Using Differential Privacy to Advance Rural Economic Development

Brief

Using Differential Privacy to Advance Rural Economic Development

Applying Data Privacy and Confidentiality Methods to Industry Employment Data

Abstract

Most economic data for rural communities are not publicly available because of privacy concerns surrounding the small counts of businesses and employees within certain industries. This means policymakers and researchers may lack the fundamental information needed to promote evidence-based economic development planning and investments for small rural economies. To address this problem, we apply modern data privacy methods to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages data to generate differentially private synthetic data by census tract. In the five nonmetropolitan counties we tested, these differentially private synthetic datasets reflect the true data well while maintaining privacy.  

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