Census Bureau

What do they do?

As a bureau operating under the U.S. Department of Commerce, and according to the census.gov website, their "mission is to serve as the nation's leading provider of quality data about its people and economy." In order to do this, the Census Bureau collects different kinds of data, specifically, the following 5 surveys or censuses: 1. The American Community Survey (ACS) 2. Decennial Census of Population & Housing 3. Economic Census and 4. Census of Governments and 5. Current Population Survey. Once this data is collected, it is used to "determine the distribution of Congressional seats to states, to make planning decisions about community services, and to distribute more than $675 billion in federal funds to local, state and tribal governments each year." The Census Bureau operates under Title 13 and Title 26 of the United States Code (U.S.C.). 

American Community Survey (ACS)

"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." By responding to the ACS, "you are doing your part to help your community plan for hospitals and schools, support school lunch programs, improve emergency services, build bridges, and inform businesses looking to add jobs and expand to new markets, and more." 

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Decennial Census of Population and Housing

"The U.S. census counts each resident of the country, where they live on April 1, every ten years ending in zero. The Constitution mandates the enumeration to determine how to apportion the House of Representatives among the states." As of April 1, 2020, the U.S. resident population was 331,449,281 persons, with a 7.4% increase of population from the 2010 Census.

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Economic Census

"Every five years, the U.S. Census Bureau collects extensive statistics about businesses that are essential to understanding the American economy." This helps the federal government understand the economic impact of U.S. businesses; "nearly 4 million business locations, large, medium, and small, covering most industries and all geographic areas of the U.S. will receive survey tailored to their primary business activity." Response is required by law, under Title 13 of the United States Code (U.S.C).

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Census of Governments

"The Census of Governments identifies the scope and nature of the nation's state and local government sector; provides authoritative benchmark figures of public finance and public employment. Data are obtained about how governments are organized, how many people they employ and payroll amounts, and the finances of governments. This survey has occurred every five years since 1957, for years ending in "2" and "7." Government organization data and information are for October of the year preceding the Census (2006, 2001, and so forth)."

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Current Population Survey

This "is the primary source of labor force statistics for the population of the United States."

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History of the Census Bureau

"The U.S. Constitution requires only that the decennial census be a population count. Since the first census in 1790, however, the need for useful information about the United States' population and economy became increasingly evident.

The decennial census steadily expanded throughout the nineteenth century. By the turn of the century, the demographic, agricultural, and economic segments of the decennial census collected information on hundreds of topics. The work of processing these data kept the temporary Census Office open for almost all the decades following the 1880 and 1890 censuses.

In 1903, the Census Office was moved to the newly created Department of Commerce and Labor. It remained within Commerce when Commerce and Labor split into separate departments in 1913."

Fast Facts from each Decennial Census

Data collected from each census reflects "the growth of the population as well as the changing values and interests of the American people."

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Questionnaire Format History

Several iterations of census questions have been asked over the decades; this link will show you decade by decade just how they've changed, ranging from prisoner questionnaires to those living in "poor-houses" and asylums.

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Index of Questions from Each Census

"Through the decades, the census has collected data on race, ancestry, education, health, housing, and transportation. An examination of the questions asked during each census illustrates changes in our nation's understanding of race, the impact of immigration, growth of the Hispanic population, and computer usage."

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Census Instructions

The manner in which citizens were able to respond to each census has changed over the decades, and this link concisely describes how it has changed.

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Popular Census Topics

The Census Bureau covers a vast amount of information.  Here are just a few links to some of the more popular topics students might be interested in.

Infographics & Visualizations

Tables and graphs for all kinds of information, from "State Facts for Students," "Living with Disabilities," "Manufacturing Data," to "Income and Poverty in the US: 2020" and so much more.

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Popular Publications

Covers such topics as "Quarterly Summary of State and Local Government Tax Revenue," "Health Insurance Coverage in the U.S," "Same-Sex Couple Households" and "the Wealth of Households," and so many more.

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America Counts: Stories Behind the Numbers

Features "stories on various topics such as families, housing, employment, business, education, the economy, emergency management, and population."

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Latest Census News Releases

Displaying "the most recent news releases published by the U.S. Census Bureau."  Can be searched/viewed by topic or by archived year.

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Census Fact Sheets

"Learn more about specific topics at-a-glance with Census Bureau Fact Sheets."  From "Protecting the Confidentiality of 2020 Census Redistricting Data," to "Redistricting Data 101" and "Which Data Set is Right for me?" along with several more options in various languages.

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Race & Ethnicity Data Collection

How the Census Bureau obtains information regarding race and ethnicity.  Features Working Papers with topics such as "Usability Testing of Race/Hispanic Questions in the Census 2012-2020" and "Racial Disparities in Women's Occupational Mobility."

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Accessing Local Data

Locate data on Population, Age & Sex, Race, Housing, Computer & Internet Use, Education, Health and Economy, etc.

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Explore Census Data

"Quality data about the nation's people and economy," using Data Profiles, Maps and Visualizations, Industry and NAICS codes.

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Census of Agriculture

"A complete count of U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them," including farms that produce as little as $1,000 in sales.

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Bureau of the Census

Direct link to the Census Bureau itself

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A quick and concise breakdown of common facts and figures regarding the United States population.

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National Archives-Search Census Records

From the National Archives & Records Administration, search census records from 1790-1940.

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Census Academy

"Your Virtual Hub for Learning Data Skills" provided by census.gov

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Census Data-Video Tutorials

"Tips and tricks about how to use data.census.gov, Census API, and Microdata Access."

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NC Census Data

From NC.gov, one can find census information related to North Carolina.  Listed below are just some of the more popular links

NC Data-Latest Updates

Can view changes in population, voting age, childhood population and overall population change by county, from the 2010-2020 Census, among other links.

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"Make NC Count: Census 2020"

Links to data for each NC county, regarding population, median income, number of those in poverty, 65 and older, foreign-born persons, and so much more!

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Release Dates of 2020 Census Information

The Office of State Budget and Management lists a timeline for the release of the 2020 Census Information

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Population Growth in North Carolina 2020

Facts and figures surrounding NC's growth in population, along with a summary as to what is driving growth in our state.

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Federal Program Spending in NC: By Program Title & $ Amount

Based on information gleaned from the 2010 Census, these are the top 55 Programs that NC recieved federal money from: totalling $23,750,523,730.

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North Carolina Quick Facts

NC population facts from July 2019, by age and sex, race/origin, population characteristics, housing, education and health, etc.

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North Carolina State Data Center

A consortium of agencies cooperating with the US Bureau of the Census to provide the public with data about the state and its component geographic areas.

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Contact Information

Government Information Librarian
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