Statistics junkies, take note

By NINA GREEN

I am fascinated by statistics. No, not the class, but simply the product of the compilation of interpreted data. I am not a math person in the slightest, but I am strangely drawn to the idea of expressing information using charts, numbers and percentages. So for me, the American Fact Finder, produced by the U.S. Census Bureau, provides endless entertainment.

Just one click on the website, and my interests was immediately captivated. By simply clicking on the tab labeled “Fact Sheet,” I gained access to the findings of the 2006-08 American Community Survey 3-Year Estimates. I quickly learned that the average household size is 2.61, the average family size is 3.20, and 27.4 percent of the population over the age of 25 has a bachelor’s degree or higher.

The Fact Sheet can also be narrowed based on race, ethnicity or ancestry group. For example, I learned that, on average, blacks living in America take 29 minutes to get to work, 3 minutes more than the total population average.

From the site, I can also view Housing Characteristics based on both physical and financial parameters, the Economic Fact Sheet, which tells me how many estimated businesses there are in each industry, or the percentage of the population over the age of 65.

The site is truly a treasure trove for journalists looking for concrete data to supplement their stories. Just from briefly looking that the site, I realize the endless possibilities that can be gained from having access to this much information.

I cannot explain my obsession with statistics. Perhaps it is connected to some deep-seated comfort in the idea that all things are measurable. Or maybe it is the sense that measurements provide logic where there often is none. Whatever the reason, the American Fact Finder is truly an Internet researcher’s gem.

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