Doug Hanks of The Miami Herald emailed me with a great tip for covering Bureau of Economic Analysis data: compare income from work versus income from the government.
“It’s almost a certainty that in every metro area, government aid soared in 2010, while work income went up just a little,” he says.
Doug’s story on the BEA data notes income from work increased 1.2 percent, while income from government rose 8.8 percent in South Florida.
Doug says to localize the story, compare transfer receipts, which is generally government aid, to net earnings or earnings from work. You can get the data by finding your local Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) on the Bureau of Economic Analysis website.
Doug followed up his story with an online post ranking industries by income growth. He says to do this, you have to get the data from the interactive tables. He then created a Google spreadsheet. For more on Google spreadsheets, see this tutorial by CUNY Professor Jeremy Caplan.
You can get more tips on using the BEA data in this post by Russ Choma.