In an effort to give economists, policy makers, business owners and everyday citizens greater access to real-time data on the health of the U.S. economy, the Census Bureau on Thursday launched its first mobile app.
The America's Economy app provides constantly updated statistics on key economic indicators, lets users set alerts for when new data will be released and makes it easy to share that data on Facebook Inc and Twitter.
"The release of this app is an example of our commitment to giving taxpayers faster and easier access to the statistics we produce, including the Economic Census, that impact the lives of all Americans," Census Bureau Director Robert Groves said.
The Census Bureau said the app offers the real-time statistics that are driving business hiring, sales and production decisions.
The app is currently available for Google Inc's suite of Android-powered smartphones and tablets and will come to Apple Inc's iPhone and iPad in the coming weeks.
The initial release of the app covers 16 economic indicators, including the unemployment rate, GDP and construction spending, compiled from data from the U.S. Commerce Department's Census Bureau, the Bureau of Economic Analysis, and the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The app is part of the Census Bureau's broader Web Transformation Project. The agency has also made strides to improve the search and navigation capabilities on its website, and it opened up its census data to developers last month to spur innovative new platforms.
The Census Bureau said it would release two more apps over the next few months.
These endeavors are in line with President Barack Obama's order in May for all major federal agencies to make at least two services relied upon by the public available on mobile phones within the next year.
What this means in practical terms is a massive expansion in public access to government data, from healthcare and education to energy and public safety, which the administration hopes will boost jobs by encouraging innovation.