Thursday, April 30, 2009

Google Starts Begins Making Public Data Easier to Access, Visual

Google is adding search power to public data. The new public records search and visualization service (it's in the very early stages of development) went live Tuesday afternoon. Check it out.

Article in the Washington Post
Google's official blog

Economic Impact on Hospitals and their Communities

Six out of ten hospitals nationally are seeing a greater proportion of patients without insurance coming through their emergency departments, according to a new survey from the American Hospital Association (AHA). At the same time, nearly half of hospitals reported they have cut staff. Recent employment information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics confirms that hospital employment is no longer growing and that the number of mass layoffs for hospitals reported in February was more than double what it was a year ago.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Residential Mover Rate in U.S. is Lowest Since Census Bureau Began Tracking in 1948

The U.S. Census Bureau announced that the national mover rate declined from 13.2 percent in 2007 to 11.9 percent in 2008 — the lowest rate since the bureau began tracking these data in 1948.

In 2008, 35.2 million people 1 year and older changed residences in the U.S. within the past year, representing a decrease from 38.7 million in 2007 and the smallest number of residents to move since 1962.

Among those who moved in 2008, 65 percent moved within the same county, 18 percent moved to a different county within the same state, 13 percent moved to a different state, and 3 percent moved to the U.S. from abroad.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Quality of Living global city rankings 2009

The Mercer survey. New York City is #49, the seventh U.S. city on the list.

Swine Flu

Swine Flu information from the US Centers for Disease Control and the NY State Dept of Health

The Web 2.0 Guide to Swine Flu from Salon
Should You Fear Swine Flu? from"No, but a healthy respect is called for."
The last great swine flu epidemic "This virus will kill 1 million Americans," declared the U.S. in 1976. The panic then has a lot to teach us today.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

States Launch Stimulus-Tracking Sites

In less than two months, all 50 states have created Web sites that track their use of their share of the federal economic stimulus package, and that link to the federal site.

However, the state sites are individual efforts and offer a patchwork of data. Some are more effective than others in providing transparency, a government watchdog analyst said.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Census boycott bad for migrants

by Judith Gans
The Arizona Republic (Apr. 21, 2009)

Recently, there have been reports that a large number of immigrants will refuse to participate in the 2010 census, thereby reducing the real population of Arizona. Such a reduction would result in a loss of federal funding tied to size of states, thereby compounding Arizona's fiscal crisis.

This fact again underscores the relationship of the economic issues confronting our state and nation and immigration. Immigrants have a big impact on the economy...

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Econonic Impact of the Non-Profit

Here are a few sources of data about the non-profit:

One primary source is the Economic Census. For 2002, it can be accessed either through a series of PDFs or via American FactFinder. The EC identifies establishments that are "not subject to federal income tax" in several of the service sectors, specifically 54-Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services; 61-Educational Services; 62-Health Care and Social Assistance; 71-Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation; and 81-Other Services (except Public Administration). These reports show the receipts for these establishments at the state, MSA and county level. There is even some place data, but the smaller the geography, the more likely it will be suppressed in order not to reveal confidential information. Also, public schools, colleges and universities, governments, and churches are excluded from the Economic Census. The 2007 data won't be out until late in 2010 and will be available only via American FactFinder.

The NYC Nonprofits Project surveyed nonprofits in the 5 boroughs to estimate their impact in several areas, including the economy. The website is, with links to detailed papers and the final report, which came out in 2003.

CGR completed a project in 2006 for Dyson Foundation about the Mid-Hudson Valley. The early comments on methodology will give an idea of how the data were compiled.

CaRDI published a 2007 brief on the topic, specifically for Rockland County.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

What's It All About, Economic Census?

For the NYS SBDC, I was asked to explain a bit about the 2007 Economic Census. Some advisors have asked about it. Some media have called Central, so I expected that some media may have or may be calling our field offices as well.

First thing: why aren’t the data all out there yet?

This is because this is actually a census of 2007 economic activity. The form is sent out to businesses in December 2007, to be completed in February 2008. Of course, people don’t always comply, which takes the process out to April 2008. Then the data are compiled and verified.

Preliminary data can now be found here.

As this site indicates, the data are released in stages, with the broad categories addressed first, with the breakdowns by smaller geographies coming later. Also released near the end of the cycle is the Survey of Business Owners, which describes, among other things, minority-, woman- and veteran-owned businesses.

