Friday, March 30, 2012

Research @ Census

From HERE:

Keeping pace with our dynamic economy and society constantly challenges the Census Bureau's data collections. Our users want more data, and want it sooner. The cost of using our existing methods keeps going up, while statistical budgets are tight. We stay current by making research the basis of everything we do at the Census Bureau. Our researchers explore innovative ways to conduct surveys, increase respondent participation, reduce costs, and improve accuracy. They analyze the data we collect and uncover trends that give us a deeper understanding of our complex society.

This investment in our nation's statistical infrastructure enables our leaders to make decisions based on the best information available. We've designed these pages to give analysts, academic researchers and policymakers improved access to the data tools and research they need to move our country forward.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Census Bureau Releases First Information Since 2000 Census on Moves Between Counties

The U.S. Census Bureau released estimates from the American Community Survey showing how many people migrated from one specific county to another during the course of a year ─ the first such numbers published since these data were collected as part of the 2000 Census.

The ACS compiles data over a five-year period and asks people where they lived one year prior to being surveyed. The first five-year estimates released covers the years from 2005 to 2009.

The 2005-2009 American Community Survey County-to-County Migration Files provide tables for each county in the nation, showing both "inflows" and "outflows."

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

New media: increased news consumption; perils of classifying as public utilities

The State of the News Media 2012

A mounting body of evidence finds that the spread of mobile technology is adding to news consumption, strengthening the appeal of traditional news brands and even boosting reading of long-form journalism. But the evidence also shows that technology companies are strengthening their grip on who profits, according to the 2012 State of the News Media report by Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism.

More than a quarter of Americans (27%) now get news on mobile devices, and for the vast majority, this is increasing news consumption, the report finds. More than 80% of smartphone and tablet news consumers still get news on laptop or desktop computers. On mobile devices, news consumers also are more likely to go directly to a news site or use an app, rather than to rely on search — strengthening the bond with traditional news brands.


The Perils Of Classifying Social Media Platforms As Public Utilities

Are social networking sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter "information monopolies" that should be regulated as public utilities? While calls for social networking regulation are on the rise, there are good reasons why policymaker should avoid the rush and rethink classifying them as "public utilities." Public utility regulation has traditionally been the arch-enemy of innovation, and this could have lasting effects on such a dynamic industry. Treating today’s leading social media providers as essential facilities threatens to convert predictions of "natural monopoly" into a self-fulfilling prophecy.


The Future of Apps and Web

The Web Is Dead? No. Experts expect apps and the Web to converge in the cloud; but many worry that simplicity for users will come at a price.

Tech experts generally believe the mobile revolution, the popularity of targeted apps, the monetization of online products and services, and innovations in cloud computing will drive Web evolution. Some survey respondents say while much may be gained, perhaps even more may be lost if the “appification” of the Web comes to pass.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Searching Your US Military Ancestry With Newly Released Records

by Cara Meadows
Following on from this important article on the release of the 1940 US Census here, has paved the way for even more in-depth family history research with the release of a set of vitally important War Service Records dating from as far back as 1850. These records are a great and vital resource to anyone wanting to trace the more recent history of their ancestors and also trace the military pasts of their forebears much further back.
With Family History, Genealogy and Military History in particular becoming an increasingly popular hobby for many people, researchers are opting to take genealogical vacations in different countries rather than other pursuits such as going on a Mediterranean Cruise or a long beach vacation somewhere. This rise in popularity has seen a concurrent rise in demand for online services and also increasing access to archives and repositories all over the US.
New Record Releases
The US Department of Veterans Affairs BIRLS (Beneficiary Identification Records Locater Subsystem) Death Records contain some 14,465,024 entries starting in the year 1850 and coming as far forward as 2010.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Celebrate Women's History Month

Visit to learn about generations of women who've made invaluable contributions to society. You'll find: Historical photos depicting women in the workforce from about 1916-1954. An interactive game called Flight to Freedom that allows you to take on the role of Lucy, a 14-year-old slave in Kentucky in 1848. A webcast of Annie Leibovitz's talk at the American Art Museum about her photo exhibition, Annie Leibovitz: Pilgrimage. And more...

Saturday, March 24, 2012


From the site:

We the Tweeple of the United States, in order to form a more perfect government, establish communication, and promote transparency do hereby tweet the Congress of the United States of America.

We built this site to scratch our own itch. While searching for our local congressmen on Twitter we were amazed at how many folks on the Hill aren't tweeting. This site is a grass-roots effort to get our men and women in Congress to open up and have a real conversation with us.

Friday, March 23, 2012

'World's Most Ethical Companies' Revealed

Turns out successful businesses aren't concerned only with their bottom line..

Ethisphere Institute, which compiled the list, says it based its rankings on the following factors: ethics and compliance programs; reputation, leadership and innovation; governance; corporate citizenship and responsibility; and culture of ethics.

(VIA here.)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Steve Morse Genealogy site


"In the 'old days' genealogical research was done by traveling great distances and then going through dusty archives or using microfilm readers. But the advent of the World Wide Web has changed that. Today much of the data useful to genealogists has been put on websites and can be accessed from the comfort of home.

"Unfortunately, many of these websites are not easy to use. And those that are don’t always offer all the versatility that is possible. For that reason I have created alternate ways of accessing some of these websites. In addition I have developed some of my own databases and programs to facilitate doing genealogical research. These are all collected together under what I call the One-Step website."

As a colleague noted, "It is not a sanctioned Census Bureau site, but the links it contains are very useful. In particular, if you click on the US Census Bureau, you will find a link to the 72 year rule, there is a great explanation of the reasons for it, and they are not what you are thinking."

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Renewable Electricity and Nuclear State Profiles

The State Renewable Electricity Profiles 2010 present a summary of current and recent historical data for the renewable electric power industry. Presented are net summer capacity and net generation data for each type of renewable generator, as well as fossil-fired and nuclear power plant types, for the period 2006 through 2010.
The objective of this set of profiles is to provide a concise overview of the renewable electric power industry in each state. Data in this report are compiled from surveys filed by electric utilities and other electric power producers. It is prepared by the Office of Electricity, Renewables, and Uranium Statistics; Office of Energy Statistics; U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA); U.S. Department of Energy.

DocuTicker's description:
The Nuclear State Profiles report consists of data tables for the nuclear power plants in each U.S. state. Standard reported data includes a plant's summer capacity, net generation, share of the state's generation, and identification of the plant owners. For each state, the report provides a breakdown of the state's primary energy sources, such as nuclear, coal, and natural gas.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Income Inequality and Economic Mobility

by Steven Aftergood

Income inequality in the United States is more pronounced than in other developed countries, a new report from the Congressional Research Service finds, while the possibility of economic mobility is more constrained than commonly believed.

“Based on the limited data that are comparable across nations, the U.S. income distribution appears to be among the most uneven of all major industrialized countries and the United States appears to be among the nations experiencing the greatest increases in measures of inequality.”

“Americans may be less concerned about inequality in the distribution of income at any given point in time partly because of a belief that everyone has an equal opportunity to move up the income ladder. A review of the literature suggests that Americans’ perceptions about their likelihood of changing position in the income distribution may be exaggerated,” the CRS report said.

More here

Monday, March 19, 2012

8 states get 'F' on corruption

From Politico:

Michigan, North Dakota, South Carolina, Maine, Virginia, Wyoming, South Dakota and Georgia received failing grades in the State Integrity Investigation – an analysis of all 50 state governments conducted by the Center for Public Integrity, Global Integrity and Public Radio International.

With not a single state getting an A grade, just five states earned a B: New Jersey, Connecticut, Washington, California and Nebraska; while 19 states received Cs and 18 [including New York] earned Ds.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Leading U.S. Metro Areas in Optimism (my hometown is dead last)

From here:
"While the vast majority of Americans express satisfaction about the community or area where they live, residents of some metro areas are highly optimistic about where their community is headed, whereas residents of other communities are largely discouraged. Across 190 U.S. metro areas, residents of Provo-Orem, Utah, are the most likely nationwide to say their city or area is getting better as a place to live (76%), while residents of Binghamton, N.Y., are the least likely to say this (27.8%)."

From here:
Gallup and Healthways produce a biannual report on the Well-Being of each of the 50 U.S. states and their respective cities and an annual report on each of the 435 U.S. congressional districts. Here's the New York State report.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Household Income Inequality Within U.S. Counties: 2006-2010

This report [PDF] presents measures of household income inequality for counties in the United States, based on data pooled from 5 years (2006 to 2010) of American Community Survey (ACS) data. For example, the data show that the more unequal counties were also more populous. Thirty-four percent of Americans lived in a county that ranked in the top 20 percent of U.S. counties by Gini index (the Gini index is a measure of income inequality).

