of the methodology to adequately measure ;I unemployment is significantly impnired where covered empl-oy- ! IllCIlt dot? S Rot TepIYP SClT’r. a sub::t;untial pzrt of the total em- i ployne11t. 'This is err.~ l'or a number of rcnsonc;: (1) the ; methcdol ogy relics upon the empl.oyment and unemployment data otiain~d from co\fercd establishments to lend substance , and rcli.ab:i.~.i ty to the x~rk force and area ullcmpl~oyl*lel:t es- timate s 9 (2) when the covered rate computed is based on a Low percenttrz;e of workers, it might not be stntir~tically reliable for estimating uncmplo-yment re!.ated to noncovered WOi~ke?:S I and (3) the actual ratios between covcrc:d and non- Covered unemployxcnt :‘!il the area COuld Vary suhstCailtially from the ratios incorporated in the methodology. Department of Labor officials informed us that they had recognized that the methodology might not yield rcason- ably accurate results for rural areas because of the low percentage of cox7ered employment generally follnd in such areas and tllat they believed tha-t the results for metropoli- tan urban areas were co~lsidcrahly more ~lccurate, 1"ne offi- cials stated that the Do? ._,2rarlxnent had cx~~rcssc:! coiiccrn to official s of EDA and AX.4 .tiCth respect I:O usi;?g l;~~i=:n;~loyrnent rate statistics as mcasur: ,lTents of econcmtc: dlir:trc!ss on T\rlnich to base eiigihili,ty detc-ruination>;, In a letter dated I%rch 13 p l?G3 9 the Assl.s::~~nt Secrc- tary for Hanpower Dr.partmcnt of P.?bor, COIiT?C?j? c:\>d J-,o i-he Assistant Secretary for Economic 'kvelop?ient ) lk~;~,r:tlr:i~nt of COiXJlerCJe :, that for small, predominantly rural l.abnr areas: "*** thn.- major problem has always been one of un- dercmployment and under-utilization of available manpower resources, rather than unemployment, Intermittent empl.oywnt at low level jobs and in subsistence farming may hold down the local unem- ployment rate and tend to conceal widespread . poverty in many such areas." The Assistant Scretary commented further: "We believe therefore, that you may wish to gLvc Seine further tho;lght to the problem of the basis used for de sign:.;ting area:; which arc predomi- nnntly rural in character." 20 As noted on p:ge 43, the legislative history of the Public TJorlcs and E,-onpmic I?e~~I.opment Act indicates that the median family incoxz cri t:s ion incl.ucJcd in the act was in- tended primari1.y as a mx.:;u~cment of ttilderemploymcnt for those cs:;cntsiai_l.~,y rural. areas xhere there are "'really no llle~sui?c:-; of uncr;?-il,I.oynent 0” Therefore a criterion for mea- suring undermpl.oyi~:cnt exists e Because median famLly in- come d2ta for :!oml. areas are developed only once every 10 years as part of the census of population, howwer, such in- COIX d2-h nrc not measuring the cursx!nt we..- economic conclitions of thox r~mroi areas j n which un~cmploymo t is a crucial elemcIlt 0 In the absence of current income data, EDA has continued to place reliance on the unemploymenC rates as mea sure s of economic dj.:;tress in such areas. The riced for current income statistics is discussed in greater detail i.n chapter 3. As of December 1970 the Department of 'labor, in cooper- ation with the affi.liatcd Nevada Employment Security Agency, was sgo;~soring a research study to attempt to dcvclop ne'bar method:; of measuring underemployment and unLneT~~Li ?.T.~;ati.on of manpower that could be used, togetller wi.tJl or in lieu of area ~rnemployment data 9 as a basis for &2terj:linii?+; XVI el.i- gibility. The study I*511 reesamkx rele-i7;i1 !t cJ:?ix, on rur:il e countxe.'; including those data available from the %?~a i--km:.nts of Comxrce, Agriculture, and Iabor and affiliated State agencies, 21 Resident l.aLoj: ----- force not adcquatelv---m--Ameasu?:cd If unempIo;;-r!ent rates are to provide an accurate me:;-, surex-~ent of the economic conditions of a spcczr,.c . C" ai-ea, it scxms necessary that the rates apply to ~11 em~~l~oyccl and un- employed residents of the area. The labor force c~nccpt used 2~1 measuring ;xz-iiLcnaZ ~~-rempioy-ment rates dots cn~lnt both cmployed and llneii;lp:loyod on a residence b>::i:j. Unlike this concrspt, however, the l~ork force concept 1lsc.d in the met);- odol.ogy for measuring unemployment. in smz;i1 k?rei+s COU”,~S the employed at thzir places Of Work. The \;;,rk force figures, therefore, include s:orkers commuting into the arca from other areas and may include a PC;-son more than once to the extent that multiple job holdings exist during a payroll- pc- Cod, On the other hand residents comz::lting out of the area arc excluded from the work force count but included in the labor force data. Household surveys conducted in 1969 by several State employment security agencies, in cooperation with the De- par-hen-t of Labor, showed that the number of workers com- muting between courities was substantial. For cx3c!ple, in- commuters for one of the counties accounted for 1,%29 of the total covered employment of 3,456 workers. In another county, in-commuters accounted for 431 of the 899 5:5orkers in covcrcd emplo;~ment e Out-coriiiluters for these lx0 cour~ties were 4.34 and S45, respectively, We noted that a report prepared by a university study team for the Mississippi Emploj?:lznt Commission showed that2 for 10 Mic-n: .3.J2.ssi.ppi counties surveyed, net commuting .in 1967 ranged from -17.7 percent to +57,5 percent. 