About USA Counties in Profile

Compare and contrast your county to others nationwide. The linked ranks provide a unique way to see counties and states when compared to everywhere else in the nation.

These profiles provide a select compilation of demographic and economic indicators. They are updated periodically through the year, so check back often for the most current information.

To learn more about the data, the ranks and other features, click on a heading below to expand/collapse its content.

The following information provides background information for each profile section.  Since the sources for each subsection are provided in the profile, source information is
not repeated here.  If a subsection is not listed, that means further explanation was not deemed necessary.

Population

  • Population over Time: 1980 data are using July 1 estimates. 1990, 2000 and 2010 are Census counts as of April 1.
  • Components of Change: Part of the annual county estimates of the resident population. Further explanation of this and the estimates methodology can be found at www.census.gov/popest/.
  • Population by Age: Between Census years this section is updated with age estimates. The median age for age estimates was calculated by the IBRC. The Census Bureau states that due to the complexities associated with the production of detailed characteristics estimates at the state and county levels, the values of the estimates at lower levels of geography may not necessarily sum to estimates at higher levels of geography. In addition, further complications arise when producing characteristics estimates for the District of Columbia. Due to its unique status, the population total presented here is the sum of the characteristics for the District of Columbia and does not match the official population total previously released.
  • Population by Race: Census 2000 was the first census to allow for multiple choices on the race question.  Shown in the profile are those reporting one race only and specific races for that categories, plus the number of persons reporting more than one race.
  • Hispanic or Latino (can be of any race): Specifics are provided as to the nationality given by the respondents to this question on the census forms. "Other" includes people who do not identify with one of the specific origins, (Mexican, Cuban, Puerto Rican), listed on the questionnaire but indicate that they are ‘‘other Spanish, Hispanic, or Latino’’ are those whose origins are from Spain, the Spanish-speaking countries of Central or South America, the Dominican Republic, or people identifying themselves generally as Spanish, Spanish-American, Hispanic, Hispano, Latino, and so on. Further explantion on Hispanic origin and race being two distinct concepts: www.census.gov/population/www/socdemo/compraceho.html.

Housing and Households

  • Households and Families: A household can consist of one or more persons, regardless of the relationship. Family households must include at least two people related by marriage, birth, or adoption. For example, sisters, cousins, mother and father with children, a grandmother and her grandchildren.
  • Residential Building Permits: These data are based on data from 19,000 permit-issuing places across the country.  Reports are provided to the U.S. Census Bureau.  Learn more about how these data are collected »

Income

  • Median Household Income: Median household income for 2000 is from Census 2000, Summary File 3 and should not be confused with either the Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates (SAIPE) of the Census Bureau or the low-to-moderate income estimates from HUD (Housing and Urban Development). The U.S.A. Counties in Profile uses Census data in Census years (example 1990, 2000) and SAIPE data, when available, in non-census years. More information about median household income estimates can be found here: www.census.gov/topics/income-poverty/income/data/tables.html
  • Per Capita Personal Income: These are annual estimates from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, which produces a detailed series on personal income, a commonly used measure of wealth that allows for easy comparison among counties and states. Previous years have been adjusted for inflation using the Consumer Price Index.
  • Personal Income: The table shows how personal income is derived:
    • Earnings by Place of Work
    • Minus contributions to social insurance
    • Plus residence adjustment
    • Equals Net Earnings by Place of Residence
    • Plus Dividends, Rent and Interest
    • Plus Transfer Payments
    • Equals Total Personal Income by Place of Residence
  • Poverty Estimates: The USA Counties in Profile uses Census data in Census years (example 1990, 2000) and Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates (SAIPE) data, when available, in non-census years. More information about poverty estimates can be found here: www.census.gov/topics/income-poverty/income/data/tables.html

Labor Force

More information on labor force data: www.bls.gov/lau/laufaq.htm

  • Educational Attainment: Refers to the highest level of education completed in terms of the highest degree or the highest level of schooling completed.

BLS Employment and Wages

Data comes from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wage Program of the Bureau of Labor Statistics. More information on this data set can be found at: www.bls.gov/cew/cewfaq.htm.

