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Just the Facts: Five Free (and Useful!) Sites for Economic Data

Thursday, May 18, 2017

More and more, data is critical to decision making for, well, everything. Economic development is far from an exception to this rule, and knowing where to look is the first step in finding the data you need. That’s why EDI’s compiled this brief introduction to five free sites you can use to analyze your territory, answer questions or beef up your reports and proposals.

  1. American Factfinder – American Factfinder is a great site to access decennial census data as well as annual estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau. There’s a ton of information available here, but luckily there is a fairly user-friendly “guided search” option. Once you find the data table you want, it’s easy to download to excel too. https://factfinder.census.gov/faces/nav/jsf/pages/index.xhtml
  2. Hoosiers by the Numbers – Supported by the Indiana Department of Workforce Development, Hoosiers by the Numbers is focused on Indiana’s workforce data. There’s a lot to digest on the main page, but use the tabs near the top, (Data by Region and Data by Topic) to get to the good stuff fast. http://www.hoosierdata.in.gov/
  3. USAFACTS – USAFACTS is a newly-released site and is the side-project of semi-retired former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. Drawing data from over 70 government agencies, USAFACTS is meant to track government spending, is still in beta (which means it’s not really complete yet) and is focused on the national level, it’s not going to be as directly useful. However, it’s an ambitious project that is already receiving praise for the way it disseminates the data and is well worth exploring. http://usafacts.org/
  4. STATS Indiana – STATS Indiana is the state’s statistical data utility, providing access to a vast amount of Indiana-centric information while also letting you view data from across the country. This is actually the site that powers Hoosiers by the Numbers. Similarly, the easiest way to navigate is via the “Data by Topic” tab near the top of the page. http://www.stats.indiana.edu/index.asp
  5. Rural Indiana STATS – Another newly-released website, Rural Indiana STATS has a clean look and access to data for all of Indiana’s 92 counties. Despite the name, it’s unaffiliated with STATS Indiana and offers other information such as metropolitan or non-metropolitan status for counties along with other typological information, and also features the Community Vitality Indicators used by the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA). https://pcrd.purdue.edu/ruralindianastats/