Using the site

This section is provided to help you make the most of Berks Vital Signs, launched by the Berks County Community Foundation. 

Berks County Areas

This project includes data for Berks County, six surrounding counties (Chester, Lancaster, Lebanon, Lehigh, Montgomery and Schuylkill), the state of Pennsylvania, the nation and local areas within Berks County, broken into five regions and Reading City. The internal county regions are made up of boroughs and townships within Berks County. The internal regions are Central (five boroughs and townships including Reading City), Northeast (18 boroughs and townships), South (12 boroughs and townships), Southeast (13 boroughs and townships) and West (25 boroughs and townships). See the About Us page for a full list of bouroughs and townships in each of the five regions.

A Guide to Berks Vital Signs Indicators Website

Berks Vitals Signs is rich with information, with indicators provided in both text and graphic format. Detailed information, trends, and maps are also available. Some users will want quick reference information, while others will want more detail. Spending a few minutes reviewing this section may aid your work and help make using the Berks Vital Signs website a more satisfying experience.

Organization of the Site

Information on this site can be accessed from the topic links that extend across the entire page just above the main image. To view a list of all of the indicators tracked, click the View All Indicators tab on the right-hand side of the topic list. Helpful links are listed to the right-hand side of the search bar on the and at the bottom of the website, including:

Page Name Content
Data Stories A look at key issues and indicator data that spans various topic areas.
Dashboard A visual summary of key indicator data across topic areas.
Map Data Maps on select indicators listed by topic.
Reports Links to studies with information about Berks County and issues that are related to the topics and indicators covered by Berks Vital Signs.
About Us Information on the goals of Berks Vital Signs and the organizations that participated in developing it and the geographic areas it encompasses.
Using the Site A guide to the site features and functions – current section.
Resources Information about and links to other valuable sources of data.
FAQs Frequently asked questions about the site and its content.

The site is organized by topics, subtopics, and indicators. Ten categories or topics were selected for Berks Vital Signs. These topics are shown above the main image and arranged alphabetically across the page. By clicking on any of these topics, you will be provided with the Key Trends, Indicators, Resources, and Related Indicators. 

On each Key Trend topic page you will find a brief description of the topic. Below that are Featured Topic Indicators providing quick access to information that is featured on important issues impacting our county, and a summary of key trends, followed by a list of indicators in that topic. 

Here are several additional tips for navigating the Berks Vital Signs website:

To return to the home page... From any page on the site, you can return to the home page by clicking on the Berks Vital Signs logo in the upper left corner of the page.
To get to a topic page... From any page on the site, you can navigate to a topic page by clicking on the name of the topic.
To customize charts... After clicking on the charts in the detailed indicator pages, you can customize your own chart with the data available by clicking on or off the items in the legend. To view the underlying data, hover over the chart. You may also print or save these charts using the buttons in the upper right corner of the chart.
To download data... After clicking on the detailed indicator pages, scroll to the bottom of a table to see the Download Data Table button. This will open an Excel spreadsheet.

A Glossary of Terms:

Term Definition and How it is Used in the Berks Vital Signs Website
Indicator An indicator is a measure that helps to describe an economic, environmental, social, or cultural condition over time. An indicator is usually expressed as a rate or percent, such as the poverty rate, the unemployment rate, or the volunteering rate. Berks Vital Signs provides information and analysis on 80 indicators throughout this website. For each of the ten indicator categories, the individual indicators are accessed from the main page, or topic page. A list of every indicator is available by clicking on “All Indicators” on the right side of the Transportation topic.
Inflation Adjusted This refers to an actual value that is adjusted to account for inflation. The changes in a series of actual values over time reflect several factors, including inflation. If the series is inflation adjusted, however, the changes reflect only the other factors. For example, median household income in our state (Financial Self-Sufficiency) is adjusted to the most recent year in the series.
Median The median refers to the mid-point of a set of values. For example, median household income in our state (Financial Self-Sufficiency) is $60,000. This means that an equal number of households earn more than $60,000 as earn less.
Percent The portion of the whole represented by any given value. The whole is 100 percent, and the percent of any given value is its relationship to 100 percent. Mathematically, the percent is derived by dividing the given value by the value of the whole, and then by multiplying the result by 100 to express the result as a percent.
Per capita Per person (literally, "per head"). This measure is particularly useful in comparing activity among units of differing sizes. An example is comparing tourism spending per capita in Berks County to other locations.
Poverty Level The United States government uses two principal methods to measure poverty: the poverty thresholds established by the Census Bureau and the poverty guidelines used by the Department of Health and Human Services. The Census Bureau approach is used to determine how many people live in poverty, and the Health and Human Services data is used for various benefit programs, such as eligibility for food stamps. In some applications, eligibility for federal assistance programs is based on multiples of the poverty guidelines (such as 125% or 165% of the poverty level). The difference in these measures is not significant.
Rate The relationship between two values. For example, when driving, the rate of speed is measured by the distance traveled (miles) in a certain amount of time (hours). Hence, the rate of speed is expressed as miles per hour. Rates can be expressed in a variety of ways. Berks Vital Signs strives to use rates that are understandable. An example is the property crime per 1,000 residents (Public Safety).