An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Accessing Census Bureau Statistics


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U.S. Census Apps

If you are thinking of starting a new business, one of the first things you need is information to understand market conditions. Entrepreneurs rely on American Community Survey and Economic Census data to understand local markets, the local workforce, commuting patterns and economic activity in prospective new locations to make investment decisions that create jobs and grow the economy. 

You may already know that the U.S. Census Bureau has a wealth of information that can be invaluable to entrepreneurs. But how do you get started? We have several tools that make it easy to find the statistics you need to start or grow your business. Here are four tools you can begin using today and one that is coming soon. 

1. QuickFacts

Many times, you may just need to know a quick fact such as the population or demographic makeup of a state or county. With our QuickFacts tool, you can find current population estimates, key demographic statistics from the American Community Survey, and economic statistics from selected Census Bureau economic programs. A soon to be released beta version of the tool allows for comparison of these data across geographic areas as well as expanded visualizations of these data.

2. Census Explorer

One of our newest tools, Census Explorer provides an interactive map of various demographic topics for states, counties and census tracts. For example, Census Explorer: Retail Edition includes statistics on retail trade in America from County Business Patterns, including the growing online shopping market. You can find information on the number of businesses, employment and average annual payroll per employee for every county in the U.S.  Other editions of Census Explorer display population estimates or topics from the American Community Survey, such as commuting information, education and income.

3. America’s Economy

Entrepreneurs need to keep apace of our rapidly changing economy and need not look further than our America’s Economy mobile app, which provides access to the 21 key leading economic indicators published by the Census Bureau, the Bureau of Economic Analysis and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. These monthly surveys provide updated national measures of employment, sales and other information on manufacturing, international trade, retail sales and residential construction. Another mobile app from the Census Bureau, dwellr, powers your phone with neighborhood-level statistics from the American Community Survey on topics such as home values, education, and how people get to work, which are useful topics for planning where to locate a business.

4. Industry Statistics Portal and Industry Snapshots

If you need information for a particular industry or location, you can use our Industry Statistics Portal and the Industry Snapshot. The portal provides an overview of the economic data published by the Census Bureau for an industry, as well as direct links to selected data in American FactFinder. The Snapshots provide key statistics for the industry (such as number of establishments, payroll and employment) at the national, state and county levels in an easy to use graphical format.

5. Open for Business (coming soon)

As the Industry Statistics Portal provides information for a specific industry and QuickFacts provides information for a specific local area, the new Census – Open for Business tool merges these data to provide information about an industry and a local area. Released as a beta in September 2014, this prototype tool presents selected data that entrepreneurs can use in their business plans and to determine a location for their new businesses. The initial, full version of this tool, scheduled for release in January 2015, will reflect user feedback collected during this beta period, and will present these key statistics in a map and in a downloadable business report.

In addition to these tools, the Census Bureau’s open API gives developers the ability to create new tools and combine Census Bureau data with other data sets.

November is National Entrepreneurship Month and we encourage entrepreneurs to utilize these tools to make informed decisions. The U.S. Census Bureau strives to be the leading source of quality data about the nation's people, places and our economy.

Last updated: 2016-05-19 16:58

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