Thursday, December 31, 2009

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

PolicyMap

From Hill Library:

If you're looking for a powerful online mapping tool, use PolicyMap to "capture data in visually powerful ways through custom maps, tables, and reports."

Users can create and save data maps for their area(s) of interest, including neighborhoods, zip codes, cities, states, and more. Users can also create tables to compare data across locations or to study data over time, or they can create reports about specific geographies or locations.

PolicyMap is available at various subscription levels. There's a free level, as well as standard, premium, and even student subscription levels. The free level includes datasets such as Census, Postal Service, FBI's city crime rates, County Business Patterns, HUD, and more.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Box Office Mojo

The movie Titanic, released December 19, 1997, had a production budget of $200 million, and had a domestic total gross of $600,788,188. But what if I wanted to know its gross for every single one of its 287 days in release?

The foreign gross for the film was $1,242,091,767. But when was it released in Bulgaria, and how did it do?

For all things involved with movie box office, I go to Box Office Mojo. "There are currently over 9,000 movies listed and more are on the way."

BTW, Titanic was released in Venezuela on February 18, 1998 and raked in $4,651,253.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Six EIU free/gratis reports

Marketing, sales and customer service don’t share information, according to Economist Intelligence Unit surveys. A series of surveys across six industries— financial services, technology, telecommunications, utilities, consumer goods and retail —reveals that most companies still fall short when trying to deliver value consistently in all the functions that interact with customers.

Friday, December 25, 2009

CENSUS NEWS BRIEF: Holiday Edition

'TWAS THE EVE OF THE CENSUS

'Twas the week before New Year's and all through the land:
Uncle Sam poised to count us by mail and by hand.
Local offices open (500 in all).
Praying 300 million will answer the call.

The children all learning the census in school,
In hopes that their parents will think it is cool.
With recruitment in full swing, Bob Groves at the helm,
Soon short forms (10 questions!) would blanket the realm.
And I with my News Briefs and hard-to-count map ...
(For census apostles, no long winter's nap.)

When out in the street there arose such a clatter.
I sprang from my desk to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash.
Tore open the shutters and drew back the sash.

The sun on the crest of the new fallen snow
Gave the lustre of hope to my neighbors below.
When what to our wondering eyes should appear
But a huge tractor trailer; '2010' on the rear.

The logo was striking; the slogan was grand:
The success of the census is all in our hands!
It's easy, important; you've nothing to fear!
And that's when it hit me: The road tour was here.

A mustachioed driver. Good God, could it be?
I knew in a moment: Dr. Groves, it was he!
"We're here to remind you, the census is nigh.
We strive to miss no one," he said with a sigh.

"Omissions and duplicates trouble my dreams.
For each passing decade gets harder, it seems."
He pondered past troubles: analyzed, overcame.
He prayed to his forerunners, then called out each name.

Now Chapman, now Keane, now Barabba (served twice).
On Bryant, on Riche (two women - how nice!).
Now Prewitt, Kincannon, then Murdock (the last) --
The director was haunted by censuses past.

But times are a'changin. There's no need to brood.
With ads sure to brighten the national mood,
With partners and Facebook, we're raising the bar.
It's time to be counted! ¡Hagase contar!

The crowd moved in closer; they wanted to see
Those mysterious forms they could mail back for free.
The director cajoled them: It's for your own sake.
Ten questions, ten minutes is all it will take.

Relationship. Birth date. Your gender. Your race.
Your telephone number to call just in case.
The people were wary. They weren't sure why
The envelope blared at them: You must comply!

Don't fret! There's a law; section 9 is the key.
Your personal answers are all safe with me.
The director then thanked us, good patriots all.
The road tour was off to more towns big and small.

But I heard him exclaim as he drove out of view,
"If you mail back your form, we will not visit you!"

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Statistical Abstract of the United States

My favorite Christmas present from the federal government:

The Statistical Abstract of the United States, published since 1878, is the authoritative and comprehensive summary of statistics on the social, political, and economic organization of the United States.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

America’s Most Literate Cities

Central Connecticut State University released a ranking of America’s Most Literate Cities 2009.

Drawing from a variety of available data resources, the America’s Most Literate Cities study ranks the largest cities (population 250,000 and above) in the United States. This study focuses on six key indicators of literacy: newspaper circulation, number of bookstores, library resources, periodical publishing resources, educational attainment, and Internet resources.


One can argue the criteria, but it is interesting.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

CENSUS NEWS BRIEF #82

CENSUS BUREAU READIES LAUNCH OF AD CAMPAIGN; RECRUITMENT ON SCHEDULE

After printing hundreds of millions of census questionnaires, "successfully opening" roughly 500 Local Census Offices, and readying three massive processing centers (Phoenix, Baltimore, and Jeffersonville, IN) to scan tens of thousands of forms an hour, the Census Bureau is preparing to launch a $300 million advertising campaign in mid-January and enumerate residents of remote Alaskan villages at the end of that month. Ads will run during the Golden Globe Awards on January 17, as well as during the Super Bowl, for what Census Director Robert Groves called the "shortest census in our lifetimes."

At his second operational press briefing on December 14, Dr. Groves highlighted 135,000 official census partners, organizations like AARP, Black Entertainment Television and Telemundo, the National Urban League, Target Corporation, and thousands of local groups that "volunteer to get the message out about the census" to their constituencies. The Census Bureau has employed about 3,000 partnership specialists and assistants for the 2010 census, five times the number it hired for the 2000 count.

Thirty-seven states have formed Complete Count Committees, bringing together representatives of a community's population and sectors to promote the census, Dr. Groves reported. The bureau, which has catalogued 9,100 such committees -- some formed by local governments, some by communities of interest -- nationwide, is now trying to "energize" these stakeholders, the director said. He commended Complete Count Committees for their creative activities, including census booths at block parties and community centers and promotional messages on garbage trucks.

The director said that the paid media campaign will feature "tailored messages to very small areas," such as census tracts, targeting communities where mail response was especially low in 2000. Advertising also will try to convince people who hold anti-government views that the census can benefit their communities and families, he added in response to a reporter's query, saying that distrust of government is "part of the American spirit." Regional promotion will start in early January, when 13 vehicles set off on a road tour (one national; one for each of the 12 Census Bureau regions), stopping at local events to drum up interest in the 2010 count.

Operational preparations continue: In a large canvassing operation last spring, the Census Bureau checked 145 million addresses on its Master Address File, as well as those submitted by cities, towns, and states under the Local Update of Census Addresses (LUCA) program. The final list contains 134 million addresses, about two percent more than the most recent independent, annual housing unit estimate. Canvassers couldn't find some addresses on their list; about 100,000 housing units can't be placed in an appropriate census block, Dr. Groves noted. The bureau will continue to update the address list through the LUCA appeals program, local government submissions of newly constructed units, and a final comparison with the Postal Service's Delivery Sequence File. Most housing units added to the master list this close to the start of the census will not receive a questionnaire by mail; census takers will visit the homes during later field operations.

The bureau completed a new program to confirm the location of facilities that house groups of people (called Group Quarters), such as college dorms, military barracks, prisons, and long term nursing homes. Field workers are building an address list, independent from the one used to conduct the census, that will set the universe for the post-census accuracy check survey (called Census Coverage Measurement). The Census Bureau ran a "large load test" on key software that will help it manage data collection and field operations. Dr. Groves said the test revealed "some glitches" for which the bureau had solutions; a follow-up test was scheduled for last week.

The director acknowledged that "not everything will work perfectly" once the census starts and that "there will be bumps" along the way. The key to a successful enumeration, he said, is to "calmly, quickly, and wisely" fix problems at they occur. The expertise and experience of Census Bureau staff managing the census give him confidence, Dr. Groves said, that the agency can meet the challenges of such a massive undertaking.

Recruitment campaign helped by recession: High unemployment in many areas has made census jobs more "valued," Dr. Groves observed at the press briefing, resulting in an applicant pool of "unprecedented" quality and skill. The Census Bureau is recruiting 3.8 million applicants to fill 1.2 to 1.4 million temporary positions in 2010, with as many as 700,000 of those workers on board during peak operations from May through early July, when enumerators visit households that didn't mail back a census form. The Census Bureau tries to "hire locally," giving priority to applicants from the neighborhoods in which they will work and bilingual applicants in areas where a language other than English is primary.

The safety of both the public and enumerators is "paramount," the director said. Candidates for census jobs must submit to an FBI background and fingerprint check; any felony conviction disqualifies an applicant from employment, and applicants must demonstrate they are not a danger to others if their background check turns up a lesser crime. To help ensure their safety while going door-to-door, census takers in higher-crime neighborhoods will work in pairs or have escorts. The agency is "acting aggressively to make sure enumerators and the American public are safe," Dr. Groves asserted.

