The free webinar, “Finding Local Economic Stories in Census Data,” took place Aug. 28, 2012.
Great stories on your local economy lurk in the annual County Business Patterns data from the U.S. Census, released in June 2012 for 2010. In this one-hour session, your guide to ferreting out those telling local business tales will be Paul Overberg, database editor for USA Today.
HOW CAN YOU USE THE DATA?
Here are some examples of how other reporters have used the data to develop enterprising local business stories:
- For a story on the loss of manufacturing plants and payroll in Memphis, Ted Evanoff of The Commercial Appeal used County Business Patterns data to document the loss of 14 paper plants in Memphis in the decade that ended in 2009 (PDF).
- Jan Norman of The Orange County Register used the data to show the effects of the recession on the number of businesses (PDF), and therefore jobs, in Orange County.
- Elaine Rose of The Press of Atlantic City found that the number of furniture stores in Cape May County had held steady (PDF) but that they were operating with fewer employees.
WHAT YOU WILL LEARN
This hourlong webinar will teach you how to use the County Business Patterns data to:
- Compare one county’s economy to another county. For example, an urban county with a suburban or exurban neighbor. Or your local county to a competitor county elsewhere.
Additional online video tutorials below will coach you through using the data to:
- Compare current data for a county with data from five or 10 years ago. County Business Patterns has been published annually since 1964; similar data were reported for various periods since 1946.
- Compare the representation of various industries in your county to that of your state or the nation. What industry clusters do you have, and how do they reflect (or not) local economic-development efforts?
Paul Overberg has been USA TODAY’s database editor since 1993. He is one of the foremost experts among journalists on the U.S. Census and has trained journalists through the Reynolds Center, Investigative Reporters and Editors, and the Society of Professional Journalists in how to cover the Census. He describes his job as finding news in data. ”Often, it’s demographic data. But I analyze lots of numbers — airport security wait times, stream flows, Gallup poll data, campaign contributions,” he writes on USA Today’s website. ”And data isn’t just numbers. I analyze speech texts and social networks and spatial patterns, too.”
Check out the resources below. At your own pace, you can walk through the self-guided lesson on tips for mining Census data for local economic stories.
- Census Data - Resources Handout (PDF)
- Census Data - Homework Questions (PDF)
- Using Census Data to Compare Multiple Counties (video tutorial)
- Using Census Data to Analyze Change Over Time (video tutorial)
- Using Census Data to Calculate Location Quotients (video tutorial)
- Finding the Answer to Homework Question No. 1: Establishment totals in two different years for a county (video tutorial)
- Finding the Answer to Homework Question No. 2: Share of manufacturing workers (video tutorial)
Before working at USA TODAY, Paul Overberg was a science and environmental reporter and editor at Gannett News Service in Washington and held a variety of reporting and editing roles at The Courier-News in Bridgewater, N.J. He holds a B.A. in history from Rutgers University.