In every region, the counties in the most unequal fifth of U.S. counties accounted for a disproportionately large share of that region's population. For example, only 8 percent of Midwestern counties had Gini indexes ranking among the top fifth of U.S. counties, but they contained 26 percent of the region's population. Also, the South region had a disproportionately large number of counties with high income inequality, while counties in the Midwest had lower levels of income inequality. Specifically, 32 percent of the counties in the South had Gini indexes ranking among the top fifth of U.S. counties, while 31 percent of Midwest counties ranked among the bottom fifth of U.S. counties.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Comparing International Criminal Justice Systems

"This briefing was prepared for the House of Commons Justice Committee to provide an international dimension to its inquiry into the budget and structure of the Ministry of Justice in England and Wales...

"We selected a range of advanced democratic nations for our detailed work, including some common law and non-common law jurisdictions, countries from the European Union and the Commonwealth, and some with reputations either for liberal or punitive justice systems. To enhance our understanding of the United States of America, for which only limited data are available at the federal level, we also included the state of California within our analyses."

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Cartoo - how far, by foot, bicycle, or car

Webapp Cartoo uses Google Maps to predict how far you can travel by foot, bicycle, or car from a given point and specific window of time. Put in a city, or street address, and it maps it out !

Monday, March 12, 2012

Where gold comes from

Statistics from the February Smithsonian.

Top 10 gold producers - 2011 estimate in tons:

China 391
Australia 298
United States 261
Russia 220
South Africa 209
Peru 165
Canada 121
Ghana 110
Indonesia 110
Uzbekistan 99

Friday, March 9, 2012

NYPL Eases the Way For Searching 1940 Census

The National Archives releases census records once a decade, and on April 2 it is making available the information from the 1940 census. But the records won't immediately be searchable by name.

For those whose relatives lived in New York City, the New York Public Library is aiming to make it simpler to search this holy grail of information about what life was like during periods such as the Great Depression and the lead-up to World War II.

The library is launching an online tool to allow users to type in names and, potentially, locate census forms listing a host of details on every person living in the family household at the time of the census.

More HERE.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Old Maps Online

A collection of historical maps from around the world has gone online. The JISC-funded website is described by its creators as “the broadest single collection of historical maps.” The site will act as a central repository to a collection of maps held by institutions across the globe. The free resource,, will provide a single entry point.

Read more HERE.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


The Law of Incorrect Tweets

Initial, inaccurate information will be retweeted more than any subsequent correction.

The goal should be to make the correction as viral as the mistake. But that’s a challenge, and Tuesday at Harvard’s Truthiness in Digital Media conference, {Craig Silverman] saw (for the first time) what it looks like when we fail...

If you understand the dynamic, you may be more likely to change it. One cause: Incorrect information is bound to be more provocative and interesting than a correction. The other cause is that too little attention is paid to making corrections on Twitter.

More HERE.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Press release on (the potentially disastrous) Voluntary ACS bill

March 5, 2012
Honorable Trey Gowdy, Chairman
Honorable Danny Davis, Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Health Care, District of Columbia,
Census and National Archives
Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Chairman Gowdy and Congressman Davis:

We are writing to express our strong concern about proposals to convert the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS) from a mandatory to a voluntary survey. We believe such a change would significantly increase the cost of the ACS; at a time of fiscal constraint, lack of sufficient resources could diminish the quality of ACS data to a point where the information is not useful for a myriad of critical public and private sector purposes. We know that your panel will review this issue at a hearing on March 6, 2012, and respectfully ask that the subcommittee include our letter in the official hearing record.

The Census Project is a non-partisan, ad-hoc, broad-based coalition of census stakeholders. The Project’s participants include data users in the business, housing, civil rights, academic and research, civic participation, child advocate, state and local government, and marketing sectors. Our common purpose is simple: To
educate policymakers and the public about the importance of high quality, cost effective and appropriately comprehensive census data for sound decision-making at all levels of government and in the private and non-profit sectors. (The ACS is part of the decennial census.)

Concerned about respondent burden and the propriety of the questions, Congress directed the Census Bureau to explore the possibility of making the ACS voluntary in 2003. In two reports1 and several more recent analyses, the bureau concluded that mail response rates to a voluntary ACS would drop "dramatically," by more than 20 percentage points. That decline, in turn, would force the bureau to use more costly modes of data collection, such as telephone and door-to-door visits, thereby increasing the cost of the survey by thirty percent ($60 million at the time of the 2003 field test). Congress, in the current fiscal climate, is unlikely to increase funding for the ACS by the amount necessary to overcome low initial response rates, leaving the Census Bureau with insufficient response to produce reliable data for smaller (e.g. rural communities; towns; urban neighborhoods) areas and population groups (e.g. people with disabilities; veterans; immigrant groups). The consequence would be greatly diminished quality of ACS data. The test also showed that the percent of completed interviews (conducted if a household fails to mail back a form) fell significantly if the survey was voluntary, adding to the problem of data reliability.

