The census has had strong associations with the holiday season from the Bible on down. In keeping with that tradition, the U.S. Census Bureau released Tuesday the results of its five-year American Community Survey, which reveal precise data about communities throughout the country.
The survey shows contrasting data for Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties.
Jefferson County leads the pack in most measurements, except when it comes to poverty, where Lewis County has the lowest percentage of residents living below the federally established threshold.
According to the survey, 13.5 percent of Lewis County residents are living below the poverty level, compared with 15.1 percent in Jefferson County and 18.5 percent in St. Lawrence County.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the 2013 poverty guideline for families or households with four people in the 48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia is $23,550.
Jefferson leads in education and median household income.
A total of 88.2 percent of Jefferson County residents, 86.8 percent of Lewis County residents and 87.1 percent of St. Lawrence County residents have attained a high school diploma or higher.
Median household income is $46,549 for Jefferson County, $45,187 for Lewis County and $43,745 for St. Lawrence County.
Jefferson County also leads with the highest number of veterans 10,902 living in the county, which is perhaps not surprising given the fact that a large U.S. Army installation, Fort Drum, is contained within its borders.
There are 8,460 veterans in St. Lawrence County and 2,386 in Lewis County, according to the survey.
In terms of residents born in foreign countries, Jefferson County again leads the three counties with 5,028.
Lewis and St. Lawrence counties have 418 and 4,620 foreign-born residents, respectively.
The survey data are particularly useful when it comes to obtaining basic demographic information at the town and village level, according to Jefferson County Director of Planning Donald R. Canfield.
We use it as the need for that info arises to profile characteristics of a particular area of the county, Mr. Canfield said.
The five-year survey looks at communities with fewer than 20,000 residents, something that no other census tool measures, including the decennial census, according to Mr. Canfield.
Information about counties, towns and villages can be found online at http://wdt.me/communitysurvey.
An interactive mapping tool can be found online at http://wdt.me/censusexplorer.