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Blog Category: Bureau of the Census

U.S. Census Bureau Announces Nearly 8 in 10 Americans Have Access to High-Speed Internet

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An estimated 78.1 percent of people in U.S. households had a high-speed Internet connection last year, according to a new report released today from the U.S. Census Bureau. However, digital divides exist among the nation’s metropolitan areas and demographic groups.

These statistics come from the American Community Survey, which collected data on this topic for the first time in 2013 and is the largest survey used to examine computer and Internet use in the U.S.

Although most Americans have access to computers and high-speed Internet, differences in high-speed Internet use were as large as 25 percentage points between certain age and race groups, while divides between specific income and educational attainment groups were as large as 45 percentage points. In addition, among the nation’s metro areas, Boulder, Colo., had one of the highest rates of high-speed Internet use at 96.9, while Laredo, Texas, had one of the lowest rates at 69.3 percent.

The report released today, Computer and Internet Use in the United States: 2013, includes analysis of household computer ownership and Internet use by age, sex, race and Hispanic origin, income and education. It covers areas of the country with populations larger than 65,000.

“These new statistics show how the American Community Survey gives communities the information they need on both computer and Internet access for their residents,” Census Bureau Director John H. Thompson said. “As the Census Bureau continues to move more surveys online to reduce respondent burden, these statistics inform us of areas that have high and low Internet use. These statistics also provide the information communities and federal agencies need to make decisions to improve and expand broadband Internet access for all Americans.”

For the full release and report, please visit http://www.census.gov/newsroom/press-releases/2014/cb14-202.html

An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Accessing Census Bureau Statistics

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.

Commerce Data: Then & Now

Guest blog post by Mark Doms, Under Secretary for Economic Affairs

In July, Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker announced that our department will be hiring our first ever Chief Data Officer (CDO), building on her commitment to Commerce’s role as “America’s Data Agency.” She also announced the formation of a data advisory council comprising private sector leaders who will help the CDO navigate new and dynamic data challenges. This is the latest chapter in Commerce’s long history of adapting to serve the needs of an ever-changing American economy.

The United States Department of Commerce has been a trusted provider of data and statistics for centuries. The first decennial census took place in 1790 and the first patent was issued that same year.  Today, because of advances in technology, we are able to provide Americans with more data, faster and more accurately than ever before. This transformation can be seen in the evolution of the Census Bureau.

Article 1 Section 3 of the US Constitution states that the U.S. government shall enumerate the population of the United States every 10 years. Beginning with the 1790 Decennial Census and once every decade since then, the federal government has provided this invaluable information, making the United States the first country to produce a regular count of its citizens.   

By the early 1800s it became clear that in addition to the important demographic information flowing from the decennial census, there was also an imperative for regular collection of business information. In response to that need, in 1810, the U.S. Census Bureau established a census of businesses, also known as the economic census.  The initial focal points were manufacturing, lumber yards and butcher shops. In 1902, Congress authorized the establishment of the U.S. Census Bureau and directed that the census of manufacturers be taken every five years (a “quinquennial” census).  As the economy grew, the Census Bureau responded accordingly and by 1930 it had expanded the economic census to include services.  The breadth of the survey has since changed to keep pace with our nation’s growing economy.  The 2012 economic census data are currently being released.

Preparing for the 2020 Census: Measuring Race and Ethnicity in America

Preparing for the 2020 Census: Measuring Race and Ethnicity in America

Cross blog post by John Thompson, U.S. Census Bureau Director

The year 2020 may seem a long way away, but we’re already in full swing preparing for the next decennial census. We held an operations update to announce some of the steps we’re taking to ensure that the 2020 Census provides the highest-quality statistics about our nation’s increasingly changing population, such as how we measure race and ethnicity.

One challenge we face is how Americans view race and ethnicity differently than in decades past. In our diverse society, a growing number of people find the current race and ethnic categories confusing, or they wish to see their own specific group reflected on the census. The Census Bureau remains committed to researching approaches that more accurately measure and reflect how people self-identify their race and ethnic origin.

During the 2010 Census, most households received a census form that asked about race and Hispanic origin through two separate questions. However, we also conducted a major research project – called the “2010 Census Race and Hispanic Origin Alternative Questionnaire Experiment” (AQE) – to better understand how and why people identify themselves in different ways and in different contexts.

The AQE tested different questionnaire strategies with four goals in mind:

  1. Increase reporting in the race and ethnic categories as defined by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget,
  2. Increase responses to the race and ethnicity question(s),
  3. Increase the accuracy and reliability of the results, and
  4. Elicit detailed responses for all racial and ethnic communities (e.g., Chinese, Mexican, Jamaican, Lebanese, etc.).

