Community Indicators for Your Community

Real, lasting community change is built around knowing where you are, where you want to be, and whether your efforts are making a difference. Indicators are a necessary ingredient for sustainable change. And the process of selecting community indicators -- who chooses, how they choose, what they choose -- is as important as the data you select.

This is an archive of thoughts I had about indicators and the community indicators movement. Some of the thinking is outdated, and many of the links may have broken over time.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Local Data Sources, Part One

Last night I was talking to someone who expressed the same frustration many of us have felt in finding good data for smaller communities -- in his case, a small-population mostly-rural county. We pointed out an excellent resource a couple of months ago that just came out in January to help with this issue. The Catalog of Administrative Data Sources for Neighborhood Indicators (PDF)is a wonderful compendium, and the summary of data sources, example indicators from those data sources, and source organizations on pages 10-13 of that document should be printed out and taped to your wall as you work on any local data gathering.

With that said, a series of links to where you can access the data would be helpful, right? Send on your favorites and I'll add them to the list I use and we'll see if we can put a resource page together.
Kathy Pettit just passed along this note to the NNIP listserve (which anyone working on small-area data should join):

"Brookings has produced a very nice web site to display and download ZIP code-level tax return information on topics such as EITC, income distribution for states, metro areas, counties, cities, and state legislative and congressional districts for tax years 1997 through 2005. You can also access their research briefs from this site."

I'm partial to the Local Employment Dynamics site from the U.S. Census Bureau ( By bringing together state workforce data and federal census data, you've got a nice, customizable, searchable data set. I especially like using it to tease out information about what's happening in sectors like the arts community or nonprofit sectors.

Any such list has to point you to Population, housing, employment, and income data at a zip-code level data are available. Prowl through their 2,000+ indicators to see which ones make sense for your report at the reporting level you need.

That should get you started. Send in your favorites as well, and we'll continue this conversation.


Post a Comment