Data Sources by Topic

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Agriculture Education National/State
Calculators Employment Transportation
Consumer Spending Households Workforce


The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is an source for data on agriculture in the U.S. Conducted every five years, the Census provides a detailed picture of U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them. he Census of Agriculture includes data for every state and county in the United States. Detailed data including specific crops and livestock, number and size of farms, and information about farm owner/operators is available at the county level.

 The Economic Impact of Agriculture in Wisconsin Counties, by Steve Deller and David Williams (2011), quantifies agriculture’s contribution to the state’s economy.   The study also estimates agriculture’s total employment impact for each of Wisconsin’s 72 counties. The total employment impact of agriculture is defined as the number of people employed on farms and in food processing plus the jobs created when farmers, food processors, and their employees spend money locally.  The total impact is calculated by adding the number of people employed on farms and in food processing to the number of jobs created when farmers, food processors, and their employees spending money locally.  For a copy of the full report, see .

 USA Counties, a data profile site from the U.S. Census,  features over 6,800 data items for the United States, States and counties from a variety of sources. Much of the data is as recent as 2009. USA Counties also includes many items from the 2000 Census of Population and Housing, the 1990 census, the 1980 census and the economic censuses from 1977 to 2007.  A wide variety of profiles are  available at the county level, including:  general demographic, agriculture, ancestry, banking, building permits, business patterns, crime, earnings, education, elections, employment, government, health, households, housing, income, labor force, manufactures, population, poverty, retail trade, social programs, veterans, vital statistics, water use, and wholesale trade.

 The 2007 Census of Agriculture provides a brief profile for every state and county in the U.S. They include information on the number of farms, acreage in agriculture, average farm size, market value of products, and data by specific crop and livestock.

The USDA Economic Research Service identifies nine different categories for classifying counties by their degree of urbanization.  These Rural-Urban Continum Codes range from (1) counties located in Standard Metropolitan Statistical areas (MSAs) with populations over one million to (9) rural counties with populations less than 2,500 people that are not located adjacent to an MSA.

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Helpful Calculators:

ACS Statistical Calculator was developed by the Cornell University to calculate margins of error for sums, percentages and ratios.

The Location Quotient Calculator, created by the BLS, enables users to quickly and easily calculate location quotients for any county in the U.S.   Annual data from 2001 to 2010 is available allowing users to analyze changes over time.  Location quotients can be calculated up to the three-digit NAICS level.  However,  in many cases, data at the industry sub-sector is not available for counties with smaller populations as the data is suppressed.

The Federal Reserve Credit Card Repayment Calculator will quickly and easily calculate how long it will take to pay off your credit card balance. All you need are two numbers: 1) your credit card balance, and 2) the interest rate on your account.  This calculator also allows you to easily see the impact of increasing your monthly payment and the impact of different interest rates.

 The BLS Inflation Calculator quickly calculates the inflation between two time periods, from 1913 to today .

Consumer Spending:

E-Stats is a report on e-commerce data collected through four different U.S. Census Bureau surveys.  There are four surveys in order to account for the different measures of economic activities that vary between different sectors.  Agriculture, mining, construction, agents, brokers, and electronic markets in wholesale trade are not included within the data.  The report includes the value of goods sold on open network such as the Internet or on private networks such as the Electronic Data Interchange.

The National Retail Federation is the world’s largest retail trade association, encompassing retailers in 45 different countries in addition to U.S. retailers.  Retailers include all industries and sizes.  Their research is conducted in house.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)  Consumer Expenditure Survey (CE) provides information on the buying habits of American consumers.  Many private data providers rely on the CES as the basis for their projections.  Reported annually, the CES includes spending on a wide variety of consumer goods and services. The data is available for several demographic categories.  It includes expenditures, income, and the demographic characteristics of the consumer units.  Historical data,  regional data, and some cross-tabs are also available online.

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American FactFinder is an interactive application that provides information on populations, industries, economic statuses and geographic locations.  The data is gathered though nearly 100 surveys and censuses each year.  The data is used to support the Economic Census, the American Community Survey, the 1990 Census, 2000 Census, 2010 Census and the latest Population Estimates.

