Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Non-Traditional Access Points for Books

Recently I posted about the rise of e-books as a resource in our area. The 2012 Annual Report from the Mid-York Library System happens to also have a couple of interesting tables showing that year's circulation of e-books and audio books for each member branch. It shows how more than 45,000 e-books were circulated and another 14,400 audio books were also checked out. This represents pretty substantial non-traditional access points for library holdings.

The Literacy Coalition of Herkimer and Oneida Counties is offering another non-traditional access point for books by establishing Free Community Bookshelves in both counties. These bookshelves are supplied with books that are free for the taking in order to encourage reading and literacy among the region's citizens.The sites for the Free Bookshelves are as follows:

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Upward Mobility May Depend on Where You Live

The New York Times has an online article about a study that examined the likelihood that children of parents whose income is in the bottom quintile of an area rising over his or her lifetime as they grow older. In essence, how likely is it that your kids will earn more than you in the future in your area?

The study — based on millions of anonymous earnings records and being released this week by a team of top academic economists — is the first with enough data to compare upward mobility across metropolitan areas. These comparisons provide some of the most powerful evidence so far about the factors that seem to drive people’s chances of rising beyond the station of their birth, including education, family structure and the economic layout of metropolitan areas.

The resulting map, which appears below, is broken into a variety of metropolitan areas - for us this upwards mobility map lumps us into the Syracuse area.

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In terms of the actual numbers, here is what the study by Harvard predicts for children int he lowest quintile in our region:

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To see how other areas fare, visit New York Times article and the play with the interactive piece about halfway down the page.

Getting Data Based on Zip Codes

A short time ago I posted about the US Postal Service celebrating the 50th anniversary of the ZIP Code. While census data is not available by ZIP Code, it is available by something called a ZCTA (pronounced zik-da). This stands for ZIP Code Tabulation Areas. These approximate ZIP codes based on their relationship to available census geography. To learn more about ZCTAs, visit this Census Bureau webpage.

The ZCTAs are available through American Fact Finder on the Census data page as a level of searchable geography. Once you select a ZCTA you can then get information on it including the 4 standard profiles we usually review - demographic, economic, social and housing profiles. Below, for example, is the demographic profile for the 13350 (Herkimer) ZCTA.

Keep in mind that ANY of the data normally accessed through the American Communities Survey is most likely available for the ZCTA you're interested in. So if you're looking for data by ZIP Code, or maybe more accurately, by ZCTA, email me at dmiller@ocgov.net , or call our office at (315) 798-5710 and we can help you track down your data need.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Friday is the Americans With Disabilities Act Twenty-Third Anniversary

On July 26th we will be celebrating the 23rd anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act which guarantees equal opportunity for people with disabilities in public accommodations, commercial facilities, employment, transportation, state and local government services and telecommunications. The Census Bureau estimates that there were 56.7 million people with a disability living in the United States in 2010. They represented 19 percent of the civilian noninstitutionalized population. Disabilities include, for instance, having difficulty seeing, hearing, having speech understood, walking, bathing, dressing, eating, preparing meals, going outside the home, or doing housework, having Alzheimer’s, dementia, autism, cerebral palsy, or dyslexia, and being frequently depressed or anxious.

Previously I have posted data about our region disabled population but that was based on Census 2000 data. Since the 2000 Census, the Census Bureau revamped it's survey questions on disabilities and as a result newer data is not really all that available yet. there is some data, which appears below from the 2011 three Year Estimates of the American Communities Survey (ACS), but it does contain empty cells (denoted by "X-es"). Still, it is better probably then relying on 13 year old data if you're looking for something newer!

With that in mind, here is the most up-to-date data on our region disabled population from the Census Bureau.

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Monday, July 22, 2013

Update Segregation/Intergration Data: 2010 Dissimilarity Indices for Sixty-Two Places in NYS

Last week I posted about the Dissimilarity Indices for Utica, Rome, and the MSA. Unfortunately those data were all based on the Census 2000. Thankfully the good people at the University of Michigan's Social Science Data Analysis Network (SSDAN) who put together the old data have new indices out now using the Census 2010 numbers.

Based on those data here are the Dissimilarity Indices for 62 New York State places based on the 2010 Census. There are basically three sets of indices in this single table: Dissimilarity indices between non-Hispanic whites and blacks, non-Hispanic whites and Asians, and Non-Hispanic whites and Hispanics. The Dissimilarity Index is the most commonly used measure of segregation between two groups, reflecting their relative distributions across neighborhoods within a city or metropolitan area. It can range in value from 0, indicating complete integration, to 100, indicating complete segregation. In most cities and metro areas, however, the values are somewhere between those extremes. Remember that complete integration is closer to 0 (zero) while complete segregation is closer to 100.