22 The cons:istcr:cy of the ratios and factors zlsed with CLETXl-li:locel conditions is ~les~~onc25le--f~cm t!;e stand- point of both variability between the national ss~??I.e data ,and locnl conditf-ons and the period of time r:hich has elapsed since the development of the ratios and factors. Early concern regarding the uses of national ratios for estimating area u~emp?qment was expressed by the Gordon Coixni.tt:c?e. In its report to the President, issued in 1962, entitled "P9cas:xin.g Employwnt ,and 'Unemployment,'" the Com- mittee stated, in part: . ssSlr.chratios are obvrously suspect l&en applied to States or localities in which the composition of the labor force and local conditions vary markedly from the r:ational pattern." * J; 3( * Ji- . 24 --.. -_ 1‘k+c-k since the 1.957-1959 formative years, in- sured [covered ] unemployment in the 1J.S. has fallen from more than one-half Of ~3.1 mcmploy- ment to a l.evcl nearer one-third *-?c~~~" Our of estimates snalysis of covcrcd and total uncmploy- ment report4 by the State employment sccuriLy agenci,?s showed that between 1364 and 1968 co,vered unempiq~nont had dropped from 46 .5 to 35.7 percent of total Ul~li~>lO~TlWlt, as indicated in the following table. Calendar Uneaplp,vment _-_-__ Percent of covered ye2.r Total -- --Covered to total ..---A-- uncm~loyment (000 omitted) 1960 4,097 1,906 46.5 1963- 5,001 2,290 45.8 1962 4,204 1,783 42 o4 1963 4,096 1,806 44.0 1964 3,802 1,605 4.2‘2 1965 3,418 1,328 38,8 1966 2,995 1,061 35.4 1967 3,173 1,205 38,0 1968 3,108 1,111 35.7 With respect to decreases in specific categories of em- ployment 9 the July 1969 report noted that from 1958 the in- sured (covered) un:mpIoyment, nationwide, had declined sub- stenti.aIly Easter than had unemployment among domestic workers o The report conta%ned the following statistics com- par?ng the annual rates of unemployment among covered and domestic wor'kers for the calendar years 1958-68, Cal tndar ----.---- ---. lp~lopent: Rate --_ of ..--. ----- J’fnr -Covered workc~s --__ -..--___ Domecti __c wor;:ers -_--_ ---_ 1958 6.4 5.6 1959 4.4 r 1460 4.8 ;:3 1961 6.4 1962 2:: 5.5 1963 4.3 5.8 19% 3.7 5.4 I”65 3.0 4.7 l&6 2.3 4.1 19G7 2.5 4.1 19GB 2.3 4.0 Department of Labor offiti.als info7.yi1ed 11s tf:.:t in many il~lst.~i~ces the differences between the !IOGSC~L~~ s;';Tv(z~ re- sults and the estimates developed using the mc izhn,k)'logy fell within tllc predicted range of sampling ,var2 2bi 1%ty of the houscho1.d surveys and may not represent trlle d?flerc?~ces. Tlley said that this factor would be considered 411 the anal- ysis of the survey results. . Our cv(liuatioJ-1 of the unc~mpl.oyn;ent-(~st-ma~i1lI; prn::tices of elnj~~~o~,T!ent sec\irity ngc::nci.es in two States SliO\SC-d that the Sent&? agencies were: severely handicapped in tl-ie'ir ef- forts to develop currcn-.z unemplo>mcnt rate:;: because or the lcack of reliable and currant labor market data for local arens 8 In their efforts to deri17e unemployment e~t:'im:~:2es p state agency employee:; hc?vc found it necessary to use old and incompl.cte statistical data and to follo?~~ r:stCmzting practices which are far from adequate for tile develop:-r:cnt of reasonably accurate and reliabl e unemr;lo)7:ient cstimiltcs a The methodology for estimating unemployment prescribed by the Department of Labor is subjected to varied dcgrecs of modification and is not uniformly applied, Further study is required to ascertain the extent to which the practices and experiences of States A and B zre indicative of those in other States. We believe, ho:jever, that, althovgh they may vary in degree the problems experi- enced by States A and R are characteristic of those in many other States, because of the general lack of current labor market data for small and rural areas. . Current --- I- em-pent data not readil..available . WC! found that much of the employment data necessary for acc2~~~~1'~ly c stimating area unemployment rates in States A and 13 .'c7:e not available on a current basis. Al :;o tile c 0 v e 1';.'ri ~;~>i>lo~~~cI~\tdata arc not developed on the bnsis or' worker :, t residences, and this fact had a tendency to distort tile actual employment statistics for an area. 37 . 28 - 1 . The changes in employment indicated by the moiltilly Sa?llpleS al-t'? CGnS!'dC?red as Sting the total changes for the industry D It apllcars unlikely, however, that such is the case. For cxzlple, if the manufacturing industries sampled reported a change in emp'ioyment of 20 workers from one month to the next, the 20 workers -,iroul.d be considc-cd as being the total ch<lilges nffccting -i-he nanufacturi;)g industrj.es within the area. Th!L s assumption would be made rcg,-.?.-dl css of the number of ~~mploycrs reporting or the IRlT~il:i~r Of wOI:!f:cTs in- cluded in a speci.f?'.c industry. The State labor analyst informed us that the "linking method" sug~cstcd in the I?cpzr;ssncnt of L:.:bor I s 'i-innL17x~ok for estimating unelrl!