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DETROIT-The Southeast Michigan Council of Governments has released the 2000 Census Tract Maps for Southeast Michigan, a publication depicting census tracts inLivingston, Macomb, Monroe, Oakland, St. Clair, Washtenaw, and Wayne counties. Census tracts are small, relatively permanent geographic groupings determined to be relatively homogenous with respect to population characteristics, economic status, and living conditions.

The average tract contains 4,000 people, but tracts can range from fewer than 2,500 to more than 8,000.

Tract boundaries are drawn with the intention of being maintained over decades so statistical comparisons can be made from census to census. However, tracts may change from time to time due to physical boundary changes, such as construction of a new highway, or because of population growth or decline which can necessitate either splitting or combining tracts.

The census tract data are used for many purposes, including:

* Local governments looking to identify areas of need in their communities.

* Community-based groups looking to describe their neighborhoods for grant applications, businesses selecting locations for retail or service establishments.

* Emergency service providers developing evacuation and assistance plans.

* Realtors comparing neighborhoods for marketing homes.

* Human service agencies targeting groups with special needs.

Copies of 2000 census tract maps for Southeast Michigan are available from SEMCOG Information Services for $25.

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