Census Fun for Everyone: Zipskinny

Have you all played around with Zipskinny? It’s a site that takes data from the 2000 census and lets you search by ZIP code to see demographic information in your area, and compare it to others: income levels, racial breakdown, unemployment, education level, marital status, etc. It’s pretty basic information, little more than a snapshot, but it’s a good snapshot and a really nice interface.

I would think it’s pretty easy to do a good mashup with crime statistics, using the data from sources like this excellent NYPD site — although ZIP codes and precinct boundaries aren’t the same. The NYPD precincts each generate a weekly crime report, like this one from my neighborhood.

(Hat tip: Matt Wecksell)


I just moved to this town in 2000 and I've seen the demographics change quite a bit given the housing boom in NJ and the amount "adult living" communities than went up in my ZIP area.
Don't know how useful 2000 information would be where I live.


#1 It is based on census info. Perhaps we need to do a census more often then.


NY state used to do its own census, generally in years that ended in five. They stopped after 1925, but perhaps they need to begin again.


Is census data completely innaccurate in a place like NYC. For example zip code 10003, or the meat packing district... Hasn't the demographic changed considerably in the last 7 years... also, with such a renter's economy in NYC, people never stay in their zip very long.... avg lease is 2 years.

rex mundy

An interesting diversion, but keep a few things in mind: ZIP codes are not geographic entities, just collections of delivery points for the efficiency of moving mail. ZIPS disregard political jurisdictions and can be noncontiguous, even overlapping. Also, some Census tabulations such as age, race and ethnicity, include non-household (college campus, nursing home, prison) population, while employment, household income and housing data do not. Just be aware of what you're comparing.


You would think that the unemployment data would not be very accurate. Where I live the unemployment rate seems very very low.


Even younger students can play with the data.
...a fun learning resource.

Matt Wecksell

The first thing I did when I found the site was plug in the zip for the World Trade Center. The census thinks it had 55 housing units. Go figure.

(Are there other zip codes in the nation that are either single buildings or all commercial or industrial space?)

---matt wecksell

Mister Max

For finer detail, there are now companies with more-current data for smaller, more uniform areas, by zip+4. One of them is generation5.ca

George Tenet Fangirl

You can get the exact same info straight from the government here: http://factfinder.census.gov/home/saff/main.html?_lang=en


Really stupid site. Not only can you get this data elsewhere, the computer program need a lot of work because it doesn't compare like with like. Check out the top 100 with graduate degrees. One zip code has 53 residents, all with graduate degrees. That is so informative and so helpful for me to know. It's probably all one family. This site would be a lot more useful if you could specifcy the parameters of the searches.


I hope somebody is putting all the NYPD data and census data into Swivel and Many Eyes. Especially the NYPD data since it gives out new data weekly.

Rehan Khwaja

Some of the zipcodes are very odd. 12429 is 1 sq mile, with 50 residents, virtually all high school graduates who earn more than 200k/yr. I don't see how such a small geographical area with virtually no people can have it's own zip...

doesn't matter

Campus zip codes are fun, since you get populations where basically everyone has at least some college yet the median incomes are really low. For example, try 23186- College of William and Mary.


Zip codes go by the number of addresses, not population so a skyscraper office building could have its own post office and zip code -- and no population at all.

I just tried 12226, zip for the Empire State Plaza office complex in Albany and got "Sorry. We do not have any information for this ZIP code at this time."

John Sweda

There is a similar site called "Neighboroo" which uses Google maps to display the date. They are currently reworking their website to launch Nov 2007
an updated version "Neighboroo x 2".


There are a bunch of single building zip-codes in DC:

Panem et Circanses

Very, very informative... between the lines. The normal ZIP codes are what you might expect, but the extremes give us some real insight into what poverty officially means. For example, certain ZIP codes in Bloomington, Indiana, are dedicated to Indiana University student housing. They show huge percentages of people in their teens and twenties... and huger percentages of people below the poverty line!

So is THAT why so many people are allegedly in poverty? Millions of college students living in dorms, most supported by parents, now count as below the poverty line because their income is low? Are they desperately short of life's essentials, and therefore of national guilt and money transfer programs???

I know unemployment is severely undercounted. If it were to be measured by the intuitive standard of “people not working who would like to be working in something reasonably close to their qualifications count as unemployed,” even without counting ANY underemployed people, it would be way up over the past several decades, to maybe 20-25%. Interesting counterpoint that poverty is being seriously overstated.



Actually, the zipskinny Web site is very, very misleading. Marianna, FL is in the top 100 highest median incomes. The area it is detailing as this wonderful area is actually a boy's school for troubled youth! Very poor kids, but the "household" income is very large. I guess it is expensive to put a kid in "jail"!

Dave Kaufman - Techlife

As a big fan of your column and book, having recommended both quite a few times already, when I first heard of ZipSkinny I knew I had missed it posted here. It seems like your version of stat porn. Though after thinking about it I thought maybe you like having the data in a format where you can make your own queries. But this certainly works for the rest of us. I linked to this post in my syndicated column and blog: