Numbers are important. The legal field often utilizes statistics for justification or explanation. This article highlights several quality Web sites that provide statistical data on a variety of topics. Some provide information in a simple chart, while others allow the searcher to query a database and create a graph based on individual parameters.
The sites found in this article are reliable and authored by the government, an educational institution or a reputable organization. This small sampling of statistical Web pages covers a variety of areas and barely touches the surface of sites offering this type of information.
In addition to this select listing, do not forget the king and queen of all statistical sites, the U.S. Census (www.census.gov) and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). The possibilities from these two sites are endless. The Wisconsin State Law Library Web page (http://wsll.state.wi.us/topic/statistics.html) also has a wonderfully organized listing of statistical sites, most with brief annotations.
COURT AND CRIME STATISTICS
National Center for State Courts
This site provides extensive data regarding the operation of all 50 state courts, as well as, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Check out both the static reports and interactive databases. The static reports, available in .PDF, include caseload statistics and an in-depth analysis of state court operations. Please note the most current edition of these particular publications is from 2002. Prior year reports are also available.
The database function allows the user to query court filing data by population, region, and individual state. Searches also may be located by file type (e.g. felony, civil or traffic) and/or population (e.g. adult or juvenile).
U.S. Courts Statistics
Federal courts are the focus of this site. There is a vast amount of data, gathered by the government, located on this Web page. Judicial facts and figures, bankruptcy statistics, annual caseload data, management information, and wiretap reports. The online reports are extremely thorough and easy to interpret. The only user manipulation allowed, however, is the selection of specific courts.
The site also provides a link to other court related publications available via the Government Printing Office.
Bureau of Justice Statistics
The Bureau of Justice Statistics scores extra points for providing a summary of the findings alongside links to statistical data. Information is either available online or directly through the BJS. For the online resources, choosing a link will move the user to a brief synopsis and then more detailed information. The utilization of interactive graphs on this Web site is commonplace.
The site presents eleven main topics, many having numerous subtopics. Homicide trends, firearm usage, probation & parole, victim characteristics, sentencing data, prison expenditures and traffic stop summaries are just a few of the more specific areas covered.
For a great overview, choose the Key Crime and Justice Facts at a Glance.
Benchmarking is common in the business world. Finding this information on an unknown industry or a new type of client can be difficult. BizStats is an excellent starting point. A Washington D.C. CPA collects the data for the Web page.
Numerous static reports populate the site ranging from the safest/riskiest small businesses, to the number of partnerships per type of business, to average sales per retail store. Some reports are from a prior year, with the most current data fee based.
Wisconsin Business Statistics
The Wisconsin Department of Commerce maintains this site. While there are not a lot of reports available, they concentrate solely on Wisconsin. The presentation of some data is in a narrative format, while some combine both charts and discussion. Many of the larger reports are stored in .PDF.
Titles located on this webpage include: Metro Area Forecast, Wisconsin Export Data, Wisconsin Small Business Profile, and Women Owned Businesses.
HEALTH AND EDUCATION STATISTICS
Wisconsin Health Statistics
The Department of Health and Family Services provides an exceptional listing of statistics. Their Health Statistics A-Z link lists all the reports available and clearly identifies which are query based. The statistics encompass such a wide range of topics, that one could almost guarantee finding a report of interest. Topics range from health care charges, to minority health, to vital statistics. The various searchable databases allow the user to get overall data or refine it by region or co
unty, and time.
Want to make your life easier? HFS offers an email service to alert you to when new information arrives. In addition, they provide a link to publications available through their catalog.
National Center for Education Statistics
Need education statistics? Check this site for almost one stop shopping! Stats at a Glance provides links to statistics on the condition of education, indicators of school crime, and projections through 2013. This site also includes information on sources of revenue for public schools.
Users retrieve much of the other information based on their independent queries. The Common Core of Data database allows for the creation of tables based on results of five surveys given to U.S. public schools and census data. Another option for the searcher is to simply search for information on a specific school (public or private), district, or public library. The school data includes enrollment figures (grade, gender, and race), teacher/student ratio, total number of students, etc.
Like most federal government sites, this one is big! Their tagline states, The gateway to statistics from over 100 U.S. Federal agencies. The site easily identifies the various federal agencies with statistical programs, the main types of data collected by each agency and a link to what they consider to be key statistics. The page also offers an index by topic, which hyperlinks directly to the either the report or the agency page where the information is housed. Depending on the subject matter, the report may be static or query based.
A great feature is the ability to keyword search across all the agencies. This writer tested the search engine using the phrase violent crime. The result showed five hits from various agencies including the Department of Justice, the Census, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Each was relevant and covered a range of dates.
WISCONSIN CENSUS STATISTICS
The Applied Population Laboratory, part of the UW system, has created this wonderful database utilizing census reports. It allows the user to build a table using various geographies and existing tables. If that wasn’t enough, creating interactive maps based on particular data is also possible.
WEATHER AND TRANSPORTATION STATISTICS
Reports from 2000 to the present are located on this site. The link for each year takes the user to an index of available data. Print the entire report (which would be
huge!) or select an item from the extensive topic listing and create individual tables in either .html, Excel or CSV. Main topical areas include: overall transportation system, transportation safety, economic factors, and environmental issues.
These are all static reports, but clearly identify the source for every report.
National Weather Statistics severe weather, damages, injuries, etc.
These statistics pertain specifically to hazardous weather conditions lightning, tornado, flood, cold, storms, heat, etc. They are annual reports starting in 1995. There is also a 64-year list of weather fatalities. The reports are simple with no bells and whistles. Each is a basic table with a narrative that summarizes the year and the final numbers.
COMMERCE AND ECONOMIC STATISTICS
Bureau of Economic Analysis
This is the place to find information on income, the gross product at the state and national level, international commerce and corporate/industry data. Interactive tables are available for many of the areas, which improve the data. Create a topical query for one or more states/regions for a single year or a range of time.
The Bureau also offers regional economic accounts in narrative form. These accounts are brief summaries of the economic situation in that region (e.g. Sawyer County, Wis.).