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Emily Suess

Demographic Anomalies: US Edition

July 28, 2014 —
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It’s been a while since we looked at American Community Survey data in Wolfram|Alpha. Our first efforts included surveying ACS data related to education, income, and diversity, only touching the tip of the iceberg.

Recently, we took a deeper look at the data to unearth some of the least “average” communities in the US.

As you might guess, at the national level, female and male populations are split almost evenly (50.8% and 49.2%, respectively). But there are metropolitan communities in the US where the split doesn’t hew to the national average, and the ACS data in Wolfram|Alpha lets us find them.

Take Susanville, CA, for example. At just 34.5%, this community in Northern California has the smallest percentage of female residents in the US.

Metropolitan areas with the lowest female population fraction

Or consider the number of married couples living in the United States. The data shows us that 51.4% of the national population ages 15 and older are currently married, but there are individual communities with standout numbers. Utah, at 58%, is the state with the largest married fraction. Dig deeper and you’ll discover that nearly 66% of the population is married in the Brigham City, UT metro area.

Metro areas with highest marriage percentage

When it comes to education, there are more than 2.6 million people in the United States with no formal schooling. That’s about 1.3% of the total population.

Among the 50 states and Washington, D.C., California tops the list with the highest percentage of citizens having no formal education.

What percent of people have no schooling in US?

On the flip side, the number of people with advanced degrees exceeds 10% of the nation’s total population. That means roughly 21.7 million people have a master’s degree or higher. Of the 50 states and Washington, D.C., the District of Columbia has the highest population percentage with advanced degrees at 28.7%.

What percent of people have advanced degrees in D.C.

We can access poverty data, too. In the following query, we can see what fraction of US senior citizens–individuals over the age of 65–are living below the poverty line. The national average is close to 9%, but the numbers vary significantly by state. Mississippi has the highest percentage, and Alaska has the lowest.

What percentage of senior citizens population is below poverty line in us states

We can also get numbers for more complicated queries. For example, Wolfram|Alpha can compute the percentage of people in Washington State metro areas speaking Tagalog at home.

What fraction of people speak Tagalog in WA metro areas

Or we can compare the population pyramids for the communities of The Villages, FL and Rexburg, ID.

The villages metro area vs Rexburg Idaho metro area population pyramid

Perhaps the best thing about being able to identify demographic outliers is that it helps us make more informed decisions about the places where we prefer to live and work. Which states have the highest educated populations? Where are the most diverse communities to raise a family? What communities are home to people who speak my native language? What cities would benefit the most from a non-profit organization helping seniors in need?


You present the data on sex and level of education in an unusual way. Usually percents in a column refer to the percent of items(persons) named in the column heading. So usually the 5.3% figure in the column “male” for the level “masters and above” would mean that 5.3% of males have attained this level of education. However, in your table 5.3% apparently means that 5.3% of the total US population is both male, and has a masters or higher degree. The proportion of males with a masters level or higher degree is more like 10.6%.

Posted by meltee August 1, 2014 at 1:17 pm

We need to learn how to pose better questions.It seems to me there is now the means to answer intelligent questions that are relevant to a diverse democracy, questions that are not being asked.

Posted by Claude Doggett August 15, 2014 at 2:01 pm