McCormick SRI: Going Deep with Census Demographic and Economic Data

The U.S. Bureau of the Census is the nation’s premier data-gathering and dissemination agency. The bureau, along with sister data agencies such as the Bureau of Justice Statistics and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, collects and analyzes data on a wide range of demographic and economic topics. These include everything from the decennial census to tabulations and surveys covering employment, wages, government finances, housing, foreign trade, criminal justice and much more. But few reporters know about this cornucopia of information and how it can be used for stories. Thanks to a grant from the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University brought together 17 journalism data power users and Census subject area specialists to do 40-minute how-to presentations on these topics.

The full presentations are offered in video format, organized by topic. You also can download accompanying slides from the presenters. If you want to jump to a particular point in a video presentation, refer to the time stamps at the bottom of the slides.

While the multimedia works in all browsers, we recommend Chrome, Firefox or Safari for faster loading.

The session videos require QuickTime, which is a free download from Apple.

Ron Nixon

2010 Census

Ron Nixon, correspondent, The New York Times

This overview of the 2010 census includes information on changes from previous censuses and what data is available now and how it can be used. The discussion also covers population counts, race and ethnicity definitions, redistricting data, public use microdata and other data sets.

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D'Vera Cohn

Great Stories You Can Do with the American Community Survey

D’Vera Cohn, senior writer, Pew Research Center

This how-to guide for using annually updated local, state and national numbers from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey covers topics and types of information provided by the ACS as well as how to use the data in stories across a range of beats.

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Joe Germuska

Census Geography: Maps and Apps

Joe Germuska, news application developer, Chicago Tribune

An introduction to census geography and strategies for news applications, including online map-making. Topics covered include major census geography types, three approaches to online maps, an introduction to census.ire.org and suggestions on where to go for more information.

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Ron Campbell

Using American FactFinder and Data Ferrett

Ron Campbell, staff writer, The Orange County Register

Getting Census demographic and economic data in a useful format can be a challenge for reporters and other users. This presentation explains how to quickly use the redesigned version of American Fact Finder to download exactly what is needed.

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Rob Gebeloff

Supplement Your Reporting With CPS and SIPP

Robert Gebeloff, database projects editor, The New York Times

For the answers to some questions, the Current Population Survey and the Survey of Income and Program Participation provides better answers than the more often used American Community Survey. The CPS provides annual time series that connect the dots pre- and post-ACS, and it allows for customizable tables via micro data. The SIPP takes it a step further, allowing users to conduct longitudinal analyses.

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Steve Doig

Surveys of Jails, Prisons and Employees

Steve Doig, Knight Chair, Arizona State University

This presentation covers the wide range of corrections and crime data collected and studied by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the data collection and analysis unit of the U.S. Department of Justice. It tells how to get the data and special reports prepared by BJS and offers ideas for stories that can be pursued using this data.

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Wes Basel

Small-Area Health Insurance, Income
and Poverty

Wes Basel, production team leader, Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates program, U.S. Census Bureau

This session provides concrete guidance on how to choose the best economic and demographic data for comparing regions of the country. Learn how to examine trends with past recessions and make comparisons between counties, age groups and demographic groups.

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Katie Genadek

Using iPums.org

Katie Genadek, research assistant,
Minnesota Population Center, University of Minnesota

The IPUMS is one of the world’s leading demographic data resources, and it is freely available over the Internet. U.S. data samples, which draw on every surviving census from 1850 to 2000, and the 2000-2009 American Community Survey collectively constitute the richest source of quantitative information on changes in the American population, addressing social and economic change over time.

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Sarah Cohen

Economic Census and County Business Patterns

Sarah Cohen, Knight Chair, Duke University

County Business Patterns, a semi-annual survey of business activity in counties and by zip code, has helped reporters identify states hurt worst by the housing bust as well as local vulnerabilities to outsourcing, the economic effects of disasters and similar local patterns that depend on where people work, not where they live.

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Tom Rex

Employment and Unemployment Estimates

Tom Rex, associate director, Center for Competitiveness
and Prosperity Research, Arizona State University

Unemployment rates are a critical measure of the economic health of the nation , states and metro areas. This expert presentation covers how detailed jobs and wages data is gathered from employers and how that data can be accessed and used by reporters.

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Dennis Cauchon

Hometown Economic Data from Bureau of Economic Analysis

Dennis Cauchon, reporter, USA Today

A little-known, easy-to-use data set provides detailed information on state, county and metro areas, income, taxes, government spending and industries. The data provides an economic history of regions that can help explain current realities and trends.

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Paul Overberg

Digging Deeper on Employment: Local Employment Dynamics Data

Paul Overberg, database editor, USA TODAY

Most local business reporting on employment focuses on net numbers because that’s all that has been available until recently. Now reporters can analyze the tremendous churn of workers in and out of new and old firms in various sectors of their local economies using LED data. Learn how to use browser-based tools to analyze and visualize this data for a state or metro audience and how to extract a local slice for more analysis.

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Art Cresce

Housing and Construction Data from the
Census Bureau

Arthur Cresce, assistant division chief for housing characteristics, U.S. Census Bureau

With the housing market in so much turmoil, the Census Bureau’s housing and construction data can help journalists navigate through the sometimes bewildering arena of census statistics to hone in on the key sources of data on housing and construction. Particular attention is paid to the strengths and limitations of each data source.

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Christopher Pece

Survey of Governments

Christopher Pece, senior technical adviser, U.S. Census Bureau

One of the oldest programs of the Census Bureau, the Survey of Governments provides the only source for comprehensive, uniform statistics on the economic activity of state and local governments. The data, which includes number of employees, revenues, expenditures, indebtedness, taxes, pensions and cash and securities, can be used to tell the story of the fiscal conditions of state and local governments.

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Tim Winters

Current Surveys of Wholesale and Retail Trade

Timothy Winters, chief, Retail Indicators Branch,
U.S. Census Bureau

Learn the importance of wholesale and retail trade to the economy, how the data are collected and disseminated, what data products are available from the U.S. Census Bureau and how that data can be translated into stories. Other topics include the differences between annual and monthly/quarterly estimates and how to access the estimates using the best tools available.

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Ronald Farrar

Census: Current Surveys of Manufacturing
and Services

Ron Farrar, chief, Health Care and Consumer Services Branch, U.S. Census Bureau

The Census Bureau’s current surveys of Manufacturing and Services provide a timely picture of what is happening in the American economy. Used by decision makers in government and private industry, the data are key indicators of economic health and contribute significantly to estimates of Gross Domestic Product

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Joe Kafchinski

Foreign Trade Data from the U.S. Census Bureau

Joe Kafchinski, statistician, U.S. Census Bureau
Foreign Trade Division

The Census Bureau has a host of data for those looking for import or export statistics, export regulations, commodity classifications or other data. This information can be used to approve trading trends and market outlook, conduct market share analyses, improve market research and development, measure the impact of foreign competition and use trade data as a statistical resource for determining trade policies.

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