Socioeconomic Data Online for Metro Area
By Amy West and Jeff Matson, University of Minnesota
Much socioeconomic data is online for those who need it for research or planning purposes. The problem is finding it. The answer may be found in a newly updated directory of such data supported by MetroGIS – their Socioeconomic Resources section of DataFinder.
The Socioeconomic Resources page is a directory to small-area data in 9 different categories from 34 different data sources. By small areas, we mean down to the individual block or smaller. Such data can be useful for communities in identifying issues and developing programs to address them. Not all data on this site has that degree of spatial resolution, but other data goes down to the parcel or address.
The data categories include demographics, housing, crime, building permits, taxes, employment locations, K-12 education, and location of services. Building permits and taxes are new data categories this year. For each of the categories we list one or more sources of data, always indicating the mapping resolution and update frequency of each data source. Clicking on a source will often lead to data downloads that can be used in Excel or other analysis packages (a few require GIS software). The state Department of Revenue, for example, provides data on sales tax revenues in Excel by block group for every year since 2003. Click and it’s yours to analyze on your own desktop.
Data sources include local counties and non-profits, state government, and the federal government. In this latest update, we have added the U.S. Post Office and private sector data sources. The Post Office now provides quarterly data on housing vacancies by census tract. Not all private sector data costs money. Realtors publish data on sales prices for MLS districts. The new MetroMSP website, supported by the Minneapolis Regional Chamber Development Foundation, provides free access to maps and spreadsheet data about businesses, workers, and consumers from the Minnesota Commercial Association of Realtors, Dun & Bradstreet, and Applied Geographic Solutions.
A small amount of listed data is available only to licensed users – mostly GIS parcel data. Any governmental or academic body can sign up for free licensed access. Non-profits may need to contact the individual county for parcel data. Access is usually given if the non-profit is doing work directly for a local government or if their mission and activity complement the mission of the county. It will help if the non-profit has a board that represents the community which it serves.
The Minnesota Population Center and CURA at the University of Minnesota have accepted responsibility to maintain this site for MetroGIS and the Twin Cities community. Please feel free to contact us if you know about other data resources that should be added or if there is a problem with a current listing. You can reach us directly at: