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Demographics research: Where to begin
Having current demographics on your client base is an important part of making your case for services and funding.
Many funders, especially the federal government, target the worst-off geographic areas and the most critical issues. Good data will help you decide who your target audience should be.
By digging into information about your constituents, you may also find inspiration for new services and how to measure impact. The Internet has made demographics research incredibly easy. Below are some key sites for you to use.
The Census Bureau The cornerstone demographics site is the U.S. Census at www.census.gov. Not only does it house the results of the full census held every 10 years, but it also contains information from the American Community Survey, the Economic Census and County Business Patterns.
Regarding census data, most people get what they need from the QuickFacts section, which profiles basic demographic information regarding population, income, race and age in cities, counties and states.
A wealth of special reports can be found in Data by Subject reports. Census information from 2010 is being released gradually, with new interactive map interfaces for basic data and combined with business information.
The Economic Census reports on employment and revenues by sector, as well as business expenses. Nonemployer Statistics reports self-employment activity, which is useful for those working with very small businesses.
Department of Labor Your state department of labor site can yield information about employment and wages, usually in the labor market section.
If your project involves work force or economic development, the data here will help paint a picture of the business and job outlook. The DOL also has forecasts for job growth.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention If your field is health, The Center for Disease Control and Prevention, www.cdc.gov., has statistics on health conditions, diseases and behavioral trends affecting health. The data is available on a state and local basis.
Special Reports Special data and in-depth reports that explore interrelationships between factors are often produced by practitioner associations or by research foundations.
For example, Kids Count by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, www.datacenter.kidscount.org, has data about health and safety, economic well-being, family structure and demographics. These statistics are available by state, county, school district and city.
Disability Statistics from Cornell University at www.disabilitystatistics.org., has information from different sources about the disabled in an easy-to-use format.
If your audience is small business, the U.S. Small Business Administration, www.sba.gov/advocacy, and the Association for Enterprise Opportunity, www.aeoworks.org, have data and reports about small business activity.
The technical information here is necessarily brief. No final conclusion on these topics should be drawn without further review and consultation. Please be advised that, based on current IRS rules and standards, the information contained herein is not intended to be used, nor can it be used, for the avoidance of any tax penalty assessed by the IRS.
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