Sunday, May 14, 2006

American Factfinder: Statistically Significant Thematic Maps

The American Factfinder website recently added some new features, most notably the geographic display of statistically significant U.S. state comparisons.

Via: ResourceShelf

I want to take this opportunity to outline the newest Factfinder features, as well as some cool features that are less well known (to the students and faculty I generally work with, anyway...)

Newest Features (link)
  • Statistical Significance displayed on map.
  • "This new AFF thematic map feature helps users visually distinguish statistically significant differences from those that are not statistically significant. Click with statistical significance in the left panel to see the map with areas not different shaded by hatches"
    • Please note that this feature is available only using the American Community Survey data, and not any of the Census 2000 summary files.
    • As a test, I created a the thematic map on the Factfinder website showing the % of the 2004 population born in Mexico. (Table M0505). Click here to view the map.
      • Here are the 2004 ACS estimates for Texas:
        "Estimate: 3,309,064 people, Lower Bound: 62.9 Percent , Upper Bound: 65.1 Percent".
      • The way I interpret this is that there is not a significant statistical difference between Texas and Arizona regarding Mexican population. I think undergraduate students can make great use of this feature.

  • Other new Factfinder features include:
Cool (lesser known) Features
  • Save detailed tables queries as XQL (XML Query Language) files. When viewing the results, under the 'Print/Download' pull-down menu, select 'Save Search'.
  • In Summary Files 1 and 3 (without detailed ancestry categories), under the options pull-down menu, select 'Geo Components' to further limit results by various types of urban, rural, and metropolitan area characteristics.
  • The Factfinder website provides excellent documentation. To view the documentation for individual tables (when searching the detailed tables), the button will provide complete documentation.
  • The Download Center is great for downloading larger datasets.
  • The URLs for all thematic maps generated on the website are all static, such as this one.
  • Last but not least, make sure from the main Factfinder website you click either 'Data Sets' or 'Download Center' to query and download tabular data. Almost every other link will deliver pre-compiled tables and canned reports, which is normally not what researchers need.


Art Sindlinger said...

thank you for posting this - the link over to the fact finder was very helpful

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