• Megan Johanson

Unexpected Data Viz Source

You may think of the Census as just a mandatory survey of the country’s population every 10 years. The data from the Census have far-reaching implications, including the recalculation of house seats for each state. Of course, you can also use the Census data at various geographic levels to understand your community.


Something you may not know about the Census is that the website provides ready-made data visualizations using data from the full Census and the more frequently collected American Community Surveys.


The visualizations vary in how well they meet design standards (in my opinion), but I enjoy browsing the catalog for interesting topics.


There are the types of data visualization you would expect:


Data on Small Business Owners:

Pie charts where size of firm if represented for women, miniority and hispanic-owned businesses. More than half of these three types of employer firms employ between 1 and 4 people.

Gif Map of Childhood Poverty (click on the image to go to a gif showing the change over time):

Map of the United States where darker blue represents higher child poverty rates. The states in the south have higher rates.

Characteristics of College Students:

Bar charts where characteristics of college students are represented by gender, age, marriage status, parental status, work status, and adult role.


There are visualizations of data you might not expect:


Travel time to work (click on the image to go to the interactive map):

Map of the United States where darker colors represent longer travel time to work. Several areas in the northeast have longer commute times.

How many dads live with their kids:

Stacked bar chart representing how many fathers live with their children. Nearly 80% of fathers live with some or all of their biological children.

Breweries in the US (click the image to go to the interactive map):

Map of the United States where there is a beer on each state scaled to the number of breweries in that state.

How much homeowners spend on home improvements:

Infographic in the shape of a house depicting average amount homeowners spend on home improvements by room.


Some visualizations show someone in the Census Viz department is having fun with holidays:


For example, this infographic was released for St. Patrick’s Day:

Bar chart representing the top 10 counties in the United States with the largest total Irish populations.

In 2017, they explored how Irish places in the US named Dublin are:

Stacked bar chart depicting the percentage of the population that is Irish in United States cities named Dublin. Dublin Ohio had the highest percentage of residents reporting Irish ancestry.

This was created for President’s Day 2021:

Bar chart where the number of places named for presidents are reported. Washington has the most places named for him.

Populations of US Cities with the most Festive Names:

Bar chart depicting the population of several festively named cities in the United States.

The number of workers in careers that are common Halloween costumes:

Bar chart where the number of workers in occupations that are potential Halloween costumes are sorted from largest to smallest. Construction laborers are the largest worker group.

Have you ever seen visualizations by the Census Bureau before?


Which is your favorite? Mine is the Presidential Places viz.