Foreclosures, legal deadlines pose challenges: Most of the population will receive their census forms in the mail in mid-March 2010. The Census Bureau is still evaluating factors that could affect mail response, Dr. Groves said, emphasizing that the national mail-back rate is a "very fragile number" that could change due to unforeseen, widely-reported events. The foreclosure crisis will likely contribute to lower initial response rates because the numbers are calculated based on all housing units on the address list, whether occupied or vacant. Dr. Groves predicted that new initiatives for 2010, such as bilingual (English-Spanish) forms and targeted replacement questionnaires in low response areas, would help boost cooperation during the "mail-out/mail-back" phase of the census.

Census workers will hand-deliver questionnaires to residents of rural and remote areas, Indian reservations, and other areas that lack city-style addresses or are undergoing significant housing upheaval, such as communities still recovering from Hurricane Katrina. People should return their forms by April 1, Census Day. (Census takers will collect information from residents when they deliver the questionnaires in some very remote areas, including Indian reservations, in an operation called Update/Enumerate.)

Door-to-door visits to unresponsive homes will take place from May through early July. High vacancy rates add to the scope and cost of the Nonresponse Follow-Up operation, the director warned, as field workers try to confirm that no one lives in a unit. Those displaced by foreclosures "went somewhere" and could be doubled-up with relatives or friends, he added. The Census Bureau is under a "very hard [legal] deadline," Dr. Groves emphasized, to report state population totals to the President by December 31, 2010, for the purpose of reapportioning the 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Correction: Based on an inadvertent misstatement at the last census advisory committee meeting, the November 8, 2009 Census News Brief #81 incorrectly stated that 15,000 local governments would participate in the Local Update of Census Addresses (LUCA) appeals process, which allows them to challenge the final address lists resulting from last spring's nationwide canvassing operation. There were only 7,600 governments eligible to take part in the final phase of LUCA. The Census Bureau reported that roughly 15,000 local governments, out of 29,000 eligible jurisdictions, said they were interested in the New Construction Program; just over 6,000 of those jurisdictions registered to take part.

PROMOTION CAMPAIGNS TO HIGHLIGHT 100-DAYS-OUT AND CHRISTMAS-CENSUS LINK

National advocacy groups and grassroots organizations are launching campaigns targeting hard-to-reach populations, hoping to reverse the persistent, disproportionate undercount of people of color, low income households, and young children in the census. Using December 22 -- which marks 100 days from Census Day (April 1) -- and the Christmas season to draw attention to the decennial count, the activities will highlight the birth of Jesus while Mary and Joseph were traveling to Bethlehem to be counted in the census and set the stage for the start of the Census Bureau's massive paid media campaign in mid-January.

The Unity Diaspora Coalition (UDC), an alliance of organizations representing the interests of Black Americans, met with Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and Census Director Robert Groves last week and announced their plans to encourage census participation in native-born and immigrant Black communities. Meeting participants included Marc Morial, National Urban League president and chair of the 2010 Census Advisory Committee; Melanie Campbell, Executive Director/CEO, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation; National Council of Negro Women chair Dorothy Height; census subcommittee chairman and Congressional Black Caucus member Rep. William Lacy Clay (D-MO); NAACP president Ben Jealous; the Reverends Jesse Jackson Sr. (Rainbow PUSH Coalition) and Al Sharpton (National Action Network); census subcommittee Chairman William Lacy Clay; Danny Bakewell, Sr., National Newspaper Publishers Association president; Benjamin Afrifa, African Federation Inc.; and Dr. Claire Nelson, Institute on Caribbean Studies president.

The UDC leaders pledged to work closely with the Census Bureau to reduce the undercount of Blacks in the census. The coalition will launch the I count. You count. We count. campaign before the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday weekend in January. While nationwide in scope, the initiative will focus on boosting census participation in eleven metropolitan areas with high concentrations of Black residents, including Los Angeles, Houston, Atlanta, New Orleans and Gary, IN. The coalition asked the Census Bureau to increase advertising buys in Black-owned publications, which the advocates said reach significant numbers of people at the neighborhood level; the current plan devotes $2.5 million to this component of the paid media campaign. The UDC's platform also includes revising census residence rules to count prisoners in their home communities, instead of at their places of incarceration; increasing contracting opportunities for Black-owned businesses; and modifying the census and American Community Survey race questions to gather more detailed information on Black population subgroups.

