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ABOUT THIS BLOG: Follow the Numbers blog will take a closer look at how we use numbers and data analysis in our stories. We'll focus on facts and figures that may not make the front page but hopefully provide compelling insights into topics that impact our lives. For suggestions, questions or comments contact David Raynor.

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Census releases 2012 voting stats

The Census Bureau reports that blacks voted at a higher rate than any other race in the 2012 election. Nationally, two-thirds (66.2) of eligible blacks voted, while non-Hispanic whites voted at a slightly lower rate of 64.1%. According to data released Wednesday, this is the first time blacks have voted at a higher rate than whites since the Census Bureau started publishing statistics on voting by the eligible citizen population in 1996.

Overall, the percentage of eligible citizens who voted declined from 63.6 percent in 2008 to 61.8 percent in 2012.

But what about NC? The gap was much greater: 80.2% of black citizens voted in 2012; 66.3% for non-Hispanic whites. In 2008, both groups voted at the same rate, 68.3%. It's not, however, the first time blacks have voted at a higher rate in NC. In 2004, the black voting rate was 64.6% while non-Hispanic whites' rate was 62.3%.

The age group with the highest voting rate in 2012, 79.4%, was ages 65-74. The lowest was ages 18-24 at 50%.

Test your population knowledge

The U.S. Census Bureau is taking population, educational, migration and other data they collect and creating some neat, interactive data visualizations.
One of the best is the Population Bracketology, which tests your knowledge of metro and state populations by using the NCAA basketball bracket method of picking winners. See how well you score.

Welcome to Follow the Numbers blog

In the late 1980's, The News & Observer began acquiring, maintaining and analyzing electronic public records, such as state government phone calls, check registers and campaign contributions. Since then, we've acquired and analyzed hundreds of a variety of databases to help us produce the best investigative stories we can.

Over the years, technology and more transparency of public records have made this process a little easier. In fact, many public records are now available online for free or for a relatively low fee (property records, criminal records, vital health statistics, census data and business licenses, just to name a few).

This blog will take a closer look at how we use numbers and data analysis in our stories. We'll focus on facts and figures that may not make the front page but hopefully provide compelling insights into topics that impact our lives. For suggestions, questions or comments contact David Raynor.

Annual growth rates of NC counties

Last week, we reported that 47 NC counties lost population from 2010 to 2012. But what’s happened since 2000?

Looking at the annual growth rate since the July 2000 estimate to the latest 2012 estimates, only nine NC counties have a negative annual growth rate (Lenoir, Yancey, Jones, Caswell, Mitchell, Northampton, Halifax, Martin, Washington).

Union County, which grew 66%, has the highest annual rate at 4.3%, followed by Brunswick (3.6%) and Wake (3.5%). The state’s annual rate is 1.6%, and population increased overall by 21%.

Here’s how the components of growth in NC last decade compares to 2010-2012:
International Net Migration: 16.1%, 2000-09; 23.3%, 2010-12
Domestic Net Migration: 50.6%; 33.6%
Natural Increase (births minus deaths): 33.3%, 43.1%

See where your county ranks with this interactive map.

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