Perhaps not surprisingly, cooperation in traditionally low mail response areas (which tend to equate with hard-to-count communities, such as people of color, low income families, and rural households) declined even further when ACS response was voluntary. Interestingly, a significantly higher percentage of traditionally easier-to-count populations, such as non-Hispanic Whites, failed to respond during the mail and telephone phases of the ACS. These findings suggest that the quality of estimates produced from a voluntary ACS would be severely jeopardized for all segments of the population and all types of communities.

The importance of high-quality, objective, and universal ACS data for public and private sector decision-makers cannot be overstated. The federal government alone allocates more than $450 billion annually in program funds to state and local governments based in whole or in part on ACS data.(2) Federal law, directly or indirectly, requires all of the information gathered in the ACS (i.e. Congress requested the data directly, or created a program that relies on data for implementation, enforcement, or monitoring, and the census or ACS are the only sources). We should not jeopardize the fair and wise allocation of limited taxpayer dollars by undermining the only source of reliable data to guide those allocations, not to mention decisions on whether even to continue certain programs.

In addition, the Voting Rights Act relies on ACS data to make determinations under section 203, which requires jurisdictions with a high percentage of people who are not English language proficient to offer bilingual voting materials. Both the government and business sector rely on ACS data to help ensure appropriate employment opportunities for racial minorities, disabled persons, and veterans.

Equally important, businesses of all sizes rely on ACS data every day to make vital decisions about where to locate and expand, what goods and services to offer, the scope of employee training needed, and long term investment opportunities. Nonprofit organizations use the ACS to guide services to those most in need and to measure the success of their programs.

For these reasons, we urge your subcommittee to view any proposal to make the American Community Survey voluntary with great caution. Such a change would have serious adverse consequences that could leave the nation in a precarious decision-making vacuum and hinder its economic recovery and future growth.

American Association of Public Opinion Research
American Sociological Association
American Statistical Association
Asian American Justice Center, member of Asian American Center for Advancing
Association of Population Centers
Association of Public Data Users (APDU)
Charlotte (N.C.) Chamber of Commerce
Coalition on Human Needs
Community Action Partnership
Consortium of Social Science Associations
Council for Community & Economic Research (C2ER)
Council of Professional Associations on Federal Statistics
CREW Network
Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
Marketing Research Association (MRA)
National Association for Business Economics
National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational
National Congress of American Indians
National Education Association
National Multi Housing Council
North Carolina Housing Finance Agency
Population Association of America
Population Reference Bureau
Prison Policy Initiative
Project Vote
South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT)
Southeast Michigan Census Council

1. “Meeting 21st Century Data Needs - Implementing the American Community Survey, Report 3: Testing the Use of Voluntary Methods” (Dec. 2003) ( and an update,
“Report 11: Testing Voluntary Methods -- Additional Results” (Dec. 2004)
2. Reamer, Andrew, “Surveying for Dollars: The Role of the American Community Survey in the Geographic Distribution of Federal Funds,” The Brookings Institution, July 2010.

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Monday, March 5, 2012

Pew Hispanic Center Statistical Portraits

Statistical Portrait of Hispanics in the United States, 2010
Statistical Portrait of the Foreign-Born Population in the United States, 2010

These statistical profiles are "based on Pew Hispanic Center tabulations of the Census Bureau’s 2010 American Community Survey (ACS). Users should exercise caution when comparing the 2010 estimates with estimates for previous years. Population estimates in the 2010 ACS are based on the latest information from the 2010 Decennial Census; the 2005 to 2009 ACS estimates are based on the latest information available for those surveys—updates of the 2000 Decennial Census."

Friday, March 2, 2012

What we thought we knew about income and happiness

DESPITE global economic gloom, the world is a happier place than it was before the financial crisis began. That is the counterintuitive conclusion of a poll of 19,000 adults in 24 countries by Ipsos, a research company. Some 77% of respondents now describe themselves as happy, up three points on 2007, the last year before the crisis. Fully 22% (up from 20%) describe themselves as very happy—a more important measure, says Ipsos’s John Wright, since whenever three-quarters of people agree on anything, “you need to pay attention to intensity in the results.”

All such polls come with a health warning.

More HERE.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Transparency: New York State Payroll Updated on SeeThroughNY

New Yorkers can now search the complete 2011 state government payroll on SeeThroughNY, the Empire Center's government transparency website. The database includes names, titles, base pay rates, and total pay received by 288,539 employees...

To read the full release, click here.
To view the database, click here.