The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Education Fund (LCCREF) is distributing posters that tie an accurate census to important community benefits, such as grant money for schools, health centers, and public transportation. The It's Time. Make Yourself Count. campaign is encouraging faith leaders to discuss the importance of a complete count through sermons and church bulletins.

The National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund, part of the ya es hora! HAGASE CONTAR! campaign to urge census participation among Latinos, created a poster depicting the journey to Bethlehem for the census, in the hope of appealing to evangelical immigrants. (LCCREF is producing the poster in English, Korean, Vietnamese, and Creole.) The head of CONLAMIC, a group of Latino evangelical clergy, has called on undocumented residents to boycott the census unless Congress and the Administration enact comprehensive immigration reform, and some sympathizers have threatened to expand the boycott's reach to all Latinos. But in November, the two largest Hispanic evangelical networks, Esperanza USA and the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC), joined the ya es hora! HAGASE CONTAR! effort. NHCLC president Rev. Samuel Rodriguez called census participation "a moral imperative that the Faith community must address without trepidation." Rev. Luis Cortes, Jr., head of Esperanza USA, said Latinos "must be addressed as a legitimate and integrated part of this great nation."

The Asian American Justice Center, a member of the 2010 Census Advisory Committee, released four public service announcements urging Asian Americans to mail back their census forms by April 1, 2010. The PSA's feature Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez, Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus Chairman Mike Honda (D-CA), and other prominent community leaders. The PSAs are posted on the Internet.

National and regional organizations representing Iranian Americans are mobilizing their community to participate in the upcoming decennial count through the Iranian American 2010 Census Coalition, whose goal is "to reach every Iranian American household in the country," according to a November 11 press advisory. Visit the web site of the National Iranian American Council, an official 2010 census partner, for more information on the campaign.

Organizations that advocate for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people, including the Human Rights Campaign and Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), launched Our Families Count, a "voluntary public education initiative promoting LGBT visibility and participation in next year's U.S. census." The campaign's web site, Our Families Count, features Frequently Asked Questions about the census, downloadable campaign logos, and materials in English and Spanish.

CONGRESS FINALIZES CENSUS BUREAU FUNDING FOR 2010

Congress passed an omnibus appropriations bill covering most non-defense agencies for Fiscal Year 2010, more than two months after the October 1 start to the budget year. The bill (H.R. 3288), which the President signed last week, allocates $7.325 billion for the Census Bureau, close to the amount the Administration requested. More than a dozen diverse stakeholder organizations participating in The Census Project had urged House and Senate negotiators to adopt the Senate-approved funding level, saying in their November 17 letter that the House's lower budget number "could compromise key [census] operations."

The larger of the bureau's two main accounts, Periodic Censuses and Programs, received $7.066 billion, most of which will be spent to conduct the 2010 census. Appropriators said the estimated life-cycle cost of the 2010 decennial is now $14.7 billion. The "Periodics" account also covers the Economic Census and Census of Governments, both of which take place every five years; the next such data collection efforts are slated for 2012.

In their conference report (H.Rept. 111-366), appropriators emphasized the importance of the 2010 census communications campaign, urging hiring diversity in the Partnership Program, "robust paid media efforts ... with a specific focus on hard-to-reach populations," and adequate funding for Census in the Schools and adult education materials. The report expressed concern about "flaws" in the fingerprinting process for temporary census workers and directed the bureau to "improve employee training and ensure the safety of the public." Conferees asked for updates from the Census Bureau on language outreach for the 2010 census and ongoing American Community Survey (ACS) and on efforts to improve the reliability of ACS data on small population groups. They also told the bureau to adopt recommendations issued by the Commerce Department's Inspector General, aimed at improving oversight of fee awards to contractors and compilation of an accurate address list.

The spending bill allocated $259 million for the bureau's second main budget account, Salaries and Expenses, which covers ongoing demographic and economic surveys and statistical programs, including the Survey on Income and Program Participation.

SENATORS PROPOSE HIRING PRIORITY FOR THE UNEMPLOYED

Four U.S. senators have proposed a "hiring preference" for people collecting unemployment benefits, as the Census Bureau gears up for next year's decennial count by recruiting millions of temporary workers in communities across the country.

In a December 2 letter, Senators Charles Schumer (D-NY), Mark Begich (D-AK), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) urged Commerce Secretary Gary Locke "to target the long-term unemployed" for census positions, noting that the roughly 1.4 million temporary positions the Census Bureau hopes to fill "presents an interesting opportunity to help a significant number of the long-term unemployed, thereby allowing them to shore up their savings or earn a paycheck" before their unemployment benefits run out. The lawmakers suggested recruitment activities at unemployment centers, including distributing census job applications and interviewing prospective hires on site.

The Census Bureau abandoned plans for a national recruitment campaign after an unexpectedly large number of qualified candidates applied for address lister positions last spring. The senators suggested that the agency could use funds originally earmarked for a hiring publicity drive to recruit people at unemployment centers. At his December 14 press briefing in Washington, DC, Census Director Groves said the bureau was advertising for 2010 census jobs at unemployment agencies and was reaching out "disproportionately" to the unemployed to help fill temporary jobs.

The Census Bureau must recruit almost four million applicants to sustain its hiring goals during peak field operations from March through July. The larger-than-projected number of people looking for work has reduced the need to advertise census jobs in many areas. Instead, local office managers are narrowly targeting recruitment efforts, to ensure that census takers are indigenous to the neighborhoods they will canvass in the nonresponse follow-up operation. All applicants take a test and, after passing FBI background checks, are ranked according to their scores (veterans preference applies). Local Census Offices establish assignment areas and hire applicants based on their ranking and where they live; language skills also might be a factor in some immigrant communities.

NEW RESOURCES FOR CENSUS ADVOCATES

New report examines undercount of children: A new report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation concludes that the census misses children under the age of five more than any other age group. Dr. William O'Hare, author of Why Are Young Children Missed So Often in the Census?, described the disproportionate undercount of young children as "startling, but ... not a new problem" and called on advocates for the nation's children "to act as partners in delivering the message that the census is easy, important, and safe."

The 2000 census missed more than 750,000, or nearly four percent, of children under age five, according to the study. The undercount of minority children in this age group was even higher, with more than five percent of both Black boys and Black girls missed. The report cited the greater likelihood of young children living in large (7+ persons) households, in more mobile families, in rental units, and in non-traditional households as primary reasons for the disproportionate undercount. Census Bureau research shows that it is more difficult to achieve an accurate count of households with these characteristics.

The Foundation, whose work focuses on "meet[ing] the needs of today's vulnerable children and families," is home to the KIDS COUNT project, which relies on census data and other statistical indicators to evaluate the well-being of children annually. Noting that many child-focused programs -- such as Head Start, foster care grants, and the children's health insurance program -- rely, directly or indirectly, on census data to distribute billions of dollars to states and localities, KIDS COUNT coordinator Laura Beavers observed that, "Children depend on the rest of us to make sure they are counted accurately ... and will be the ones to suffer" if their communities are undercounted.

The Casey Foundation report, which includes recommendations to help improve the count of children in the 2010 census, is available on-line at www.aecf.org.

Updated analysis of federal funding allocations tied to census data: The Brookings Institution completed an updated analysis of federal program funds allocated, in whole or in part, based on census data. The new study found that federal agencies used census numbers, or data derived from census figures, to distribute $431 billion through 194 programs in Fiscal Year 2008.

Tables showing the amount of funds allocated to each state (and the District of Columbia) and the amount of funds distributed through each program and by program function, such as transportation, are available on The Census Project web site. The Washington, DC-based think tank will release a full report describing key findings and its methodology, along with federal funding tables for the 100 largest metropolitan areas and 200 largest counties, next month.

Fact sheet offers guidelines for outreach activities: The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Education Fund has prepared a fact sheet to help community based organizations plan appropriate census education and outreach activities that adhere to legal and procedural protocols for collecting personal information. "Guidelines for Community-Based Group Volunteers Promoting the Census," available at www.civilrights.org, suggests practical ways that grassroots organizations can help hard-to-count populations understand the census form and why participation is important, while honoring the law's strong confidentiality protections for individual responses.

QUICK LINKS:

2010 Census Web Site: The Census Bureau's new 2010 census web site offers useful basic information on the census process, as well as sample questionnaires, information on job opportunities, and in-language materials. Add it to your "Bookmarks" bar to track mail response rates daily for your state and locality next spring.

