current numbers

It amazes me that some facts and figures are quickly tallied and reported but people don’t question them. Seasonal Sales, avg price on gas, unemployed people, new home construction, etc.
Who’s counting these?

More often than not some report will come out with comparision info from 1998-1999-2000 - maybe 2001: ie: murder rate, college enrollment, total tonnage shipped, etc. Who’s still counting these?

So how come these aren’t as current as Seasonal Sales report?
It seems to me with all the computers and telephones available info should be as current as this mornings newspaper.

I have no particular cites because there are plenty of numbers reported everyday - some are current and some are several years old.

Lots of times when an older study is conducted it is in the context of some other news item, and just provided for reference. The study itself is not the news, and it has not necessarily just been released. These studies cannot be conducted constantly because it costs lots of money to interview hundreds of people or aggregate lots of disparate reports and no one is interested in paying for it when relatively accurate numbers are already available (numbers that are a few years old).

Sorry I meant lots of times when an older study is cited.

Ummm, there is no global database.

Many sources, and many reports.

Or am I missing something here?

Most modern nations maintain tax-funded statistical agencies - after all, it is vital for a government to know about the country. Those agencies collect data and compile statistics about everything you ever wanted to know but never dared ask (you didn’t know the mean travel time to work for 16+ year old persons in the state of Delaware was 24.0 minutes in 2000, did you?). Additionally, the media often have surveys done by specialized commercial companies, providing for those x per cent of American citizens support the government’s policy, and the like.

Why are many numbers not as recent as one might expect?
Well, I’m not a trained statistician, but I guess it has something to do with accuracy. Of course you could publish estimated numbers, but if the law regulating the agency’s business provides for exact numbers, you have to wait until the year is over if you want to publish final statistics about that year.

You remember the old adage right?

“Lies, damned lies and statistics”

The economic numbers are done by using statistical sampling. In each case, a government agency thinks that it’s important that they have the current figures (within a given margin of error) on certain economic situations, so they work out a procedure for doing a survey (every week, every month, every quarter, or whatever) of that part of the economy. There’s no such thing as regular reporting of each gas station in the U.S. on its prices. If it weren’t for the government agency doing the statistical survey, the numbers wouldn’t exist.

Crime rates, on the other hand, are complete and supposedly accurate counts of the crimes that occur throughout the U.S. Every city keeps a count of its crimes. At the end of the year they report them to the state, and then the state reports them to the F.B.I. The F.B.I. then has to compile these numbers into an annual report. Sometimes states refuse to give their figures to the F.B.I. Sometimes cities undercount their crimes. It thus takes some estimation work for the F.B.I. to produce an annual crime survey.

All these statistical counts only exist because some government agency established a department to either do a survey or to collect complete numbers that they were sent. Such departments are established only because some group lobbied Congress to get it established. There are fairly update surveys of economic statistics and only yearly compilations of crime statistics because groups of businessmen demanded the economic surveys, while no one with enough pull has demanded up-to-date crime surveys.

It is a known fact that 73% of all statistics are made up on the spot to support whatever point is being made.