~,1~~j~ent for the current m::ntl~ g!nclral.ly was not usr>d by locnl office employees because of tire rj_sk of arriving at a pcreentagc-change ratio influenced by atypi- cal situations rather than at meaningful trends in labor turnover. The linkl:~lg method involves computing the rcla- tionship which the sampI.e for the current period bears to the sample for the prior period and applying the percentage obtained to the estimated employment for the prior period. The exrample shown in the follow!.ng table illustrates the differences in the monthly employment estimates result- ing from the act~xl-change method and the preferred Iinking method, The resrrlts obtained could affect the covered unem- - ployment r;ite, the U~~mplOjmlerlt es:,imates for noncovered in- dustries, and the overall unempl_oyment rate for the area. 700 725 25 1.0355, 2,000 2,025 2,070 ??ze policy or' the employment security agc:nc:i_cs of both States h and H is to adjust the monthly estcmates, if neces- sc?ry> when actual quarterly covered emp!-oymcnt information becomes avb I lablc. State A agency officials informed us, however, tlict their experience had shown that such adjust- ments generally were made by local office employees only at yearly intervals. 30 Self-mployed r:nd unpaid fsmfly 32 State I3 ag;:r?cy c~-!ployees did not ~:alce nz1y effort to develop an est im<ate :?or rlnempI\?ye:! r: co>eyed f17CL:r :: t1y TTC!L^!.x3? s who were disqualific.4 from receiv in;~ r~nempl. ,?~rl::cxt i,WEf its for nonmonetary reasons, such as refu:;al of suitab~.e work, This estimate F which is required by the prescrihcd mcthod- 01 ogy 9 could have a significant effect on the covered in- dustry rate whichJ in turn, is used to develop estizntcs of nOnC0~sered unemp10yrwnt, State A agwcq' employees developed an estimate of workers ~$20 are disq:~aIified and who delay filing or never fiie claims for benefits, on the basis of 5 percent of the nuxkr of continued claimants, Department of tibor employees also made an analysis of the methodology used by State G and concl.uclecl that the mcth- odol.o;:y did not result in unemployment rates significantly diffei .::tl: Fi-om those 17hi.cl1 resulted frcm us<ng the T--.-x- l)..v. ser..-bed xl'_'! ho.d@logy, It should be noted, however, that the analysris CC bc&h mcthodcllogies VC-~-e mE:.de on the has.?:: of dalx wh Lc?i :.:ei-(3 available at the Department's natiorial of- fice and :51?<cl-1 r:7ere for State and major labo-r areas, We be- ?.Lm-2 ti~at i.?::: effects of deviations from standard 33 The current practices advers ely af feet the measurement of unemployment 9 and consequently EDA eZigi.biPity detcrmina- tions, by --failing to give each county within the States an equal opportunity to qualify for designation by mea- suring une.mpLoyment conditions over a standard period of time and --cnusEn2 unwarranted designations, terminations, or rcvkions in maximum grant rates as a resul.i: of bas- ing annual uncm;?loymcnt rate averages on incomplete and preliminary data, The wlmpl oyment rate estkates developed by the State agency eiqloy-ee.s inccrcorate actual. covered emplo:xient data for 9 mc?n&s of the year of estimate and the last 3 months Of the pricer yea-r. 35 state --- P, . 36 ECPL uses the unern;:loyment rate estimates as a bc!:;is for making Jeterminatio:ls as to designntions and terminations and for mking revisions to the public Q?orlCS Ill3XilillX.I~ j;l:‘tXlt rates during the Eollo~~ing year. All~l~ou~l~ i-n man> instances the revised rates do not differ significantly from those first reported, the eicects on area eligibiliky determinations could be substantial be- cause of the firm-percentage standards set by statute, As notctl e,~'.Iicr, the act requires that an area esperieilce at least a b-percent rate of unemployment to qualify for dcsig- nation. under the ~unemp1oyfrient criteria. A difference of onsy ol-~e tenth of 1 percent in the ,unemployment rate could 'irl.Fluence clesip.aticns ~ A county having an unemploym=n~ 1 ate of 6 percent wculd be eligible, whereas a county !:,q;qini; -ii11 lltlr:T~;jPO;~TJ~~t rate of 5 a9 percent xould be inel-i;;i ble , fin EDh oEfl.ci,a,'% inforzied us that a determination as to dedc-:sik;- L~I-ioil of an ilrea which csperiences a drop in the u~~:mpl_cJy - merit rate for 1 year of only one tenth of 1 percent is de- ftil,rcd until unclnpLo~~~2nt rate estimates for the folIowing year ilre received. 37 Our review of ~cvi,r,ions in Lh? 11n,~~r~~lcj~~3~~ii: rates for calendar years 195.5-67, for Sta?c ii s11owed, on i.Tle llasis of the revised rates, that: -- one county ~couf_d not love qualified for designation, Example --L--- 1 In April 1966 a c:ity applied for gran';: ~nct loan funds to const-ruct 3 water supply 1i11e aild to ilnpi'ov? ~"~ater treat- ment and storage fac?'.I.ftics. The city was Ioc;2r.ed in a co~lrlty WhTc'h had been desT.gnated a rede~~~elol?iL::~I1t area in January 1956 and which q-ualLfLc d for a 70-j~.2r~:!~nt maximum grant rate on the basis of 211 :3!liaLic? ‘1 average ; :.‘:cm~!-oymeilt rate for 1965 of 4-O percent. Ei.lA appro=zd t?lC projcl_ct in May 1967 and agreed LO finnnc:: the tot21 p-j rr:i: cr).;t of $608,000 by a SO--percent direct p,rau:t of $3c;k,!~NI, c~ 20- percent supplcr~ental. grant cf $:i.%1,000, and n 3O--pe~-ccn~ loan of $183,000. The qua.liFii~l arc.a.c; and maximum grant rate listings dated Ail.