Can a blog about Government books not talk about Census Bureau’s Statistical Abstract? I don’t think so. The 2011 edition is now available and, as usual, it’s filled with all kinds of data that tell us who and what we are as a nation and a people. Of course, many of its tables have appeared in edition after edition, but I like to focus on those that seem most in tune with current concerns and interests. After all, the Abstract’s ability to remain relevant accounts for its longevity (since 1878!)
Take, for example, Table 191, Insufficient Rest or Sleep by Number of Days and Selected Characteristics: 2008. I’m writing this on a Monday morning and feeling as if I haven’t had sufficient sleep since the late 1980s. You can’t get any more relevant than that! Data that seems ripped from the headlines is in Table 336, Financial Crimes: 2003 to 2009. Corporate fraud, securities and commodities fraud, mass marketing fraud…you get the picture.
There’s a lot of more upbeat information, too. Table 295 tells us that more and more Americans are receiving degrees every year, while Table 1237 indicates how many of us are turning out for the arts – something personally cheering for me is that 7.8 million people went to a jazz concert in 2008.
Family debt, manufacturing, national security, international statistics – there doesn’t seem to be anything that the Statistical Abstract doesn’t cover. At more than 1,000 pages, it’s an America watcher’s dream. You can lose yourself in its pages here, get a personal copy here, or peruse it in a library. Meanwhile, let me see if I can find anything on book blogs…