The Census Bureau has several programs that collect data about various topics and geographies.
Programs are composed of collections of datasets. Datasets are an assembly of comparable, internally consistent data products within a survey or census. Not all data are available for all years and all geographies.
The figure below illustrates the relationships between programs, datasets, tables and data.
The programs in AFF are organized in the following fashion:
Demographic Programs - data about people and housing
Economic Programs - data about business and industry
Programs about Governments
The decennial census is a nationwide census, conducted every 10 years, that collects basic information about people and housing from housing units and living quarters. Data about age, sex, race, housing units, family type, household type and relationship, vacancy status, and Hispanic origin are available in AFF from Census 2000 and the 2010 Census. Census 2000 included many additional topics, for instance, citizenship, disability, education, family type, foreign-born, income, numerous housing characteristics, poverty, and more. These topics are no longer a part of the decennial census beginning in 2010, but are available from the American Community Survey.
The decennial censuses include data for the United States, the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Island Areas, down to the smallest geography, known as 'blocks.' Other popular geographies are included, such as cities and towns, county, school district, congressional district, census tract, block group, and block. Data about Alaska Native Regional Corporations, American Indian/Alaska Native Areas, and Hawaiian Home Lands are also available.
The results from the 2010 Census are available in several datasets.
Popular Decennial Census Datasets and Tables
The 2010 Census Demographic Profile provides a summary in one table for each geography about population and housing unit counts and characteristics such as age, race, Hispanic or Latino origin, relationship to householder, household size, group quarters population, whether a unit is occupied or vacant, whether a unit is owner- or renter-occupied, and more.
The 2010 Census Summary File 1, identified in AFF as 2010 SF1 100% Data, provides hundreds of tables with more details about the same population and housing characteristics as the Demographic Profile mentioned earlier.
The 2010 Census Summary File 2, identified in AFF as 2010 SF2 100% Data, contains the same population and housing characteristics as SF1, but repeated for 330 detailed race and Hispanic or Latino origin groups, as well as American Indian and Alaska Native tribal categories. Information on these groupings is available for geographic areas that include more than 100 people of that race.
Using Decennial Census vs. ACS Data
The decennial census counts people in all of the housing units and group quarters, while ACS conducts a sample survey and generates estimates. The decennial census reflects one point in time, which is April 1st of the census year, whereas the ACS is a continuous survey that releases data every year. The decennial census includes the most detailed geographic data, with coverage down to the blocks. ACS provides coverage down to the block group level. AFF provides data down to the census tract level for ACS data for 2005 to 2012. Beginning with the 2013 data year, block group data will be available on AFF. If you're looking for ACS block group data, it can be downloaded from outside of AFF.
American Community Survey
The American Community Survey (ACS) is a nationwide survey designed to provide communities a fresh look at how they are changing. The ACS collects data that is similar to the 2010 Decennial Census, but also includes information such as income, education, poverty, household size and composition, health insurance, disability, mortgages, housing costs, commute time to work, home value, veteran status, and other important data that was included in Census 2000. The ACS collects and produces population and housing information every year instead of every ten years. AFF has ACS data available starting in 2005.
ACS publishes their data in three different annual datasets. These include the 1-year, 3-year, and 5-year estimates. The estimates are not calculated as a simple average of monthly or annual estimates. To compute these estimates the Census Bureau 'pools' the sample responses of what was observed for every month of the entire time period and applies measures to account for changes in geography, value of the dollar, margins of error, etc., to develop weighting of sample cases.
The 1-year estimates are only available for areas with population greater than 65,000. For geographic areas with smaller populations, the ACS samples too few households to provide reliable single year estimates. For these communities, several years of data will be pooled together to create reliable 3-year or 5-year estimates.
Data for areas with populations of 65,000+
Data for areas with populations of 20,000+
Data for all areas
Less reliable than 3-year or 5-year
More reliable than 1-year; less reliable than 5-year
Most current data
Less current than 1-year estimates; more current than 5-year
Best used when
Best used when
Best used when
Currency is more important than precision
Analyzing large populations
More precise than 1-year, more current than 5-year
Analyzing smaller populations
Examining smaller geographies because 1-year estimates are not available
Precision is more important than currency
Analyzing very small populations
Examining tracts and other smaller geographies because 1-year estimates are not available
Population Estimates Program
The Census Bureau's Population Estimates Program, also known as PEP, produces estimates of the population for the United States, its states, counties, cities, and towns, as well as for Puerto Rico. Each year, PEP utilizes current data on births, deaths, and migration to calculate population change since the most recent decennial census, and produces a time series of estimates of population. The PEP estimates are based on demographic components of change.' These components include: age, sex, race, and Hispanic origin, and are produced at all geographic levels except cities and towns. Housing unit estimates are produced for nation, states, and counties. Data for Island Areas is not collected for this program.