>7 30) I.',67 9 show a revised 1965 ratr: for tllc area of !j o3 perccllt r~;,l:her tl~arI the 1965 rate of 10 percent as sholqn in the qur.'i :i.ficd a.rcas listing dated July L ) I-?66 e On the basi s of the revised 1965 rate9 tile arca WOlild not have qun?.iiied f;:,r designation as a redevclopmcnt <irea and would not have been eligible for pnrtfcipation in the pro- gram. In May 1967 EDA approved a project for the construc- tion of a sewage collection system, a seX,rage lift station, force mai.ns, and a primary treatment pond. The total esti- mated cost of the project was $275,200. On the basis of a 1965 annual average unemployment rate of X7$4 percent, the area in ~hioh tile project was to be locntcd ql:;rI t*cicd for a maxim::m grant rate of 80 percent. EDA ;zgre-.d i-o finance the sewj;e collection system with a 50-percei?t d< rc~ct grant of $74,000, a 30-percent supplemental g::ant ~>f $I74 :!:40, and a ZO-percent loan of $29,560; a total OF $].48,O?i). EDA's participation in the sewage lift statl.on, force ma l!js, and primary treatment pond included a 50-peJ:ccnt sup;“i:-:;;:zntal grant of $63,600 and a %O-percent loan of $25,440; a total of $89,040. The Federal. Water Pollution Control Acfm-inis- tration agreed to finance the remaining costs with a 30-percent grant of $38,160, The qualified areas and maximum grant rate listings dated July 30, 1967, show a revised 1965 annual average un- employment rate for the area of 7.4 percent rather than the '1965 rate of 17.4 percent as shown in the qualified areas listing dated July 1, 1966. If the revised rate had been known in May 1967 and had bee11 used by EDA in determining the percent-ace of grant participation, the area would have qualified for a SO- percent B rather than an 80-percent, grant rate. On the ba- sis of the revised rate, EDA grant participation fn the sei;:al;z collection system would h;lve been limited to a di- rect grant of 50 percent and in the sewage lift station, Eo-ccc mains, and primary treatment pond would have been limited to a supplemental grant of 20 percent rather than 39 50 percent. ln total, EDA's grant participation in the project woul.d have been $02,600 less than that actually agreed to. In December 1968 the same applicant app?.ied to EDA for addition:il f lmds t 0 Cover pro j cct cost OVCEXi11S, EDA agreed to mke nvai.lab1.e additional loan and grant Euncis tot,~Iing $126,000 p mae,cs up of a TO-percent direct grant of $63,000, a 20-percent supplemental grant of $25,200, and a 30-percent loan of $37,803, The 70-percent maximum grant rate was based on the annual average unemployment rate for 1967 of 10 percent sho:;rI1 in the qualified areas and maximum grant rate listings dated September I., 1968. The qualified areas listing dated October 1, l.963, shows a revised anm.1~~1 aver- age unemployment rate for 1367 of 8.3 percent rather than LO percent. If the revised rate had been kno!~-n and had been used by EDA, the area would have qualified for n GU- percent, rather than a 70-percent, maximtim grant rate, On the basis of the revised rate, EDA grant particiFaticn would have been about $24 9500 less than that actually agreed to, . --the methodology for developing estimates 9 --the kibor in-i?:ket data col.Pectior: and report i.np, sys- tems of the .TtZte EtgellCieS p -- t11e estilmating practices of the State agencies, and --the review and monitoring procc3urcs of the Depart- ment of Labor. As indicated by our review of the agencies of two States $ substanti.aL differEPCC?S cxi sted between the pre- scribed es.;:imating techniques of the Department and those used by both States. Differences in practices bctveen the States were also evident o State officials view their prac- ti.ccs as being necessary for administ-rative expediency or f in som instances, because of the lack of experienced em- ployW,s. A greater awareness by the Department of Labor of . the problems experienced by State agenci.es in applying the I):-:':,. rribed estimat Ing techilicpcs sholild contribu-te greatly . to;:;. cd improving the situation O T'hc Department of Labor also needs to improve its re- [Tic\, r and monitorin?, procedures of the estimating practices (Ii- i 112 v;l.:>i(jTL~S St;J[-fs to ensure uniformity and consistency 41 in the np1)'I.i cation of the prescribed c:;timnti.ng techniques and to r)rovide technical assistance when ileeded. A procrzm of household surveys in selected areas on a cycls" cal lxsis may be Oi-le n;ctllod by Tqhich the Department coul-d cvaluatc the empIoyr :ent and uncmpIo;-;nellt; levels yielcle.3 by the prc scribed methodo?_og>~ , to asc:<rtain whether the leveJ_s 27%~ consistent wil:ll local conditi on5 O We be- J icvct ;:llet such a program ?~011!.Cibe eCOlfC~i".i ca. J.Jy feasible. In;pJ.c~cllt:ation of such a progriim should he made, however, only after the survey proccd1lros llave bern tcstcd and found to be. satisfactory and after the comparabi'lity of the data has been established. The States showId be able to do much to improve the quality of tl~ estimates by exercising greater care in gathcri.nZ and interpreting the labor markc:i: d:t.La and by in- cl-easing their efforts to improve their J.