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RESEARCH ON MAIN STREET

Using the Web to Find Local
Business and Market Information


By Marcy Phelps

Foreword by Mary Ellen Bates

"This book covers an area of business research that simply hasn’t been addressed before, and it fills an important gap in any researcher’s toolkit."
 - Mary Ellen Bates, Bates Information Services, Inc.

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Links to resources mentioned in Research on Main Street

Chapter Five
Local Economics


American City Business Journals (www.bizjournals.com): Visit this site to get to weekly business newspapers in 40 cities. Articles in these publications often discuss local economic issues. Follow the Book of Lists link for fee-based information about top companies in a particular geographic area.

ASAE Gateway to Associations Directory (www.asaecenter.org/Community/Directories/associationsearch.cfm): Visit the websites of local organizations to find reports, statistics, and leads to other sources. Find these groups by topic or geographic location.

Association for University Business and Economic Research (www.auber.org): Universities and other institutions often contain economy-related departments, research groups, or projects. At this site, you can search for member organizations by state.

BEA (Bureau of Economic Analysis; www.bea.gov): The BEA provides collections of regional economic statistics not found through other agencies. From its homepage, click the Regional tab to get to statistics on state and metropolitan GDP and personal income and employment.

Beige Book: See FRB: The Beige Book

BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics; www.bls.gov): This agency is responsible for collecting, processing, analyzing, and publishing statistics covering labor force status, job and wage data by place of work, and prices and living conditions. For local information, follow the Geography link from the BLS homepage.

BLS: Consumer Expenditure Survey (CE; www.bls.gov/cex): Collected by the Census Bureau for the BLS, the CE provides information on the buying habits of U.S. consumers. Click the Geography link to find national, regional, state, and metropolitan-area tables.

BLS: Economy at a Glance (www.bls.gov/eag): These handy tables provide state and metropolitan-area economic profiles, which offer monthly data on the labor force. Follow the Back Data link for historical numbers.

BLS: Employment Projections (www.bls.gov/data): At this page, follow the Employment Projections link to view 10-year national employment and occupational projections.

BLS: Geographic Profile of Employment and Unemployment (www.bls.gov/gps): This resource provides annual data on the labor force for states and substate areas. It covers selected metropolitan areas, metropolitan divisions, and cities, with sections for historical and current data.

BLS: Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS; www.bls.gov/lau): A federal-state cooperative endeavor, the LAUS program produces monthly and annual employment, unemployment, and labor force data. Geographically, this program breaks down the data for census regions and divisions, states, counties, metropolitan areas, and many cities.

BLS: Mass Layoff Statistics (www.bls.gov/data): Under the employment section of this webpage, you can link to state-level data covering layoff demographics, reasons, and other useful information about the economic health of a geographic region.

BLS: Occupational Employment Statistics (OES; www.bls.gov/OES): With data available for the nation, states, and metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas, the OES website provides employment and wage estimates for more than 800 occupations.

Building Permits: See Census Bureau: Building Permits

Census Bureau (www.census.gov): Probably more than any other government agency, the Census Bureau measures patterns of American lives and business at every level of geography. Follow the Business link and go to the Data by Geography tab, where you’ll find a table that compares dates and geographic coverage for the available data sets.

Census Bureau: Building Permits (censtats.census.gov/bldg/bldginfo.shtml): A survey of local building permit officials, this site includes statistics on residential and nonresidential construction. You can also get to Building Permits data through American FactFinder (factfinder2.census.gov).

Census Bureau: Community Economic Development HotReport (lehd.did.census.gov/led/datatools/hotreport.html): Part of the Local Employment Dynamics Program, this resource provides current state, regional, or county indicators covering demographics, economics, housing, transportation, and community assets. (Note new link: http://snipurl.com/2705yk8)

Census Bureau: County Business Patterns (www.census.gov/econ/cbp): Use this source for county, metro, and ZIP code data. These statistics cover establishments by employment and size of the establishment. ZIP code and pre-2004 data are available only through this website.

Census Bureau: Federal, State, & Local Governments (www.census.gov/govs): Visit this site for statistics from a variety of programs covering government employment, revenues, expenditures, and more. You can also find results of special-topic surveys (e.g., libraries, criminal justice, and education) and lists of local governments, their structure, and contact information.

Census Bureau: Local Employment Dynamics (LED): (Note new link: http://lehd.ces.census.gov/): This program develops and distributes detailed reports on local-level labor market conditions. LED integrates existing data with specialized reporting tools that make it easy to identify historic, geographic, and industry trends.

Census Bureau: USA Counties (censtats.census.gov/usa/usa.shtml): Through this site, you can find national, state, and county data from the Census Bureau and several other agencies. It includes economy-related statistics on topics such as banking, business patterns, education, employment, health, manufacturers, and much more.

Census of Agriculture (www.agcensus.usda.gov): This resource from the U.S. Department of Agriculture is the only source of uniform, comprehensive agricultural data for every U.S. state and county. Tables report results covering all areas of farming and ranching operations, including production expenses, market value of products, and operator characteristics.

Chamber of Commerce Directory (www.chamberofcommerce.com/chambers): Chambers of commerce often collect and share data about companies, industry, employment and unemployment, and other economic information. This directory of links will take you to these local organizations.

