Welcome to the Georgia Department of Community Affairs

Community Indicators: User Guide

If you would like to know how to use the Community Indicators' website, click on the topic of interest or scroll down for full listing of topics.

Beginning a Search
Printing Reports
Further Information
Things to Consider


The database for Community Indicators has been compiled for all 159 counties and more than 300 Georgia cities with annual expenditures of $250,000 or more. The number of cities added to the list may vary from year to year. State and national figures have been included where applicable. Considerable care has been given to making the data available in a user-friendly format. The data is searchable through an interactive database program that allows users to generate and print out multi-layered reports.

Each Community Condition is made up of several specific indicators that, considered together, present a general picture of a community's performance for that particular condition. These indicators break down each condition into quantifiable parts. The Community Indicator reports include the following eight key community conditions:

  • Demographic
  • Economic
  • Fiscal
  • Education
  • Health
  • Environmental
  • Social
  • Civic
  • A ninth condition is added annually on a rotating basis. . These conditions vary each year on a rotating basis. An in-depth look at specific local government services or issues may reveal areas that need statewide policy attention.

    Beginning a Search

    Choose from one of the three profile selections provided on the arch above the "Georgia Community Indicators" header. All profile options permit comparisons over time, among communities or within conditions.

    • Individual Community Profile – select a community and a report year.

    • Multiple Community Profile - choose a reporting year, condition and the communities you wish to inquire about. Communities can also be grouped by population ranges and the State Service Delivery regions.

    • Individual Profile-Multiple Years - allows for comparison of trends over time for one selected community.

    See prompts on the page for query instructions on how to view a profile. Once in the profile selection of your choice, clicking on the ? symbol beside an indicator will provide a detailed description of the data source and methodology for that particular reporting year.

    Federal, state and local government publications and agencies, as well as a number of surveys administered by DCA, have provided the data used in these reports. Availability of data at the city level for certain indicators is limited at this time due to reporting methods. Where city level data is unavailable, please refer to the county level data for a basis of comparison. Also, there may be some variation in reporting methods for state or national figures. See the individual indicator's data source description for details.

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    Printing Reports

    If you want to print the information displayed, you can use the 'Print' button on your browser. Also, keep in mind the layout of your screen when setting up printing specifications.

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    Further Information

    On each page you will notice blue buttons on the left, which are for further information related to the Community Indicators web site. These links should provide better use of the web site.

    • Data Sources: Describes the indicators and shows the source of information for that indicator.

    • Related Links: Other web sites that may be useful to the user.

    • Other Local Government Publications/Reports: Related publications and information of use for further research.

    • Questions and Comments: Send us your questions and comments about the web site.

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    Things to Consider When Using Community Indicators

    First Things First: Understand the Demographics

    Since Community Indicators will have various users with various uses, it is very important to understand a little bit about the local government's population and some other key demographic factors before beginning to interpret the other indicators. The size of a local government's population will have a dramatic impact upon the kinds of demands placed upon it.

    Other factors that can affect the kinds of demands placed upon a local government include the level of poverty found within a community, the age of the population, and the overall level of education found in the community. Community Indicators provides information on all of these factors and also provides links to more detailed Census information for those wishing to investigate further into who makes up their local population.

    Go Beyond Demographics
    The best way to make use of the indicators is to first review the entire community's profile and think through where it seems the community stands. The user should ask his or herself whether the information reported seems reasonable, given what they have learned about the local government's population in the Community Demographic Conditions section of the report. Then the user should look at each individual indicator, searching for strengths as well as for areas where improvement may be needed.

    Never make a hard-and-fast judgment about a local government based upon one indicator alone.
    A single indicator from any of the Community Conditions segments of the Community Indicators report is designed to measure only one component of local conditions. Users should ask themselves what they might know about a community that would tend to explain a result that appears to look like an area of concern—or area of strength.

    Making Comparisons
    Many users will want to supplement the perspective they gain from examining a single local government's Community Indicators report by making comparisons. When available, comparison information is shown for the state of Georgia as a whole, as well as for the United States. Although this information is useful as a benchmark, the user should keep in mind that data on the State and the United States as a whole may cover a wide numerical range of outcomes. These comparisons are useful, but do not tell the entire story.

    While looking at trends over time can be one of the most meaningful ways of analyzing Community Indicators information, many users will also want to make comparisons between two or more local governments that have similar characteristics. Comparisons may be made between local governments with similarly sized populations, between local governments with approximately the same level of annual expenditure for services, or with local governments within the same region of the state.

    Things to consider when making comparisons:

    • Try to be sure to compare apples with apples—not apples and oranges. Counties should be compared with counties rather than cities.

    • Consolidated governments (Athens-Clarke, Augusta-Richmond, Columbus-Muscogee, Cusetta-Chattahoochee and Georgetown-Quitman) should first be compared with other consolidated governments, although some valid comparisons might be made on some factors with counties of similar size.

    • Urban local governments should be compared with other urban local governments

    • Rural local governments should be compared with other rural local governments

    Levels of service provided by local governments may vary even among local governments of similar size. This will have an effect upon the amount of resources necessary to provide a particular service. In addition, keep in mind that differing levels of service among governments tend to represent the political will of the local governments' citizens expressed over a period of time.

    Finally, Remember This is Just One Tool

    The current edition of the Community Indicators report is designed to be as concise as possible, while also allowing for analysis of the quality of life on many dimensions. While the information contained has been developed to be as useful as possible to a wide audience of users, you must always keep in mind that a Community Indicators report is one tool by which citizens, government officials, and others may assess an individual government and its effectiveness in dealing with its environment.

    In particular, where areas of concern may exist, we encourage you to seek further information through suggested links and through consultation with your local government official.

    Comments and questions about the Community Indicators web site can be sent to the webmaster by going to Questions and Comments.

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