Who is My Neighbor? Demographic Tools for Your Community

August 1st, 2010
This article is featured in the Rethink Church (Aug/Sept/Oct 2010) issue of Circuit Rider

How much do you know about the neighborhood surrounding your church? If you are newly appointed, or the demographics of the area have recently shifted, it’s possible your answer is “not much.”

These online tools can provide an overview of your area’s education level, average income, unemployment rate, racial breakdown, and more. Such information can help you assess the community’s needs and brainstorm ways to reach out.

Are 14% of people in your your community divorced? A support group might be needed.

Do people in your city have an average commute of 20 minutes or more? Consider producing a devotional podcast for people to listen to as they drive.

High unemployment? A free lunch and job-skills workshop could be the hand-up people need.

Quickfacts.census.gov displays the official statistics for each state and city (with over 25,000 persons) according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Most of the site’s statistics are based on data from the 2000 census, but includes the estimated 2009 population for each county and state and 2008 data on age and gender for each county and state.

ZIPskinny.com is a fun, user-friendly site using data from the 2000 census. You can compare each zip code with up to 20 others, and colorful charts show how that area stacks up against the whole state and nation.

e-podunk.com has all the basic demographics of the aforementioned sites plus some interesting statistics about where residents were born (in the same state, different state, foreign-born, etc.), where they lived five years prior to this 2000 data (same house, different house in the same county, etc.), and residents’ ancestry. That and special listings of local cemeteries, links to military records databases, and more make e-podunk especially attractive for history buffs.

These tools can never replace good, old-fashioned conversation and relationship-building, but at least you’ll know in advance not to cheer for East High School when most of the youth go to West!

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