Finding Truthiness in Numbers

Stephen Colbert’s pointed neologism comes to mind as the US Census Bureau enlists increasingly sophisticated data sorts to give us a deeper view of numbers collected during the last decennial census. Not that the Bureau is asserting opinion as fact, but the fact is, statistics, by nature, can provide insight only on matters we think to ask of them.

This past week, the Pew Research Center published an informed and informative brief on Recounting Poverty, which discusses how measures have been developed and used to portray poverty by the numbers.  If you are doing any kind of community profiling, this is a must read.

Another alert around the US Census Bureau is that, as of November 5, 2011, American FactFinder, that report-generating warehouse of census statistics that reach down to the micro-, as well as the macro-, level, has a new url. Note, too, that the “legacy” FactFinder site, no longer being maintained, is where you will be directed, for now, for data as recent as the 2007 Economic Census and the 2009 Community Survey. That means that if you are involved in trend spotting, you need to remember to work back and forth between the two sites. (The reports will be transitioned to the new site “in the coming months”). And remember, too, to bookmark that new FactFinder link.

Feeling overwhelmed by all this Census news?  Take a couple breaks and watch Infopeople’s most recent–and highly accessible as well as informative–webinars on the US Census, with Linda Clark presenting.





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