Starting in the early 1990s, the U.S. Census Bureau asked Congress for extra funding each year so it could better analyze the services sector, which was quickly replacing industrial activity as the biggest driver of the U.S. economy. In 2003 the bureau requested more funding to survey financial, real estate, and other companies on a quarterly basis, rather than wait to take their pulse with its Economic Census, which gathers data on business every five years.
Every year, Census asked for the extra funds; every year, Congress denied them the money, leaving the Census Bureau largely blind to the health of a sector that made up more than half the total economy.
Finally, in early 2009, after the real estate-fueled financial crisis, Congress gave Census what it had been asking for—an extra $8.1 million. In the view of many, it was too late. Read more of this post