Finding online demographic and socioeconomic data for states, counties, cities, and other smaller units of government in midwestern states

IRP information specialists are frequently asked if they can identify sources of information on poverty and other demographic characteristics for small areas or small groups—for example, "How many elderly poor are there in Dane County, Wisconsin?" or "What is the poorest city in the state?" There is very often no easy way to find such information; in some cases, it simply does not exist in any easily retrievable form. In this FAQ, we have put together some basic information about sources of local data that are available on-line for the midwestern region, in a form reasonably accessible by nonspecialists. We have tried to include sites containing county and local statistics for a range of topics related to poverty: basic demographic information, employment and income, health and mortality, social assistance programs, school districts and schools. The list is by no means complete, but we hope it will be helpful, and we will be grateful for information about other sources to add to the list.

The Census Bureau

The Census Bureau offers a number of useful tools for finding local information.

The number and percentage of people in poverty for each U.S. county in 1999 are posted under the main Census Poverty statistics site.

The American Factfinder provides basic population, housing, economic, and geographic information in the form of tables and maps, based on the 2000 Census, for the United States, states, counties, cities, towns, and American Indian reservations. State and County Quickfacts offers tables or maps of such information for states and counties, and now includes data for cities and towns with more than 25,000 people.

The American Community Survey, conducted every year, provides socioeconomic data for states, counties, and other jurisdictions. Data from the 2005 ACS are available for geographic areas with a population of 65,000 or more. By the year 2008, ACS will have data from geographic areas with a population of 20,000 or more. The 2005 ACS data is available through the American Factfinder.

The Small Area Estimates provide a limited range of estimates for selected statistics on poverty and income for states, counties, and school districts.

The County and City Data Book contains data from the 2000 Census and from earlier estimates (for example, poverty statistics are for 1997, from the Small Area Estimates). The State and Metropolitan Area Data Book (last edition 1997-98) contains basic demographic and economic data. These are both available in full on-line as Adobe Acrobat .pdf files. Compare data from past versions of the County and City Data Book on the web page of the University of Virginia Library's Geospatial and Statistical Data Center.

The Census Bureau also has a USA Counties tool, which offers over 6,000 data items from a number of federal agencies, at the state and county level.

State Data Centers, joint projects of the Census Bureau and particular states, make state data available to the public through a network of state agencies, universities, libraries, and regional and local governments. Links to existing centers with a Web presence appear below, under each state.

Other regional or national sources

The Annie E. Casey Foundation Kids Count CLIKS database provides county, city, and community level indicators of children's well-being. The site allows users to create specific tables and graphs in many combinations and comparative formats; data were assembled through the national Kids Count Network, and the availability of particular indicators varies among states. There is a range of information for all midwestern states.

The Bruton Center at the University of Texas and the Brookings Institution are collaborating to produce a web site, Windows on Urban Poverty, that allows users to select a city or metropolitan area, view the location of high-poverty tracts as determined through census data from 1970 to 2000, and observe growth and decline in such areas.

The Office of Social and Economic Trend Analysis, at Iowa State University, which "collects, analyzes, interprets, and disseminates information on social, economic, and demographic trends," is a well-organized site containing county-level data for states in the midwestern region; information is most complete for Iowa but a selection of Census information for other midwestern states is also easily accessible through this site.

Fedstats is a good place to start for statistics from a large number of federal agencies. For statistics by geography visit the Fedstats International, State, County, & Local Area Statistics web page.

The U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, provides employment data by state, county, and MSA.

The U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, provides crime and justice statistics for selected large counties and metropolitan areas, as well as for states.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Hud User Web site provides data and links for individual metropolitan areas, central cities, and suburbs in its "State of the Cities Data Systems."

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service web site has state fact sheets and data on food and nutrition assistance and rural economies.

The data page of Social Security Online's Office of Policy offers demographic and socioeconomic data, as well as data on Social Security Programs. For example, data on SSI Recipients by State and County are available for every year since 1998.

DataPlace, sponsored by the Fannie Mae Foundation, offers housing and demographic data at community, regional, and national levels.

State government executive and legislative agencies are listed and linked under Yahoo [state name, and click on "Government"].

Most states publish a Statistical Abstract every year or few years, but not all are available through the Web. The Census Bureau publishes a guide to the most recent editions, by state.

SchoolMatters is a Web site of the National Education Data Partnership. Among other materials it provides basic school achievement data for each state.

Data seekers may also find useful the online data resource maintained by the Cornell Institute for Social and Economic Research (CISER), Internet Data Sources for Social Scientists.

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Other Sources of Information, by State

Illinois

The Illinois Statistical Abstract is a comprehensive compilation of economic, demographic, and social program data relating to Illinois and to political subdivisions (mostly counties but also MSAs) within the state. The most recent edition is 2004; earlier editions and a set of time-series tables are also on the web site.

Health statistics are published by the Illinois Department of Public Health. The Department's IPLAN data system provides access to essential indicators of public health, with data from many different sources, for counties and, in some cases, for communities. For selected indicators, the system identifies associated populations by age, race, ethnicity, and gender.

The Data & Mapping Services Division of the Center for Governmental Studies at Northern Illinois University is creating the IllinoisAtlas, free downloadable maps of demographic and economic information for Illinois counties.

The Research Information Network for Women & Girls in Illinois (University of Illinois at Chicago) contains links to national and state-specific databases on employment, income, poverty, and welfare and to print resources.