With each annual issue of estimates, the Census Bureau revises estimates for years back to the last decennial census. In other words, last year's estimate might change. Because the data can be revised, the latest year's estimates for all years supersedes all previously produced estimates for those dates. PEP data are available for incorporated places, meaning that the data are available for cities that have a local government.
American Housing Survey
While basic housing information is available from the Decennial Census, ACS and PEP for states, counties and most cities, the American Housing Survey (AHS), provides the most comprehensive housing data, but only for nation and AHS metro areas.
Data is released every odd-numbered year. AHS provides current information on a wide range of housing subjects, including size and composition of the nation's housing inventory, vacancies, physical condition of housing units, characteristics of occupants, vermin, and the number of battery-powered radios. The data also includes information about neighborhood quality, mortgages and other housing costs, persons eligible for and beneficiaries of assisted housing, home values, and characteristics of recent movers.
Some of the metros may not be the same metro areas as those used by Decennial and ACS, and differ from the official 2010 Office of Management and Budget definitions because of the longitudinal nature of the survey. If you're looking for housing data for areas not included in the American Housing Survey, you will find housing data available in the Decennial Census and the American Community Survey.
Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Tabulation
The Equal Employment Opportunity Tabulation Program, also known as EEO, includes two data sets: the EEO Tabulation 2006-2010 5-year ACS estimates and the Department of Labor (DOL) Disability Employment 2008-2010 3-year ACS estimates.
EEO Tabulation 2006-2010 5-year ACS dataset is a custom tabulation of data from the American Community Survey 2006-2010 Year Estimates, that is designed to measure the effects of and compliance with Equal Employment Opportunity laws. It serves as the primary way to compare race, ethnicity, and sex composition of an organization's workforce, to the labor market, within a specified geographic area and occupation. The tables show estimates with margins of error for race, ethnicity and sex composition of the workforce for specified occupations and geographic areas. Other information includes U.S. citizenship, educational attainment, age, industry, earnings, and unemployment status. The EEO provides information for three types of geographic areas: worksite, residence-to-worksite commuting flows, and residence.
The DOL Disability Employment 2008-2010 3-year ACS dataset, is also available through AFF, for the Department of Labor. This 49-table tabulation has similar content to that found in the Equal Employment Tabulation, and provides in-depth labor force characteristics of people with a disability, with more details on occupation, education, employment status, occupation groups, citizenship, age, race, sex and earnings. It shows the disability status and the diversity of the labor force for the population 16 and over. This data is from the American Community Survey (ACS) 2008-2010 3-year estimates.
Occupation data are classified by Detailed Census Occupations, and in four categories: EEO Occupational Groups, EEO-1 Job Categories, Federal Sector Job Groups, and State and Local Government Job Groups. By default, all tables show data for the total of all occupations, or you can choose one or more of the occupation groups.
Economic programs provide information about businesses and the economic output of the nation. These include the Economic Census, Annual Survey of Manufacturers, Business Patterns, Commodity Flow Survey, Nonemployer Statistics, and the Survey of Business Owners. You can select any of these programs when searching for data.
Data about industries are organized by North American Industry Classification System, also referred to as NAICS. NAICS is the standard used by Federal statistical agencies in classifying business establishments for the purpose of collecting analyzing, and publishing statistical data related to the U.S. business economy.
The most detailed view of the American economy is provided through the Economic Census. This is the U.S. Government's official five-year measure of American business and the economy. This census is conducted every five years, in years ending in '2' and '7', such as 2007 and 2012. The Economic Census collects information about individual establishments, including the physical location, type of business activity, employment, payroll, revenue by type of service or product, and more. All large and medium-sized businesses are surveyed, but only a sample of small-employer businesses are included in the survey. Economic Census statistics are collected and published by 'establishment.' An establishment is a business or industrial unit at a single physical location that produces or distributes goods or performs services.
Economic information is available at the nation, state, and local level. The lowest available geographic level is postal ZIP code. It's important to note that postal zip codes are slightly different from ZIP Code Tabulation Areas (ZCTAs) used in demographic programs. The census bureau must by law protect the identity of any survey or census respondent. To prevent the unauthorized disclosure about the identity of any respondent, cities and towns are called 'economic places' in AFF.
These data are used by governments to gauge the health of the economy. Businesses and entrepreneurs use this information to develop business plans, locate a factory, store or office, as well as to develop marketing and sales strategies and evaluate expansion opportunities.
