More census love

20 Mar

I love data. There, I said it. I am a stat geek, a study wonk. I love percentages and numbers. I have a love affair with a lot of data sources, but I have a particular affinity for the US census.

If you look hard enough, you can find out just about anything about your country, state, county, city, zip code, heck–even the few square blocks in which you live. By anything, I mean anything.  Like how many people bike to work, have working kitchens–you name it. You can even find information that is actually useful, like poverty rates, levels of educational attainment and basic demographic break down.

The US Census home page can be an intimidating place. Where in earth do you start? Hmmmm, well, let’s talk about that.

For now, the easiest way to find data is to check out Quickfacts. Just indicate what geographic area you need and viola! You have a broad overview of some key, global data at your finger tips. Best of all, Quickfacts includes a comparison of vertical data. This means that if you choose a city or county as your target area, you not only get that information, but the same set of data for the state. So you can easily compare where your local area stands in terms of the state average. Chose your state, you get comparative national data.

Pretty nifty for us grant writing types. I always like to know where my community stands–do we have a poverty rate higher or lower than the state average? Where do we stand on people speaking a language other than English?

This is all grant writing gold. Data is the bones of a needs assessment or problem statement. Now, all those numbers and percentages are pretty meaningless if you don’t know how to interpret them or communicate their implications in a way that is actually interesting to the average person. But that’s another story, and one we will get to soon enough.

For now, I invite you to check out Quickfacts. Learn a little (or a lot) about your community.

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