Spotlight on Commerce: Sara A. Rosario, U.S. Census Bureau

Spotlight on Commerce: Sara A. Rosario, U.S. Census Bureau

Ed. note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series highlighting members of the Department of Commerce and their contributions to an Economy Built to Last in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month

Guest blog post by Sara A. Rosario Nieves, U.S. Census Bureau

As the Census Scientific Advisory Committee coordinator, I help determine Census Bureau operations and programs that need scientific advice. By working with the committee — established by the Secretary of Commerce as an advisory body to the Census Bureau director — I help engage some of the nation’s top economists, statisticians, researchers, geographers, sociologists, engineers, political scientists, demographers, and operations managers on ways to advise us on streamlining processes without compromising quality and use proper technologies all while saving taxpayer money.

The President’s State of the Union Address this year centered around three key principles: opportunity, action, and optimism. I too will use these three words to describe my 10-plus years as a federal employee.

Opportunity: While pursuing my undergraduate and graduate degrees in Puerto Rico, I noticed that years of specialized experience were required for entry-level positions on the island. I was astonished but continued studying and looking for work opportunities. Part of my studies included a semester-long industrial management internship with the master scheduler of Bristol-Myers Squibb pharmaceutical in Mayaguez. One of my professors then told me about a summer internship opportunity with the Department of Commerce, which led me to Washington, D.C., in 2001. Upon completion of my MBA, I accepted a job with the Census Bureau. Though I was eager to learn new things and yearned to hear fresh ideas, this geographical move was not an easy decision but thinking back now on the incredible experiences I have had and the professional growth I have gone through, I know I made the right decision. While at the Census Bureau, I have completed the DOC Aspiring Leaders Development Program and obtained a Masters Certificate in Project Management from George Washington University. In 2011, the Department of Commerce honored me with its Gold Medal Award for helping lead the 2010 Census partnership program, which engaged 257,000 national and local organizations with $1.2 billion in value-added contributions to the overall census effort.

Action: One of the most enjoyable aspects of my civil service work is mentoring young individuals who are looking to expand their skills and for advice on how to reach their maximum potential. Last month, I was a panelist for the Paths for Success session of the Government Leaders for Tomorrow (GL4T), where nationwide selected science and technology students with diverse economic, social, academic and cultural backgrounds come to D.C. to learn about life as a federal government employee. The conversations with the mentees, along with recruits I regularly meet on campus, help me understand the vast capacity of the next generation to work alongside seasoned and experienced talent and contribute to the department’s innovation and reengineering goals. 

Census Bureau Completes Release of All 364 Manufacturing Reports from Economic Census Industry Series

Census Bureau Completes Release of All 364 Manufacturing Reports from Economic Census Industry Series

In recognition of Manufacturing Day on October 3, the Census Bureau presents descriptions of its wide array of data products on the manufacturing sector of the economy. Additionally, statistics on all 364 industries in the manufacturing sector are now available from the 2012 Economic Census.

  • 2012 Economic Census Industry Series: A complete series of national-level data files on specific manufacturing industries, including, for instance, the number of establishments, payroll, number of employees, value of product shipments and services provided by businesses. News releases are available highlighting breweriesautomobile manufacturing, household appliance manufacturing andsemiconductor manufacturing. The economic census is conducted every five years.
  • 2012 County Business Patterns: Provides the only detailed annual information on the number of establishments, employees and payroll for nearly 1,200 industries at the national, state and county levels. This data set includes statistics for all manufacturing industries. Latest data were released in May.
  • Annual Survey of Manufactures: Includes three data sets: statistics for industry groups and industries, value of product shipments and geographic area statistics. Collected annually, except in years ending in 2 and 7, at which time these statistics are included in the manufacturing sector of the economic census.
  • Survey of Plant Capacity Utilization: Provides quarterly statistics on the rates of capacity utilization for the U.S. manufacturing and publishing sectors. Data for the second quarter 2014 now available.

U.S. Commerce Department Releases Data on Nation's Growing Hispanic Population to Kick Off Hispanic Heritage Month

U.S. Commerce Department Releases Data on Hispanic Population to Kick Off Hispanic Heritage Month

To kickoff the start of Hispanic Heritage Month, the Commerce Department's Census Bureau recently released a range of updated statistics describing the demograhic state of the nation's Latino population. 

In September 1968, Congress authorized President Lyndon B. Johnson to proclaim National Hispanic Heritage Week, observed during the week that included Sept. 15 and Sept. 16. Congress expanded the observance in 1989 to a monthlong celebration (Sept. 15 – Oct. 15) of the culture and traditions of those who trace their roots to Spain, Mexico and the Spanish-speaking nations of Central America, South America and the Caribbean. 

September 15 is the starting point for the celebration because it is the anniversary of independence of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on Sept. 16 and Sept. 18, respectively. Below are a few key facts on the Hispanic population: 

54 million 

The Hispanic population of the United States as of July 1, 2013, making people of Hispanic origin the nation’s largest ethnic or racial minority. Hispanics constituted 17 percent of the nation’s total population. Source: 2013 Population Estimates. 

1.1 million  

Number of Hispanics added to the nation’s population between July 1, 2012, and July 1, 2013. This number is close to half of the approximately 2.3 million people added to the nation’s population during this period. Source: 2013 Population Estimates, National Characteristics: Population by Sex, Race, and Hispanic origin <http://www.census.gov/popest/data/national/asrh/2013/index.html>, See first bullet under “Sex, Race, and Hispanic Origin."

