Monday, October 25, 2010

Census info

1. What’s the population of Washington state?
    a. What's the percent change since 2000? 13.1%
    b. Go back to the main page. Now look at 'Washington' under the 'Area Profile with QuickFacts.'
            1. In terms of percent increase, which has grown faster in the past decade -- Washington or the U.S.?
            2. What's the median household income in Washington as of 2008?
            3. What's the national median income?
            4. Let's look at ethnicity: Identify one way in which Washington's population differs from the U.S. population.

2. Now look at Whitman County.
    a. What's the population?
    b. What was the percent increase from 2000 to 2009? 4.8%
    c. In 2000, what percent of the population had a bachelor’s degree? What was the percent statewide? 44%, statewide: 27.7%
    d. Median household income?
    e. Persons below poverty in 2008?

3. Let's go deeper. Near the top of the page, click on 'Browse data sets for Whitman County.' You'll find a slew of entry points into the U.S. Census Bureau database. This is a great area if you're interested in finding a particular fact (how much federal $ came into the county last year), as well as if you're just browsing, looking for a little light reading.

Click on the 'Building Permits 2009.'

a. Find the annual total construction costs for building permits for Pullman from 2004 to 2009. Report it for each individual year.

b. Write a lede based on the trend you see in this information.

c. Let's explore other public data online. Type "google public data" into your search engine. Click on "explore the data," and then Unemployment in the U.S.
    1. Click on "By State," and then "Unemployment Rate." What's the current U.S. unemployment rate?
    2. List the month and year for the highest national unemployment rate in the last 60 years.
    3. Now limit the data for Washington state. What's the current state unemployment rate? Has the unemployment rate increased or decreased since January 2010?
    4. This is application is part of Google Labs. As such, it has some quirks. Click on the "+" sign next to Washington to open up more options, then click on Counties, and Whitman County. What's the most recent unemployment rate? What was the rate in August 2000?
    Note: If the data doesn't appear, click "clear selections" at the bottom of the page.
    5. Now find your home county, even if it's not in Washington state (provided it is in the U.S.!) What's the current unemployment rate in your home county?

d. Let's explore some of the data here on campus by checking in with the Washington Center for Real Estate Research ( Click on the 2010 Q2 housing report.
    1. What's the percent change in the number of building permits issued during the past year? What does that tell us about the housing situation in Whitman County?
    2. What was the median resale home price? How much did it change in the past year? How much did prices decline statewide?
    3. Write a lede based on one of these pieces of information.

4. Return to the Census homepage ( The Census is spewing out data this year. Let's look at the most recent reports. Under "Newsroom," click on "Releases."
                             1. Click on the Oct. 22 tip sheet. Scroll down to the Recently Released data. Click on the American Community Survey.
                             2. Scroll down the page and click on the food stamp program. What's the percent increase in food stamp use from 2008 to 2009 in Washington state? Nationally?
                             3. Scan the page for two other recently released reports that might interest you. List one fact from each of the two reports you choose.

II. Federal grants and insurance

Who needs government? Well, Whitman County certainly received some federal help last year. But we want to know how much.

But fumbling through this site can be cumbersome. Plus, the Census Bureau isn't the only government site with information on Whitman County. If only there were an easier way to search all these sites at once (ah, but there is!)

Go to Google/unclesam is a powerful tool that let’s us search all “.gov” Web sites. Go to the search bar and type  “whitman county federal funds.”

a. Click on the first link. Is this website operated by the state or federal government?

                             1. Click or search for 'Consolidated Federal Funds Report.' At the top of the page, click on 'Online Query System.'

                             2.  Under ‘Available Data,’ choose 2009 and Geography (Federal data almost always lags a year behind). Click ‘Submit.’

     3. On the next page, choose ‘Washington’ and ‘Yes’ on County. We want ‘All Fund Types.’

                             4. On the next page, choose Whitman County.

                    a.  How much did Whitman County farmers receive in Crop Insurance? (Hint: Scroll to the bottom of the page?
                    b.  Tracking grants can also help us identify news stories. How much did Whitman County receive in grants (block, formula, project, etc.)?
                                c.  Name three of the grants.

             b. Return to the Whitman County page. (If you can't find it, return to Google/UncleSam and search for "Whitman County OFM.")
                1. Click on "Criminal Justice." Click on the Databook for 1990 to 2008.
                2. Click on the data for Whitman County.
                3. How many murders are recorded in Whitman County since 1990?
                4. How many rapes were recorded last year?
                5. Look at the number of Adult Arrests -- how many arrest for rape last year?
                6. Why is there a difference between the Crime Index and the Adult Arrests?

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