How to get the most out of the Indicators Idaho website
Use data to understand what's happening in your county
Indicator text describes the indicator so you know what it is measuring
Charts provide a "picture" of the data so you can compare to your state or the nation, or see how the numbers have changed over time.
Rankings allow you to see how your county or state compares to other counties or states. Pay attention to whether a ranking of "1" refers to the highest or lowest value. You can change the ranking order or change which column is ranked by clicking on the arrow in the column heading above the column you want to rank.
Maps show how data vary across Idaho. Look to see if there are patterns such as pockets of high or low values, differences between counties in metropolitan areas and the rest of the state, or perhaps very little variation or no discernible pattern. You can view the ready-made maps of Idaho or create your own maps. Both types of maps can be downloaded as PDF files.
If you make your own map, you can use the user-defined categories to isolate specific trends. For example, you can use two categories to map counties with negative versus positive population change, or several categories to isolate counties with job losses versus those with small, medium or large amounts of job growth.
Use the Download Data feature to look at data for all counties in your state, to look at the raw data when the website text doesn't provide what you're looking for, or to access the data to make your own calculations.
These profiles provide a quick look at your county's most up-to-date information. Use the profile as a reference tool for grant-writing or reporting, as a handout for a presentation, or even in information packets about your community.
Print maps of your state to use as handouts, or copy a map and insert it into your report or presentation. You can also print maps from several indicators to see if they have similar geographic patterns.
The charts can be copied from the website and posted into your documents.
It's important to remember that all indicators are part of a bigger story. Use these ideas for placing indicators into a larger context.
Track indicators over time to identify trends:
- Are values increasing, decreasing, or staying steady?
- Are values changing quickly or gradually?
- Are values always moving in the same direction, or have there been ups and downs?
For any indicator, compare your county to other counties, to your state and/or the nation:
- Is your county's value higher or lower than the state or national average?
- Has it always been that way?
- Is your county's value similar to values found in neighboring counties? Look at a map or download data to find out.
- If not, how do they differ?
Look at maps to see how your county fits into a larger, regional picture:
- In Idaho, can you see patterns such as pockets of high or low values, or individual counties that stand out?
- Make your own map and use the user-defined categories to isolate specific trends. For example, you can use two categories to map counties with negative versus positive population change, or several categories to isolate counties with job losses versus those with small, medium or large amounts of job growth.
Perhaps the most important part of understanding what's happening in your county is to understand that indicators don't exist in a vacuum. As population increases or decreases, there may also be changes in the number of jobs, or the number of people poverty, or the crime rate.
The Indicators Idaho website can't tell what cause these changes or how they influence each other, but it can help you track changes over time and look for patterns. Take the time to explore several indicators and compare them side by side to get a better understanding of what's happening in your county.
Don't forget to go to the County Types indicators to see whether your county is classified as a metropolitan county, a creative class county, a persistent poverty county, etc.
If there is a reservation within your county's boundaries, consider viewing the reservation on the Indicators Idaho website, where you can compare data for Native Americans living within reservation boundaries to the total population living there.
Finally, consider things that can't be tracked by these indicators. Are there new employers in the area, or do you live in a unique type of community? A rural county with a major university, for example, will look very different from a metropolitan county with a lot of manufacturing jobs.