November 24, 2017

Resources on doing the legwork

Websites, books & more

Looking for statistics to give your numbers context? These resources will help you find comparisons to make your numbers more interesting and understandable to your audience members.

Resources on doing the legwork

Data mining With these resources, you can find statistics on everything from how much wine Americans drink (less than one-third of a gallon a year) to the average income of Salt Lake Citians. Image by Juliette Leufke

Statistics sites
Rankings and statistics on hundreds of topics, from America’s leading causes of death to the world’s best airports.

Bureau of Labor Statistics
Get jobs and economic data, from business costs to wages.

City Statistics
Get everything from satellite photos to resident stats on U.S. cities and states.
You’ll find raw data, tools and geodata covering topics from agriculture to wholesale trade and sources ranging from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality to the White House. Download the data in formats including CSV, XML, Excel and KML.
Sir Tim Berners-Lee is helping the U.K. government make its public sector information accessible. Just enter a search term to find topics like “absenteeism from primary schools in Wales” and “statistics on women in Northern Ireland.” Plus, you’ll find apps for research like reviewing the full text of inspections of the nursing home you’re considering for Dear Old Da.

This website bills itself as “the gateway to statistics for over 100 federal agencies.” You’ll find statistics on everything from how much wine Americans drink (less than one-third of a gallon a year, which means I’m definitely upping the averages!) to the average income of Salt Lake Citians.
Get statistics, demographics and other information about 25,000 U.S. communities here. That makes this great for writing to a local or regional audience.

If I were writing about a 20-minute surgical procedure for a health system client in my hometown, for instance, I’d do a little research here. Then I’d be able to communicate that the surgeon could perform the procedure in less time than it takes the average Kansas Citian to drive to work.

There’s certainly something here you can use to compare to your big number to make it more understandable to your readers.

You can’t beat it for finding, say, a list of the top-paid U.S. CEOs, the budget of Uganda or things that are worth $770 million.

Plug in … oh, let’s say, $10 million. You’ll get 40.4 million hits (really!), including one about the CEO who spent — gulp! — $10 million on his daughter’s Bat Mitzvah.

I also like to use Google as a source of raw data. When I recently wrote a piece about generic links, I did a quick search and was able to report (in 0.51 seconds) that there are 3.59 billion instances of “Read more” on the web.

Find comprehensive data on the 50 states.

National Center for Health Statistics FastStats A to Z
Find out how many people visited an emergency room or died at work in 2016.

The Polling Report
Find out how many people think what.

Stat-USA Internet
Get federal business, trade and economic information from this U.S. Department of Commerce site.

U.S. Census Bureau
For those times when you just need to know that the world population is 7,514,457,304.

Fun with numbers

Global rich list
Find out how rich you really are.

Museum of Humor
Make your numerical analogies more amusing by expressing time in dog years and space in penguins.

Your Weight on Other Planets
Find out how much you weigh on Mars. Because it could come up.

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