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February 25, 2004
Census Bureau Publishes Statistical Abstract
The U.S. Census Bureau has published the 2003 edition of its Statistical Abstract of the United States, a 1,000-plus-page document crammed with statistics ranging from the esoteric (bet you didn't know America's farmers dug up more than 23 million tons of potatoes in 2002) to the highly useful, at least when it comes to compensation.

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Among the potentially useful numbers:

  • The median net worth of families reached $86,100 in 2001, up from $78,000 in 1998 (constant 2001 dollars used).

  • There were 45.3 million Social Security beneficiaries in the United States in 2002. California had the highest number (4.3 million) and Alaska the fewest (59,000).

  • The average cost of attending college full time and year-round (undergraduate schools), including room and board, was $14,710 in 1999-2000.

  • U.S. production of cheese increased from about 6.1 billion pounds in 1990 to 8.6 billion pounds in 2002, with the largest increase coming in Italian varieties (1.3 billion pounds).

OK, that last one probably has no value to you unless you're in the cheese business, but it's still nice to know.

The Census Bureau says the new features in its 2003 abstract include 72 new tables covering topics such as the characteristics of victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the death rates of Hispanics and the ratios of debt payments to family income. Altogether, the new edition contains more than 1,400 tables and charts with statistics from the most recent years or periods available.

In addition, an appendix lists the new metropolitan and micropolitan statistical areas, which were designated last year by the Office of Management and Budget. The Census Bureau publication shows 2002 population estimates for these areas.

To view the abstract online, visit the Census Bureau website at

The buy it in book form, contact the U.S. Government Printing Office at (202) 512-1800 or The softbound edition (ISBN No. 003-024-09050-3) costs $40. The hardbound edition (ISBN No. 003-024-09049-0) costs $49.

Books also may be obtained through the National Technical Information Service, at (800) 553-6847 or

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