Mapping Block Group Data

.. demographic-economic patterns and characteristics can often be “masked” when using larger geographic areas such as counties and metros. Using data for small area geography such as census tracts and block groups can help identify clusters and areas of interest. Now, demographic-economic data for block groups (217,000 areas averaging 1,200 population covering the U.S. wall-to-wall) are tabulated annually from the American Community Survey (ACS). There are hundreds of subject matter items updated annually. Without specialized tools, it is very difficult to navigate through the maze of small area data that are available and make effective use of these data for analysis and decision-making.

Use the combination of API tools and GIS tools described in this Web section to visually and geospatially analyze demographic-economic characteristics of block groups. Covering the U.S. wall-to-wall and averaging 1,200 population, block groups are the smallest geographic tabulation area for data from the American Community Survey (ACS 5-year estimates). Block group (BG) data are also available from Census 2010 Summary File 1 (SF1) for the same block group area geography.

Patterns of Median Household Income
— San Francisco, CA by Block Group

Create map views similar to the one shown here for your areas of interest.

… Click graphic for larger view. View developed using CV XE GIS.

Install Tools
There are two software tools involved to create maps such as the one above for any county in the U.S. using block group level data for multiple years, flexibly choosing among more than a thousand subject matter items. Steps to use two tools are described in this Web section. You can perform these operations for any area in the U.S. and use the resulting maps and data in any manner.
• Demographic-Economic Data Extraction (DEDE) API tool
CV XE GIS software
See the corresponding Web sections above to install the Windows-based software. There is no fee to use these tools to perform operations described here. There are no block group subject matter datasets to download. The steps to use these tools are summarized here.

Get Help Using these Resources
The flexibility and breadth of data selection options afforded by access to thousands of subject matter items from multiple statistical programs requires several steps to use the data in GIS applications. Join us in a Data Analytics Lab session for additional assistance. We can go through/discuss any aspect of steps summarized here. There is no fee for the Data Analytics sessions.

About the Author
— Warren Glimpse is former senior Census Bureau statistician responsible for innovative data access and use operations. He is also the former associate director of the U.S. Office of Federal Statistical Policy and Standards for data access and use. He has more than 20 years of experience in the private sector developing data resources and tools for integration and analysis of geographic, demographic, economic and business data.

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