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Friday, July 19, 2013

Hazy, Hot and Summer: Heating and Cooling Cost Indices for Our Region

So since the flooding of three weeks ago we have been under the influence of that good old summer time hazy, hot and humid weather pattern. According to USA.com's weather data page our region ranks as one of the cheapest when it comes to cooling costs. Of course that might have something to do with the fact that we generally don't have that many days requiring cooling off from! On the other hand, we are also near the top of the heap when it comes to heating costs. Again, not surprising given our upstate New York winters!

According to USA.com, the Heating Cost Index and the Cooling Cost Index are indicators of the relative heating and cooling cost of an area. They are calculated based on the average temperate and duration of the hot and cold days for the area. Please note, the actual heating cost and cooling cost are also dependent on other factors specific to individual residences such as the size of the house, the insulation condition, and the equipment efficiency, etc.

Here is the data they offer about our region.

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Thursday, July 18, 2013

Measuring Segregation and Integration: Exposure and Dissimilarity Indices

CensusScope.org offers some interesting analysis of the levels of segregation various "neighborhoods" experience based on their racial composition. Note that the term "neighborhoods" generally means whole cities or even metropolitan statistical areas, which for us would be the combined counties of Herkimer and Oneida. So rather looking at sections of cities, or what we might think of traditionally as "neighborhoods", these measures of integration/segregation go, at best, down to the city level. In addition, while they are working on using American Communities Survey data, they haven't done this yet for our area. The graphs and tables shown here are based on Census 2000 data sets. They may not be based on the newest available data out there, but they still provide some interesting insight into our region.

The charts and tables below come from the segregation analysis page at CensusScope.  The first set are the the "Exposure Indices". As they explain, "Unless there is complete integration, the average racial composition of neighborhoods where whites live differs from the average racial composition of neighborhoods lived in by blacks, by Hispanics, or by other groups. To examine this, we calculate the average racial composition of neighborhoods experienced by members of each racial group. These are sometimes referred to as 'exposure indices'. This is because they show the exposure a given race group experiences with members of their own and each other race (percentaged to 100) in an average neighborhood of the city (or metropolitan area) being examined. In the chart below, the first five columns represent the average racial composition of the neighborhood of a person of a given race. The rightmost column shows the racial composition of the metro area or city as a whole." The data corresponding to these tables is included at the bottom of the clickable charts below.
Click to Enlarge Utica Indices
Click to Enlarge Rome Indices
Click to Enlarge MSA Indices

The Dissimilarity Index is the most commonly used measure of segregation between two groups, reflecting their relative distributions across neighborhoods within a city or metropolitan area. It can range in value from 0, indicating complete integration, to 100, indicating complete segregation. In most cities and metro areas, however, the values are somewhere between those extremes. The Dissimilarity Index below is for thirty three (33) New York cities, including Utica and Rome. Remember that complete integration is closer to 0 (zero) while complete segregation is closer to 100.

As you can see, Utica and Rome pretty much lay in the middle of the chart, and show a substantial level of integration when it comes to their white and black populations. To see how they fair with other races in terms of integration, make sure to visit the CensusScope.org web site. Besides the segregation/integration data, I especially like their maps web page. It has a lot of great visualizations of some unusual data there. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Rise (?) of Single Parenting Nationally and Locally

Recently I came across this article from the PEW Research Center about the "Rise of Single Fathers".  As they point out in the article:

“A record 8% of households with minor children in the United States are headed by a single father, up from just over 1% in 1960, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of Decennial Census and American Community Survey data.

The number of single father households has increased about nine-fold since 1960, from less than 300,000 to more than 2.6 million in 2011.1 In comparison, the number of single mother households increased more than fourfold during that time period, up to 8.6 million in 2011, from 1.9 million in 1960.

As a result, men make up a growing share of single parent householders.2 In 1960, about 14% of single parent households were headed by fathers, today almost one-quarter (24%) are.”