Use FactFinder education and location data gathered by the U.S. Census American Community Survey (ASC) to provide an indication of how well states retain college graduates, commonly known as the “Brain Drain” problem.  Follow these FactFinder Step-by-Step Education Instructions for an example of how to gather data on college graduate retention in your community.

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The unemployment rate conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is based on a monthly national survey of 60,000 households.  There are six alternative measures of unemployment known as U1 to U6 that are defined in progressively broader terms.  The official unemployment rate is the U3: it includes the unemployed who are able to work and have actively sought work within the last four weeks.  Those who want a job but are no longer actively looking for work or those who are working part-time but want a full time position are not included.  In the broader official unemployment rate (U6), this group is included.  In the more narrowly defined U1, only those who have been unemployed for 15 weeks or longer are included.    The employment rate includes all those who are  paid employees or have worked a minimum of 15 unpaid hours a week in a family owned enterprised,  and are at least 16 years old.

The Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) is a national quarterly report on employment assembled by the BLS.  It is gathered through the quarterly tax reports completed by employers and includes both full and part time employees.  Statistics are collected during the pay period that includes the 12th of the month.  If an employee is paid at any point during that period, he or she is included in the survey results as employed.  Since the report is filed by the corporation, a person employed at multiple establishments will likely be counted twice.  Reports are published quarterly and annually at the national, state, metropolitan statistical areas (as defined by the Office of Management and Budget) and county levels.  It is further classified as Federal Government, State Government, Local Government or the Private Sector Industries.

Shift-Share is an analysis that uses BLS data.   This analysis indicates the measure of impact the national economy has upon individual regions on a year to year basis.  It allocates changes in employment to three factors: 1) state of the national economy; 2) type of industries in the region; and 3) relative competitiveness of the industries in the region.

The Coincident Index (CI) is a monthly composite economic indicator published by the Philadelphia Federal Reserve.  It provides a snapshot of economic conditions in each state. An increase in a state’s CI over time indicates an expansion in economic activity the state while a declining CI signals a contraction in the state’s economy.  The Coincident Index combines four state-level indicators into a single statistic: non-farm employment, average hours worked in manufacturing, the unemployment rate, and wage and salary disbursements.  The data for these indicators are gathered from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA).

County Quick Facts, by the U.S. Census, is what the name implies–a quick overview of counties and major cities. These brief profiles include an interesting variety of information from basic demographics to land area, persons per square mile, and retail sales per capita.

County Workforce Profiles was created by the labor market analysts and economists in the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) Office of Economic Advisors.  These profiles  provide snapshots of the labor market in every Wisconsin county. Each profile includes analysis of the county’s current and projected population dynamics and their effect on the labor force, of the county’s industries and employers, of occupational patterns within industries and average wages, and of total personal income.

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The American Human Development (HD) Index, a unique and valuable tool developed by the American Human Development Project, is a quality of life indicator comprised of three elements: health, knowledge, and standard of living. The three components are based on over 100 variables ranging from typical demographic data such as education, income, and employment to health measures including the percentage of the population with diabetes, the number of practicing physicians per 10,000 population and sixteen other specific health factors.   Indices include those for health, education and income and enable easy comparison among states.

The Sustainable Wage Standard (SWS) measures the level of income needed to meet a family’s basic needs without public or private assistance.    It includes the minimum necessities, but does not include longer-term needs such as college or retirement savings or short-term “luxuries” like dining out or holiday gifts.  The goal of making the Standard as standardized and accurate as possible, yet varied geographically and by age, requires meeting several different criteria. As much as possible, the figures are collected or calculated using standardized or equivalent methodology, come from scholarly or credible sources such as the U.S. Bureau of the Census, are updated at least annually, and are age-and/or geographically-specific (where appropriate).  The reports range from households with one adult and no children to two adults with 3 teenagers.   The most recent Self-Sufficiency Wage report, with data for every Wisconsin county, is available at:  You can also follow these Step-by-Step Instructions for SWS as an example of how to gather data on household sustainable income for your county.