~l~:~r market data collection and reporting systems. We E‘CCC~,ITL;(;C 3 howevw B that additional funcli~~g of the Iocal arc.3 u-,7irxl3loyment csti- rn:<ting Frogram by the Dep:~r:.;ll .cnt Of Labor ji1i.;;hf be ncce:;sary to enable the State agencies to signific;!ii'i.'!.y improve their data collection and reporting systems. As :iointed out to us by Dep~rt.ment officials, a factor limit: Ii5 the amcunt nnd quality of work which can be done un~.irl~- ~lw program is the available staff and budg~lcary resource:, of the States e Department officials noted thziz, histori.caJ.?y, State staff rcsourccs have averaged less than one pcr.r;~~!~ for each State. 42 The Department -i.ndic;ited that thy 3_oca1 i!re,l unemp?.oy- ment rat2 was the most wicM.y undzrstoc!ci and accepted basis for measuring economic distress and t!xt the present system of preparing data, ill spite of some defjcicncics, minimized the cost and permitted interarea cornpa:-;Tbility of data and the utilizat-Lon of local k~~owledge of arca conditions. The Department acknowl.cdged J hot:cver) that the results achieved through this methodology te~~dccl to decrease in reliability as the :;izo of the area decreased and sll;:gested thatg for very srs;;l.l area s--those with a pop~rlntion of l.ess than 5,000---it might be desirable to use other approaches to achieve the deg:ce of precision needed. The DctL>artment suggested that these altc_rnai:?-vc ap- proaches could relate to those currenkly being c::;)! o;-cid in the Sttinford &search Institute proj ect to devc:!.ok, 11~37 IIIC~- sures of underemployment and ~lderu,ti1.i.?,;lti.on of m;:~r;)ow~r or to i:1voLve util ization of the T.im~.tcd househo1.d sur~.'~l;~y method. We have indicated that the methodology does not ade- quatel.y measure the economic djstress of the snnl.1 meas. We agree wl.th the Department that alternative app-tyoaches may be needed to properly measure economic distress in such areas. We question, however, whether the unrel_iability of the re- sults obtained using the methodology should be identified only with areas having populations of 5,000 or less or also with areas having larger populations. With regard to questions raised in this report concern- ing the timeliness of some of the data used to develop arca ' unemployment estimates P the Department stated that: "Some of these problems --particularly those re- lated to the figures on base covered employment --- data--have long been recognized, but are not sub- ject to easy correction." 43 45 We recommend that the Secretary of Labor prcl>Tide for: --Improvements in the Department 's rdtric..~ and monitor- ing procedures of .-i.hc ~lner;lp1.oymen't~-estinlating prac- tic?s of the ~.~ario-ds St.a?:.cs 9 to ensure uniformity and cons?stency in the nppl.icati.on of the prc::s~-ibed tech- niques and to provide technical assistxlce r;lhen needed, --High priority to be given to the efforts bzing made to improve unempI.oyment estimates for 7koc;;l areas, so that research findings ~1il.2. be converted intro timely and meaningful_ action 7311ere warranted e --Consideration of the filldings of this report in the Department's evaluation of the ~-l~~lployr.lent-estilnating procedures. - - - - The Assistant Secretary for Administration, Department of Labor, advised us that ---j-n l,inc with our recon~nlel!dation for a review of the procedures and practices of the State employment seclq::i-ty agencies and within the conslxaints of budget resources and staffing ceilings--the Department would 46 take appro?rinte steps to c'n s:we uniformi.ty in the applica- ti.011 of prcsCr.~bed t;~~cIn~1.o~~r~ic~n~-ees1l:i.n;niiri~techniques and to improve the accuracy and comparability of the result:; ob- tained* . With regard to our recommendation that high priority be given to th e efforts being made ts improve u~-~~mpI.oyme~~t es- timates for local arcas, the Assistant Secretary stated that: "The Department's present schedule calls for this type of conversion of research findiligs into the development of improved area unempl.oy?l:::?t est:i-- mating procedures by the end of this fiscal_ ywr [1971-j. These improvements :qil.1 takc7 acnowlt of the findings of the CA0 report 9 as well as oiklr research studi.es sponsored by the i?eparimn~;t ai>d the affiliated State employment st~curity ag~;:l~s?c:; to improve the soundness of estimates for 'r.ocal areas." The Department's response also indicated t11;it a comprc- hensiyze report by consultants at the University of IIcIiston, in cooperation with the Department's stazf, was schedl:l.ed for completion by January 1971, The report is expected to include recommendations for improvement in the methodology for estimating unemployment in small areas. The Department's response indicated also that an additional report relating to the overall system for States and large areas scheduled for completion by July 1971 should include additional im- provements in small area procedures. I The Assistant Secretary advi.scd us that the Department ~~::?lld conl~;idcr our findings in its evaluation of the unern- * 131i;:?.~:~nt c:-it- Lmating procedures which currently was being c’!ji !C!lJC: [:c>cj c The actions taken and proposed by the Department are co;~::i.~t:c.nt with our recommendations. 47 48 Under the current praci_ices) detelmii.,:tions of olj g5.