Essential Studies, Data and Tools

In order to kickstart and supplement reporting, here is a list of essential datasets and resources including statistics, surveys, reports and analysis. Sources include research institutes, federal agencies, nonprofits and foundations covering a wide variety of topics related to poverty in the United States.

Before you start. Here are some useful resources for where to start on data-driven reporting and sorting and custom sorting data in Excel. 

Software such as Tableau — which can be downloaded on most computers — allows users to connect to virtually any online data and create custom data visualization, as well as combine and clean different data sets.  The National Press Foundation has a list of Digital Tools for reporters and newsrooms. 


Brookings Institute

A nonprofit research institute with global connections. Reports, analysis and expert resources cover topics important in reporting on poverty, including economic development policies and intersections between race and economic mobility. 

Center for Poverty and Social Policy

Includes food insecurity maps, cost of living studies, access to poverty rates from 1967 to 2017 and more. Fact sheets for state-level data are also available. 

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

Has comprehensive information on all aspects of the Medicare and Medicaid programs, including Medicare enrollment reports, financial statements with annual costs and charges per Medicare-certified institutions, and detailed national health expenditures. 

Confronting Poverty

The poverty risk calculator allows users to analyze risk based on criteria. Discussion guide modules provide valuable information and examples for stories about poverty, and additional resources cover important basics. 

Economic Policy Institute

A nonprofit and nonpartisan think tank that conducts research and analysis on the economic status of working Americans. Topics range from COVID-19 to wages and tools include a minimum wage tracker, family budget calculator and a tax and spending explorer module. 

Georgia Department of Labor

The Georgia Department of Labor gives unemployment rates and breaks down the number of residents who have filed for unemployment insurance by month and year. If you are reporting in other states, seek out similar information on your state’s department of labor website.

Georgia Department of Public Health

Contains mountains of health information on women and children’s health, COVID-19, opioid and substance misuse and more. Here’s a link to information on lead poisoning. If you are reporting in other states, seek out similar information on your state’s department of labor website.

Global Wealth Report

From wealth management company Credit Suisse, the annual Global Wealth report provides a macroscopic view of household wealth and global economic growth. 

Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies

This nonprofit organization focuses on issues of particular concern to Black and other peoples of color, specifically regarding socioeconomic advancement and racial equity. Publications include reports on the “Black Rural South,” the future of work and resources for economic relief in Black communities. 

Kaiser Family Foundation

This nonprofit provides news and information on a wide variety of health topics such as Medicare and Medicaid, insurance and health care costs and racial disparities in treatment. 

Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation

A nonprofit education and social policy research organization with publications breaking down employment programs, barriers to economic success, low-income experiences, rent reform and more. 

Pew Research Center

Breaks down studies by topics and datasets, including social and demographic trends, U.S. politics and policy, and journalism and media. An account is required to access most data. 

Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity

A nonpartisan forum for exchanging research, studies and data on major issues exacerbating and facing people in poverty today. Allows breakdowns by state and focus areas such as digital divides, food and hunger, education, immigration and the justice system. 

Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality

This institution monitors and analyzes trends on poverty and inequality and provides archives of trend data and original work. An excellent place to find experts on education, economic insecurity, social justice and fiscal policy, for example, including past and upcoming events in these subject areas. for sources, as well. 

Urban Institute

A nonprofit research institute focussed on solution-based policies and community response. Breaks down by research areas and lists policy centers and initiatives around the country, which can be helpful for narrowing down your story. 

USDA Economic Research Service

The Economic Research Service is a site within the U.S. Department of Agriculture that provides county-level and national-level statistics on poverty as recently as 2018. 

U.S. Census Bureau

Explore data by topics such as housing, employment, income and poverty and health. Conducted surveys include valuable insight covering economic insecurity and important statistics.

U.S. Government Accountability Office

The GAO’s reports and testimonies include information regarding operations at the federal level regarding housing, employment, health care and economic development. Users can filter results by government agency, report topics and date.


Sofia Gratas graduated in fall 2020 with a journalism degree from the University of Georgia.

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