BEA Employment and Earnings

More information on each line item: www.bea.gov/regional/index.htm

Two ranks are provided—rank within the United States and rank within the state.  There is a toggle in the top frame "compare within" that allows the user to switch between U.S. comparisons and comparisons within the state.

Ranks within State

The overview page gives the number of counties in the state if you have clicked state comparison option. 

Ranks within the United States

Three things can affect the ranks for a given data item:

  1. Each data source (Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, etc.) has a few slight variations regarding their set of counties. 

  2. Tied ranks (for data items that are identical, such as unemployment rates where there isn’t as much variation between counties.

  3. Disclosure issues: some data for employment, earnings and wages may not be disclosed (D) to avoid breeching confidentiality rules.

Therefore, the number of counties actually ranked for each item varies.

A variety of calculations are provided as a value-added feature, helping put the data into context. Percent changes, distributions and shares of United States or individual state can help the user understand the specific county’s position nationally or statewide.

Percent changes provide look at change over a given period of time.  The earlier year is subtracted from the latest year, divided by the earlier year and presented in percent (rather than fraction) form in this profile. 

Percent of U.S. or State (sometimes referred to as share) is a way of comparing the county to the U.S. or its state. For example, the state of Illinois has 4.38% of the nation’s population.  The percent of U.S. or State when calculated based on per capita or rate can be used as a relative measure and show whether the county is doing worse, better or the same as the U.S. or State.  For example, Illinois as a percent of U.S. per capita income is 109.1%.  This means that Illinois’s per capita income is 9.1% greater than that of the U.S.

Percent within County is a percent distribution calculation—that is, the percent of married couples households as a percent of all households.

Adjustment for inflation was made on all dollar values.  This was done using the CPI (consumer price index) for the years being compared.

For counties or county equivalents, we are using the Census Bureau’s latest list of counties (as part of its latest population estimates files). County equivalents are essentially independent cities, such as St. Louis City (which is not part of St. Louis County) or Baltimore City, again, not part of Baltimore County. In Alaska, there are boroughs that are considered equivalents.The BEA (Bureau of Economic Analysis) employment and earnings data have an added set of special geography. That agency has incorporated certain independent cities into counties so that they could show data for those areas.

Here are some additional resources you may find useful:

For space reasons, sources were not cited on the overview page as they are with the other tables.  They are provided below.

  • Population and Households
    Source:  U.S. Census Bureau
     
  • Labor Force: the number of persons, by county of residence, who are either employed or unemployed and seeking work.  Annual average.
    Source:  U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
     
  • Unemployment Rate: annual average. 
    Source:  U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
     
  • Per Capita Personal Income:  This measure of income is calculated as the personal income of the residents of a given area divided by the resident population of the area.
    Source:  U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.
     
  • Median Household Income: annual estimate.
    Source:  U.S. Census Bureau.

  • Poverty Rate: annual estimate.
    Source: U.S. Census Bureau.

  • High School Diploma or More and Bachelor's Degree or More
    Source: U.S. Census Bureau
     
  • Covered Employment: annual averages based on covered payroll counts (QCEW).
    Source:  U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
     
  • Average Wage Per Job: covered payroll divided by covered employment.
    Source:  U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
     
  • Manufacturing - Percent of all jobs:  Calculated by dividing manufacturing jobs for the county or state by the total number of nonfarm jobs.  The percentage given reflects the proportion of all jobs in the county or state that are in the manufacturing sector.
     
  • Transportation and Warehousing - Percent of all jobs:  Calculated by dividing transportation and warehousing for the county or state by the total number of nonfarm jobs.  The percentage given reflects the proportion of all jobs in the county or state that are in the transportation and warehousing sector.
     
  • Health Care and Social Assistance - Percent of all jobs:  Calculated by dividing health care and social assistance jobs for the county or state by the total number of nonfarm jobs.  The percentage given reflects the proportion of all jobs in the county or state that are in the health care and social assistance sector.

  • Finance and Insurance - Percent of all jobs: Calculated by dividing finance and insurance jobs for the county or state by the total number of nonfarm jobs.  The percentage given reflects the proportion of all jobs in the county or state that are in the finance and insurance sector.