JUNE 24, 2021 — Dr. Ron Jarmin, acting director and deputy director of the U.S. Census Bureau, is a co-recipient of the 2021 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.
Jarmin is recognized for his leadership role at the Census Bureau in overseeing the 2020 Census and the central role he has played in building important new data products from administrative data and developing a compelling vision for the future of economic measurement within the federal statistical system.
“Ron has led the world-class experts at the Census Bureau to leverage new technologies and innovations to give us a better picture of our economy and our country,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo. “We are lucky to have him at the Department of Commerce, and I congratulate him on this wonderful achievement.”
Jarmin has spent his entire professional career at the Census Bureau. He was hired as a staff economist at the Center for Economic Studies (CES) in the early 1990s. His research on firm dynamics (especially on the role of young businesses) is internationally well-known.
Jarmin was named director of research at CES in 2004 and then chief economist (and head of CES) in 2008. During his time at CES, he played a leadership role in the Census Bureau’s development of novel micro databases and new data products. He is one of the primary developers of the Longitudinal Business Database (LBD), which tracks all U.S. businesses longitudinally. The LBD is used by researchers at both the Census Bureau and the Federal Statistics Research Data Centers, where it’s the most requested of all the available databases.
Jarmin was named assistant director of the Census Bureau’s then-newly created Research and Methodology (R&M) Directorate in 2010. The R&M directorate was formed to bring together the innovative research centers throughout the Census Bureau. In this role, Jarmin began to develop his vision of how the U.S. statistical agencies should proceed in the 21st century.
Over the last several years, he has advocated a future in which statistical agencies gather much of the core economic data on households and businesses from administrative and private “big data” sources that are increasingly tracking transactions and activities. Viewed from this perspective, surveys eventually will be designed to capture the information that cannot be measured using alternative data. If realized, his vision would reduce the burden on households and businesses and, with much basic information coming from elsewhere, permit richer contextual information to be collected through surveys. In 2016, Jarmin was named associate director of Economic Programs and oversaw the modernization of the 2017 Economic Census, transitioning it to an online-only, internet-based response. His vision and leadership led to him being named the Census Bureau’s deputy director in 2017.
As deputy director, Jarmin has played a leadership role in overseeing the 2020 Census. The decennial census is a massive and challenging undertaking even in normal times. In 2020, the decennial census faced restructuring operations with little advanced notice given the global pandemic from COVID-19. In addition, the 2020 Census faced numerous unprecedented challenges from political interference. Jarmin displayed wisdom, integrity and courage in his leadership of the Census Bureau during these challenging times.
Marshall Reinsdorf — who began his career at the Bureau of Labor Statistics and later served as chief of National Economic Accounts Research Group at the Bureau of Economic Analysis — is this year’s other Shiskin Award recipient. Jarmin and Reinsdorf become the 49th and 50th recipients of the award, which is sponsored by the Business and Statistics Section of the American Statistical Association, National Association for Business Economics, and the Washington Statistical Society.
The Julius Shiskin Memorial Award for Economic Statistics, established in 1980, is named after Julius Shiskin. Shiskin, who died in 1978, was commissioner of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, chief statistician at the Office of Management and Budget, and chief economic statistician and assistant director at the Census Bureau.