Kentucky: By The Numbers
Kentucky: By The Numbers

About "Kentucky: By The Numbers"

About "Kentucky: By The Numbers"

About "Kentucky: By The Numbers"

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The Kentucky: By The Numbers program is designed to address challenges associated with the changing landscape of secondary data by enhancing skills in using secondary data for local decision-making.

Through county Extension agents, statewide programming, web access, and direct assistance, the primary elements of the program are:

     a) training in the skills needed to accurately utilize secondary data;

     b) resources to assist with accessing and using secondary data;

     c) provide specialized in-depth analyses and assistance;

     d) web-based access to resources and materials; and

     e) easy-to-use, locally relevant secondary data.

Kentucky: By The Numbers began its life as a different data series. "Welfare Reform: By The Numbers" was designed to provide access to comprehensive secondary data to assist in implementing the new 1996 welfare reform legislation. At that time, comprehensive online sources for secondary data were just getting started.  No sooner had "Welfare Reform: By The Numbers" been unveiled than county Extension agents in Kentucky immediately asked for more data.  

And so began the Kentucky: By The Numbers Data Series.

It didn’t take very long before what started as just a data series began to develop into a program.  When web access to secondary data first began, it was through a limited number of “click and print” websites. Today, those same websites have increased in number and they use ever more complicated interactive interfaces. While new features increased the ability to access and utilize the data online, they can still be a challenge to navigate.

As web access to public secondary data grew, so too did interest in how to access and use those data. In response, Kentucky: By The Numbers began its transformation. No longer just a data series, the program began providing skill-based resources including publications, training, and even classroom lectures on how to find and use data from the internet.

While web access to secondary data is now commonplace, today we are moving from a digital divide to digital inequality.  It’s not just about having internet access anymore, but the nature of that access and the age of computers, programs, and browsers can also be barriers.

Since limited resource communities can face particular challenges in access to internet capabilities and computer technologies, the Kentucky: By The Numbers Program website continues to be intentionally designed with very few “bells and whistles” so that it is easy to download and easy to print (regardless of technology access) and even communities and organizations with limited resources can still gain easy access to basic data and other resources in Kentucky: By The Numbers.

Over the years, Kentucky: By The Numbers has grown to include new skills and new resources. But, it is also in a state of continual update and revisions. To keep pace with the constant and rapid changes, some resources have been total re-written and/or updated multiple times.   

At the end of 2010, the landscape for secondary data saw another round of major changes. Within just a few months three key events happened nearly simultaneously: data from the 2010 Census were released; the first complete set of estimates from the American Community Survey (ACS) were released; and the U.S. Census Bureau unveiled a completely redesigned their website for accessing their data (then called American Factfinder).

The release of the first complete set of estimates from the American Community Survey (ACS) was an important change for local data users. The ACS replaced the Decennial Census as the source for detailed data on social, economic, and housing characteristics. While data for larger geographies had already been available, in December 2010, the first complete set meant that all counties now had estimates from the ACS.

Even though the American Community Survey meant that local users had a new data source, the estimates it provided were very different and more complicated than what everyone has been used to using. It also meant that, for the first time, Extension agents and local communities needed an understanding of some basic statistical issues in order to accurately use estimates from the American Community Survey and avoid misinterpreting their local data.  In response to these changes, Kentucky: By The Numbers unveiled a new aspect to its program: a series of resources and training on the American Community Survey designed for the occasional user.


Today Kentucky: By The Numbers has long out-grown its modest beginnings as a basic data series when online access to secondary data was only just emerging.

Over the years, it has kept pace with the rapid and constant changes that mark today's access and use of secondary data. New resources continue to be developed to provide assistance in finding data online and in using that data, and publications are continually updated.

Never losing sight that easy access to data in usable forms is still an enduring need, during its more than 25 years there have been over 100 issues of the Kentucky: By The Numbers Data Series containing data for each of the 120 counties in Kentucky.


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Contact Information

Julie N. Zimmerman
Professor, Rural Sociology

500 Garrigus Building Lexington, KY 40546-0215

(859) 257-7583