What's New - June 2003
Our site of the month for June is the Census Bureau's State and County Quick Facts. Sometimes, it seems, simpler is better, and this site certainly makes a strong case for that proposition. The Census Bureau's website can frequently be overwhelming for the sheer scope of data that's available. State and County Quick Facts' clickable US map is a great place to start, for two reasons. First, it neatly summarizes, on a single, quick loading page, a diverse array of 50 of the most frequently accessed Census data series for states and counties, everything from population to housing, businesses to social characteristics to income. You can see all the data for a single county compared to state averages, or for a single state compared to US averages. Second, you click through from the Quick Facts page to the underlying source data in its native home elsewhere on the Census website. The site also makes it easy to find definitions and explanations for particular data series. As a bonus, you can even download the data shown to an Excel file.
If you've grown tired of navigating the seemingly miles long A-Z list on the Census website, or dread the prospect of picking your way through American Fact Finder's layers of choices, try the quick and refreshing alternative of starting your visit to Census data at:
This month we're down on the farm with our new links--we have a set of links dealing with farmers markets, farms, farm subsidies, soil loss, and farmland conservation. The farmers market season officially starts on June 6--so get in touch with your roots, and your food.
US Department of Agriculture
American Farmland Trust
Farming on the Edge
Environmental Working Group
Farm Land and Soil Loss
Farmland Conservation Needs
For the past two years we've been using the published aggregate data from Census 2000, which was fine provided the questions you were interested in asking aligned with the Census Bureau's chosen tabulations. For those of you who want to dig deeper and construct custom tabulations, the wait is now over. Starting last month, the Census Bureau bean releasing the Public Use Microsample (PUMS) data for the 50 states. The data consists of two new samples for 2000: the 1% PUMS from Census 2000 and from the Census 2000 Supplementary Survey (C2SS).
There are two ways to start sifting through the PUMS data.
You can go the the Census Bureau website and download (via FTP) the
files for your state. The place to start is:
Caution: Working with PUMS data is not for the faint of heart. A prerequisite is familiarity with working with large data sets and generating your own tabulations; a good statistical software package like SAS or SPSS is highly recommended.
Interested in tracking the flow of funds to particular units of
government? A new Census website "Federal, State, and Local Governments Consolidated Federal Funds
Report" is just what you're looking for. This website reports federal expenditures by program at national, state and county levels. The interactive system
lets you search by geographic location,
Federal agency and fund type. Data are available for the fiscal years 1993 to
An important and widely watched indicator of tech-based economic
development is the volume of new venture capital investment. You
can get good data by visiting the PWC Moneytree or Venture Economics
websites, as we highlighted in our March 2003 site of the month.
Our friends at the State Science and Technology Institute, have done
some analysis of the most recent data to rank venture capital
investment by state in the first quarter of this year. The
results are pretty grim--overall venture capital investment has
dropped to levels last seen six years ago. For the details,