Working in a public library, I often am asked about demographics and/or statistics research. Often times people aren’t sure where to begin. I offer the following as a starting point for freely available information on demographic information as well as other statistical data.
National & Regional Statistics
American Fact Finder – This is a great place to start because you can pinpoint what information you are looking for. The Census also has video tutorials on how to use the new American Fact Finer as well. There is also a very helpful list of FAQs which is linked on the American Fact Finder page and is also available here. While there is a wealth of information here, it is mostly at the national and state level. Also, the American Fact Finder is in a new beta version and the Census Bureau hasn’t worked out all the kinks as of yet. If you run into problems, you can akways call them at 1-800-923-8232 for general information.
Statistical Abstract of the United States – This is a great place to find a wealth of statistics on the social, economical and political organization of the united States. Most libraries have this in print form as well. Check the index for keywords that are related to your topic of interest. Not sure how much longer this will be available in print.
American Community Survey – This is an annual survey sent out randomly to a smaple size of 3 million households and 20,000 group quarters. This survey collects more detailed information from a sample of the general population. It also collects annual estimates on population and housing characteristics. Not all of this data isa vailable in all geographies. Some local level information may not be available.
Charleston Area/ South Carolina Statistics
Demographics Now - This is a subscription database to which Charleston County Public Library subscribes. This is one of the most user-friendly databases out there. You can search by City, ZIP Code, and customized drive times as well as 13 other kinds of geographical divisions. Once you choose your location, the database generates 37 summary reports, 37 comparison reports, 7 types of ranking reports, and 11 kinds of maps. The data your get covers everything from population to consumer expenditure for the recent past, the current year, and even projections for the next 5 years.
Local Cenus 2010 – You can also find a lot of local information through the national Census using the American Fact Finder. However, if you still have questions about the 2010 Census, try contacting your Regional Census Bureau office. For the Charleston area, call the Charlotte Regional office at (704) 936-5300.
Charleston Regional Business Journal - Look for the annual Market Facts supplement has a lot of great local demographics and other statistical information about our local market. Categories of information include: Commercial Real Estate, Residential Real Estate, Demographics, Employment, Education, Import/Export, Hospitality & Tourism, Medical & Health, Business Resources, and Government.
Charleston Regional Development Alliance – This is another great resource for local information especially if you are looking for market profiles and other business statistics.
Statistics and demographics research can often be daunting especially if you are new to it. Take it one step at a time. Ask for help. Call you local public library or college library. Also, the Census and other federal agencies can be valuable resources. They do this kind of thing all the time and are an excellent resource.