On May 5, 2017, the Office of Management and Budget signed off on a
package of questions, including one on cooperative businesses, for the 2017 survey. It's the first time since 1997 that co-ops will be part of the Economic Census, which is conducted every five years to provide a comprehensive look at economic activity in the U.S. Data collection is expected to begin in 2018.
"This is a breakthrough moment for cooperatives nationwide. The data gathered by the 2017 Economic Survey will fill a critical gap within the cooperative sector, allowing us to tell the story of cooperative economic impact in a more compelling way", said Judy Ziewacz, president of CEO of the National Cooperative Business Association-CLUSA, of which PCPI is a member.
Initially, the question will apply to single-unit cooperative businesses, which are "local co-ops staffed by a handful of people with a small economic footprint", according to Andrew Baer, Assistant Division Chief for the Economy-Wide Statistics Division of the U.S. Census Bureau.
In answer to my question, which I directed to NCBA CLUSA, as to how cooperative preschools could be identified for and included in the census, Liz Lechleitner, Communications Manager, responded:
"The 2017 Economic Census will identify cooperatives by asking the following question of all businesses: A cooperative is a business or organization controlled by and operated for the benefit of people using its services. Members benefit from the use of service and product operations and/or earnings generated by the coop..... Is this establishment a cooperative? Yes or No?"
I also asked what kind of information will result from the new data being collected. Lechleitner responded that "the information we get from the census will be federally-reported numbers on the size of the cooperative ecosystem in the U.S., a statistic we haven't been able to confirm for twenty years."
This is such an important development, and I believe it has the potential to have enormous impact for co-op preschools. If your preschool is contacted by the U.S. Economic Census, PCPI urges you to respond. We will work with NCBA to try to ensure that all U.S. preschool cooperatives will be able to stand up and be counted.
Stay tuned for more information!
Meg Kennedy Shaw is an Advisor to and an Honorary Life Member of PCPI. She resides in Ann Arbor, Michigan.