Alex Richards, Staff Writer, Chicago Tribune, Chicago, IL
By: Nancy Lane, president, Local Media Association
Numbers and Databases – How to Find Them, Use Them, Read Them & Interpret Them. Alex Richards, Staff Writer, Chicago Tribune
2 great tools from Google that he recommends:
- Google "Refine" - great tool for dealing with dirty data (standardizing names/places). Works in web browser.
- Google's "Fusion Tables" lowers the barrier to entry for data exploration/analysis. Map data/visualize in charts.
Economic data sources that can provide great information for local markets:
- Bureau of Labor Statistics
- Bureau of Economic Analysis
- PUMS- public use microdata sample
What to ask for:
Data that gets at the strain on families, the fiscal strife that is a source of emotional disruption – the effects of a weak economy.
- Foreclosures, various liens, notices of default (local property assessor and/or recorder)
- Bankruptcy filings (court system)
- Migration patterns (IRS, census)
- Unexcused absences, removals from school (local districts, state education agencies)
- Utilization of public safety nets like SNAP, TANF, job retraining, shelters and food banks
- Prevalence of suicide, where more recent information can come directly from your coroner or medical examiner
Other signs of a stuttering economy:
- State/local sales tax revenues
- New weekly unemployment claims (DOL, state)
- Mass layoff trends in your state (DOL)
- New business licenses, home starts