Measuring progress. Inspiring action.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I build a profile combining geographic areas?

Use the "Build" option to view and compare standard types of information specific to cities and townships, school districts, Minnesota Initiative Foundation Regions, Economic Development Regions, MN House districts, MN Senate districts, U.S. Congressional districts, communities and neighborhoods, counties, ZIP codes, or census tracts. The tool can aggregate and/or compare your selections into one data profile.

  1. First, select one of the available geography views as building blocks e.g., cities and townships, school districts, neighborhoods, counties, ZIP codes, census tracts. Each additional selection will add to the existing profile’s total area.
  2. After making your selection, click on the map and choose one or more desired area(s). Note that your selection need not be contiguous– you can create a profile for a combination of areas within your selected geography view. Each additional selection will add to the existing profile’s total area.
  3. Once you finish selecting your area of interest you can either:
    1. Display your data profile below the map by clicking on "View Profile."
    2. Select a second selection area(s) to compare to your first selection by clicking on "Compare" and then "View Profile" to display a side-by-side comparison data profile of your two selections.

How do I draw my own boundaries?

Use the DRAW option when your area of interest is not a standard area such as a city, neighborhood, or school district. With the DRAW tool, you can draw a custom area and view a data profile for that area.

As with the Build tool, begin by selecting one of the provided reference layer geography views.

  1. Select one of the drawing tool options: "Shape," "Line," or "Point" and click on the map to begin drawing. When you have finished drawing lines or shapes, simply double-click. Note that when drawing lines or points, you will need to identify the "Buffer" or surrounding area of interest to generate profile results. For example, you might choose a half-mile buffer surrounding a particular street corridor, or "line," or alternatively, a one-mile radius buffer around a business address, or "point."
  2. When you have finished drawing, click on "View Profile" and your data profile will display.

Can I use my own GIS files?

Currently we do not have the ability to support importing a user’s own shapefiles or other GIS files.

I want to edit the comparison area(s) that I have selected.

Did you add a comparison area but want to edit your first selection? Use "Edit Comparison Area 1" to go back and revise your first selection. You can then go back to your second comparison area by using "Edit Comparison Area 2." When finished, click on "View Profile." To completely start over, use the "Start Over" button.

I made my selections. Where's the profile?

Make sure you have clicked on the "View Profile" button to display your data after you have finished making your selections. You must also choose an area within the borders indicated in red. If there are fewer than 100 households in your selected area, no data will appear; we suggest you expand your area.

What data sources are used in the data profile?

All data profiles created in the Build Your Own tool use 2010 Census counts, American Community Survey (ACS) 5-year estimates, and Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics (LEHD) data.
Decennial Census data from the U.S. Census Bureau is used for these profiles to derive population and household weights for American Community Survey data.
Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics (LEHD) data from OnTheMap. LEHD data combine federal, state and Census Bureau data on employers and employees to create an annual data set of employment and workforce data.
American Community Survey (ACS) 5-year estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau. ACS data describes average characteristics over a period of time. It provides increased statistical reliability of the data for less populated areas and small population subgroups.

For more detailed sources, see Geographic profile data sources.

Why does my profile have 2010 Census data?

A custom area selection falling below a 1,500 housing unit threshold will default to 2010 census data rather than more recent American Community Survey data. The margins of error in American Community Survey data would be too large at such a small geographic scale.

Why is the estimate in the data profile I created different from other estimates on the Minnesota Compass website?

The Build Your Own tool uses 2010 Census counts, American Community Survey (ACS) 5-year estimates, and Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics (LEHD). American Community Survey estimates calculated through the custom Build Your Own tool may vary slightly from American Community Survey estimates provided for MNCompass profiles of similar geographies which rely on estimates provided directly by the U.S. Census Bureau. These estimates differ because data in the Build Your Own tool have been adjusted to fit current geographical boundaries using the 2010 Census counts for population and housing to provide the best estimate of how many people or housing units relate to each characteristic. Median calculations provided represent weighted averages of census tract medians with the weighting based on the percent that each census tract represents of the selection area whole.

How do I share or bookmark a custom profile?

You can do this by printing the profile directly from your browser. Or, click on the "Bookmark or share this profile" link, which will generate a unique URL that you can save, share or return to later.

Can I compare the data in this profile to last year's profile?

Because the data in this profile uses American Community Survey 5-year estimates, it is not possible to conduct statistically valid comparisons between the data provided each year. To conduct a statistically valid comparison, you can use non-overlapping American Community Survey 5-year estimates, such as 2008-2012 and 2013-2017 data vintages. For more information please see:

I'm encountering a different issue.

First, try a forced refresh (Control+F5 on a Windows machine; Command + shift + r on a Mac). If that doesn't resolve the issue, try emptying your browser cache. If you still have a problem, please let us know.

How does the custom mapping tool work?

The data used in the map is American Community Survey (ACS), Excensus, LEHD, or 2010 census data. American Community Survey data is calculated using census tracts as the base level of geography. Because small geographic areas, such as communities and neighborhoods or custom-drawn areas, do not conform to census tracts, the custom mapping tool takes this nonconformity into account and calculates an allocation ratio based on the portion of the census tract(s) within a selected area. The allocation ratio is developed by determining the percentage of the population or housing units within a census tract or tracts that fall within the selected area. The data within the selected area are then summed to produce aggregate results. No allocation ratio is needed for Excensus, LEHD, or 2010 census data because these data are either estimates or provide a total count of the population.