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US Demographic/Socio-Economic data: Census Bureau: Finding Census Data

The Census Bureau's publications are changing, but their mission is the same - gather and disseminate demographic data on the population of the U.S.

U.S. Government Statistical Data

Gathering data is expensive. Most data files you use were gathered by the United States government. They were gathered at tax-payer expense, so the government makes them freely available, anyone can use them. They end up incorporated into websites, databases, articles, etc. That is perfect, the more use the more people get out of them, the better! However, you need to be aware of the origin of the data you use and you need to cite it correctly so that people building on your work know where the data comes from. USC has developed a page on How to cite the U.S. Census in APA format; the University of Nevada includes a U.S. Census example in their Citing Statistics page. 

Overview report by Geography

Note: If you have trouble navigating the site, try changing browsers.

Statistics on population are usually place (which the census calls "geography") by topic.

Examples of:

Geography                               Topic
United States                            Education
State                                         Income
County                                      Ancestry
City (Place)                              Population
Zip Code                                  Marital Status
Congressional District             
American Indian Area
Census Tract

So, researchers might look for the total population of their county, or median income for a zip code. Generally, for some Topic for some Geography. If you are looking for statistics for San Bernardino or Riverside, keep in mind that those names apply to both counties and cities. Specify the geography you want in your search.

Go to Data.Census.gov

Type the Geography of interest into the search blank. For instance San Bernardino, CA

Evaluate the results: are they for the Geography of interest? (Are they for the City of San Bernardino or for the County of San Bernardino?)

If, on the left hand side of the screen you get an "Undefined Profile" box, click on it and make sure that it has taken you to the correct geography.  

If the reports listed are not what is wanted, recast the search. Try San Bernardino City or City of San Bernardino. (Or, San Bernardino County of County of San Bernardino).

After every search take the time to evaluate results before plunging in. Check table titles, check column headings. 

 

 

 

Tips for drilling down for more detailed topics

At Data.Census.Gov

Click on "Advanced Search."

Use the pull down menus to select topics and geography.

If one element (such as Topic) will not resolve (the system just keeps searching) reload the page and start with another element in your search. If nothing will resolve, change browsers and try again.

In Census Geography Cities are Places. If you are looking for statistics for a City, choose Place.

If you are not sure what the Geography listed in the table covers, click on maps. You can click on the "Select" tool, hover over the place you want, and click on "select" in the pop-up window. 

To focus your search query, click on filter and add terms to your search. (Do not add conflicting geographies, add topics.)

Move to Maps and zoom in to get street level mapping. Once the correct area is identified it is possible to change Geographies, for instance if the researcher knows the zip code, but needs the Congressional District. 

 

Keep in mind that this site is the gateway for all the data from all the surveys conducted by the Census Bureau and that, in 2010 the Census Bureau replaced the long form (STF3 Social and Economic Data) with the American Community Survey. The American Community Survey is conducted every year, in selected places in the United States. There will be many tables listed that will not be available for a specific geography for a specific year. It isn't that the researcher did not search well enough to find it. It's that it was never gathered. It is not available. It will not ever be available. "Short Form" data (STF1:  the population count) will be available for all geographies for any year ending in "0" (1990, 2000, 2010, eventually 2020), because that is the constitutionally mandated enumeration data that the Census must gather every decade. All the other questions are asked sporadically, as funding allows.

 

Finding data by neighborhood

At Data.Census.Gov

1) Go to Advanced Search

2) Begin with the smallest Geography that contains the neighborhood of interest - for instance, begin with the city or zip code you know the neighborhood is in.

3) Add a topic and run the search.

4) Click on the Maps option at the top of the screen to generate the map.

5) Click on one of the tables listed on the left hand side of the screen to populate your map with data. (The selected geography will change from light blue to green.)

6) Click the Customize Map button. 

7) On the left you will see the elements of your search. You can change any of them. In this case, change your geography to Census Tracts or Census Block Groups. (Census Block Groups are the smallest area for which the Census Bureau will publish any sample data. The larger the Geographic Areas you select, the more data will be available. The rule of thumb is to use the largest Geographic Area type that provides an adequate fit for the area of interest.)

8) Use the + to Zoom in until you see the features that let you identify the area of interest. (The highest magnifications include street names.)

9) Once you have identified the area of interest, click on "Select" and click on one corner of the area and drag to create a box around the neighborhood of interest. 

10) Refine the selection by clicking on specific tracts  or block groups (or zip codes or cities, etc.) and selecting or deselecting them. (Selecting works well, for deselecting you must go to the table view and deselect manually.)

(Note: The Census Bureau will not provide one year estimate data for Geographies with fewer than 65,000 people. Optimally tracts have 4,000 people, but they can go up to 8,000. Tracts are never larger than that. So you may need to change to the five year estimates to populate your map, if that doesn't work, then choose one of the DEC files as a source - these are for the Decennial Census 100% data.)

If you toggle over to tables, the table will give data for every tract selected.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finding Fontana Information by Census Tract

Deselecting - software issue

The problem of "Deselecting" not working from the map view is a known defect that has been reported to the Census software developers.  Unfortunately, the correction process tends to be a slow one and it could be weeks before a fix is pushed out.  For now, to deselect a geography, you'll have to access the underlying table and manually remove the geography filter.  For example, to deselect Colorado from this map, you'll have to click on the Table button:

This will bring up the underlying table that the map is using.  In this case, it's B27001.  Select the Geographies button.  Then click the X in the geography pill at the bottom to remove the geography from the list.  Then hit CLOSE.  To go back to the map, click the Map button.

Sorry for any inconvenience this causes!  Addtional guidance (including more information on mapping) can be found on the Census Bureau Resources page at https://www.census.gov/data/what-is-data-census-gov.html.