Dr. Marie T. Mora, professor of economics at The University of Texas-Pan American, has been appointed a member of the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Data Users Advisory Committee (DUAC). The appointment, which was approved by U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, is for a three-year term that began Jan. 15, 2012.
"As a labor economist, it is an honor to be asked to give advice and input on the data I often use, especially since the appointment had to be approved by the Secretary of Labor herself," Mora said.
The committee is responsible for providing the Commissioner of Labor Statistics the priorities of BLS data users, suggestions concerning the addition of new programs, changes in the emphasis of existing programs and the cessation of obsolete ones. The committee is also requested to give advice on innovations in data collection, dissemination and presentation.
The BLS operates more than two dozen surveys and programs that measure employment and unemployment, compensation, worker safety, productivity and producer price movement as well as data used to estimate prices and inflation.
"Data collected by the BLS are extremely important, not just in terms of labor policy, but also for fiscal and monetary policies in general," said Mora. "I feel it is very important to hear from people from diverse backgrounds and from communities who use these datasets, but are often overlooked at the national level."
In recognition of her growing national reputation as a labor economist, Mora was also one of six people invited to participate this month in a discussion regarding small business and entrepreneurship at the Board of the Governors of the Federal Reserve System in Washington, D.C., which Federal Reserve System Chairman Ben Bernanke and the other governors attended. This was a follow-up discussion from a November 2011 conference held at the at the Board on "Small Business and Entrepreneurship during an Economic Recovery."
At the November conference, Mora presented her research titled "On the Earnings and Employment of Female Hispanic Entrepreneurs in the 2000s," which was co-authored by Dr. Alberto Dávila, UTPA professor of economics and finance, who is also Mora's husband and frequent research collaborator. Mora told the audience that Hispanic entrepreneurship nationwide has increased dramatically between 2000 and 2009 and much of that growth was driven by immigrants, especially women.
"In a relative sense, despite a decline during the recession, the skill-adjusted earnings of female entrepreneurs improved between 2000 and 2009," she said.
Despite the small size of businesses owned by Hispanics, which are primarily micro-enterprises, Mora said Hispanics are creating employment opportunities for themselves.
"This suggests that recent labor market figures would have looked much worse without their entrepreneurial tendencies," she said.
Mora, who has also been studying recent entrepreneurial trends along the Texas-Mexico region in particular, said it was exciting to have someone from a Hispanic Serving Institution participate in such events, especially from UTPA.
"A lot of national policies and programs are being shaped that affect Hispanic and border communities without hearing from people who actually live in them," she said. "I hope that UTPA becomes the university that automatically comes to the minds of policymakers and others who are interested in learning more about the U.S. border economy and other socioeconomic issues in the border region."
Mora, who is an active member and past president of the American Society of Hispanic Economists, came to UTPA in 2002. She earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in economics from the University of New Mexico and her Ph.D. in economics from Texas A&M University.
Dr. Teofilo Ozuna, dean of UTPA's College of Business Administration, said he and her colleagues were proud of Mora's tremendous success and accomplishments and confident she will do a great job in her appointment to the DUAC.
"This high-level appointment is a testament to her hard work and tremendous research skills," he said. "She has brought remarkable name recognition to her department, our college, and UTPA."