When looking for UK official statistics many of us immediately think of http://www.statistics.gov.uk/. If you are looking for data on Wales, though, you really should be heading for the Welsh Assembly’s StatsWales at http://statswales.wales.gov.uk/. This is a free-to-use service that allows you to “view, manipulate, create and download tables from the most detailed official data on Wales”. You can run a keyword search on the data or simply browse the Reports folders.
The built in search option may be your best bet (Note: Google ‘site:’ search does not work on this data collection). Most of the tables, charts and reports are clearly labelled but there are some sections where all you are told is that the data is “Indicator 9a” or “Indicator 12c”, for example. It is only when you click on the file that you discover it’s contents.
You can also select subsets of the data and produce your own tables and charts. If you register you can create your own profile, design and save your reports.
There are many options for viewing and manipulating the data on the web site itself and it can seem overwhelming at times. You may prefer to just download the data sets and work on them offline, but if you think you might be a regular user of the this site it is worth working through the tutorials and getting to grips with the StatsWales tools. You can register for e-mail notifications of changes to specific datasets and RSS feeds are also available to alert you to new sets that have been added to the site.