Claritas: See Nielsen Claritas

Common Core of Data (nces.ed.gov/ccd): The U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (nces.ed.gov) is your best source for local-level educational data, through its CCD program. Information on schools and school districts can be put into custom tables and downloaded in preformatted reports.

Community Economic Development HotReport: See Census Bureau: Community Economic Development HotReport

Congressional Budget Office: Economic Projections (Note new URL: www.cbo.gov/topics/economy/economic-projections): Use this source for current national economic projections on such indicators as GDP, unemployment rates, consumer price index, tax bases, and much more.

Consumer Expenditure Survey: See BLS: Consumer Expenditure Survey

County Business Patterns: See Census Bureau: County Business Patterns

Economics Departments, Institutes and Research Centers in the World (EDIRC; edirc.repec.org/usa.html): Visit this site for a list of links to economic research institutes and university departments. These organizations often produce economic data and provide leads to local economic experts.

Economic Development Directory (www.ecodevdirectory.com): Economic development organizations collect and share data about companies, industry, employment and unemployment, and other information related to the economic health of local geographic areas. Through this site, you can link to the websites of local groups.

Economy at a Glance: See BLS: Economy at a Glance

Federal Reserve Board: The Beige Book (www.federalreserve.gov/FOMC/BeigeBook): The central bank of the U.S., the

Federal Reserve Board publishes this resource eight times per year. It summarizes current economic conditions by Federal Reserve District and industry sector and is a great source of commentary about regional business activity.

Federal Reserve Board: Federal Reserve Districts (www.federalreserve.gov/otherfrb.htm): For regional economic data, visit the websites of individual Federal Reserve districts. At this site, you can quickly link to the websites for the 12 local Federal Reserve Districts.

Federal, State, & Local Governments: See Census Bureau: Federal, State, & Local Governments

Geographic Profile of Employment and Unemployment: See BLS: Geographic Profile of Employment and Unemployment

Google News (news.google.com): Aggregation sites such as Google News help you find news stories about local economic conditions. Go to the advanced search page to search for articles about or from a particular geographic area.

Housing and Urban Development USER (www.huduser.org/portal): From the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Policy Development and Research, this site provides current information on housing needs and market conditions.

InfoUSA.com (www.infousa.com): Through the free features of this site, you can get counts of business establishments by industry, geographic location, and other variables.

Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS): See BLS: Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS)

Local Employment Dynamics (LED): See Census Bureau: Local Employment Dynamics (LED)

Mass Layoff Statistics: See BLS: Mass Layoff Statistics

National Association of Regional Councils (www.narc.org): To track down local information, try the Regional Council of Governments for your area. These geographically based partnerships often provide economic data on their websites, and you can find these resources through the National Association of Regional Councils site. Just click the Regional Councils/MPOs link.

News and Newspapers Online (library.uncg.edu/news): Find articles, opinion pieces, research reports, and other resources about the economy through the local press. This directory will take you to links for newspapers and broadcast news outlets throughout the world. (Note: This resource has been redesigned. Now News and Newspapers, the new URL is http://www.lib.utexas.edu/news/ )

Newser (www.newser.com): This site collects and summarizes location-based news, which often contains insights into local economies.

Nielsen Claritas (www.claritas.com): Through the Claritas MarketPlace (www.claritas.com/MarketPlace/Default.jsp), you can find Claritas’ own five-year projections for virtually any geographic location.

O*Net Online (online.onetcenter.org): Funded by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment & Training Administration, this site provides occupation-related data. Scroll to the bottom of the occupation descriptions to link to state data for 10-year state and national employment trends by occupation.

Occupational Employment Statistics: See BLS: Occupational Employment Statistics

Radio-Locator (www.radio-locator.com): For local news sources for economic information, don’t forget to try radio news outlets. This directory will help you find webpages of and audio streams from private and public radio stations.

Regional Economic Conditions (www2.fdic.gov/recon): An independent agency of the U.S. government, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. offers economic information by geography through this site. Topics include industry activity, employment and income, and real estate activity, and data is presented in a way that makes trends easy to identify.

Social Security Administration: Geographic Data (www.socialsecurity.gov/policy > Program Statistics and Data Files > By Subject > Geographic Information): Try this resource for state and local statistical reports on topics such as who receives Social Security benefits, earnings and employment data for workers covered by Social Security, and amount of payments,
by congressional districts.

State and Local Government on the Net (www.statelocalgov.net): This directory provides links to both state and local government sites.

Topix (www.topix.com): Visit this site for location-based news, which often includes articles, opinions, and other information covering local economies.

USA Counties: See Census Bureau: USA Counties

Yahoo! News (news.yahoo.com): From the main page, follow the Local link for articles organized by geographic location. Look for sources of information about a region’s economic health.

YourEconomy.org (www.youreconomy.org): This excellent resource provides information about business establishments in the U.S., tracked across geographic location, industry, and time. It includes economic information that many other sources don’t, such as data on nonemployer firms and startups.

zapdata (www.zapdata.com): Use this source for information about public and private companies. You can get company counts and market summaries by geographic location, industry, and other variables.  Zapdata is gone!
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Marcy quoted in Entrepreneur magazine
Hacking the U.S. Census for Market Research

Marcy's article published in
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Know Before You Grow:
Key Resources for Learning about your Customers and Competitors


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