Data Surfer

Sites you need to see

California's Central Valley continues to be the bread basket of the nation, but lags behind the rest of the state and nation in the economic recovery. That's the conclusion of a new report just released by the nonprofit think tank Great Valley Center. State of the Great Central Valley: The Economy (Third Edition) provides a statistical snapshop of the 19-county region stretching from Bakersfield to Redding. The report examines the Central Valley's economic health with 21 indicators organized under five general categories: population, income, and housing; business vitality; agriculture; transportation; and Federal and nonprofit spending. Based on these updated numbers, the GVC offers five broad strategies for improving conditions in the state's inland counties.

census.jpgThe U.S. Census Bureau is promoting the upcoming decennial survey of the nation with the launch of a new web site. Census2010 is a slick, multimedia resource directly mostly at average Americans to encourage them to fill out the census questionnaire that will be mailed to every residence next year. Part of the web site is intended to address some of the myths and concerns circulating about the survey process. But the overall aim is to remind people of the political, social and economic importance of an accurate count for communities, states and country as a whole.

The 2010 census will depart from prior ones in that the Bureau will distribute only one short survey form with 10 questions. In the past there have been two questionnaires: the so-called "short form," that everyone received, and the "long form," that went to a sampling of households. The long form has been replaced by the annual American Community Survey that asks many of the same questions about income, education, ancestry, marriage status, commuting, etc. The 2010 abbreviated form is restricted to a few basic demographic factors: age, race, gender, children and whether the residence is owned or rented.

school.JPGThe California Demographics Unit (the state equivalent of the U.S. Census Bureau) just unveiled their annual Public K-12 Graded Enrollment and High School Projections by County -- 2009 Series. This is a useful set of spreadsheets tracking elementary and high school student populations out to 2018. The main table breaks down past and future enrollment numbers by county and grade for the school years 1974-75 through 2018-19.

For most counties you see the K-12 population dropping slightly in the early 1980s and then steadily growing from that point on. Statewide the student demographic is expected to expand only 3.5 percent in the next 10 years. But on the county level the 10-year percent change varies widely from -14.3 percent in Nevada County to 39.9 percent in Riverside County. Placer County comes in second with a projected change of 32.0 percent. El Dorado, Yolo and Sacramento will grow moderately at 11.0, 9.8 and 9.4 percent, respectively.

[First grade class at Heron Elementary School in North Natomas reads a poem. Sacramento Bee / Renee C. Byer]

The Modern Language Association created a nifty interactive map that displays the number or percentage of foreign language speakers in the country. The map is color-coded to to show density of speakers of a particular language in a geographic area. You choose the language from a drop-down list and zoom down to the state, county and Zip code level. The data behind the map is derived from the 2000 Census that asked respondents about languages spoken at home other than English.

These stats are also accessible through MLA's interactive database that allows you to choose a geography and call up a list of languages and number of speakers (over the age of five). In Sacramento County, for example, the top languages beyond English are Spanish, Hmong, Chinese, Vietnamese, Tagalong, Russian, Ukranian and Hindi, reflecting our diverse immigrant population.

Among the Census reports derived form the recent American Community Survey is a look at 2007 earnings by men and women. Nationally, full-time male workers earned median wages of $45,556. Female full-time workers earned $35,471, or 77.9 percent of men's earnings. In all 50 states and the District of Columbia, women's median earnings is less than men's. The wage gap varies from 64.3 percent (Wyoming) to 88.0 percent (DC). California has the smallest gap of the 50 states with 84.9 percent.

In the Sacramento region, median earnings for males is $37,258; for females, $28,379. That's a wage gap of 76.1 percent.

The Census Bureau today released a report on parents who stay home with children under 18. Most stay-at-home parents are women who tend to be younger and are more likely Hispanic or foreign-born. In 2007 (the year of the study) some 61.5 percent of households with children under 18 had both parents in the labor force. (Stay-at-home fathers numbered 165,000 in that year.)

The report has state-by-state breakdowns. South Dakota and Vermont lead the states with the percentage of family households in which both parents work -- 77.9 and 77.3 percent, respectively. Arizona and Utah are at the bottom with 53.0 and 53.4 percent. California was fourth from the bottom with 55.4 percent.

About Data Surfer

It's all about information -- statistics, documents and data of all types that help us understand the world, make informed decisions and monitor government. It's about empowering citizens with tools and sources so they can conduct their own investigative research. This blog is a place to discuss information that's available on the Internet. What's relevant, useful, valid and accurate -- and what's not.

We know the Sacramento region is home to knowledgeable people who use online information in their respective fields. We want to hear from you. Please tell us what you think of the data we use in stories and post on The Bee's website. And share tips about online resources you think are valuable to this blog's readers. Post comments on this blog or contact Pete Basofin directly at

June 2010

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