When you look at the local data on family types with minor children in the home, you find some interesting trends as well. Just like the national data, we have seen a rise in the percent of families with minor children being headed by single parents. Between 1970 and 2010, the percent of families with children under the age of 18 who were headed by a single mom or dad went from about 11% to 35% in Oneida County, and in Herkimer County it rose from 9% to about 34%. These are three to four fold increases in the percentage of families experiencing single parenting.
Click to Enlarge Herkimer County Data
Click to Enlarge Oneida County Data

Obviously these increases correspond to decreases in the percentage of families with children under the age of 18 present that are headed by two parents. While in 1970 around 90% of the families with minor children were two parent families, by 2010 this number had dropped to below 65% in both counties.

I also looked at the median family incomes of these various "families with minor children present" configurations by examining the three year estimates from the American Communities Survey data for 2011. Not surprisingly married couple families with minor children at home make considerably more than their single parent compatriots.

In Herkimer County the median family income for a two parent family with minor children present is slightly above $65,000 a year; in Oneida County it was over $77,000 annually. In comparison, female headed families with minor children present only had median incomes of about $28,000 in Herkimer County and $23,000 in Oneida County.

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 Interestingly, families with minor children that were headed by single males had median incomes that were more than 40% higher than those headed by single females. Single fathers with minor children at home had median incomes of roughly $39,000 in Herkimer County – 42% higher than their female counterparts. In Oneida County, single dad families had a median income of around $33,000, or 45% higher than female headed families with minor children at home. Having only a single adult wage earner clearly makes it more difficult for single parent families to make ends meet regardless of the gender of the parent.

This was clearly indicated when I looked at poverty data for each type of "family with minor children at home" in our region. Examining the combined data of Herkimer and Oneida Counties, and focusing on families in poverty, we find that for all three family types (married couples, single female and single male headed families) the data shows the presence of minor children in the home is exceeding common among those in poverty. In other words it is very common in our region for families struggling with poverty to have young children at home.

Among married couples in poverty, for example, 74% of all such families have 1 or more minor children at home.  As many as a third of married couples in poverty (35%) have 3 or more children living in the household.
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In comparison, we find a larger percentage of single parent families in poverty having minor children living in the household. About 88% of all single-mom families in poverty have children under the age of 18 living at home, and 92% of all single-dad families in poverty also have minor children in the household. In both these cases about a third (33% and 31%, respectively) have three or more children present.

So while our area has seen some similarity in the "rise" of single parenting, and specifically in terms of single father families, these families are still clearly struggling when ti comes to making ends meet.

25 Interesting Census Maps and Graphs

From Buzzfeed.com comes 25 Interesting Census Maps and Graphs. Many of these maps show the data on the county level so you can pick out Herkimer and Oneida counties pretty easily. In particular I like the map on "hard-to-count" counties.

It was actually put together prior to the Census 2010 as a predictor of which counties might have response issues based on scores across 12 variables. These 12 variables included housing indicators (percent renters, multi-units, crowded housing, lack of telephones, vacancy) and people indicators (poverty, not high school graduate, unemployed, complex households, mobility, language isolation). Other operational and demographic data were also included, such as race/ethnic distributions.

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 To see an explanation of the map and the process used, you can read this article from the USA Today.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Auto Sales

The Wall Street Journal's Markets Data Center page has some great data on almost everything you could want to know about automobile sales, etc., in the U.S. Included on the page are data on what's hot off the lot this past year, as well as the present sales and share of the current market by manufacturer. Below is a sample but go to the page to see all the information they have on sales over the last couple years !

Monday, July 15, 2013

Local Mental Health Statistics: The OMH Dashboard

Occasionally we get questions about mental health services in our region or county. These can be somewhat difficult to track based on varying definitions of what constitutes mental illness and what types of services are being rendered. The NYS Office of Mental Health (OMH) offers a great data engine to track these mental health issues and services by region as well as county using their data dashboard. The OMH dashboard offers you a number of options in terms of what you may be seeking to see. As you can see in the screen shot below, you can select from as many as eleven (11) different tabs.

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In addition, the upper right of the page also offers you a chance to click and explore other data through their County Profiles page.

Among the data tabs on the dashboard are inpatient profile maps. Below are the maps for Herkimer and Oneida Counties.
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Be sure to check the rest of the dashboard for other data you might need concerning our region's mental health patients.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Implementation of the Affordable Care Act: The Uninsured in Herkimer and Oneida Counties

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or Affordable Care Act, will soon be ramping up. According to the federal government's Healthcare.gov website, there are three particularly important dates to pay attention to in the near future. These dates are:
  • October 1, 2013: When the insurance marketplace open enrollment starts
  • January 1, 2014: When health coverage can start
  • March 31, 2014: When the open enrollment period ends
Here's a look at insurance coverage for the citizens of Herkimer and Oneida Counties, as well as New York State, as we move toward implementation of this insurance coverage system.

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What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up? Picking a Career Based on Future Job Growth and Earnings

With the start of college only a month or so away, many incoming freshman will begin that long arduous struggle to decide "What do I want to be when I grow up?" While there are many ways to make that decision, or in some cases to have that decision made for you, Rasmussen College offers and interactive website about potential careers.

The site allows the user to select the type of job he or she may be interested in, and then see if it is growing or declining, and what the median salaries are like nationally for those types of careers. Clicking on any particular job opens a pop-up screen that includes projected job growth through the year 2020, as well as the type of degree needed to at least start in the position and the amount of experience necessary to break into the field.

To see the select the career areas you might be interested in, you need to first open the field of study box by clicking on the arrows in the right hand corner...

Then you can simply click on one or more fields in order to see only those careers...

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Finally, once you select a specific career by clicking on a dot on the graph, it provides you with a lot of information about that field of work that might help you decide if that's the right area for you (or your son or daughter).
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So if you or someone else you know is interested in what the projected job growth is for different fields in the future, this site might turn out to be a good place to begin your research!

How Mothers and Fathers Spend Their Work Week

I found this article from Businessweek.com about changes in parenting, especially for fathers, very interesting. The focus of the article is on how men are trying to find a balance between work and parenting. Of course part of that balance involves caring for the children (see this prior post about finding adequate day care arrangements). They offer the following graphic as a comparison of the typical work week hours put in for men and women, looking at data from 1965 and comparing it to similar data from 2011.

Based on the data from the PEW Research Center, while things seem to have become more balanced, women still provide twice as much child care, and do twice as much housework as men; they generally work only about half as much time per week as men, as well.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

NYS Crime Statistics: Domestic Violence Victims Data from DCJS

The New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services(DCJS) has a great statistics page which provides a variety of data down to the department level actually. It includes information on the seven major index crimes tracked by the FBI ( murder, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault, burglary, larceny and motor vehicle theft), as well as breaking out violent crimes based on the use of a firearm during their commission.

Another set of data provided by the DCJS are domestic violence victim data by county, and by reporting agency. This data set includes the offense, as well as the relationship of the domestic partner, and whether victim was some other family member than a domestic partner. Below is an example of what the data looks like, in this case for Herkimer County domestic violence cases. Any Herkimer County law enforcement agency not appearing in the table reported no domestic violence arrests in the last year.

To see a similar table for Oneida County, visit this page. But be sure to look at all the data on the DCJS statistics page.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Zone Improvement Plan Codes, or ZIP Codes, Turn Fifty

Zone Improvement Plan codes, or what we commonly refer to as ZIP codes, turned 50 recently! Yes, that’s right, they have only been in place for 50 years – since the year 1963! The ZIP code is the system of postal codes used by the United States Postal Service (USPS). The word “ZIP” is written properly in capital letters and was chosen to suggest that the mail travels more efficiently, and therefore more quickly, when senders use it. The basic format consists of five numerical digits. An extended ZIP + 4 code (which was introduced in 1983) includes the five digits of the ZIP code, a hyphen and then four more digits, which allow a piece of mail to be directed to a more precise location than by the ZIP code alone.

ZIP codes are numbered with the first digit representing a certain group of U.S. states, the second and third digits together representing a region in that group (or perhaps a large city) and the fourth and fifth digits representing more specific areas, such as small towns or regions of that city. The main town in a region (if applicable) often gets the first ZIP codes for that region; afterward, the numerical order often follows the alphabetical order .Generally, the first three digits designate a sectional center facility, the mail-sorting and distribution center for an area.

This piece by NPR highlights nine of the most noteworthy US ZIP codes. While census data is not technically available by ZIP code, it is available by something called ZCTAs. This stands for ZIP Code Tabulation Areas. These approximate ZIP codes based on their relationship to available census geography. To learn more about ZCTAs, visit this Census Bureau webpage.

Purchasing Power, Business Activity, and Workforce Density By Zip Codes

The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Employment and Training Institute provides comparison data on purchasing power, business activity and workforce density for all residential ZIP codes and the 100 largest metro areas in the U.S. The profiles are designed to help cities, businesses, developers, and organizations assess the advantages of urban density for underserved city neighborhoods.it is a pretty simple process to type in your zip code and then get a nice summary of all three of these aspects of any given zip code. The main problem with this data at the moment is it has NOT been updated to the most recent census data - it was created largely using the Census 2000 information.

While this is a drawback, the site nonetheless is unique and provides quite a bit of insight to an area's economic strengths. For example, here is a print out of just one of the tables that they provide, in this case for the Herkimer zip code (13350). 

As you can see it provides annual expenditures on purchases as well as expenditures per square mile within the zip code area for a list of 16 different types of purchases. These 16 are defined as follows:

includes expenditures for food purchased at grocery stores and convenience stores, and food prepared at home for out-of-town trips.
includes expenditures for meals at restaurants, carry-out orders, food purchased on out-of-town trips, school lunches, and meals as pay.
includes expenditures clothing (suits, coats, sweaters, shirts, skirts, nightware, undergarments, hosiery, uniforms, costumes, etc.), accessories, footwear, material for making clothes, watches, jewelry, shoe repair, laundry and dry cleaning costs, and clothing storage.
includes expenditures for TVs, VCRs and video disc players; video cassettes, tapes and discs; video game hardware and software; cable and satellite service; repairs of TVs, radio and sound equipment; and rental of televisions.
includes expenditures for radios; tape recorders and players; sound components and component systems; records, CDs, audio tapes, and needles; record, tape, CD and video mail order clubs; musical instruments; accessories and other sound equipment; satellite dishes; and rental of above equipment.
includes expenditures for bathroom, bedroom, kitchen and dining room linens; curtains and draperies; slipcovers and decorative pillows; sewing materials for the home.
includes expenditures for mattresses and springs; sofas; living room tables and chairs; kitchen and dining room furniture; infants' furniture; outdoor furniture; wall units, cabinets and other occasional furniture.
includes expenditures for wall-to-wall carpeting (for renters and homeowners) and non-permanent floor coverings.
includes expenditures for dishwashers, garbage disposals, refrigerators, freezers, washing machines, clothes dryers, cooking stoves, microwave ovens, air conditioners; floor cleaning equipment, and sewing machines.
includes expenditures for china, dinnerware, flatware, glassware, serving pieces, small electric kitchen appliances, and portable heating and cooling equipment.
includes expenditures for computers, computer hardware, computer software and accessories, for nonbusiness use.
includes expenditures for window coverings, infants' equipment, outdoor equipment, clocks, lamps and lighting fixtures; other household decorative items; telephones and accessories; lawn and garden equipment; power tools; hand tools; plants and fresh flowers; closet and storage items; rental of furniture; and luggage.
includes expenditures for non- prescription drugs, non-prescription vitamins, eyeglasses and contact lenses, topicals and dressings, medical equipment for general use, supportive and convalescent medical equipment, and rental and repair of medical equipment.
includes expenditures for laundry and cleaning supplies, cleansing and toilet tissue, paper towels and napkins, miscellaneous household products, and lawn and garden supplies.
includes expenditures for hair care products, nonelectric articles for the hair, wigs and hairpieces, oral hygiene products and articles, shaving needs, cosmetics, perfume, bath preparation products, deodorants, feminine hygiene articles, and miscellaneous personal care items.
includes expenditures for paints; wallpapers; electrical supplies for heating and cooling equipment; materials for hard surface flooring, repair and replacement; materials and equipment for roof and gutters; materials for plastering, paneling, siding, windows, doors, screens, awnings; materials for patios, walks, fences, driveways, brick, masonry and stucco work; materials for landscaping maintenance; materials to finish basements, remodel rooms, or build patios, walks, etc.

A visit to their methodology page is worth it if you want to fully understand not only how they defined these purchases but also how they then measured purchasing power, etc. In the meantime, feel free to visit the site and punch in your local zip code and see how it compares to others in your surrounding area - just remember that these are OLD data sets. If new ones become available I will be sure to post about it !

Monday, July 8, 2013

Check Twice for Motorcycles !

Of the more than 5,300 motorcycle accidents in New York State in 2011 (the latest year for which data is available) about 55% of these crashes involved the motorcycle with another vehicle. The New York State DOT offers a number of tips about safe motorcycling for operators of a motorcycles as well as for making other drivers aware of cyclists on the road. Each piece of this equation has important things to consider.

