WASHINGTON (Dec. 14) -- Alaskans have the shortest commutes to work -- less than 10 minutes in many areas. Homeowners on Nantucket Island, off Massachusetts, live in the nation's more expensive houses -- the median home value is $1 million. And residents of Washington, D.C., suburbs are the best educated.
Those characteristics are among the new findings released today by the U.S. Census Bureau as part of its American Community Survey for 2005 to 2009. In all, the bureau released 11 billion bits of data involving 670,000 distinct geographic areas. It is the largest single-day release of data in census history. One in nine Americans was surveyed on 72 topics, including housing, education, employment, commuting patterns and veteran status.
"The data ... provide a statistical foundation to evaluate our nation's needs, and we now share them with communities across the country as a powerful resource for decision-making," said Robert Groves, director of the U.S. Census Bureau.
The five-year American Community Survey is the first time estimates for socio-economic, housing and demographic statistics have become available for every community in the nation. The Census Bureau plans to release a new set of five-year statistics every year.
The data is used by public officials to make local decisions such as where to build new schools and hospitals. Previously, American Community Survey information was produced once every 10 years from the census "long form" sent to a sampling of the nation's population.
Among the findings:
- Commutes: Twelve of 14 counties with commute times under 10 minutes are in Alaska. King County, Texas, recorded the shortest commute at 3.4 minutes. The national average for workers 16 and older is 25.2 minutes. The longest mean commute is Richmond County, N.Y., with 42.5 minutes.
- Housing: Counties with the lowest median home values include Reeves, Texas, at $29,400. Of 33 counties with median home values under $50,000, 19 of them are in Texas. Of 32 counties with median home values topping $500,000, the majority are in California.
- Education: In five counties, fewer than 60 percent of adults older than 25 had completed high school. Four of those counties are in Texas: Maverick, Presidio, Starr and Willacy. The fifth is Holmes County, Ohio. At the other end of the scale, in 17 counties, 50 percent or more have bachelor's degrees. Seven of those counties are in suburban Washington; three are in Colorado; and two are in the Bay Area in California.