TITLE: U.S. Census Bureau's American FactFinder

ACCESS: http://factfinder.census.gov/

Here's one governmental agency and Web site that is ready for Y2K. The U.S. Census Bureau's new interactive search site called American FactFinder allows users to retrieve specific information about their state, county, community, or congressional district with just a few simple clicks. Although it presently covers 1990 data, the database engine is already in place to disseminate data for the next decennial census.

Users can select a specific geographic area under "Community Profiles," choose a demographic profile (e.g., General Population and Housing, Social Characteristics, Labor Force, Income and Poverty Status, etc.), and instantly create a report for printing or downloading. From the largest metropolitan area to the tiniest village or CDP (Census Designated Place), finding current population statistics has never been easier. American FactFinder's user-friendly interface makes census data accessible to the average citizen with a Web browser.

For more detailed population and housing data, you can create "Quick Tables." These predefined reports indicate households, education, income, homeownership, and other characteristics for a given area. Simply select the table that you want to see (e.g., H-1 Housing Characteristics: Occupancy, Tenure, and Age of Householder: 1990) and then browse or search for your state, county, or place.

There is also an option to display a reference map showing the boundaries of your geographic area. Once you have drawn a map, it can then be customized to show orienting features such as major roads and bodies of water. The "Quick Thematic Maps" feature provides color-coded maps indicating commonly requested statistics such as median income and population density by age.

Although not currently available, access to Economic Census data is presently in the works. According to its Web site, American FactFinder will continue to expand and improve functionality and add data during 1999. For more information, check out "What's New" at the site.

Bryan Sinclair
Public Services Librarian/ User Education Coordinator
University of North Carolina at Asheville
sinclair@bulldog.unca.edu


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