CSBG Data Corner: Connecting the Dots - Census Data to CSBG Data

By Tabitha Beck, Director of Research, CSBG Services, NASCSP

On Thursday September 20, the American Community Survey (ACS) will be released by the US Census Bureau. This important information provides estimates for income, poverty, and health insurance, as well as numerous social, economic, and housing characteristics including education, the commute to work, employment, mortgage status, and rent. Estimates will be available for the nation, all 50 states, District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, every congressional district, every metropolitan area, and all counties and places with populations of 65,000 or more.

How can you use the ACS data? The information contained in the ACS can be used in conjunction with the information found in the 2012 CSBG Annual Report as a powerful tool to showcase the importance and value of CSBG. It demonstrates the percentage of all people served by Community Action in every state who are below poverty.

But how does that compare to all the people in poverty in your state, county, or congressional district? Ten percent? Ninety percent? What kind of story does that tell about the state of poverty in your area? How can you use it to reach more people in need, or to make a compelling case to funders to invest in helping people move up the socio-economic ladder? You can use the data you have at your fingertips to speak intelligently about the gaps that remain and your vision for making a difference in the lives of low-income families. Check out the NASCSP Storytelling Manual and Brochure for ideas on ways to connect this data to an even greater story.

The CSBG National Data Wheel (available at the NASCSP Marketplace) showcases the percentage of all people served by the agency who were below poverty. Leverage this data to make the ACS information even more meaningful.

The ACS data will be available at http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/nav/jsf/pages/index.xhtml (or Census.gov – Data – American Fact Finder). Search options on the left (Topics, Geographies, Race and Ethnic Groups, Industry Codes) allow you to review and analyze the data for your area.

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More data! Mark your calendars for Wednesday, November 13, when the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM) will be released. The new measure serves as an additional indicator of economic well-being and provides a deeper understanding of economic conditions and the effectiveness of existing federal policies and programs. Preliminary SPM estimates were released last November.