Data Wednesday: County Data

This is the latest entry in NPP’s weekly Data Wednesday series, a getting-started guide to our Federal Priorities Database. All previous posts are archived here.

During past weeks, we’ve been working with state-level data; however, NPP has county-level data too. County-level data is a great way to understand how federal spending impacts local areas.

County-level information isn’t available for everything in the Federal Priorities Database. The easiest way to find it is to use an Advanced Search (don’t worry—it’s easy):

  1. Visit the Create Your Own Search screen.
  2. Click the Advanced Search checkbox.
  3. You’ll see an additional option in step 1: Only search variables with data for all the following geography levels. Click the County checkbox.
  4. Run a search as usual.  In step 2, Choose Variables, you’ll see only variables (aka “datasets”) that have county-level information. For this example, I chose an expenditure: TANF (Cash Assistance).

Federal Priorities Database: advanced search

After you run the search, you’ll see a U.S. map. But hover over a state—South Carolina, for example—and you’ll notice that the tool tip says Click for more South Carolina data. Click South Carolina on the map, and the U.S. map changes to a map of South Carolina:

South Carolina per-person TANF money FY 2010

You can now see how the TANF money that South Carolina received in 2010 was distributed throughout the state (TANF is Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, also known as welfare). 

As with the U.S. view, you can use the year slider  to time travel. In addition, you can export the county data to a spreadsheet by clicking the CSV button.

Hopefully the county-level data gives you some new ideas for projects and research. Please let us know if you have any questions.