Official Poverty Estimates, in the US and the Commonwealth

This past weekend, The New York Times published an interactive map visualizing recently released Census data on poverty in America.  The NYT map gives information down to the census tract level; this level of precision allows the viewer to see poverty rates of not just counties and cities but, in fact, neighborhoods.

As for Virginia, poverty rates in Southwest, Southside and Hampton Roads far exceed the poverty rates of localities closer to DC.  According to these small area estimates, Falls Church County has the lowest poverty rate of around 3 percent, while Radford City and Harrisonburg City have the highest rates (34.2 and 37.5 percent, respectively).

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Changing Dynamics of Multigenerational Households, 1960-2010

Multigenerational black familyRecently, Pew Research Center reported on an increased prevalence of multigenerational families, in which children live in the same household as their grandparents. Nationally, roughly 1 million more children live in a multigenerational household in 2011 than did in 2000. In 2011, one in ten children live in a household configuration that includes at least one grandparent.

The Pew report points to the role of economic hardship, resulting from the Great Recession, in the increase of these households.  For example, parents who have lost homes due to foreclosure may decide to move with their children into their own parents’ homes. Likewise, grandparents whose retirement savings have been diminished may need to rely on their children for assistance in daily life.

Forming a multigenerational household is one way that families band together to provide for family members. It is a way of sharing economic resources to meet basic needs. In addition, it allows for the sharing of household work. This can take the form of grandpa and grandma watching grandchildren to free up other members to go outside the home and work. Continue reading

Need Census data during the shutdown?

One of the little noticed effects of the federal government shutdown is that many federal statistics and reports that we rely on are currently on hold.  For example, the all-too-important September jobs report never came, and if the shutdown continues, we all may miss out on measuring the unemployment rate for October.  Even updates to the consumer price index, which adjusts government benefits for inflation, may be delayed.

If you want to look up past U.S. Census Bureau data you will encounter problems as well. The popular American Factfinder and Census Bureau websites are now unavailable.  So, here are a few tips for those who us who are in need of data right now:

  • Free of charge, The University of Minnesota’s National Historical Geographic Information System provides aggregate statistics from the decennial censuses and the American Community Survey (ACS).  I have used data from these folks on many of my projects and can vouch for their simple and intuitive interface.
  • For the next few weeks, the Social Explorer website is providing free access to its data.  Social Explorer is a great website for Census data and also offers neat visualization capabilities.  But I wouldn’t get too cozy with using their services; they usually charge a fee, and it’s hard to say how long their generosity will last.
  • If you have some data analysis skills, the Integrated Public Use Microdata Series (IPUMS) project is still open.  The site is another Minnesota creation and is a favorite of mine.  They provide access not only to past censuses and the ACS, but data from the Current Population Survey (CPS) as well.  If you don’t have SAS, SPSS, or STATA software you can always use their online analysis tools. The interface isn’t all that great and requires some expertise to navigate, but it does allow for very detailed analyses.
  • If you need only local or state-level data, many states have decent data centers you can check out.  For all of you Virginians out there, you can always visit the Weldon Cooper Center website and see the work we do.  We provide county population data, projections, and an interactive map that has local data from the ACS and past censuses.

Dustin Cable is a Senior Research Associate at the University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service where he conducts research on topics that lie at the intersection of demographics, politics, and public policy.

The Census Bureau’s new Language Mapper

As far as afternoon diversions go, the latest language use visualization from the U.S. Census Bureau is one of the more entertaining. The Bureau is making good use of its American Community Survey data with the launch of the new Language Mapper widget. The interactive application displays a dot-density map for 15 separate languages and allows users to zoom down to specific regions and cities throughout the country.

ACS Language Use Map

Along with counting the number of foreign language speakers in a particular area, the map also breaks down language speakers by English proficiency. Not surprisingly, the country’s major metropolitan areas harbor the greatest number of foreign language speakers who do not speak English “very well.”

Well worth a couple minutes of your afternoon…

Dustin Cable is a Senior Research Associate at the University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service where he conducts research on topics that lie at the intersection of demographics, politics, and public policy.

New Demographic Data on the 2012 Presidential Election

The recent release of the Census Bureau’s Voting and Registration data from the Current Population Survey finally allows us to look deeper into the population that turned out to vote this last November.  And the results are quite astonishing.

For the first time, in a long history of disenfranchisement and suppression, African-American voter turnout surpassed the turnout rate among whites.  2012 was a low-turnout election overall, especially when compared to 2008, and the turnout rates among most of the major racial and ethnic groups went down from 2008 rates.  The turnout rate among blacks in 2012, however, went up.

National Turnout Rates for 2012 Election by Race

* Turnout is measured here as total votes divided by the voting-age citizen population. Data are from the CPS microdata for the Voting and Registration Supplement.

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Even if you don’t follow NCAA men’s basketball, you’re probably aware that the 2013 NCAA Tourney is upon us. The first round games start tonight, so if you’re planning on filling out a bracket this year, I hope you’ve gotten started.

In the spirit of March Madness, the Census Bureau has developed their own bracketology-themed population game. You should take a few minutes and play a round. It’s pretty fun.

You’ll find match-ups of states or metro areas, and you simply pick the one with the larger population. You’ll go through all the pairings until you’ve selected what you think is the state or metro area with the largest population in the country.


The Census Bureau has developed quite a few tools and games like this to showcase their data.  You can find the entire gallery on their webpage: