Monday, October 8, 2007

If you're like me, you may have wondered...

Population density map of South Carolina, from Wikipedia

...if your impressions of any given place are accurate. Wow, you think, lots of ____(fill in the blank)___ here, compared to where I am from. Or you think, wow, didn't used to be so many _____ (fill in the blank)____ here, as there are now, or as there once was. And it's very difficult to find demographic information that is neighborhood-focused, rather than municipality-focused.

From Bean and Zuzu, over at Feministe, comes the fascinating "Zip Skinny" webtool, which provides demographic information for zip codes. Although I am certain there are the usual census-related flaws, it's still fun to play with, and learn from.

For instance, when I put my own zip code in, I discover that no, I am not imagining things when I think there are a lot more affluent people here now, than there used to be. But you have to read between the lines; I know that there are pockets of poverty, since I know exactly where those pockets are. So, when I read Median Household Income: $58,279--I know that means there are a lot of millionaires (and I know where they are, too) since that number is still pretty high, IMO. (When they tell us 4.2% of people have an income over $200,000, they don't tell us how much over--but I'd love to see a further breakdown of that.) 42.6% of people have a Bachelors and our unemployment rate is 2.3%, below the national average. Below Poverty Line: 6.9%.

However, it also claims our Asian population is slightly higher than our Hispanic population, and no way that is accurate. Obviously, certain groups of people are under-reported.

Looking at some zip codes I used to live in, I see the very definition of slacker, as I look up 43202, the Ohio State University neighborhood I lived in for many years:

Bachelors degree: 32.1%
Graduate/Professional: 20.4%
High school or higher: 92.6%
Bachelors or higher: 52.5%

And then you get to:

Below Poverty Line 20.7%
Median Household Income: $33,002

Everybody is educated, but people aren't wild about working! But nobody wants to be POOR, so unemployment is below the national average. And this is summed up very well in another statistic: Median Age: 28.6 yrs.

And then there is the matter of population density. My zip code:

Population: 23803
Density: 1311.33
(people per square land mile)
Housing Units: 9676
Land Area: 18.15 sq. mi

My daughter's zip code, which is out in the middle of nowhere (Texas):

Population: 18151
Density: 24.53
(people per square land mile)
Housing Units: 8484
Land Area: 740.02 sq. mi.

And then, we go to, say, New York City; I chose zip code 10011 at random:

Population: 46669
Density: 72847.35
(people per square land mile)
Housing Units: 30277
Land Area: 0.64 sq. mi.

And we wonder why people's politics are so different?

It's fun to play with this zip-code thing, but depressing too, as I took a moment to check out all the zip codes of my past... I came across a neighborhood we all had to vacate, because the gentrification-droids wanted it. Who can afford to live in zip code 94611 now? This was the Oakland of the Black Panthers, and now, well--take a look:

Bachelors degree: 35%
Graduate/Professional: 31.8%
High school or higher: 95.6%
Bachelors or higher: 66.8%

Household Income
$100,000-$149,999 15.1%
$150,000-$199,999 7.9%
$200,000+ 12.5%
Median Household Income: $68,853
Unemployed 2%
Below Poverty Line 6.8%

Hispanic/Latino: 5.1%
White: 69%
Black: 9.8%
Native American: 0%
Asian: 11.5%
Hawaiian/Pacific Islander*: 0.1%
Other: 0.5%
Multiracial*: 3.8%

I guess they succeeded, huh? Gentrification complete!

Do you notice anything similar, in playing with this? I'd love to hear about it.

Listening to: Sonic Youth - Teen Age Riot
via FoxyTunes


bryce said...

your zip code is way fancier than mine, d. i got proof now!