- bility base d on ic>w incc>ine are restricted t:o thn:;e ;~~‘cas of the cour~rtry IThich qhaiify at the time of 1.1~ cei;:<crs of pop- Ul a’iiOI1 o These ci~‘~~er:ai;?3ti’~ns are frozen ult; I. t13z i‘2:<:‘11 census incox rcs';alts are made a-v;liial)le-+-a period of I.0 years. llle!.'efore 9 rcgardlcss of improveme~~ts in inccm2 1evcJ.s or the general cconqic conditions of i-he designakd areas 5 the areas continue to reta,in their eli,glbiEity staixs and possibh) share in the limited progrt=in funds inte;;dlzd expressly for economicalLy distressEd areas. Areas guaran- teed long-term elzgibility are in sharp contrast to those areas designated on the basis of high unemployment that are subjected to annual rate determinations and reviews to as- certain whether continued eligibility is xl'arranted. Althou& the system serves to benefit those arcas ' whi ch q-u2 ii fy at the time the C~;ISUS is taken, it creates an inequity for those areas x&i&, although not quz 3 '.L'yi.!Jg .at the tGxe of the census, later experience economic down- turns With resultant effects on the areas' income l~~\~cls. Eligibility determinations do not rest solely on m~r!r;ures of i.ncomc ~ If an area's economic dislsress is in the form of undercmpl-oflent, howey,fer, it is doubtful that the other criteria-- such as uncmpIoyinent-- will prove to be sui.Zable 49 substitutes for measuring, the distressed condition of the area. As noted on page 20 S widespread poverty may exist in some areas even thou;_;h the local unemployment rates mzy be relatiwly low. Concern with using census data for EDA purposes also arises i&en onz con;;idcrs the degree of p~eci.scncss and re- liability of ~hc income ::aca deveI.opcd s 'The dectlnnia'l~ cen- . su .ses are desTgi;~sd prim:~~i.l,.y to obtain infomati.on on the del:logr':;qKc and soci.al. chn~actcris -tics of the po~e~lation * and not to provide median Ec~ni.1.y income statistics. The Income data therefore are by-prcduci-. data that are gathered from only a sampling of the popnla?i.on. kior~:~t by hict: true median Interval rCt!lin fomilv , inco1.c could be iover Estimate Khich trur: nxdian or hirJ,c,r t!>an c:;tii.:atcd Number of 1960 median family incoxle ineclj an ic v,iivA___- -----_____. i1ir.c~~ __ County fanilirs --- f_amily _ j nccme could fall (note a.1 Ifiwer Ilip,llcr A 1,833 $2,254 $2,099 to $2,40sb $155 $155 1,961 to 2,56?c 293 313 B 27,092 4,272 4,227 to 4,318b 45 46 4,181 to 4,363' 91 91 aTruc median family income is the median family irxome that would be obtained in a census of all iamilies. b Chances are about GR out of lG0 that median family incomes obtained from a com- plete census Vould fall within this range. CChances are about 95 out of 100 tl~:~t median family incoxes obtained frcm a cc..!- plcte census :ir~ld fall within this ranc,e. . The nzcd to deveLop r:urrent estimati~s of incoxe 1?as been recognized for some tixz by both ARA a!ld EDA. Tile Pub- lic Works and Econom:ic Dcvelqxent Act specifically reguircs that an annzlrll revi.e~ be made of designations- -including those designarions based on income. The Rurcau of the Census collects annual data on mc- dian family income in the interim bct~srccil dcc::?rxii;: 1 ccn- suscs througll saii:ple surveys of about !jC?,OC;O flous:i12r: Yc;s in the Uni-;:eJ States, The survey iS krl0~~Tl aS the C1L-c7'< il.K pop- ulation survey. SiIlCe these data are coSS.eci.~:~l for oi'ly a small samp1.e of the Kation 9 however, the sta Listic:; arc meaningful only as they relate to the Nation as a ~~;lo,l.e or to reg-ional scgme11ts of lzhc Nation, 7.ke sai.;:p1c: is no t large enough to develop statistics on a St.~~tc or local basis. In the %y 1365 hearings referred to earlier, the Dep- uty Administrator, J&4, with regard to adjusting census in- come data, stated: "We hope within a few years to have a system by which 1272 can determine ;-he changes in annual in- ccme 9 county by county, -L!lrough the use of In- ternal Revenue figures. WC do not now have it, but we are experimenting with it," An EDA o-[Eicial informed us that as of Hay 1970 EDR . did not have a system ~cxzh as that described by the Deputy Administrator. ELM officials later informed us that it iK1u1.d be very costly to lmilfd nn income data system on the basi:: of Internal Revc~xe Servj ce data and that the results would be of c;:.-cstionable reliability because not all income As noted earlier, entries for census data frequently are based on a person's Irtemoz7. OX data, however, are based mainly on ~cco~~ds of bus?ne.ss 2nd governmcn t which sho:q disbursements made to individ1LaI-s rather than on data furnished by individuals. In considering the effect on the geogra'Fhica1 disper- sion of EDA areas of using per capita income, :QC noted tht mob,t of the areas \&ich wouXd qualify under tile loi:-income criteria wxuld fall within the 10 State.s which the census identified as having the I_owest median family income, 53 AS indicated above, use of median famLly income or per capita income wou!d yield substantially the same results (or the same period of time. Assuming that this relation- ship re;.iains constant fro;‘rl year to year, it can bc concluded that chznnges in 1cvel.s of per capita income will approxi- mate changes in ilieriit-02 family income D Using OBE income