UMKC Participating in Federal Reserve Research Center

Three universities, Kauffman Foundation gain access to secure Census data

The University of Missouri-Kansas City is joining with the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, two other universities and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation to establish a new research data center (RDC) that will provide area researchers with access to some of the nation’s highest-quality data for analysis of the U.S. economy and public policy issues.

The Kansas City RDC, one of 24 planned RDC locations across the country, will be located at the Kansas City Fed’s headquarters and will provide approved researchers with secure access to restricted micro-level Census data. The University of Kansas and the University of Missouri in Columbia are also participating in the research consortium.

The center is expected to open in the fall of 2015 and is the result of an in-depth application process involving contributions from each consortium member and the review of the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Census Bureau.

“The closest research data centers to the Kansas City area are located in Chicago and Minneapolis,” said Kansas City Fed Vice President and Economist Jonathan Willis, who will serve as co-executive director of the RDC along with Robert Strom, director of research and policy at the Kauffman Foundation. “Having an RDC here will provide researchers with much easier access to this valuable data. The establishment of the RDC at the Kansas City Fed recognizes the Bank’s strong reputation as an institution that produces cutting-edge research.”

The data available at the RDC are used to produce economic indicators such as gross domestic product, personal income, consumer spending, corporate profits, the unemployment rate and more. Research using the underlying microdata can provide a better understanding of the regional and national economy, including analysis of structural and cyclical changes that are affecting businesses and households.

The RDC will also provide researchers from across the region in fields such as economics, entrepreneurship, demography, urban and regional development, statistics, health care and public policy with the data needed to answer research questions. Recently, researchers incorporated analysis of restricted micro-level Census data in a study of the vibrancy of the U.S. labor market entitled, “Labor Market Fluidity and Economic Performance,” which was presented at the Kansas City Fed’s 2014 Jackson Hole Economic Symposium.

Because of the data’s confidential nature, the Census Bureau will review and approve requests for access to the RDC. Approved projects must demonstrate scientific merit, pose no risk of disclosure, and researchers are required to protect the confidentiality of the data they access. Findings based on the data are often published in a wide range of peer-reviewed social science journals. The RDC will be staffed by a U.S. Census Bureau employee who will be responsible for helping researchers gain access to the data.

“Establishing a Census Research Data Center in Kansas City will help to build a strong research community in the region and provide access to data on entrepreneurship, which is in high demand,” said Robert Strom, director of research at the Kauffman Foundation.

“The Kansas City RDC is an important resource for researchers in Kansas and Missouri.  Access to Census data will allow the KC Fed staff, academic researchers and graduate students to answer macro and microeconomic questions with the highest quality data collected by the federal government,” said Donna Ginther, Professor of Economics and Director, Center for Science Technology & Economic Policy at the University of Kansas.

The research data center program is administered by the Census Bureau’s Center for Economic Studies. More information about the RDCs is available at

As the regional headquarters of the nation’s central bank, the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City and its Branches in Denver, Oklahoma City and Omaha participate in setting the nation’s monetary policy, supervise and regulate banks and bank holding companies, and provide financial services to depository institutions. The Bank serves the Tenth Federal Reserve District: Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Wyoming, northern New Mexico and western Missouri.

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