U.S. Department of Commerce, What It Does, and Its Impact

12 Ways It Affects Your Ability to Make a Living

The Department of Commerce is an agency of the U.S. federal government that supports business growth. It has 46,608 employees located in all U.S. states and territories and in 86 countries. It has a $9.3 billion budget. President Trump requested $9.9 billion for FY 2019.


The Commerce Department's mission is to "create the conditions for U.S. economic growth and opportunity." It does this by ensuring fair trade, providing economic research, and setting business standards.

It's the agency that manages the Decennial Census, the National Weather Service, NOAA Fisheries, and the Foreign Commercial Service. It also oversees ocean and coastal navigation and negotiates bilateral trade agreements.


Commerce has 12 agencies that all support business and the U.S. economy. They are:

  1. Bureau of Economic Analysis provides important economic research.
  2. Bureau of Industry and Security controls trade that affects national security, including nuclear non-proliferation, chemical/biological weapons, and trade sanctions.
  3. Census Bureau counts the population every 10 years.
  4. Economic Development Administration provides grants to support strategically important economic activity.
  5. Economics and Statistics Administration updates the American Community Survey every year.
  6. International Trade Administration promotes international trade.
  1. Minority Business Development Agency secures contracts and partnerships for minority-owned firms.
  2. National Institute of Standards and Technology regulates standard measurements and manages the Internet Time Service.
  3. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration does research to protect the oceans. 
  4. National Technical Information Services uses government-sponsored research to help businesses.
  5. National Telecommunications and Information Administration expands broadband capabilities to rural communities.
  1. Patent and Trademark Office protects intellectual property.

What It Does

The Department of Commerce supports U.S. business growth. As a result, its responsibilities are as diverse as its 12 agencies. Its main areas are negotiating trade agreements, providing economic research, and supporting business growth.

How It Affects the U.S. Economy

The Commerce Department helps to set both domestic and international trade policy. That directly affects the economy. For example, under President Trump the Commerce Department is renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement. Trump wants Mexico to privatize Pemex and Canada to stop subsidizing lumber. If the countries don't agree, Trump will dump NAFTA.

Commerce provides research which is critical to maintaining a stable economy. It measures the nation's output as measured by gross domestic product. For example, if last quarter’s GDP is revised downward, Wall Street investors may turn bearish because they anticipate a further decline in growth.

The ITA is responsible for successfully administering trade agreements with countries with desirable natural resources. These trade agreements can lower the cost of imports. It also improves the trade deficit and current account deficit. It 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. 

The U.S. Commercial Service helps U.S. companies learn how to export. It also has 258 offices globally to promote U.S. trade in foreign markets. The Market Access and Compliance unit enforces free trade agreements and takes action on violations of international trade law. The Manufacturing and Services unit strengthens U.S. industry competitiveness by analyzing trade data to use in developing trade policy. The Import Administration enforces anti-dumping violations.

How It Affects You

The BEA reports immediately affect 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 are the most current BEA indicators.

The Census Bureau also conducts the annual American Community Survey. It provides updated statistics on U.S. demographics. Some data is exclusive to the survey, such as education, mobility, and health insurance. Here are its most current indicators:

The Commerce Department provides research on international trade. 

  • TradeStatsExpress.gov provides general information about the U.S. exports and imports to various countries
  • Export.gov provides market research about any foreign market.
  • BuyUSA.gov helps youexport to various countries. It also provides trade missions you can join.

The ITA negotiates free trade agreements. They lower the cost of the things you buy. 

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. That affects your quality of life.