Dot’s Reading Room – Jan. 1, 2024

January 2, 2024

A confession to start the New Year: I can’t resist dipping into the U.S. Census Bureau’s daily output of stories about our country. The picture of the U.S. that the Census presents is an ever-changing tapestry. And if you’re willing to dig deeper, you can drill down to the Middlesex County level and even to Bedford’s own census tract numbers, 3591, 3593.03,  and 3163.  But that often takes time and patience. To aid in searching, the Census Bureau has short video tutorials that do a good job of explaining how to find relevant information.

For now, let’s go with the big numbers!

“As of Dec. 28, 2023, the Bureau projects the U.S. population to be 335,893,238 at midnight EST on Jan. 1, 2024. This represents an increase of 1,759,535 (0.53 percent) from Jan. 1, 2023, and 4,443,957 (1.34 percent) from Census Day (April 1) 2020.

“In January 2024, the United States is expected to experience one birth every 9.0 seconds and one death every 9.5 seconds. Meanwhile, net international migration is expected to add one person to the U.S. population every 28.3 seconds. The combination of births, deaths, and net international migration increases the U.S. population by one person every 24.2 seconds. The projected world population on Jan. 1, 2024, is 8,019,876,189, an increase of 75,162,541 (0.95 percent) from New Year’s Day 2023. During January 2024, 4.3 births and 2.0 deaths are expected worldwide every second. The Census Bureau’s Population Clock displays simulated real-time growth of the U.S. and world population.”

What Can You Find About Bedford?

On the local level, you can easily find a snapshot picture of “Bedford town,” from the annual American Community Survey. Here is a link:,_Middlesex_County,_Massachusetts?g=060XX00US2501704615

Aside from the immense amount of data collected by the Bureau, you can find colorful feature stories for every day of the year. Why does all this matter? For one reason, the information collected by the Census affects federal and state payments to local governments.  

The Bureau is currently soliciting information from the public on ways to make the 2030 Census even more accurate. There is great concern about “undercounting” of certain vulnerable populations, including children and “unhoused” people. One significant change is the paper collection of household data will be ended and all data collection will be online. 

If you visit the Census Library, you will find stories on a wide range of timely topics: How many businesses are using Artificial Intelligence? According to this posting on Nov. 28. “Only 3.8 percent of Businesses Use AI to Produce Goods and Services, Highest Use in Information Sector.”

 How about the gender pay gap? A Dec. 13 story, “Education Does Not Resolve Gender Wage Gap” reports men earned more than women even when they had Bachelor’s degrees in the same field. 

 Check the Library for a collection of recent stories of interest.

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