data for the yecars 1953 and 1967, we dete-zzined wh?t changes in income had taken place bEtween tl1e ts:o years and t;rhat effects such changes would have had on area designations based on income had the changes been recognized. The results showed that 71 of the 160 counties, nationwide, whLch would have qualified on the basis of 1959 per capita income criteria would have lost their income des- ignation eligibility and 37 additional counties would have qualified for eligibility. On a basis other than income, 27 of the 71 counties and 25 of the 37 counties would have, qualified for eligibility. The table below summarizes the results. Number of counties ~-_-I___--- Qualified on 1959 per capita income 160 Terminated (1959-67) 71 Designated (1959-67) -37 34 Qualified on 1957 per capita income x25 -- 54 EDA procedures do not rcrluirc: rcvi sions in the ma2):imum grant rate incoiw c-t-1.terj.3 to rcco;;.nizc changes in income lCLVC?LS 0 The income lt?17els cui-rently used as a bosh-s for giv- ing up to 30 percent additional grwt funds arc the sang as those used when thy program Y/AS first cstablishcd. JkrLr;;= periods of i11FLatii;p. and rilpid econorilj c3 grOW.h, SIlch ;1.C;Were experienced during 1965-70, it is doubtful that income lc.vels can rem,zin unchanged and still stand as valid critc>ria for disbursing pro;;ram funds * For example, data resulting from the current population surveY conducted by the Bureau of the Census showed that the rhedian income of households in the United States was $8,359 in 1969 compnrcd with $5,660 shoT*rn by the 1960 census o The rntj~o of poor persons to the total population was 12 percent in 1969 compared with 22 pcrcc?nt in 1959. Ide noted daring our review that th2 OffIce of Econor::ic Opportunity issued uniform income c:uidelinps for ~L~~>liii::+tion in all of its programs where family income is used to i:fztcr- mine prcgram cbigihility, These guidelines ,;re bCl.SCd Oil pOV- erty thresholds derived from a defiaition of poverty dc>vc:l- oped Lor stattstical purposes by the Social SecIlrj.ty Adr!:i.llis-- tration in 1954. The Office of Economic Cpportunity sdjusts the income guidelines periodically for changes in cGnr,umzr prices. CONCLUSIONS The decennial income data used by EDA as a basis for eligibility and grant rate determinations do not provide a current measure of economic distress, It is also question- able whether the census income data accurately represent the actual levels of income for some small and rural areas. EC- forts should be made, therefore, to dcvclop a means for im- ' proving income data. . If the practicalities of the situa'cion warrant a Con- clusion that income data cannot be developed with greater p1 ecision in measurenicnt or currentness, we believe thnt the Sccrctary of Commerce should so advise the Congress and Furthermore WC belALer7e that EDA should institute tcch- iliquas for periodically 3djusirin,: the max. imuii g-ant rate in- come criteria to bri:-lg, i:lx,m lno3-e j n l.I.ne with current colldi- tions. 56 The Assistant Secretary directed our atteni-ion to tl:e fact tl1at the %t,l ic NorJrs and Economic Developiic~lt Acst - qu!'.rc.d EDA to use only median family income data. We be! LCW that cog~lIzanee sh~l d be given to the fact that tile per cap i t3 illCOiCC series developed by OBE did not become avaLl- abILe until 1.968 md %-Ls not an alJcernative sollrce of ‘;.nccJlne data at the time t:hat the A?'& and EDR legislation was drafted and consider-cd by the Congress, We recommend that the Secretary of Commerce provide for: --A review and study, in cooperation with the Department of Labor, of the problems associated with developing curr~~~t urwmploymcnt and income data. --Considxation of the feasibility of using, as a basis for area d esignation, the more current per czpita in- come data devcl.opcd by OJ3E instead of, or as a suppl.e- merit to, the median family income developed as part of d:+ccennial censuses. 57 The Assistant Sec::t?tary did not conmxlt specifically on the need to institute techniques for periodically adjusting the rnaxim:.~m grant rate income criteri,i, Since tl3ese criteria arc used by EDA for givi-11;: up to 30 percent in add?.tionaX grant funds, we contirlue to bel.icyre that there is a need to period-i c~l-1~ adjust the criter5a to recognize changes in in- . come levels * . . s9 Mr. Ijcnry Eschwege Associate Director Civil Division General Accounting Office Washington, D, C. 20548 Dear Mr, Eschwege: This is in reply 2.0 your letter of Septembc:r 22, 1970, rc:q\~~.~ting comments on a draft report entitled “Need to Irnp~*o\~e Data Used as a Basis ior Providing Fed~r:il Assistance to Ecol-!wlj?i- tally Depressed Areas, Dcpartmcnts of Commcrcc and L;:bor, ” We have rcviewcd the comments of the Economic Dcv~;lopr~-,el!t Administration and believe that they are appropriately responsive to the matlers discussed in the report. Sincerely yours3 A&chm ent 61 NOV 16 1970 Mr. wnry Eschn~egc Associate Director, Citli.1 Di.vision United States General Accouni.ilrg Office Washington, D. C. 2054s Representatives of !73*4 and GAL! have met on two occasions to disc\lss the drnT t report. 