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Census Research Guide

A guide to understanding and locating data produced by the U.S. Census Bureau

What is the U.S. Census Bureau?

The U.S. Census Bureau is a government statistical agency that is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce. The Census Bureau provides important data about the nation's people and economy.

  • Mission -  The Census Bureau's mission is to serve as the nation’s leading provider of quality data about its people and economy.
  • Authority - The Census Bureau operates under Title 13 and Title 26 of the U.S. Code.
  • ​​​​​​​Goal - The Census Bureau’s  goal is to provide the best mix of timeliness, relevancy, quality and cost for the data the Bureau collects and services the Bureau provides.

Explore Census Data (also known as is the primary access point for all United States Census data. is the primary source for population, economic, housing, and geographic information and data about the United States, Puerto Rico, and the Island areas.

Census Quick Facts

Census Quick Facts

QuickFacts is an easy to use application that provides tables, maps, and charts of frequently requested statistics from many Census Bureau censuses, surveys, and programs. Profiles are available for the nation, all 50 states plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, and all counties. Cities and towns with a population of 5,000 or more are also included.

Other Censuses

In a addition to the Decennial Census of Population and Housing, the U.S. Census Bureau  conducts two additional Censuses: the Economic Census and the Census of Governments.

Economic Census

Every five years, the U. S. Census Bureau conducts the economic census, the official measure of the nation’s businesses and economy. Businesses, policymakers, governments and communities use economic census data for economic development, business decisions, and strategic planning. The economic census serves as the statistical benchmark for current economic activity such as the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and the Producer Price Index. It provides information on business locations, the workforce, and trillions of dollars of sales by product and service type. Comprehensive information is generated for almost 1,000 different industries and thousands of geographic areas.   U.S. Businesses are required by law under Title 13, Section 224, to respond.

See also:

Census of Governments

The Census of Governments (CoG) is a complete census of all state and local governments conducted once every five years (years ending in 2 and 7).  The Census Bureau measure three components: organization (number of governments and characteristics), employment (number of employees and payroll), and finance (revenues, expenditures, debt, and assets). The Census Bureau collects the CoG under the legal authority of United States Code Title 13, Section 161.

What Census of Governments editions are available in  2012 & 2017 

Is there a Census of Agriculture?

Yes, there is a census of agriculture, and the United States has collected such data since 1840. Prior to 1992, the Census Bureau conducted the census; starting with the 1997 census, the U.S. Department of Agriculture performs this operation. Like the Economic Census, the agriculture census is conducted every five years, in years ending in 2 and 7. The census produces data on farms and farmers, crops, livestock, and a host of related topics. For more information on the census, go to the United States Department of Agriculture 

State Data Centers

State Data Centers

State Data Centers, which are sponsored by the Census Bureau, coordinate affiliate agencies within their regions to provide access to demographic data and tools.

See also: State Data Center (SDC) Clearinghouse - A site created and maintained by State Data Centers to showcase the work of their members and present how they make Census data relevant to their communities.

Business Statistics

Census Surveys & Census Programs

The U.S. Census Bureau conducts more than 130 surveys and programs each year. A survey is a method of collecting and analyzing social, economic, and geographic data. It provides information about the conditions of the United States, states, and counties.


In addition to the 2020 Census, the Census Bureau conducts household and business surveys every single year.

Top Five Household Surveys

  • The Household Pulse Survey is a 20-minute online survey studying how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting households across the country from a social and economic perspective.
  • The American Community Survey (ACS) helps local officials, community leaders, and businesses understand the changes taking place in their communities. It is the premier source for detailed population and housing information about our nation.
  • Current Population Survey (CPS), sponsored jointly by the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), is the primary source of labor force statistics for the population of the United States. See:  Current Population Survey (CPS) Data Tables.
  • The National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) collects data measuring the types and amount of crime involving people age 12 or older. Periodically, the survey includes additional topics such as crime in schools, contacts with law enforcement, and identity theft statistics produced by this survey can be found in the reports, tables, and charts that populate the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics’ website.
  • The National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) is a national survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau on behalf of the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). The National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) is the principal source of information on the health of the civilian noninstitutionalized population of the United States and is one of the major data collection programs of the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), which is part of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Statistics produced by this survey can be found in the reports, tables, and charts that populate the National Center for Health Statistics, National Health Interview Survey website  See also: NHIS brochure

Business Surveys

The U.S. Census Bureau conducts more than 130 surveys each year.  These surveys include the business surveys listed below, and many more. To find more information on a specific survey you received please select it from the list of business surveys below.

  • Small Business Pulse Survey - Tracking Changes During the Coronavirus Pandemic
  • Economic Census - Every five years, the U.S. Census Bureau collects extensive statistics about businesses that are essential to understanding the American economy.  This official count, better known as the Economic Census, serves as the foundation for the measurement of U.S. businesses and their economic impact.
  • Annual Retail Trade Survey (ARTS) - The Annual Retail Trade Survey (ARTS) produces industry-level estimates of sales, expenses, and other items for the retail sector in the U.S. each year.
  • Service Annual Survey (SAS) - The Service Annual Survey (SAS) and the Quarterly Services Survey (QSS) work together to produce the most comprehensive data available on service activity in the United States
  • Annual Wholesale Trade Survey (AWTS) - The Annual Wholesale Trade Survey (AWTS) is conducted every year to provide detailed industry measures of sales, inventories, operational expenses and purchases for wholesale trade activities.
  • Export Statistics -  Detailed statistics on goods and estimates of services shipped from the U.S. to foreign countries. The United States Code, Title 13, requires this program. Participation is mandatory. The Treasury Department assists in the conduct of this program.
  • Annual Survey of Entrepreneurs - The ASE provides annual data on select economic and demographic characteristics of employer businesses and their owners by gender, ethnicity, race, and veteran status.

Population and Housing Unit Estimates

The Census Bureau's Population Estimates Program (PEP) produces estimates of the population for the United States, its states, counties, cities, and towns, as well as for the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and its municipios. Demographic components of population change (births, deaths, and migration) are produced at the national, state, and county levels of geography. Additionally, housing unit estimates are produced for the nation, states, and counties.  See:  Population and Housing Unit Estimates Tables

U.S. Census Tweets

Census State Data Centers

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