Motorcycle riders need to:
  • Remember that motorists often have trouble seeing motorcycles and reacting in time.
  • Be aware of blind spots, especially around large trucks.
  • Watch for potholes, ruts and any other irregular riding surface. Even with constant remedial effort, potholes will present themselves.
  • Work zones require an increased awareness of potential hazards.
While all motorists need to:

  • Be alert and aware.
  • Drive defensively.
  • Look twice to prevent violating the right of way of motorcyclists, pedestrians, and cars.

To promote motorcycle safety the following strategies from the NYS Comprehensive Highway Safety Plan are being implemented:
  1. Reduce impaired driving. The STOP-DWI Program is directed at reducing the number of impaired drivers operating all types of vehicles on New York's roadways.
  2. Reduce motorcycle fatalities resulting from errors by other drivers. Education and public information is aimed at heightening the awareness of all motorists to the presence of motorcycles on the road.
  3. Increase motorcycle rider education for novice and experienced riders. In 1997, New York established a rider-funded safety education program called the Motorcycle Safety Program (MSP).
  4. Increase safety through design, operation, and maintenance practices. This includes safety considerations during construction for milled pavement surfaces and signs for skewed railroad grade crossings where the angle between the roadway and track is less than 30 degrees.
 So remember: "CHECK TWICE - SAVE A LIFE!"

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Thematic Maps Available Through Cornell's Program on Applied Demographics

The Program on Applied Demographics at Cornell University has a great maps page if you're looking for some thematic mapping of the whole state by county. By visiting their maps page you can select a theme (or metric as they prefer to say) to see mapped out by county for the entire state of New York  So for example if you were looking for a feel for what the median age of the population living in each county was, you could select the "metric" on median age and then get the map to show that particular characteristic on a state wide map. It would look like this:

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Mappable metrics include:

Feel free to explore the PAD site. They do some great things with Census data there !

Monday, July 1, 2013

Elderly Americans and Lower Life Evaluations: Apparently Your Happiness IS Relative(s)

According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, elderly Americans who live with people under the age of 18 have lower life evaluations than those who do not. They experience worse emotional outcomes (including less happiness and enjoyment) and more stress, worry, and anger than other Americans. In part, these negative evaluations of their lives come from living with a child, especially the feeling that their health is poorer as a result of living with younger children.

Even with controls, the elderly who live with children do worse on many life evaluation categories. This is in sharp contrast to younger adults who live with children, likely their own, whose life evaluation is no different in the presence of the child once background conditions are controlled for. Parents, like elders, have enhanced negative emotions in the presence of a child, but unlike elders, also have enhanced positive emotions.

A while back I posted information about what is was to be a grandparent in Herkimer and Oneida Counties. This post includes a data link that shows how many grandparents live with grandchildren and provide care for them!

Regional Flooding 2013: Flood Statistics from the National Flood Insurance Program

Click to See Flood Statistics
According to FloodSmart.gov flooding is the number one most common disaster in the United States. Our area has been recent hit with wide spread flood so no one is probably more aware of this devastation than the Herkimer and Oneida Counties region. Among the many things you have to deal with are the loss of important records and paper work. Kent Stuetz of the NYS Archives offers the following recommendations when ti comes to keeping those important financial and personal records dry. As he recently wrote:

"We have experienced a lot of rain in the past month and unfortunately some flooding in CNY. Most of you did not have records destroyed by flooding, but there is a universal risk that all of us are currently exposed to . . . mold and other fungi. Thus, the essentials of dehumidification which follows.
Please take a moment to check your basement records storage areas today and make sure that you have not experienced any flooding and that your dehumidifier is functioning properly. It is really a good idea that your dehumidifier is plumbed for ongoing drainage rather than you having to empty the accumulated water manually.

One would think in these very wet conditions that you would want to crank up your dehumidifier to a higher setting to drain the swamp so to speak. Nothing could be further from the truth. When a dehumidifier is turned up to a high setting, it will actually pull moisture from outside your records storage room through the walls and floor. The extremely dry air inside your storage room will act as a wick and will suck in moisture. Also, a dehumidifier running on high will create a lot of extra heat in your storage area, inviting mold like a tornado a mobile home park. If your dehumidifier has settings 0-9 for example, I personally would set it at 3 and forget it (as long as it is plumbed for self drainage).

Set the dehumidifier's FAN only to a high setting or get a new little box fan to circulate the air in your storage area nicely. This will go a long way to keep the air moving and remove pockets of moist air.

These basic steps will save you A LOT of grief if followed as there is almost nothing worse than a basement full of moldy, fungi covered records. "

Below you can see some pictures of the recent flooding in Herkimer, which took place at my house and in my neighborhood.
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