2010 Census Jobs: Visit this web page to download a Census Practice Test and find information about the application process and a Local Census Office near you.

The Census Project: Visit the Census Project web site for previous Census News Briefs, fact sheets, and a weekly blog in support of an accurate 2010 census.
***
Census News Briefs are prepared by Terri Ann Lowenthal, an independent legislative and policy consultant specializing in the census and federal statistics. All views expressed in the News Briefs are solely those of the author. Please direct questions about the information in this News Brief to Ms. Lowenthal at TerriAnn2K@aol.com. Please feel free to circulate this document to other interested individuals and organizations. Ms. Lowenthal is a consultant to the nonpartisan Census Project, organized by the Communications Consortium Media Center in Washington, DC. Previous Census News Briefs are posted at www.thecensusproject.org.

Monday, December 21, 2009

National Center for Education Statistics

If you're looking for a source of education-related statistics, visit the Institute of Education Sciences' National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

NCES is part of the U.S. Department of Education and the Institute of Education Sciences. It is the primary organization that collects, analyzes, and reports on education-related data in the United States. NCES reports complete statistics on the condition of American education and education activities internationally.

In addition to education statistics, NCES also provides other tools, such as the ability to search for schools, colleges, and libraries, or use the college navigator to identify schools that best meet the user's criteria.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

New York Times blog on IRV use for Best Picture Oscar

As the awards race begins to rev up...the new math of The 10 is beginning to sink in, and Oscar-watchers say, with X-factors like “Avatar” about to drop, it is more confusing than ever.

That may be because there is actually new math involved: after it doubled its best picture nominees, the Academy changed the voting process itself. Instead of simply listing one film for the top award, members will now have to rank all 10 in order of preference. The change to this preferential system, Bruce Davis, the executive director of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, explained to Steve Pond at The Wrap, was necessary to avoid having a slim plurality triumph.

More here.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Census ready to start counting

By Hope Yen, Washington Post

With preparations for next year's count nearly complete, the head of the Census Bureau said he's growing more hopeful that the government can achieve a strong response rate, similar to what was seen in 2000.

Career Guide to Industries

From James J. Hill Reference Library

Use the Career Guide to Industries to find information on occupations, training and advancement, earnings, job prospects, and more for dozens of industries.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Census Bureau To Advertise In Super Bowl

Count the Census Bureau among the advertisers in February's Super Bowl. The agency is using the platform to nudge its huge audience to fill out forms for the 2010 count.

The February 7 game on CBS comes soon after the Census kicks off a $300 million-plus outreach campaign. And importantly, just a few weeks before the Bureau begins disseminating its questionnaires.

The Super Bowl offers a chance to swiftly reach a massive amount of the U.S. audience. Last year, 151.6 million people -- about half of the U.S. population -- watched at least a portion of the game. On average, the game was seen in 48 million homes and viewed by 98.7 million people.

More here.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Country Background Notes

These publications from the US State Department include facts about the land, people, history, government, political conditions, economy, and foreign relations of independent states, some dependencies, and areas of special sovereignty. The Background Notes are updated/revised by the Office of Electronic Information and Publications of the Bureau of Public Affairs as they are received from the Department's regional bureaus.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Foreign-Born in the United States

The Foreign-Born Population of the United States: 2007 and 2008 — National-level tabulations from the Current Population Survey on this population group are shown by a wide range of characteristics including education, marital status, employment status, occupation and industry, earnings and poverty, and household type and tenure. Unique to this data set are tables that show the foreign-born population by these characteristics crossed by generation status (i.e., first, second or third).

The Foreign-Born Labor Force in the United States: 2007 — This analysis from American Community Survey data looks at the characteristics of the civilian foreign-born vs. native labor force population on topics that include educational attainment, occupation and industry.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Richard Nathan's "Social Science in Government"

Richard P. Nathan's book Social Science in Government uses rich histories of prominent policy issues and descriptions of major studies of welfare and job programs to bring to life crucial questions about how social science can best serve social policy. Nathan, who recently retired from the Rockefeller Institute after 20 years as its director and co-director, is a social scientist who spent many years conducting evaluation studies of what works — and what doesn't work — in domestic public affairs. The book presents a lively retrospective account of a career as an insider and outsider in American government and academe.
The Institute has now made Social Science in Government available in its entirety online. You can find it here.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Update of Statistical Area Definitions, Guidance on Their Uses

