Census Bureau data offers insight into local communities

by
December 15, 2010

BY BRYAN BULLOCK • MANSFIELD NEWS JOURNAL

MANSFIELD — For the first time in nearly a decade, the U.S. Census Bureau has released data that sheds light on life in small American communities like those in north central Ohio.

The five-year survey shows that among cities and villages in and around Richland County, Lucas has the highest poverty rate, Lexington has the most educated population and Butler has the youngest population.

These are just a few of the findings that can be drawn from the American Community Survey released Tuesday. The mass of data is gathered from surveys mailed to about 3 million addresses nationwide between 2005 and 2009.

The survey covers topics ranging from commute times to languages spoken at home to housing values. It replaces the long-form Census questionnaire, which was dropped after the 2000 Census, and is not related to the 2010 Census.

Because the American Community Survey is based on a sample of the population rather than the entire population, it produces estimates, not actual counts.

The survey was also conducted before, during and after the Great Recession, so the data does not gauge how Americans have been affected by the economic downturn.

Despite these limitations, the survey — which will now be released annually for small and large communities nationwide — is one of the best tools the federal government has to describe how people live.

Public officials and private organizations rely on estimates on education, housing, jobs, veteran status and commuting patterns to help them make informed decisions that will affect their community, such as where to build new schools, hospitals and emergency services.

Some of the findings from the five-year survey for cities and villages in north central Ohio:

To read more, visit: http://www.mansfieldnewsjournal.com/article/20101215/NEWS01/12150301

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