Finally, a couple related concepts to understand that won’t be much of an issue in the early stages of the release but most certainly will when getting down to the county or ZIP Code level. Confidentiality - In accordance with Title 13 [of the United States Code], "no estimates are published that would disclose the operations of an individual firm. The Census Bureau’s internal Disclosure Review Board sets the confidentiality rules for all data releases. A checklist approach is used to ensure that all potential risks to the confidentiality of the data are considered and addressed". Cell suppression – "Withholding data to protect the confidentiality of information reported by individual businesses or persons. Data withheld are replaced with ‘D’s in appropriate data cells."

This means that if there are 10 businesses in a jurisdiction, but one is known to be dominant, the number of businesses will be released but the dollar sales may not be, lest it reveal the approximate sales of the dominant business. (This concept is also used in the Population Census when dealing with, e.g., income of a minority group in a small geography.)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

What Is It All About, Census?

The Population Reference Bureau explains: The census offers a “snapshot” of the entire population on a specific date: How many people reside within the national borders, who they are, where they live. Every 10 years since 1790, data from the census have been used to apportion seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, as mandated by the U.S. Constitution. With the next census just one year away, PRB will provide continuing coverage of the 2010 Census, explaining why this census is so different from previous ones, and highlighting the depth and breadth of information the census collects.

The PRB site already has articles already on Census History; the American Community Survey; Apportionment; 2010 Timetable, and 2010 Questionnaire.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Public Citizen Releases Annual Ranking of State Medical Boards

Public Citizen’s annual ranking of state medical boards shows that most states, including two of the largest, are not living up to their obligations to protect patients from doctors who are practicing substandard medicine, according to the report released today.

For the first time since Public Citizen has been publishing the rankings, California, the largest state in the country, and Florida, one of the largest, are among the 10 states with the lowest rates of serious disciplinary actions. Minnesota was the worst state when it came to disciplining doctors and, along with Maryland, South Carolina and Wisconsin, has consistently been among the worst 10 states for each of the last six rankings.

Monday, April 20, 2009

My Two Census

"Run by a team of professional political journalists", "is the watchdog blog of the 2010 Census!"

From the About section: "One evening, while perusing Craigslist, Stephen Robert Morse, a savvy young political journalist, noticed that the U.S. Census Bureau sought to hire thousands upon thousands of individuals from sea to shining sea to help the federal government complete its decennial count. Despite his age, Morse already learned that if you give people $13 billion to complete a task, they are likely to spend it without caution — both frivolously and haphazardly.

"As they say, one thing led to another, and was born."

It's glib, informative, occasionally snarky and generally entertaining. My favorite recent link is this Saturday Night Live clip.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

USDA Launches New Country Web Pages

From the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Foreign Agricultural Service

In an effort to expand information available to exporters, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) has added country pages to its Web site. Grouped into four regions – Western Hemisphere, Europe, Africa and the Middle East, and Asia and Oceania – these country pages provide essential demographic, economic and political information.

The new country pages will allow users to find comprehensive links, all in one place, on import requirements for each country, as well as travel and market information, the status of trade negotiations, trade development and important contacts.

In addition, the FAS Web site includes many searchable databases providing export, import, production, supply, and distribution data, as well as export sales reports and market reports from U.S. agricultural trade experts stationed in 97 offices around the world.

Stimulus Watch

" was built to help the new administration keep its pledge to invest stimulus money smartly, and to hold public officials to account for the taxpayer money they spend. We do this by allowing you, citizens around the country with local knowledge about the proposed "shovel-ready" projects in your city, to find, discuss and rate those projects. These projects are not part of the stimulus bill. They are candidates for funding by federal grant programs once the bill passes."

On each page are the "shovel-ready" projects the mayors of the states "submitted in the 2008 U.S. Conference of Mayors report. You can click on a project to read (and add to) its description. You can also discuss the project and vote on whether you believe it is critical or not."

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Census in Schools

The Census Bureau has posted the 2010 Census in Schools pages on their website. There are some interesting things on it already, including a lesson plan, which will give an idea about what can be expected in the future.

State/Local Sales Tax Weakest in 50 Years

State tax collections for the fourth quarter of 2008 declined by 4 percent from the same quarter a year earlier, according to a new report by the Rockefeller Institute of Government. After adjusting for inflation, combined state and local sales tax revenue declined more in October-December 2008 than in any quarter since 1959. Early figures for state tax revenues in the first quarter of 2009 show an overall decline of more than 12 percent compared to a year earlier, a further dramatic worsening of fiscal conditions nationwide. Read the news release.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Latino Evangelicals Urge Undocumented to Boycott 2010 Census

"NEW YORK – Hispanic evangelical pastors have made a decision to recommend that undocumented immigrants not participate in the 2010 U.S. Census unless Congress passes 'genuine immigration reform.'

"Opponents of such a reform routinely use Census data as 'a tool' to justify 'attacks on undocumented families with strategies of terror and lies that polarize public opinion,' the National Coalition of Latino Clergy & Christian Leaders, or Conlamic, said Monday."

How the boycott solves the problem is presently escaping me. As one pundit noted: "Let the fun begin ----"

Community resource guide

The community resource guide is a guide to NYC community-based data, such as demographics, banking, crime, education, health, and housing programs/building information. It has info such as building code violations and maps of police precincts. Some of the sources are staewide or nationwide and would have broader applicability than just the five boroughs. There's info for the beginner or intended for veteran users.

Friday, April 10, 2009

CQ Announces New Map That Shows 2008 Presidential Election Results By Congressional District

Congressional Quarterly Inc. has announced the launch of a new interactive map that shows the results of the 2008 presidential election by congressional district.

What if the 2008 presidential election had been re-run using a district-based system of awarding electoral votes — used only in two states — instead of the winner-take-all method that every other state uses?

The answer is that Barack Obama still would have beaten John McCain, though the Electoral College tally would have been closer than the actual 365-173 margin of victory.

According to a CQ Politics analysis, Obama would have beaten McCain 301-237 using a district-based system, under which a candidate receives two electoral votes for winning a state and one electoral vote for every congressional district he or she wins. Only Maine and Nebraska allocate electoral votes in this fashion.

The analysis found that Obama won 242 districts and McCain won 193 districts. Obama also posted another 59 electoral votes by carrying 28 states and the District of Columbia, which is entitled to three electoral votes under the 23rd Amendment. McCain would have received another 44 electoral votes as a result of winning 22 states.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Forecast of Atlantic Seasonal Hurricane Activity for 2009 (PDF; 878 KB)

The Tropical Meteorology Project, Department of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University (Dr. William Gray) foresees average activity for the 2009 Atlantic hurricane season. "We have decreased our seasonal forecast from our initial early December prediction. We anticipate an average probability of United States major hurricane landfall."

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

SBE Council Releases Report Ranking the States on Energy Costs

The Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council (SBE Council) released the Energy Cost Index 2009, which ranks the 50 states and District of Columbia according to key energy costs affecting business.

SBE Council’s “Energy Cost Index 2009″ looks at two major energy costs affecting small businesses, individuals and families: 1) the price of regular gasoline at the pump, and 2) the cost of electricity (average revenue per kilowatthour). Each are calculated as indices and combined into one index.

At the top - or the lowest cost states - are: 1) Wyoming, 2) Idaho, 3) Utah, 4) Kentucky, 5) West Virginia, 6) Missouri, 7) Nebraska, 8t) Indiana, 8t) Iowa, 8t) North Dakota, 11) South Dakota, 12t) Arkansas, 12t) Kansas, 12t) South Carolina, and 15) Oklahoma.

The highest cost states (including the District of Columbia) include: 37) Florida, 38) Delaware, 39) Vermont, 40) Maryland, 41t) District of Columbia, 41t) Maine, 43) New Jersey, 44t) California, 44t) New Hampshire, 46) Massachusetts, 47) Rhode Island, 48) Alaska, 49t) Connecticut, 49t) New York, and 51) Hawaii.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

North American Transportation Statistics Database

From Hill Library

If you're looking for information on transportation and transportation-related activities in North America, check out the North American Transportation Statistics Database.

The database, which is available in English, French, and Spanish, provides transportation data for Canada, Mexico, and the United States. Data is provided on transportation activities within each country and between the three countries as far back as 1990.

The North American Transportation Statistics Database provides information in table and time series formats, and "covers twelve thematic areas, including transportation and the economy, transportation safety, transportation's impact on energy and the environment, passenger and freight activity, and transportation and trade."

