By: Charles Bowen
The paint was still wet on the World Wide Web’s “Grand Opening” sign more than a decade ago when the U.S. Census Bureau already was moving in vanloads of data for its new site. But of course, the bureau were ready for the Web.
The census folks have been computer-enthusiastic longer than most of your readers. Almost 10 years before the Web came into being, census data was being put online for those hardy modem pioneers who used the old CompuServe system. Of course, that original text-only, menu-driven CENDATA is positively Stone Age compared with today’s Web site. Still, as we’ve observed in this column earlier, its online presence in the early 1980s establishes the Census Bureau as the most Net-savvy agency in the federal government.
And now it continues its wired wiliness. A site called Uncle Sam’s Reference Shelf: County and City Data Book contains official population and housing data from the 2000 Census, along with business and other data for all counties in the nation, cities with 25,000 or more inhabitants, and places of 2,500 or more inhabitants. This extensive data includes:
* The states’ percent of population change.
* Information on counties with populations of at least 1 million people.
* Top 40 cities by population.
* State, county, and city area and population.
* Population by age, race, and sex.
* Assorted relevant maps.
* PDF files including tables and graphs that make the information an easily accessible source of the country’s latest geographic data.
To check it out, visit http://www.census.gov/statab/www/ccdb.html, where an introductory page shows the cover of the printed edition and provides a link to the online and PDF format versions. Here you can see pages directly from the printed edition, including tables on topics such as crime, building permits, labor force, personal income, manufacturing, farm population and earnings, wholesale and retail trade, food services, and banking. Included are appendixes with source notes and explanations, geographic information, maps, and guide guides.
If you prefer, you can scroll the main page to see major online material that you can view without the Adobe Acrobat Reader, such as:
* Top 25 Counties in the United States, which provides links on the largest and smallest in population, people per square mile, growth, Hispanic and Latino populations, age groups, gender, African-American population, households, and related subjects.
* Highest Ranking County in Each State, which names top counties in each state in terms of population, birth rate, owner-occupied homes, employment, personal income, and federal funding.
* Ranking of Largest City, which focuses on cities of 100,000 or more population in terms of land area, population, ethnicity, retail sales, employment, and home ownership.
For other considerations for using the Census Bureau site in your writing and editing, scroll the main page for links to other statistical reference sites, including:
1. USA Counties, which provides more than 5,000 data items for all the counties in the U.S. This monster resource covers age, ancestry, education, income, health, poverty, service industries, veterans, births/deaths, marriages/divorces, government, elections, and so much more.
2. State and Metropolitan Area Data Book, with comprehensive data for regions of the entire nation. A highlight here are the state and metro area rankings on everything from population and age to persons killed in alcohol-related car crashes and people living under the poverty level.
3. MapStats, featuring profiles with data from assorted federal sources for your state and country. Click on a state on the interactive map and then browse the resulting table. Each item is hyperlinked to files of background information.
You can read the last 20 “Reporter’s Digital How-to” columns on our index page. Subscribers may access previous columns from our archives.