The annual update of statistical area definitions and guidance on their uses from OMB was released on December 1st. You can find the full 154 page document here.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

How Much Information? 2009 Report on American Consumers

From the Global Information Industry Center:

In 2008, Americans consumed information for about 1.3 trillion hours, an average of almost 12 hours per day. Consumption totaled 3.6 zettabytes and 10,845 trillion words, corresponding to 100,500 words and 34 gigabytes for an average person on an average day. A zettabyte is 10 to the 21st power bytes, a million million gigabytes. These estimates are from an analysis of more than 20 different sources of information, from very old (newspapers and books) to very new (portable computer games, satellite radio, and Internet video). Information at work is not included.

We defined "information" as flows of data delivered to people and we measured the bytes, words, and hours of consumer information. Video sources (moving pictures) dominate bytes of information, with 1.3 zettabytes from television and approximately 2 zettabytes of computer games. If hours or words are used as the measurement, information sources are more widely distributed, with substantial amounts from radio, Internet browsing, and others. All of our results are estimates.

Previous studies of information have reported much lower quantities.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Monday, December 7, 2009

Local Governments Offer Data to Miners

Many local governments are turning over big chunks of data to programmers to create useful Web sites and apps.
By CLAIRE CAIN MILLER, New York Times

San Francisco, New York and Washington have all organized contests to encourage software developers to create applications with their data. And the developers are using the data to build businesses. Stamen, for example, uses Crimespotting to show potential clients what it could create for them. Other firms are selling the iPhone apps they have built.

The cities, meanwhile, are to some degree using developers to provide citizens with a service so they do not have to.

"We are increasingly governing in a time when the demand for services exceeds our resources," said Aneesh Chopra, chief technology officer of the United States. If the contests "spur dozens of innovative applications," he said, "then we’ve essentially achieved a policy objective at virtually no cost."

Friday, December 4, 2009

NORAD sees Ol' St. Nick when he's sleeping, knows when he's awake

Children of all ages are now able to track Santa live through a variety of social media services and OnStar, thanks to updates to the North American Aerospace Defense Command's annual Santa tracking public service.

New this year, children and the young-at-heart can track Santa through mobile devices and the Internet via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, TroopTube.mil and OnStar. To follow Santa on these Web sites, users should type @noradsanta into the search engine. Dedicated Santa trackers who are also OnStar subscribers can follow the jolly old elf in their vehicles by pushing the blue OnStar button to get status reports on Santa’s whereabouts.

The NORAD Tracks Santa Web site, www.noradsanta.org, is now live and features holiday games and activities that change daily. The Web site is available in seven languages: English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Spanish and Chinese. On Dec. 24, the Web site will stream videos, captured by NORAD “Santa Cams,” from cities along Santa’s journey.


More here: NORAD enhances Santa tracking abilities.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

School district data

Purloined from a listserv:

NCES has a database of school district data. Additional profiles/geographic info available here.

School District Data compiles data from the Council of Chief School Officers. Free, and much of the info is the same as the NCES.

Estimates used for funding allocations for school districts based on the ACS are available through the Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates (SAIPE).

Proximity One has some free data on the site, and sells software for geographic applications by subscription. Has 2008 school district population estimates from the SAIPE in a ranked table.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Guide on how to use the ACS multiyear estimates

You will find a link to this 12-page guide here (12 pp, PDF).

It will explain some of what librarians and other data users need to do to provide
quality service for ACS data, including:

* "Cherry-picking" data from different surveys - a bad practice
* Questions of currency versus reliability
* Adjustments for inflation
* Comparing ACS multiyear estimates with each other
* Comparing ACS data with Census 2000 and Census 2010 data
* Four types of sampling errors
* Four types of non-sampling errors
* Data Swapping
* and more

May you find it useful.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Open Doors 2009: Annual Report on International Education

The United States continues to be the number one choice of international students seeking education outside their home countries, and the trend lines this past year remain positive.

We have seen major, double-digit increases from several countries – for example:

» The number of students coming from Vietnam increased 46%; and,
» The number of students from China, Saudi Arabia, and Nepal all increased by more than 20%.
A very substantial increase in first-time enrollments — 16% — has helped to bring the total number of international students in the United States to an all-time high. These numbers demonstrate the depth, diversity, and caliber of America’s higher education system, but we also recognize there is intense competition for these highly motivated students and scholars.