Haltiwanger and Haver Win 2013 Julius Shiskin Memorial Award
Contributed by Robert Parker
John C. Haltiwanger, distinguished university professor of economics at the University of Maryland, and Maurine Haver, president and founder of Haver Analytics Inc., have been selected to receive the 2013 Julius Shiskin Memorial Award for Economic Statistics. The award recognizes unusually original and important contributions in the development of economic statistics or in the use of statistics in interpreting the economy.
Both Haltiwanger and Haver are recognized for initiatives to educate users and producers of key federal economic statistics. Haltiwanger is also recognized for expanding access to Census Bureau micro-data records and using these records to develop new statistical measures to analyze firm-level employment dynamics and productivity. Haver is also recognized for work with statistical agencies to improve the availability of meta-data and for her leadership of business economists to support adequate funding for economic statistics programs.
Haltiwanger and Haver are the 40th and 41st recipients of the award; they will be honored at events hosted by the Washington Statistical Society, National Association for Business Economics (NABE), and Business and Economics Section of the American Statistical Association.
Haltiwanger joined the faculty at the University of Maryland in 1987, after teaching several years at the University of California at Los Angeles and The Johns Hopkins University. At Maryland, he was made a distinguished university professor in 2010 and was named the first recipient of the Dudley Professorship in Economics in 2013. He began his association with the U.S. Census Bureau in 1987 as a research associate at the bureau’s Center for Economic Studies (CES), became the bureau’s first chief economist in 1996, and headed the CES from 1997 to 1999. He has continued his association with the bureau as a CES research associate and a senior research fellow for the Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics (LEHD) program. He is also a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) and Institute for the Study of Labor and is actively engaged in foundation-funded research.
A major aspect of Haltiwanger’s role at the University of Maryland and the bureau has been his initiatives to educate and train data users and data producers. He has been an important contributor to initiatives that have expanded researchers’ access to economic micro-data on firms and workers and is currently involved in a project to harmonize public-use extracts of confidential data from multiple countries, which will facilitate cross-country comparisons of production and employment behaviors.
Haltiwanger was one of a small group of researchers who collaborated with the Census Bureau to help develop the Longitudinal Research Database at the CES and championed the development of the data infrastructure for tracking firm dynamics beyond manufacturing. He contributed to establishing the bureau’s first research data center (RDC) in 1994 and the subsequent expansion of the RDC network. He also played a major role in developing longitudinal establishment and matched employer-employee databases at the bureau and in using those databases as a catalyst for innovation in economic measurement. This work led to conceptual and measurement methodologies that are widely used to quantify the contribution of firm dynamics to aggregate productivity, investment, and employment growth.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Haltiwanger, along with Steven Davis and Scott Schuh, developed gross job creation and job destruction methodologies that have become standard for statistical agencies worldwide. In the United States, the Business Dynamics Statistics program of the Census Bureau and the Business Employment Dynamics program of the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) rely heavily on these measurement methodologies. To develop similar measures for other countries, Haltiwanger worked with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank, and Conference Board. In addition, insights from subsequent Davis and Haltiwanger analysis of job creation and destruction are prominently cited in the 2011 Nobel Lecture by Peter Diamond.
In the past two decades, Haltiwanger has co-authored or co-edited six books and more than 100 peer-reviewed articles in scientific journals and books. A hallmark of this work is that it provides insights and guidance on the innovative economic statistics he helped develop. His most recent American Economic article, “Cross-Country Differences in Productivity: The Role of Allocation and Selection” was published in February 2013, and his most recent NBER working paper, “The Slow Growth of New Plants: Learning About Demand,” was published in February 2012. It should be noted that, in addition to Haltiwanger’s direct contributions, many CES working papers have been written using data accessed at the RDCs as their primary data source, and the vast majority of these papers have been published in academic journals. At the University of Maryland, he has supervised more than 60 dissertations, many of which have involved collaborating on developing the data infrastructure at the Census Bureau and BLS.
Haltiwanger has coupled his education and research activities with extensive involvement in the federal statistical system. He is a member (since 2000) of the joint BEA, BLS, and Census Bureau Federal Economics Statistics Advisory Committee. He serves on the executive committee of the Conference on Research in Income and Wealth (CRIW), co-edited two CRIW volumes, and contributed articles to NBER/CRIW volumes about the measurement of capital, productivity, firm dynamics, and labor markets. One volume he co-edited focused on intangible capital and greatly accelerated new literature on intangible assets as sources of economic growth. The BEA now treats research and development as investment in U.S. national accounts. In addition, he was a member of the Committee on National Statistics (CNSTAT) of the National Academies of Science (2004–2010), served on the steering committee for a CNSTAT workshop on benefits of interagency business data sharing, and co-edited the report about its 2007 panel on business dynamics. Of special note is that Haver presented the needs of the business community for federal economic statistics to this panel.
Haver founded Haver Analytics, an economic information services company, in 1978. Previously, she was an economist in the economic forecasting group of General Electric in New York, a member of the International Staff of Companie Bull General Electric in Paris, and a consultant at Chase Manhattan Bank in London. She served as NABE President (1994–1995) and continues to chair the NABE Statistics Committee.
