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Monday, 14th July 2008

Resources of the Week: Niche Statistics

Resources of the Week: Niche Statistics
By Shirl Kennedy, Senior Editor

I am not a specialist. I am a generalist. Numerous times in the course of the average workweek, I am asked for something I've never even tried to find before. Probably more than half the time, this involves statistics. Almost always, I can ferret out something useful and -- most important -- make it look easy.

Dial M for magician.

The actual moral truth is -- no matter what the subject, someone or some entity Out There is collecting statistics about it. Find the appropriate source and you are golden. Here are half a dozen examples.

+ Center for National Truck and Bus Statistics

The Center for National Truck and Bus Statistics was established in 1988 to formalize the national program to collect and analyze truck accident data, which had begun with the 1980 data year. Since then the program has expanded to include a survey of bus crashes.

This site is located at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute. What's here? All manner of statistics about truck and bus crashes and miscellaneous publications. The latest data, published in 2008, is from 2005.

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+ Wedding Industry Research, from Library of Congress Business Reference Services.

Let us be clear at the beginning. This is not a guide on how to plan a wedding, but rather on how to find information on the business of weddings.

Click on the "Statistics" link and have a look at what's there. Besides the "usual suspects" -- Census Bureau, National Center for Health Statistics, Statistical Abstract of the United States -- you'll also find links to:

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+ Rodney Fort's Sports Economics: Sports Business Data
Professor Fort, who teaches at the University of Michigan, is one of the nation's preeminent sports economists. The collection of data here is staggering in both depth and breadth. Fort has assembled years of salary, attendance, and financial information for Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, the National Football League, the National Hockey League, and English and European football associations. If it's not here, you are likely to have a very difficult time trying to find it -- especially for free, on the open Web.

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+ DoD Personnel and Military Casualty Statistics, from the U.S. Department of Defense Statistical Information Analysis Division.
This is the type of data that is requested over and over and over again, at least where I've worked.

  • Military Personnel Statistics includes Active Duty Military Strength by Service, Active Duty Military Personnel by Service by Region/Country, Active Duty Military Personnel by Service by Rank/Grade, Historical Total and Women Only Reports - FY 1994 through FY 2001, and Selected Medical Care Statistics - Military Facilities. The latter reports were discontinued after 1996; everything else is continually updated.
  • Civilian Personnel Statistics includes DoD Employment by Organization and Function, by fiscal year, from 1997 to 2008.
  • Military Casualty Information includes extremely detailed breakdowns of casualties for Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, as well as casualty statistics for previous conflicts.
  • Military Admirals and Generals -- This link has been more or less emasculated since 9/11. Official rosters of admirals and generals are now mostly available only to those who can log into the appropriate sites on .gov and/or .mil domains. But you can still readily access biographies of Air Force and Navy flag officers.
  • Statistical Information Analysis Division Work Force Publications -- Manpower statistical reports by geographic region, year, etc.
  • Glossary of DoD Workforce Terms -- Helpful in dealing with the plethora of jargon.

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+ Tax Statistics, from the Statistics of Income Division and Other Areas of the Internal Revenue Service
Say what you want about the IRS, but they are extremely efficient at compiling and disseminating data. Find business tax statistics (foreign and domestic), individual tax statistics (including personal wealth), data related to IRS operations, statistics related to charitable organizations and nonprofits, various and sundry reports and -- this is particularly interesting -- statistics by actual tax form, for various years.

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+ Intercountry Adoption Statistics, from the U.S. Department of State
These are basically tables that show the number of immigrant visas issued to orphans entering the U.S., for the top 20 countries, by year, back to 1990. More detailed information for FY 2007 is available as a separate report (PDF; 53 KB).


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