The Survey of Business Owners and Self-Employed Persons Is Key to Explaining America’s Economy

The Survey of Business Owners and Self-Employed Persons Is Key to Explaining America’s Economy

Cross blog post by John Thompson, Director, U.S. Census Bureau

Did you know that there are 27.1 million non-farm businesses in America? The U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Business Owners and Self-Employed Persons provides the only comprehensive source of statistics about business ownership in the U.S. The Census Bureau conducts the SBO every five years. This is the first time the SBO is being conducted primarily online.

If you own a business, such as a salon or a landscaping company, you may be one of the one million Americans selected to participate in the Survey of Business Owners. Even if you do not have employees other than yourself, we want to hear from you. By participating online now, you can help provide consistent, comparable, and comprehensive statistics on U.S. business performance. For example, the 2007 SBO showed us that 5.9 percent of responding firms reported income from e-commerce – an important insight into how the Internet is shaping our economy.

Right now we are in the process of asking respondents to fill out the Survey of Business Owners, which is part of, and benchmarked to, the 2012 Economic Census. We begin the Survey of Business Owners after the data collection phase of the Economic Census is complete. It provides information every five years on business characteristics (e.g., if a business is home-based, or how much start-up capital it received) and owner characteristics (such as gender, race and ethnicity, and veteran status) for businesses of all sizes across America.

Businesses of all sizes are crucial to the U.S. economy and having quality statistics on businesses is critical. Some of the ways that government leaders and others use SBO statistics include:

  • Business owners are able to analyze their operations in comparison to similar firms, compute their market share, and assess their growth prospects.
  • Entrepreneurs can make informed decisions about what types of products and services to sell, and where to sell them. They can also use SBO data in business plans and loan applications.
  • The Small Business Administration can assess business assistance needs and allocate available resources.
  • Local government commissions are able to establish and evaluate contract procurement practices.
  • Federal, state, and local government agencies have a framework for planning, directing, and assessing programs that promote veteran-, women-, and minority-owned businesses.
  • Researchers can analyze long-term economic and demographic shifts, and differences in ownership and performance among geographic areas.

Back to School -- Census Bureau Introduces the Statistics in the Schools Program

Statistics in Schools

Cross blog post by John H. Thompson, Director, U.S. Census Bureau

A lot of our work at the Census Bureau looks toward the future – next year’s American Community Survey, or the decennial Census in 2020, for example. One exciting forward-looking initiative is our Statistics in Schools (SIS) program. Research shows that jobs related to statistics are expected to increase by more than 25 percent over the next decade, and SIS is part of our efforts to help make sure students are prepared for them.

Statistics in Schools supports statistics education by providing grade-appropriate classroom activities in math and history, and many resources – such as maps, news articles, videos, infographics, and games – for K-12 teachers to use. Staff from all areas of the Census Bureau worked together to create these activities, which are available online at no charge. Some examples of the activities teachers can find are:

  • Tools for identifying the demographics of specific states and metro areas.
  • Activities to analyze information correlating income to educational attainment.
  • Specific data, such as the number of single-father households, vehicles per household, and salary based on industry sector.
  • Worksheets to graph state population demographics.
  • Activities for estimating how many people in the U.S. walk to work.

The activities are aligned to national standards, including Common Core State Standards and the UCLA National Standards for History. They aren’t intended to replace existing curricula, but rather complement existing lesson plans.

The Value of Government Weather and Climate Data

Guest blog post by Jane Callen, Economics and Statistics Administration

The U.S. Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) collects weather and climate data. As we noted in a recent Commerce Department report on the Value of Government Data, the return to society on investment in government meteorological data is large.

For example, one survey found that the overwhelming majority of people said they used weather forecasts and did so an average of 3.8 times per day. That equates to 301 billion forecasts consumed per year!

The study’s authors note that, other than current news events, there is probably no other type of information obtained on such a routine basis from such a variety of sources. Certainly, the researchers say, no other scientific information is accessed so frequently. And while the information is being delivered from an array of sources, most of it directly or indirectly originates from NOAA’s National Weather Service (NWS). Americans check to learn what is happening in the weather, and we plan our days – and lives – based on this data.

The researchers found a median valuation of weather forecasts per household of $286 per year, which suggests that the aggregate annual valuation of weather forecasts was about $31.5 billion. The sum of all federal spending on meteorological operations and research was $3.4 billion in the same year, and the private sector spent an additional $1.7 billion on weather forecasting, for a total of private and public spending of about $5.1 billion. In other words, the valuation people placed on the weather forecasts they consumed was 6.2 times as high as the total expenditure on producing forecasts. NOAA data is re-packaged and analyzed to produce 15 million weather products, such as air quality alerts, the three, five and ten day extended weather forecast, earthquake reports, and tornado and flash flood warnings. Many end users do not realize that NOAA provides the data they see and hear every day on The Weather Channel, AccuWeather, the radio and in the morning paper.