The Basic Economic Security Tables™ Index was developed by Wider Opportunities for Women provides a realistic estimate of the actual cost to support a family and build the assets necessary  for economic security.  It can vary greatly from the poverty threshold developed by the U.S. Department of Health and Social Services because it takes into account children, savings, transportation, and health care among others.

The American Community Survey is an annual survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau.  It creates national estimates from 2 million housing units throughout the nation.  The surveys are also separated into geographical locations to create State estimates. The reports include information on  employment, insurance, income, individual and family demographics and education.  The data is presented in multiple forms through the U.S. Census Bureau’s FactFinder.  It’s important to remember that the ACS is a sample survey.  Because some of the samples are relatively small, be sure to make not of the margins of error and statistical significance of the data.

The U.S. Census Seasonal and Recreational housing data is collected through the American Community Survey (ACS).  Historically, the data has been collected through the Decennial Census of Housing survey.  However, after the 2000 Census, the census was replaced with the ACS (see above).   The data is presented through FactFinder

Follow these FactFinder Step-by-Step Housing Instructions for an example of how to gather data on recreational housing in your community.These statistics provide an indication of how many housing units are used for recreational or vacation purposes.

STATS America is an easy to use resource for a wide variety of data from many different sources (i.e. U.S. Census, Bureau of Economic Analysis, and Bureau of Labor Statistics). Data profiles on population, housing, income and labor are easily accessible at the state, county, and metro levels. Not only does STATS America compile data from many public and private sources, they also include the original source of the data on every table, profile and map. That is a very important addition that is not so conscientiously provided by many other sites.

BearFacts, provides a snapshot of the components of  personal income at the state, county, and MSA levels. Although the amount of data is limited, Bearfacts does allow users to easily obtain similar historical data. BearFacts is a produced by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA)

The Geography of Government Benefits, an interactive mapping tool developed by the the New York Times, provides data on government benefits (i.e. Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Income Support, Unemployment, and Veterans Benefits) as a percentage of personal income for every county in the U.S.

Metlife Mature Market Institute is a private institution that specializes in data concerning aging, longevity and the generations.  The reports use data gathered either through their own surveys or through national data bases such as the American Housing Survey.

The Kids Count DATA CENTER is the place to start if you are looking data on child well-being.  Developed by the Ann E. Casey Foundation, this site provides easy access to data on the demographics, economic well-being, family structure, health and safety of children.  Data can be obtained  at the state, county, community, school district and congressional district levels.  The site allows users to select from a menu of popular data profiles or generate custom profiles.  The data can be ranked or mapped. Very specific and current data is readily provided.

The Social Explorer is  an online data source developed to help users analyze and understand demographic trends and social change.  Social Explorer utilizes  data on religion compiled by Infogroup.  The data is collected by Infogroup from the yellow pages and other sources and is verified and enhanced by telephoning every congregation in the U.S.

National and State:

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is a Bureau of the Department of the Treasury that collects and enforces taxes.  Through the collection of taxes, the IRS creates reports on the number of individual tax filers who have moved from one state to another during the year. The IRS data also includes the aggregate Adjusted Gross Incomes (AGI) of the people moving into and out of each state.

The Federal Procurement Data System reports the Federal contracts for goods and services given to business across the nation.

The Consolidated Federal Funds Report is prepared annually by the U.S. Census Bureau.  It provides information on federal expenditures by state, county and sub-county areas.

The CIA World Factbook is a report prepared by the CIA that includes economic, geographical, cultural, govenmental and  military information about countries around the world.  It is updated weekly and an annual report is also published.  Data is collected through many sources including the U.S. Ambassadors located in the country.

The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis is a federal bureau designed to report economic data on the U.S. economy.  The reports include a variety of topics and use a wide range of data sources.  One report given by the BEA includes the statistics on foreign investments in the U.S.  A foreign investor include individuals, corporations and governments.  They can invest in U.S. treasuries, government agency debt such as Fannie Mae, stocks and mutual fund or corporate debt.  A Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), occurs when a foreign investor acquires a least 10% of the voting stock of a business located within the U.S.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration reports on the energy used in the U.S.  The reports include information on crude energy sources imported and exported, energy production in the US. and energy levels that are being used by consumers.

