This tool takes the hassle out of locating and calculating data needed to help determine eligibility for certain federal grants based on economic distress.

The report provides the 24-month average unemployment rate; per capita income from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS) ; and per capita personal income annual data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA).

Step-by-Step Instructions

  • Choose Which Tool. If you want to determine eligibility for a county, region or your own region by combining multiple counties, use the county-based tool. However, if you want to combine census tracts to form a sub-county or cross-county region, switch to the tract-based tool.

  • Choose Geography. Here, you can choose to select the specific geographies using either a dropdown menu, the map or both. The dropdowns provide an alphabetical listing of the specific states, counties, etc. that you want to view. Note that if you select Districts or Metros at this point, you will also need to select the specific metro or district type (metro, micro, combined or economic development district).

    Using the Map: The map is initially in NAVIGATE mode, which allows you to zoom in or out or move the map (by clicking on it and moving it) to the general area where you want to select geographies. Once you have the map in the area of the country you want, click on the toggle bar underneath the map to SELECT mode. Once you click that, you can click on parts of the map you want to include. Those geographic selections will appear in the box. To return to the Navigation View, just click on the toggle bar again.


  • Select Year. You can select any year—the default will yield the most current year and month for which the unemployment rate data are available (these are updated monthly for all counties and states). If you leave the month/year at the default setting, you will get the most current data available at this time. However, if you need a specific month, that option is available as well.

  • Display Report. Clicking the “Get Report” button generates the report (if you selected many counties or tracts, allow a few seconds). You may need to scroll down to view the report. You can then copy the data as it appears into any spreadsheet, slide or word processing tool for further use.

The Data and What They Measure

The primary focus of this tool is to provide the data required for EDA grants, although there may be other federal grant programs that require this information.

24-Month Unemployment Rate

    • Frequency: The Bureau of Labor Statistics releases monthly preliminary and revised unemployment data as part of the Local Area Unemployment Statistics program. The latest month available is always called “preliminary,” while the previous month (and sometimes all months in a given year) is revised. Preliminary data are released toward the end of each month for the time two months prior. For example, July files for all U.S. counties would be released toward the end of September.
    • Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, FTP files for all U.S. counties and states, providing both revised and preliminary figures. The Indiana Business Research Center (IBRC) has utilized these sources files for more than 30 years and has highly sophisticated verification and quality control processes that ensure these data are identical to the source data.
    • Calculation: We calculate the 24-month average by taking the sum of the labor force and the sum of unemployed persons. We then divide unemployment by the labor force to achieve the rate for the period of 24 months. Explained another way, the rate of unemployment is that portion of the total labor force that is unemployed. One might want to sum 24 months of unemployment rates and then divide by 24, but doing that will not provide an accurate rate since it doesn’t account for rounding.
    • Thresholds: The threshold calculations are shown in the output report and reflect the difference between the unemployment rate for the geographic area or region selected and the U.S. figure. For example, if Economic Development District A has a 24-month rate of 6.9 and the U.S. rate is 7.9, the difference shown in the threshold column is -1.0—meaning it is 1 point lower than the U.S.

Per Capita Income

Three distinct sources are shown in the tool:

  1. Per Capita Money Income (5-Year ACS)—From the American Community Survey
    The ACS 5-year averages are available for all areas down to the tract and block group levels.
    • Frequency: Annual, with the 5-year estimates released in December.
    • Source: U.S. Census Bureau:
    • Calculation: The selected area’s per capita value is divided by the U.S. per capita income and shown as a percentage share of the U.S. figure. For example, if the District of Columbia has a threshold calculation of 145.2, this means its PCMI is 45.2 percent higher than the nation at large.

  2. Per Capita Personal Income (BEA)—From the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis
    The most used per capita income figure, it is an estimate that includes not only cash sources of income (as the Census Bureau figure does), but also insurance, transfer payments, dividends, interest and rent.
    • Frequency: Annual release in the spring (typically April) of each year.
    • Source: U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis files for all counties and states in the nation, as part of the REIS (regional economic information system). It is often referred to as the local personal income estimates.
    • Calculation: The selected area’s per capita value is divided by the U.S. per capita income and shown as a percentage share of the U.S. figure. For example, if the District of Columbia has a threshold calculation of 145.2, this means its PCPI is 45.2 percent higher than the nation at large.

How We Ensure the Integrity of the Data

The IBRC at Indiana University has provided and analyzed of socioeconomic data since 1925 and currently maintains a database of more than 10 billion records of economic and demographic data for the U.S. states, counties, cities, etc. Our team of professionals have rigid quality control methods and work daily to collect, organize, transform and load these data into the database so that we can make it available on STATS America, STATS Indiana and other tools we’ve developed to assist with economic and community development.

Updated December 4, 2017