1~s a l~csult of these meetings , ce r ta i n c ha i3 6 cs have been made j-1) L;hc draft report by the GAO repr~~~tn1,ati.v~~ to refl.ect, amoi-lg other things, EDA'~ concern r!itIr income ds-ta cur~reni;ly llr;ed in designating rc- development areas and the fact that EDA is presently cxplor- ing the use of othc~- income data as a basis for designation. 1) reviews and study i;he grob,lcm of developing current income data, 2) consicic?r the fc:;isibilitg 01 using more current per capita income dab developed by the Office of Business Ikoncriics (013X) instead of decennial census Yigu ros for dcsip;natiou of areas on the basis of low income, and 3) GAO a.I. s o in-depth 62 _, .. With respccl; to the use by ;?A of median family income data (1959 data as shown in the 1960 Census of the Populat;on) , we call your attention to the fact that section ,103 (n)(2) of the EDA Act presently rcquircs EDA to use only metlian L'amily income data and does not allow DA to use pc'l* r,:aI)j tn incollie data as sug;;;ested by GAO. As the draft report acl;nowlt:dges , 1960 Census cjata arc the: most recent data available for all areas (cou?i$,ie:;) in the United Sta-tcs. The dx+aPt report also notes -ti?a L to da tc nothing has been accompi ishcd to update the I!)GO Census mc>dinn family income data. While this is coi*rcct ant1 ous opcl*altl i>g procedures continue to be based on the 1960 Cetlsus dat,a, K:C have explored the possibility of developing and u I ilj zing; other sources of income data. The draft report recognizes that in 1967 hmA initiated a program with the Office of Busi- ness Economics of the Department of Commerce for the develop- ment of per capita income estimates on a county basis. PC!r capita income data for many, but not all counties, became . avallablc in 1968. EDA has been the primary single contributor to this effort and through Fiscal Year 1971 has obligated $645,000 to OBE to secure these data. A joint EDA/ORE work group is wor!cing on the devcl.opment of per capita income data. However, there remains the difficult task of eval.uai:ing the . quality of tllc estimates and their ccmparal,iIity with tho:;ct c~c~velopcd II?JQII Census p3.-ocedurcs which yield eutima t2r-r; oi' mc>dian fa1~1-1~ incow s Much work remains before this ~~cfil;;l;,- * clc>veloped :.:c~r-tcs can be considered as an acceptable s\I~:< I ; I 11; (2 -i‘or the fn:'~ 3-y income statistics currently used to re1'3 ('i' i i! l*ca ecol10.:1-i c distrcns . 03 h'ls. Ilcnry Fschwege We would also poiilt to an earlier attempt in 1963 - 1064 by the Area Redcvelopmc~~t Administration (AM) , JCDA':~ pr~!d~c:~s:-:o~~ agency, to secure and utilize Internal Revcnuc data to clc- vclop income estimates. This effort was lal';:cl y ~~ns;\:cce:-zs 1‘~?1 due to the difficulties in securing and p~!'occ~:isi.ng ihc illfo-I:- mati.on as well as the many problems invulvctl in resoI.ving the techni.cal questions associated with th5 s data source . During this period RR,4 also favored the p~~opo:;ccl c!uincjuenni::l census in order to secure more recent income estimates. Our recent investigations suggest that the relative income rankings of counties remain fairly stable and certailily ch:~nf;es arc no-t as dynamic as are rates 0-f ui7erny,loyiii":i-i;. Ncvert~hel c11-;:-: ) we agree in principle that it would lx desirzl,l e to have more recent income information on a rcgu'l.ar l3asi.s. UnfOstun;?-te1y) the costs of securing such information by duplica t-ins Ccnsl!:; procedures and techniques (e.g. surveys) ;ippc~r~r; to be pro- hibit.ive. I1owevc 1' ) by utilizing other data sources, such as from ODE, we hope to devel.op reasonably ncc:iratc income esti- mates to serve as mcasurcs of area economic clistrcss. EDA is currently studying its Iegis1ntivc authori ;:y wi.th a view toward changing the criteria for tile tlcsi~;n:~i:iol1 of l:e- development areas. II 0 v: e v e r we arc not in a pesi i;i.on at t1,i.s time to make definitive rcc&nmendations for S~lCll ClIall~~:i-:s pending completion of this study. Sincerely, Robert A. Podesta Assistant Secretary for Economic Development 64 We have 31~0 taken cognizance, in OLIT I*espwse, of the cmmnts of S,hu two State empboy9nes-t secrti2;y ngeacfes where the GAO conducted CL COW- prehensive audit Of RIYX unemp~o~ent Cs~-ix~~t~rlg procedures in COXl?CtfGiI with the prepzratiow of this report. Copies or thcsc S-hte mpiies hsve been furnished to members of your staff, You my be certain that we shzll--in Hnc ~5%. your recommendations and gtithin the constraints of budget resources and staffin ceilP1Gs-- take n~~Yopr.hte steps to t'asSGUe? -!x-~iforx;fty in 3Fplicaiion of prescribed . APPENDIX II estimatirq technicpx znd to .$-prove the accurxy md conrp1-~I'i::il.ity of the resuits 0Staincd." 183 shall alrn, as you rccoimeridc~i, cmsidcr the comrmts in the GAO report "as part. of the Depnrt~ynt's eva.l:mtTon of the umm$!qmnt estimtir~ procedux!s" which is cuzeni;Q bcilp > conducted. Sincerely, .\ I- _- i. , ,I!’ , ( ti’ L . llm’x: !JIlmTs Assistant Secretary for Adrxin:'Lstration Ehxlosure 66 APPENDIX 11 . 67 - _ . _ . . I ., ., .!.- APPENDIX II APPEPSIIIXII
More Reliable Data Needed as a Basis for Providing Federal Assistance to Economically Distressed Areas
Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1971-05-10.
Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)