Getting Started with the Census
What's out there?
The United States Government provides a wealth of information on demographics, housing, and other topics through the U.S. Census Bureau:
- Decennial Census - This is a comprehensive census conducted every ten years to collect information on every person in the United States, including age, sex, race, tenure (whether they rent or own a home), household relationships (who lives in a certain house with whom and how they're related), and vacancy characteristics. While the basic numbers are released when they're tabulated, the individual personal information (actual names of who lives where and with whom) cannot be released by law until 72 years after the census was taken (the average lifespan of its participants). The last census released was the 1940 census in 2012.
- American Community Survey - to bridge the gap in the 10 years between Decennial Censuses, the American Community Survey is conducted. This is conducted every year to gather information on things like age, race, income, commute time to work, home value, veteran status, and much more. 3.5 million housing units (addresses) are selected , and estimates are extrapolated for the entire nation based on this sample - yearly for geographic areas with populations of 65,000 or more and every 3 years for those with 20,000 or more.
- American Housing Survey - runs every two years in the U.S. at large and 29 specific metropolitan area. Collects date on size and composition of the nation's housing, vacancies, physical condition of housing, characteristics of occupants, indicators of housing and neighborhood quality, mortgages, home values, and characteristics of recent movers.
- Annual Survey of Governments & Census of Governments - conducted annually and every five years respective, the Annual Survey provides info on the characterstics of state and local governments (structure, organization, function, finances, employment) and the Census of Governments provides similar information, though more comprehensively.
- Economics. There are several options here:
- Commodity Flow Survey - info on commodities shipped, value, weight and mode of transportation, origin and destination of shipments, and more from manufacturing, mining, wholesale, and select retail and services.
- Economic Census - conducted every 5 years, profiles the U.S. economy from the national to the local level, detailed by industry and business classification.
- Annual Economic Surveys - conducted yearly, these surveys provide info on manufactures, businesses, and nonemployer statistics.
Where do I start?
If you're searching for information about Alabama, its counties, or cities, see the page under the State & Local Resources tab, which will provide you with some direct links. If you don't find what you're looking for there, don't worry. Information from the Census Bureau can sometimes be difficult to find and use, so the resources on this page are provided to help you easily navigate the information available. The links will get you started, but if you have questions, need help, or can't find what you're looking for, please contact the Government Documents Department. We're here to help!