U.S. Census Bureau Statistics
The Federal Documents Section maintains a reference collection of statistical census information for the United States and Hawaii in various formats. We are an affiliate of the Hawaii State Data Center, Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism.
Individuals seeking genealogical census information will be referred to the Hawaii and Pacific Section, for Hawaii family history, or Language Literature and History, for the rest of the United States.
■ Article I, Section II of the U.S. Constitution mandates that population counts be taken at least once every ten years for the purpose of reapportionment of the House of Representatives.
■ Title 13 of the U.S. Code outlines the role of the U.S. Census. Section 141 directs the Secretary of Commerce to take the decennial census.
■ Response is mandatory. Title 13 of the U.S.Code, Section 221 classifies it as a misdemeanor to refuse or neglect to answer census questions and delineates a fine of no more than $100. The Sentencing Reform Act of 1984 changed that fine from $100 to no more than $5,000.
What Is the Decennial Census?
■ A population count taken at a specific point in time, usually April 1, every ten years, since 1790.
■ Most extensive survey sent to every household.
■ Short-Form: The short-form survey with less than 10 questions is sent to each household to gather basic demographic and housing information, such as name, sex, age, relationship, Hispanic origin, race, and whether the housing unit is rented or owned. The 100-percent count short-form data is used for reapportionment of the House of Representatives and is published in Summary Files 1 and 2, the Redistricting Data (P.L. 94-171) Summary File, and the Congressional and the State Legislative District Summary Files.
■ Long-Form: From 1940 to 2000, in addition to short form, a long-form with more than 50 questions has been administered to sample households until it was replaced by the American Community Survey. The 2010 decennial census went back to short-form only. The long-form data is published in Summary Files 3 and 4, the Congressional, and the State Legislative District Summary Files. The long-form collects information on demographic, social, economic and housing characteristics.
American Community Survey
■ Conducted under the authority of Title 13 of the U.S. Code, Sections 141 and 193.
■ Mandatory response as with the decennial census.
What Is the American Community Survey?
■ A part of the Decennial Census Program.
■ Second largest survey after the decennial census.
■ Serves a purpose similar to the 1940-2000 decennial long-form, i.e. collecting social and economic, housing and demographic data.
■ A continuous measurement survey sent to a small percentage of population--approximately 250,000 addresses monthly, a total of 3 million per year-- on a rotating basis, and published in rolling one, three and five-year averages.
■ Estimates, not population counts. Population counts are produced by the decennial census.
■ Profiles come with margin of error based on a 90 percent confidence level.
■ Suppression of some data due to the small sample size.
■ The statistical basis for federal fund and grant allocations.
Data Sets and Geographic Coverage
■ Single-year data sets cover geographic areas with a population of 65,000 or more since the 2005 ACS.
■ Three-year averages data sets cover geographic areas with a population of 20,000 or more.
■ Five-year averages data sets cover geographic areas with a population of less than 20,000 all the way down to smaller geographic areas such as census tracts and block groups.
■ Title 13, Section 131 of the U.S. Code directs the Census Bureau to conduct the economic census at 5-year intervals. Section 191 defines Geographic scope.
■ Mandatory response. Section 224 delineates a $5000 penalty for failure to answer questions and a $10,000 penalty for false answers.
What Is the Economic Census?
■ An enumeration or count of commercial business establishments.
■ A statistical basis for the Gross National Product and economic indicators such as producer price indexes, understanding industry trends, and targeting sales and marketing.
■ Uses the North American Industry Classification system (NAICS) to classify industries up to 6 digits.
■ Sent to 4.7 million businesses, about 50,000 localities, in 2007.
■ Covers 98% of the U.S. economy along with the Census of Agriculture and Census of Government.
■ Done every 5 years in years ending in 2 and 7.
■ Businesses with one or more paid employees.
■ By physical "establishment" rather than company.
■ National to local areas.
■ Number of establishments, sales or receipts, annual payroll and number of employees.
■ 20 NAICS non-farm private business categories.
■ Excludes agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, rail transportation, postal service, funds, trusts, schools and colleges, labor unions, private households and public administration.