The Illinois State Board of Education publishes annual state aid entitlement statistics for all Illinois public schools. (These are used to calculate additional funding to offset the impact of poverty in school districts.)

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity has Illinois Census Data, Census Profiles, and Economic Indicators.

The Delta Resource Project offers demographic, economic, and health data for the state of Illinois and a number of southern Illinois counties, as well as for other states and rural counties in the Mississippi Delta region.

Indiana

For sources of Indiana demographic, economic, health, and social statistics, consult the University of Indiana's Kelley School of Business Web page, StatsIndiana, and the UI Library summary page.

The Indiana Family and Social Services Administration publishes TANF and other social assistance data for counties.

The Indiana Department of Workforce Development publishes demographic and employment statistics for counties, MSAs, and regions.

The Indiana State Department of Health publishes state vital statistics and health data by county.

The Indiana Department of Education publishes demographic, economic, and academic test score statistics for individual schools and school districts.

The Indiana Prevention Resource Center at Indiana University has county-level census, economic, youth, health, and crime data.

Iowa

The Office of Social and Economic Trend Analysis, at Iowa State University (see above, under general sources) appears to be the main source of Iowa county data. Iowa state government agencies have posted numerous statistical reports on the Web; these are mostly .pdf facsimiles of printed reports.

The Iowa Factbook (2003 is the most recent edition) is a .pdf document that contains information at the state level only.

Reports are available for all Iowa counties of the Iowa Youth Survey, conducted in 1999, 2002, and 2005, a joint effort of six state agencies.

The web site of Prevent Child Abuse Iowa publishes information on trends in child abuse has state and county demographic and child abuse data.

The State Data Center of Iowa offers population, housing, business, and government statistics from the Census, state agencies, and other sources.

Michigan

The state has made available census and statistical data for Michigan counties.

The Michigan Department of Community Health posts county and local population and health statistics.

The Michigan Department of Human Services posts county statistics on major social assistance programs and related family data.

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation lets users view and compare county-level economic data with its County Economic Profiler.

Minnesota

The Minnesota State Demographic Center (one of the Minnesota links in the Census State Data Center network) is located in the state Department of Administration and provides a subject index with extensive links to state and local demographic and socioeconomic data and to publications of the State Demographic Center and a range of other agencies, including Census 2000 data for Minnesota. Many of these documents are Adobe Acrobat (.pdf) files.

The Department of Health publishes demographic, mortality, and health profiles, including some social and medical assistance program participation statistics, by county.

The Department of Human Services publishes social assistance reports and forecasts, by county.

The Department of Education provides data and reports on school and student characteristics and school finance.

The Minnesota Children's Defense Fund maintains a web page with the most recent county-level data and reports for Kids Count Minnesota.

Ohio

The Office of Strategic Research, in the Ohio Department of Development, provides data on economic, industrial, and demographic trends. This site contains graphs and tables of county, MSA, and state data (much of it from Census 2000) for topics such as employment, housing, migration, and poverty.

The Ohio Association of Community Action Agencies has published The State of Poverty in Ohio 2005: Jobs Vanish and Incomes Plunge. This annual report contains data on current trends in Ohio income inequality and wages, on the impact of the 2001-2004 Ohio recession, and the poverty count in the 2000 census.

The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services publishes reports of demographic, labor force, and industry trends for regions, counties, and MSAs in Ohio, mostly in Adobe Acrobat .pdf format.

Ohio State University Extension Data Center posts tables and graphs of demographic, social, educational, and economic profiles for each county.

The Statistics section of the Ohio Department of Health posts county statistics on communicable and chronic diseases, immunizations, vital statistics, access to care, and more in its "Health Information Warehouse."

The Ohio Department of Education publishes extensive though not readily interpretable data regarding school achievement testing, student demographics, and federal subsidies for counties and school districts.

Wisconsin

The Demographic Services Center, in the Wisconsin Department of Administration, posts data on Wisconsin counties, municipalities, and other governmental units such as school districts. Much of the data is extracted and digested from the 2000 U.S. Census.

WISSTAT, maintained by the University of Wisconsin Extension, contains thousands of demographic and economic variables for the state of Wisconsin, its counties and smaller communitites. The sources of the data include the U.S. Census Bureau and various state and federal agencies.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) posts health statistics by county and region and population statistics by county and age. The Wisconsin Food Security Project, a joint project of DHFS and the University of Wisconsin Extension, posts statistics and maps regarding food security and food assistance programs, by county.

The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development posts statistics by county for Wisconsin Works, Medical Assistance, Food Stamps, child care, and other social safety net programs.

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) posts a School Performance Report for each school district and school in the state. The report is the state's most comprehensive resource for data on school performance and student achievement. DPI also publishes data on the percentages of children eligible for free or reduced school lunches for school districts and counties.

The Wisconsin Council on Children and Families web site has Wisconsin Kids Count data and reports.

Covering Kids and Families Wisconsin offers an information center with Wisconsin county data maps on family income levels, unemployment, and enrollment in the free and reduced price lunch program.

The Center on Wisconsin Strategy at the University of Wisconsin–Madison publishes a biennial report, The State of Working Wisconsin (the most recent report was published in 2008) that contains county-level economic and demographic statistics from a variety of sources.

 

The answer to the question we posed at the beginning, "How many elderly poor are there in Dane County, Wisconsin?"

Dane County is included in the American Community Survey; that survey gives us an estimate of 6.1 percent of individuals 65 and over who had incomes below the official poverty level in Dane County in 2005.