When Haver Analytics started, it was among the few firms integrating documentation into its database products. This effort quickly set the standard for disseminating these metadata, thereby significantly improving user knowledge of important aspects of various statistical programs. The firm also featured timely, accurate, and easy-to-use U.S. economic statistics and sophisticated analytical tools and graphics capabilities. These improvements facilitated the analysis of economic data and broadened the use and dissemination of economic statistics to businesses, government policymakers, researchers, and the press. Under her leadership, Haver Analytics followed up this success by providing similar coverage of government economic statistics from countries around the world, international organizations, and the business community. The advance in statistical understanding and use of economic statistics, especially in the United States, provided by Haver Analytics is evident in the widespread use of its data throughout federal government statistical and policy offices, including the Federal Reserve and Congress. Haver Analytics is considered the premier provider of time series economic data, maintaining more than 200 complex databases that incorporate information from more than 1,200 government and private sources, and has an extensive offering of forecast data covering the world’s economies.
As NABE president and chair of NABE’s statistics committee, Haver initiated innovative efforts to educate NABE users of economic statistics programs about their complexities and how they might affect the interpretation of the statistics. At the same time, these efforts also served to educate federal data producers about how their data were used. Her in-depth knowledge from operating Haver Analytics provided the foundation for professional educational opportunities on these statistics. She initiated seminars and presentations focused on young and mid-career business economists and financial analysts.
The hallmark of these initiatives is the annual NABE Economic Measurement Seminar. Now in its 10th year, this three-day seminar, which attracts more than 100 participants each year, consists of sessions that cover general topics such as seasonal adjustment and others that “pair” data producers of major programs with prominent data users to provide insight into how the data are compiled and used. At the 2005 seminar, presenters included both Haver and Haltiwanger. This year, the seminar will include sessions on GDP and the national accounts, housing prices, international statistics, employment, and inflation.
In addition to educating users and producers of specific programs, Haver also worked to provide similar information to the leadership of statistical agencies. As chair of the NABE Statistics Committee, Haver began regular meetings (three a year) that bring together agency heads of the Census Bureau, BLS, and BEA with NABE users to discuss the latest developments at these agencies. These meetings provide users with detailed information about specific programs and enable them to provide the agencies with input from the perspective of both data providers and data users. The discussions also allow NABE to identify programmatic issues before Congress on which NABE might choose to assist the agencies by writing articles in NABE publications, co-sponsoring and organizing educational seminars, giving congressional testimony, or meeting with individual members of Congress.
Combining her knowledge of the statistics programs with her extensive business expertise and broad-based business contacts, the following examples of her efforts demonstrate why Haver is a particularly effective spokesperson for the business community before Congress. She has testified directly or written in support of issues such as data sharing and adequate funding for economic statistics programs. For data sharing, she organized NABE members to support the passage of the Confidential Information Protection and Statistical Efficiency Act of 2002 (CIPSEA). This act protects data providers by creating a standard across agencies to assure the confidentiality of information collected by any agency for statistical purposes. It also has improved the reliability of several programs by making possible the sharing of business data among the Census Bureau, BLS, and BEA. More recently, Haver has written in support of additional legislation to provide access to income tax data that would greatly enhance the data products compiled by these agencies.
When congressional funding for the 2012 Economic Census was in jeopardy, Haver worked with the American Economic Association to co-sponsor a briefing for Congress, “Hi-Beams for the Economic Road Ahead: The Importance of the 2012 Economic Census for Business and Government Decision-Making.” NABE also was active on behalf of the American Community Survey to defeat legislation that would have eliminated its funding and made responding to the economic census voluntary. Haver co-authored a letter to Congress defending the integrity of the BLS monthly employment release before the hearing, “Addressing Concerns About the Integrity of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Jobs Reporting.”
This May, when legislation was introduced to eliminate virtually all economic statistics programs, Haver reacted immediately and publically attacked the legislation as a threat to the types of reliable data that are critical to the proper functioning and success of U.S. businesses. Her in-depth knowledge of government agency statistical products is not limited to the United States. Recognizing her unique knowledge of such products throughout the world, she was recently asked to provide advice to the United Nations at a conference, “Best Practice for Ensuring Quality in International Statistics: Making International Statistics Fit for Sound Decision-Making.” She provided recommendations for improving the comparability and use of international statistics, including closer collaboration between producers and users of statistics.
Haver’s involvement with the federal statistical system has not been limited to her work through NABE. She serves on the BEA Advisory Committee where, in her recent presentation on seasonal adjustment, she recommended that statistical agencies provide more user-oriented (less technical) information to educate users about the limitations of the adjustment process during periods of volatile economic activity. As a member of the BLS Data Users Advisory Committee, she recently gave a presentation on how BLS and other agencies should disclose information about errors in their statistics. She also has participated in activities of the CNSTAT, was appointed to the newly formed Financial Research Advisory Committee that will advise the Treasury Department office responsible for understanding and analyzing systemic financial risk, and serves as the chair of the Council of Professional Associations on Federal Statistics (COPAFS).
COPAFS members are professional associations that represent more than 300,000 individual researchers, educators, public health professionals, civic groups, and businesses that rely on federal statistics. As chair of COPAFS, Haver has expanded its efforts to bring producers and users together through regular quarterly meetings and special seminars and workshops.
She is a recipient of NABE’s Lifetime Achievement Award and the Butler Award granted by NABE to distinguished business economists. She also is a fellow of NABE and the Money Marketeers of New York University.