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U.S. Department of Commerce

12 Ways It Affects the Economy


U.S. Department of Commerce

The Census measures retail sales.

U.S. Department of Commerce

The BEA measures GDP, or economic output.

woman with dog after Hurricane Katrina

Lana Seymour and her dog Fifi peer out from their house to survey the damage in the French Quarter after Hurricane Katrina blew through the area early on August 29, 2005 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

What Is the Department of Commerce?:

The Department of Commerce supports U.S. business growth. It has nearly 47,000 employees and a $7.5 billion budget. Its 12 different agencies cover many disparate areas that impact the U.S. economy. These most important are:

  1. Bureau of Economic Analysis provides important economic research.
  2. Bureau of the Census counts the population every 10 years.
  3. International Trade Administration promotes trade.
  4. Patent and Trademark Office protects intellectual property.
  5. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) does research to protect the oceans.
  6. Economic Development Administration provides grants to support strategically important economic activity.
  7. Bureau of Industry and Security controls trade that affects national security, including nuclear non-proliferation, chemical/biological weapons, and trade sanctions.
  8. National Institute of Standards and Technology regulates standard measurements and manages the Internet Time Service.

How the Department of Commerce Affects the U.S. Economy:

The Commerce Department helps to set both domestic and international trade policy, which directly affects the economy. The Office of the Trade Representative is responsible for successfully negotiating trade agreements with countries with desirable natural resources. These trade agreements can lower the cost of imports.

It also enforces existing policy on trade, intellectual property and technology standards. This reassurance increases the competitive ranking of the U.S. by attracting high technology companies.

It also provides research which is critical to maintaining a reliable economy. It measures the nation's output as measured by Gross Domestic Product (GDP). For example, if last quarter’s GDP is revised downward, Wall Street investors may turn bearish because they anticipate a further decline in growth.

How the Department of Commerce Affects You:

Successful trade agreements will ultimately lower the cost of the things you buy. Here's more on the most important trade agreements.

The NOAA monitors the course of global warming, and how it affects the oceans. It also monitors hurricanes, and the impact of oceanic catastrophes like the BP Oil Spill.

The impact of the economic indicator reports by the BEA and the Census have an immediate impact on Wall Street traders, and therefore on you. It's in your best interest to be aware of these reports so that you can change your financial strategy when needed. Here's the most current indicators prepared by the BEA:


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