Economic data is also available for Puerto Rico and the Island Areas and is included in the Economic Census of the Island Areas. The Economic Census does not cover agriculture and governments. Since other economic surveys, such as the Annual Survey of Manufacturers, are based on samples that include only a small fraction of all businesses, they cannot supply the geographic and industry details that are unique to the Economic Census.
Popular Economic Census Tables
One of the most useful tables from the Economic Census is the Economy-Wide Key Statistics table. This table includes four key statistics: number of establishments, employment, payroll, and sales for every available industry and geographic area published in the Economic Census.
Commodity Flow Survey
Another component of the Economic Census is the Commodity Flow Survey, referred to as CFS. It is the primary source of data on domestic freight shipments in selected industries. Some industries surveyed include mining, manufacturing, wholesale, auxiliaries, selected retail and services trade industries, and some establishments in 'Truck Transportation' and 'Warehousing and Storage'. The CFS is conducted every five years as part of the Economic Census. It provides information on commodities shipped, their value, weight, and mode of transportation, as well as the origin and destination of shipments from establishments. This survey provides data about business establishments with paid employees.
Industry data is classified using NAICS. The version of NAICS is always one Economic Census behind. For example, the 2012 CFS uses the 2007 version of NAICS rather than the 2012 version of NAICS, which is used by the 2012 Economic Census. CFS data are typically used by policy makers and transportation planners in various federal, state, and local agencies. Additionally, business owners, private researchers, and analysts use CFS data for analyzing trends in the movement of goods, mapping spatial patterns of commodity and vehicle flows, forecasting demands for the movement of goods, and determining needs for associated infrastructure and equipment. This survey offers data about the Nation, State and Commodity Flow Survey Areas.
Survey of Business Owners
Another component of the Economic Census is the Survey of Business Owners, referred to as SBO. It provides information on economic and demographic characteristics for businesses and business owners. The SBO provides the only source of detailed and comprehensive data on the status, nature, and scope of women-, minority-, and veteran-owned businesses. The data is provided by gender, ethnicity, race, veteran status by NAICS, kind of business, employment and receipts size. The data are available at the nation, state and local level. The lowest available level is Economic Place.
Data is released every 5 years, in years ending in 2 and 7 and is a component of the Economic Census. Estimates include the number of employer and nonemployer firms, sales and receipts, annual payroll, and employment. Unlike the Economic Census, the SBO is conducted on a company or firm basis. A company or firm is a business consisting of one or more domestic establishments. Businesses and entrepreneurs use this information to develop business plans, where to locate a factory, store or office, as well as to develop marketing and sales strategies and evaluate expansion opportunities. State and local agencies use SBO data for economic policymaking and forecasting.
Annual Survey of Manufacturers
There are numerous economic programs that provide estimates between censuses. One such program in AFF is the Annual Survey of Manufacturers, also referred to as ASM. It provides the most detail about U.S. manufacturing outputs between Economic Censuses for the nations and states. ASM provides sample estimates for all manufacturing establishments with one or more paid employees. This survey is conducted annually, except for years ending in 2 and 7, at which time these statistics are included in the manufacturing sector of the Economic Census.
ASM provides statistics on employment, payroll, cost of materials, operating expenses, value of shipments, value added by manufacturing, capital expenditures, fuel and energy use, and inventories. State and local agencies use ASM data for economic policymaking and forecasting.
One of the more widely used annual economic programs in AFF is Business Patterns, referred to as BP. It is made up of County Business Patterns, referred to as CBP and ZIP Code Business Patterns, referred to as ZBP. CBP and ZBP data are useful for studying the economic activity of small areas, and analyzing economic changes over time. Data are offered at the national, state, county, metro area, and ZIP Code levels. Puerto Rico and Island Area data are included.
Like the Economic Census, ZBP uses postal ZIP Codes. Information on the number of establishments, employment, first quarter payroll, annual payroll, and business size is included. Businesses use the data to analyze market potential, measure the effectiveness of sales and advertising programs, set sales quotas, and develop budgets. Governments use the data for administration and planning.
The only program offered by the Census Bureau that provides statistics on nonemployers is the Nonemployer Statistics program. It provides annual data about businesses with no paid employees or payroll information. Most nonemployers are self-employed individuals operating unincorporated businesses, known as sole proprietorships, which may or may not be the owner's principal source of income.
Nonemployers make up approximately 94% of all businesses. This series is the primary resource available to study the scope and activities of nonemployers at a detailed geographic level. The data are available at the industry level for approximately 450 NAICS industries at the national, state, county, and metro area levels. Researchers use the data to study trends in businesses over time. Prospective or current business owners use the data to research market potential. It is also used by governments for the purpose of planning and administration.
Programs about Governments
Various statistics about government organizations and activities are available in AFF.
These programs provide information about the scope and nature of state and local governments, along with public finance and public employment data.
