Census data available, eventually

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Actually getting the information is positively agonizing

By Harold Morgan

A few days ago, the sweet young blonde woman newsreader gushed on the noon newscast that the Census has announced that New Mexico’s April 2010 population was just over 2 million.
Actually, this number, 2,059,179, was released three months ago.
So much for television’s immediacy. The “news” that sunny March 15, which I think the blonde lady missed, was that the Census had done its first public release of a huge amount of New Mexico data.
For those of you interested in this material and who also are, uh, “challenged” by getting there, here are some initial steps, offered because this ain’t easy, even perhaps for the unchallenged.
On the Internet, start with www.Census.gov.
Then, from the left side menu, click on American FactFinder. There are two fact finders. The one on the left is for the new stuff.
Click on factfinder2.census.gov. This is easy to see. It’s in big blue letters.
First, though, just below where it says, “factfinder2.census.gov,” a line in smaller type invites you to “Learn more about the new American FactFinder.” The first item in your learning experience is an “informational brochure.”
Next you are invited to take a virtual tour, that is, to view a video stepping you through some of the FactFinder options.
Clicking on this latest invitation brings the usual screen for the video and, surprise, a transcript of the video. The transcript was welcome because my retention of the video’s detail would be about 20 seconds.
FactFinder offers nine more videos, also with transcripts, that are called tutorials. One approach to using the videos and the transcripts, an oh-so-very-90s tactic, would be to print the transcripts, punch holes in the pages and put them in a notebook.
Then you would have what used to be called an operator’s manual.
Or you could open two browser screens, one for the transcript and one for your data search and switch back and forth.
My Macintosh has a two-screen approach that I don’t quite understand.
Following the introductory transcript, my usual poking-around approach yielded county population for 2000.
It downloaded nicely into an Excel file, except that I didn’t care about data from 2000.
To get back to the drawing board, I hit a “go back” arrow on FactFinder’s results page.
It didn’t go back, so, after a minute, I forced the browser to quit and started over.
This problem may have developed from getting into the old FactFinder.
On the left side of FactFinder, you can select data options such as total population, race or ethnic origin for people and for a geographic area such as a state.
A large number of “geographic filter options” are available, for example, “within American Indian area.” Then click on the table you want to see. A new screen appears offering options on how to view the table.
I asked for “download.” A format options box asked about comma delimited (whatever that is), Excel or PDF. The table downloaded.
I thought I asked for county data, but I got place. That means I now know that of the 1,441 people living in the Berino CDP (Census Designated Place), a suburb of either Vado or Anthony, 1,418 are Hispanic. Berino is one of New Mexico’s 442 CDPs, towns, villages and cities with population counted.
With seven people each, the Newkirk and White’s City CDPs seem tied for the smallest population. Statewide, New Mexico has 953,403 people calling themselves Hispanic, good for 46 percent of our 2.06 million folks.
That makes us the national leader. This is good to know. It also is good to know that you can get somewhere with FactFinder — eventually.

Harold Morgan
NM News Services