Those working to improve communities know that economics plays a big part in a person’s overall health. People living in or near poverty have difficulty accessing affordable housing, healthy food, consistent medical care, and basic transportation. Community Commons has the data and tools you need to assess your community’s economic health and start addressing the factors the can improve the lives of citizens.
1. Explore the types and sources of economic data
A number of factors influence on community’s economic situation. Our Economy channel captures the breadth and depth of the issue by highlighting stories and data that speak to economy. Explore this space as an introduction.
Our unique public-use data engine has hundreds of economic data layers. We make it easy to find the data you are looking for and even easier to browse the data you didn’t know you had access to.
To search, go straight to our data list and enter key words like economic, income, employment, poverty, or housing. Or search data sources such as American Community Survey, Bureau of Economic Analysis, or US Department of Labor.
To browse, visit our Map Room, choose browse by topic, and the click on the drop downs to explore.
2. Look at the data from a variety of viewpoints
Now that you’ve found the data, let our visualizations make economic data accessible to all of your stakeholders. A table of employment data can be viewed in a table or graph format as seen below.
Change-over-time views are a great way to track improvements or see where an area is falling behind.
Here’s another example where a data visualization really tells a story of economic hardship.
Dials are another visualization that allows communities to see how they compare to the rest of their state or the US as a whole.
All of these visualizations are available within a Community Health Needs Assessment report. The reports are easy to make by clicking on a few drop down menus and you get all kinds of data tables and visualizations for one or more counties for every state in the US. The reports can be saved and downloaded and the visualizations can be pasted into a report or presentation format.
Not all of our economic data can be found in CHNA reports, however, but you can access data tables within the data by following these steps.
Which brings us to maps! Our member created Map Gallery has over 1,900 user maps, but when accessed through the Economy channel, the focus is narrowed to just those tagged or titled with economic issues. Visit our Economic Map Gallery now or check out a few examples below of the types of maps you will find. Click on any of the interactive maps and zoom to your area to see the data for your own community.
3. Overlay economic data with a Vulnerable Populations Footprint
Our Vulnerable Population Footprint (VPF) tool allows you to locate areas of concern for vulnerable populations and health disparities in your community based on two key indicators—poverty rate and educational attainment. We have a great printable tutorial page on how to create and save your area’s VPF.
Once you have identified your VPF, you can then use it with other data to see where to focus your change efforts. For example, below is the VPF for Las Vegas. The dark brown areas indicate the intersection of high poverty and low education attainment.
Once the footprint is saved, it can then be placed on top of other data layers to get an even deeper picture of health disparities in the Las Vegas area. The maps below illustrate this.
The interactive maps also allow you click on any geography, such as census tract or whole county, and see details about the data.
4. Use the data to create change
Whether you’re interested in wage issues, learning more about children in poverty, or assessing access to the social safety network, our economic features are carefully curated and full of maps and data that illustrate how to bring data visualization to your change efforts.
As a Commons user, you also have access to several public Hubs that organizations have utilized as a way to share their interactive reports with those working for community improvements. The Women’s Foundation report addresses issues affecting the economic well-being of women and their families in Missouri. The Community Action Partnership has made their interactive Community Needs Assessment Tool available to anyone and is a great source of secondary data related to economic issues. The Missouri Housing Development Commission report also lets you interact with their data and view key housing findings.
Would you like to contribute to the movement? Start by creating some maps for the Map Gallery and post a few questions with them. Or maybe create and download an economic report for your community. Show it around and get some feedback. Did you learn anything or did it raise new questions? Want to write about it? Contact us for guidelines on how to write a Guest Voice. The Commons is here for everyone. It’s time to get ideas, lessons, and experiences pulled together so we can collaborate with, learn from, and make change alongside each other. You in?