The U.S. Department of Energy is another source for information on crude energy sources imported and exported, energy production in the US. and energy levels that are being used by consumers.

Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) is a federal program that was established in 2008 to help stabilize and strengthen the U.S. financial system. Under TARP, the U.S. Treasury was authorized to distribute up to $475 billion to banks and other financial institutions.

Economic Provile System-Human Dimernsions ToolKit (ESP-HDT) provides fourteen different data profiles ranging from general socioeconomic data to timber resources to federal spending. Comparisons are easy to generate between the selected state or county to other states and counties.  Comparisons cans also be made between aggregate groups of counties or states into a region.  The system enables you to compare smaller regions such as metro to non-metro areas.  Each report includes sections defining the terms, identifying the sources of the data, explaining the methodology used to derive the tables, and a list of other resources.

The Statistical Abstract of the United States reports data from a collection of federal agencies and private organizations.  The reports include summyaries of the social, political and economic demographics of the United States.


The transportation data is gathered initially by the state Department of Transportation through various transportation registration organizations.  This data is reported to the Federal Highway Administration who then reports the data to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.  For more information each of these organizations, visit their websites at:

1.Federal Highway Administration:
2.Bureau of Transportation Statistics:
3.Wisconsin Department of Transportation:

To create transportation mileage statistics similar to the ones seen in this report for you community, see our Step-by-Step Gasoline Reducing Instructions.  If you would like to improve your personal fuel efficiency, visit this  free online gas savings calculator at:

To create transportation price statistics similar to the ones seen in this report for you community, see our Step-by-Step Gasoline Prices Instructions.

Here are some Wisconsin transportation statistics:

    • $68,000 are added to Wisconsin driver’s transportation cost for every penny per gallon increase in gasoline prices in 2011 according to calculations from the Federal Highway Administration, the Bureau of Transportation Statistics and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.
    • 7.66 Million gallons of gas would be saved in Dane county if each licensed driver reduced their driving by 10 miles per week  in 2010 according to calculations from the Federal Highway Administration, the Bureau of Transportation Statistics and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.


OnTheMap is the online form of the Local Employment Profiles developed by the U.S. Census.  It provides relatively current, basic profiles of the workers employed in a community or profiles of the employed residents of a community.  These basis profiles provide data on employees by age, education, monthly earnings, and industry.  Place of work and place of residence are provided at the state, county, city, and zip code levels.  For more information on gathering data from OnTheMap, follow these OnTheMap Step-by-Step Instructions.

American FactFinder is an interactive application that provides information on populations, industries, economic statuses and geographic locations.  The data is gathered though nearly 100 surveys and censuses each year.  The data is used to support the Economic Census, the American Community Survey, the 1990 Census, 2000 Census, 2010 Census and the latest Population Estimates.

For these statistics, we used FactFinder to family employment data gathered by the U.S. Census American Community Survey (ASC).  This survey provides  an indication of specific family types and the employment in that family type.  You can follow these FactFinder Step-by-Step Workforce Instructions for an example of how to gather data on households.

MSA and micrometropolitan Business Patterns provides  the same detailed annual information at the as County Business Patterns on the number of business establishments, number of employees, and quarterly and annual payroll.  The data is available at the six digit NAICS Code (depending on the size of the population).

It is important to note that this data does not include data on self-employed individuals, employees of private households, railroad employees, agricultural production employees, and most government employees. For information about self employed individuals try the U.S. Census Nonemployer Statistics, an annual series of information about businesses without paid employees that are subject to federal income tax.  Most nonemployers are self-employed individuals operating very small unincorporated businesses, which may or may not be the owner’s principal source of income. These firms are excluded from most other business statistics (the primary exception being the Survey of Business Owners).

For more information on the coverage and methodology, refer to  How the Data are Collected. For information on businesses without paid employees, see Nonemployer Statistics.

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