Seal of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
Seal of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office - 


Scott Jagow: Today, the Commerce Department comes out with a report on one of the most elusive economic engines we have. More from Danielle Karson.

Danielle Karson: Innovation is a critical driver of economic growth -- and yet, the government hasn't updated how to quantify its economic impact since the Great Depression.

Carl Schramm: Today, we know the economy is based on human capital and innovation. And we can't measure either one of those very well with existing statistics.

Carl Schramm, CEO of the Kauffman Foundation, helped craft recommendations for measuring innovation. For example:

Schramm: There are a number of patents filed every year -- we have to know more about those patents. We have to know more about the data that comes out of the IRS about firm formation.

Business leaders don't really know who leads the pack: the U.S., China, or Japan. Still, they say innovation has boosted America's GNP 70 percent in the last two decades.

In Washington, I'm Danielle Karson for Marketplace.