Census of Governments
The U.S. Census Bureau conducts a census of all state and local government units every 5 years, for years ending in 2 and 7. This census classifies state and local government organizations, powers, and activities and provides authoritative benchmark data on public finance and public employment.
It includes data about all state and local governments in the U.S. Governments include counties, cities, townships, special districts, and school districts.
The Census of Governments is conducted in three parts. The first part offers data about organization and the characteristics of state and local governments. It includes details about the level of government (state, local, or state and local combined), type of government (state, county, city, township, school district), and category of governmental activity.
The second part offers data about employment, including details about the number of state and local government civilian employees and their payrolls by governmental function for the pay periods that includes March 12 of the census year. Details in this part include full-time and part-time employment data, part-time hours worked, full-time equivalent employment, and payroll statistics by governmental function.
The third part offers finance data. This includes information about revenues, expenditures, assets, debt, and public pensions for the fiscal year of the census. Details include information about state government finances, state and local government finances, public elementary-secondary education finances, state public pensions, and state and local public pensions.
State and local governments use Census of Governments data to develop programs and budgets, assess financial conditions, and perform comparative analyses.
In addition, analysts, economists, market specialists, and researchers need these data to measure the changing characteristics of the government sector of the economy. Journalists report on, and teachers and students learn about, their government's activities using our data. Internally, the Census Bureau uses these data as a benchmark for all of our non-census year samples.
Annual Survey of Public Pensions
The Annual Survey of Public Pensions provides an annual look at the financial activity and membership information of the nation's state and local public-employee retirement systems, including revenues, expenditures, investment holdings, membership and beneficiaries. Data are shown for individual retirement systems as well as at the national, state, and local level.
This survey includes information about only those retirement systems that meet two criteria:
The 2011 survey covered fiscal years that ended between July 1, 2010 and June 30, 2011 and does not reflect data for the entire calendar year of 2011.
The U.S. Congress, federal agencies, state and local governments, educational and research organizations, and the general public use this data.
Annual Survey of State Government Finances
This survey provides periodic and comprehensive statistics about the fifty state governments and their governmental financial activities, including all dependent agencies, institutions, commissions, and public authorities that operate separately or somewhat autonomously from the central state government but where the state government maintains administrative or fiscal control over their activities. It offers information about revenue, including taxes for property, sales, tobacco, motor vehicle, licensing and permit, among others. It also includes information about, charges, interest, and other earnings. Expenditure data include total by function for education, highways, airports, water and sewerage, health, hospitals, corrections, fire and police protection and others. Data is also available by accounting category, such as current operations and capital outlays. Debt data include issuance, retirement, and amounts outstanding. Financial assets data include securities and other holdings by type.
State and local governments use the data to assess their financial condition, make peer-government comparisons, plan new programs, and develop financial policies. The Federal Reserve Board uses the data for econometric models of the economy. State and local governments use the data for trend analysis in various types of taxes and regional comparisons. Business and financial market analysts follow tax trends through these data.
Annual Survey of State Government Tax Collections
The Annual Survey of State Government Tax Collections is a recurring annual survey of state government tax revenue, by type of tax. The survey covers the fifty state governments, as well as all dependent state-level governmental entities, providing a summary of annual taxes collected for up to 25 tax categories. The files and tables contain annual statistics for state governments only. They should not be interpreted as state-area data, in other words, state government plus local government tax collections combined.
Statistics on the State Government Tax Collections Survey include measurement of tax by category: Property Tax, Sales and Gross Receipts Taxes, License Taxes, Income Taxes, and Other Taxes. Each tax category is broken down into sub-categories. For example, they include motor fuel sales, alcoholic beverage sales, motor vehicle licenses, and alcoholic beverage licenses. There are currently 25 different tax codes that state tax revenue may fall into.
In this survey, "taxes" are defined as all compulsory contributions exacted by a government for public purposes, except employer and employee assessments for retirement and social insurance purposes, which are classified as insurance trust revenue. Outside the scope of this collection are data on the unemployment compensation "taxes" imposed by each of the state governments. However, all receipts from licenses and compulsory fees, including those that are imposed for regulatory purposes, as well as those designated to provide revenue are included.
Tax revenue is further defined to include related penalty and interest receipts of a government, but to exclude protested amounts and refunds. The deduction from gross collections of amounts refunded is particularly significant with respect to motor fuel sales taxes ("gasoline" taxes) and individual income taxes.
The statistics reflect state government fiscal years that end on June 30, except for four states with other ending dates: Alabama and Michigan (September 30), New York (March 31), and Texas (August 31).
The U.S. Congress, federal agencies, state and local governments, educational and research organizations, and the general public use this data. Some uses include: