commerce department

As it turns out, January was for shopping.

Retail spending soared 5.3% last month compared to December, much more than anticipated, as U.S. families began receiving new federal coronavirus relief checks.

People bought more across the board last month, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday: furniture, electronics, clothes, sports equipment, restaurant food, groceries.

President Biden's nominee for overseeing the U.S. Census Bureau, Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo, said she intends to depoliticize the 2020 census and listen to experts at a federal agency that had been caught in a partisan firestorm during the Trump administration.

"I believe that we need to take the politics out of the census, and we need to rely on the experts," Raimondo, a Democrat, told lawmakers Tuesday. "The experts and statisticians in the Census Bureau are top-notch, so I, once confirmed, intend to rely on them."

Updated at 12:30 p.m. ET

Restaurants and bars are reeling from persistent spikes of coronavirus cases and related restrictions in their communities, driving retail spending in December down for the third month in a row.

Updated Friday at 7:40 p.m. ET

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo, the first woman to lead the country's smallest state, has been named President-elect Joe Biden's intended nominee for commerce secretary.

Updated at 5:00 p.m. ET

Russian hackers working for the Kremlin are believed to be behind breaches of U.S. government computer systems at the departments of Treasury, Commerce and Homeland Security that may have lasted months before they were discovered, according to U.S. officials and media reports.

The U.S. economy grew at a record pace during the last three months, according to the last major economic report before the election.

Not many people are popping champagne corks, though, because GDP also shrank at a record pace during the previous three months. Despite the strong rebound in July, August and September, the economy has not yet recovered from the damage done by the coronavirus pandemic.

Updated Monday at 7:41 p.m. ET

Weeks before the Trump administration announced it was cutting the 2020 census schedule short, career officials at the Census Bureau attempted to send signal flares about how that last-minute decision would lead to "fatal" data problems with the national head count and the perception of "politically-manipulated results."

Updated at 9:43 a.m. ET Wednesday

A bipartisan group of senators is offering a potential solution to a scheduling conundrum plaguing the 2020 census, with just over two weeks before counting is set to end.

Updated at 11:25 p.m. ET

A special three-judge court in New York on Thursday blocked the Trump administration's efforts to make an unprecedented change to who is included in the census numbers that determine each state's share of seats in Congress.

The president, the court concluded, cannot leave unauthorized immigrants out of that specific count.

Updated at 9:32 a.m. ET

The coronavirus pandemic triggered the sharpest economic contraction in modern American history, the Commerce Department reported Thursday.

Updated at 6:34 p.m. ET

President Trump released a memorandum Tuesday that calls for an unprecedented change to the constitutionally mandated count of every person living in the country — the exclusion of unauthorized immigrants from the numbers used to divide up seats in Congress among the states.

Updated at 5:12 p.m. ET

The coronavirus pandemic is likely to trigger the sharpest recession in the United States since the Great Depression. An early signal of that came Wednesday, when the Commerce Department said the economy shrank at a 4.8% annual rate in the first three months of the year — the first quarterly contraction since 2014 and the largest since the Great Recession.