How to Use the Assessment to Analyze ZIP Code Data

The SparkMap Assessment has ZIP Code level data available for view and download, included with a Premium yearly subscription. With this feature, you can access ZIP Code data for nearly 100 indicators in health, economics, environment, education, and demographics.

★ Useful for Premium yearly subscribers

This tutorial will help you learn how to view or download ZIP Code data within the Assessment. To review how to create an Assessment, visit How to Create a Community Assessment.

Follow the steps below to learn how to:

  • Select an Area to Assess at the ZIP Code level
  • Select Indicators
  • Generate the Assessment and Show ZIP Code Data
  • Download ZIP Code Data
  • Learn More About ZIP Codes, ZCTAs, and Calculations

Select an Area to Assess

Within the Assessment, there are 3 different ways to select locations that will show ZIP Code level data: County List tool, Draw My Area tool, or Pick From Map tool. Note: ZIP Code data will populate for all ZIP Codes within your selected location. As a result, the ZIP Code list for a county or other large area may take more time to render and to download.

County List: In Step 1 of the Assessment, select the state and then county (or counties) you are assessing.

Draw My Area: In Step 1, click Draw My Area. When prompted, type in a location or zoom in to a location using the map. Follow the instructions above the map to draw an area to assess.

Pick from Map: In Step 1, click Pick From Map. Follow the instruction above the map to generate an assessment area. Note: ZIP Code level data is only available when picking by County, City and Town, or ZIP Code.

Select Indicators

Next, in Step 2, select the indicators you are interested in evaluating at the ZIP Code level. Any of our indicators that are available at the ZCTA or census tract levels are included in the ZIP code report. This includes indicators on demographic data, commuter patterns, income, poverty, housing, food access, and more.

To see our indicator list and what geographies are available, visit the SparkMap Report Data List page and click on ‘Source Geography’ to sort (Figure 1).

Figure 1

Generate the Assessment, Show ZIP Code Data

Click at the bottom of the Indicators screen to generate your Assessment. Once your Assessment has loaded, a new option (“Show ZIP Code data”) will appear in the Report Options menu. Click Show ZIP Code data to see ZIP Code breakouts for the relevant indicators (Figure 2).

Figure 2

Download ZIP Code data

To download the Assessment with all of the statements, tables, and data visualizations, click “Download As” and select PDF or Microsoft Word. To use the data offline or in another application, click “Download As” and select Excel Table (Figure 3). 

Figure 3

Access More Information About ZIP Codes

You are absolutely right. As a geographic data community, we often use the term “ZIP Code” when referring to either a ZIP Code or a ZCTA boundary.

Technically, a ZIP Code is a non-spatial designation by the United States Postal Service, created as a way to group mailing addresses. ZIP Codes are not defined geographic boundaries and update frequently, based on factors such as population shifts and mail volume changes.

Because of the popularity of understanding neighborhoods and regions using the familiar language of ZIP Codes, the Census Bureau created ZIP Code Tabulation Areas (ZCTAs) in the year 2000 as a geographic area corresponding to a ZIP Code. ZCTAs only change every 10 years, and are a standard in neighborhood-level geography.

SparkMap uses ZCTA boundaries, where appropriate, to align with the Census Bureau’s geographic standard.

For more information about the difference between ZIP Codes and ZCTAs, check out guidance on ZIP Code Tabulation Areas (ZCTAs) from the Census Bureau and All about ZIP Codes from the Missouri Census Data Center.

If you need any additional assistance feel free to chat or email us at sparkmap@missouri.edu