Monday, April 6, 2009

I Feel what You Feel if You Are Similar to Me

Social interactions are influenced by the perception of others as similar or dissimilar to the self. Such judgements could depend on physical and semantic characteristics, such as membership in an ethnic or political group. In the present study we tested whether social representations of the self and of others could affect the perception of touch. To this aim, PLoS ONE assessed tactile perception on the face when subjects observed a face being touched by fingers. In different conditions we manipulated the identity of the shown face.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Nonfatal Fall-Related Injuries Associated with Dogs, Cats

Falls are the leading cause of nonfatal injuries in the United States. In 2006, nearly 8 million persons were treated in emergency departments for fall injuries... To assess the incidence of fall-related injuries associated with cats and dogs, CDC analyzed data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System All Injury Program (NEISS-AIP) for the period 2001--2006. This report describes the results of that analysis, which showed that an estimated average of 86,629 fall injuries each year were associated with cats and dogs, for an average annual injury rate of 29.7 per 100,000 population. Nearly 88% of injuries were associated with dogs, and among persons injured, females were 2.1 times more likely to be injured than males. Prevention strategies should focus on 1) increasing public awareness of pets and pet items as fall hazards and of situations that can lead to fall injuries and 2) reinforcing American Veterinary Medical Association recommendations emphasizing obedience training for dogs.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Voter Registration Problems Major Factor in 3 Million Americans’ Inability to Vote in 2008

As many as three million registered voters did not cast a ballot in the 2008 General Election due to voter registration problems, suggests a survey cited by Doug Chapin, director of Election Initiatives for the Pew Center on the States in testimony before the Subcommittee on Elections of the Committee on House Administration. The problem was most acute for younger voters and registered voters who moved less than a year ago, one in four of whom said that a problem with their registration was a major reason why they did not cast a ballot.

Friday, April 3, 2009

More American Acquiring Medical Infections and Experiencing Medical Errors

A new Consumer Reports poll finds that 18 percent of Americans say they or an immediate family member have acquired a dangerous infection following a medical procedure and more than one-third report that medical errors are common in everyday medical procedures. The new poll, which assessed people’s experiences with the health care system, also found that only half of adults participate in routine preventive medical testing.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Study challenges the way U.S. census classifies race

Washington News (March 29, 2009)

SEATTLE - New research by the University of Washington finds that many Americans, especially Hispanics and Latinos, don't consider themselves black, white or American Indian, three of the top choices on the 2000 census.

Dr. Tony Perez from UW says there is a massive disconnect between common ideas about race and the way the government officially classifies and measures people.

Perez found a large of number of people classified themselves as "some other race," making that classification the third largest group behind whites and blacks.

"(This) gets you into this weird space where you have non-Hispanic whites versus Hispanic whites, blacks, so forth and so on," he said.

Jan McStay with the census bureau says for 2010 there will be some clarifications. For instance there will be a choice for ethnic origin and then race.

"I think we have a very accurate portrait of who we and how we see ourselves in America," said McStay.

The study also delves into the issue of mixed race classifications.

The full report is now available in the March issue of the journal Population and Development Review.

To download the report, go to:


This being income tax month, here's a neat source of State Median Income including by family size and number of earners.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Reducing the Undercount of Hard-to-Count Populations

On Monday, March 23, 2009, at 10:00 a.m. in Room 2154 of the Rayburn House Office Building, the Information Policy, Census and National Archives Subcommittee held a hearing entitled, "Census 2010: Assessing the Bureau’s Strategy for Reducing the Undercount of Hard-to-Count Populations".

Invited Witness List
Includes Mr. Lester Farthing, NY Regional Director, U.S. Census Bureau
Mr. Tim Olson, Assistant Division Chief of Partnership, U.S. Census Bureau
Chairman Clay's Opening Statement
Congresswoman Watson's Opening Statement
Testimony of Mr. Thomas Mesenbourg, Acting Director, U.S. Census Bureau
Testimony of Mr. Robert Goldenkoff, Director of Strategic Issues, U.S. Government Accountability Office
Testimony of Mr. Jeff Tarakajian, Executive Vice President, DRAFTFCB
Testimony of Ms. Stacey Cumberbatch, City Census Coordinator, City of New York

Editorial: A Champion for the Census?

New York Times OPINION | March 31, 2009
Commerce Secretary Gary Locke's high-profile attention to the 2010 census comes not a moment too soon.

2009 MetLife Study of the American Dream

How has the economic crisis affected the American dream? Have American behavior and values shifted in the past year? The third MetLife Study of the American Dream set out to determine American attitudes and perceptions in light of our current economic situation and the ongoing erosion of traditional corporate and social safety nets. The study surveyed a cross-section of U.S. adults, in all generations and ethnic groups, to find out how lives have changed—and how the American dream itself has changed—in the past year.

The results show an American dream that has been revised, not reversed. Americans are resetting their priorities, and the dream is now buoyed by pragmatism rather than consumerism.