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Demographics are statistics about people: how many people live in a specific area, where they work, what they buy, and how they live. Statistics can shape the delivery of a new product or service, or determine where you locate a business.
It is mandated that every ten years, the U.S. Census Bureau count all of the people in the United States and Puerto Rico. Along with counting the people, the Census Bureau also collects certain economic and social characteristics about everyone. Rather than doing the long form every 10 years, the Census Bureau is now taking an annual American Community Survey which provides an estimated count of many socioeconomic characteristics. The questions asked are those that help federal and state agencies carry out the services they provide as mandated by Congress. This mandate is a benefit to business owners, social service agencies and others who need demographic information.
The following information can get you started on your research.
If you are looking for basic demographic information, the source you will want to start with is American FactFinder, a website created and maintained by the U.S. Census Bureau. Very quickly, you can pull up a fact sheet on:
- Zip codes
Statistics are given for more than 40 variables and include:
- Population Characteristics
- By three age categories
- By 7 racial/ethnic categories
- Family size
- Social Characteristics
- High school graduates
- College graduates (Bachelor degree)
- Foreign born
- Speakers of other than English at home
- Housing Characteristics
- Owner occupied
- Rental occupied
- Vacant housing
- Average home value
- Average mortgage value
- Economic Characteristics
- Average time traveled to work
- Average family income
- Average per capita income
- Families living below poverty level
- Individuals living below the poverty level
Demographics Now lets you produce comprehensive business and residential lists as well as detailed demographic reports. Assess business viability, perform market and site location analysis, create sales leads and/or marketing mailing lists, find potential sponsors and donors to grow a non-profit, prepare a small business plan and much more.
American Community Survey
The American Community Survey (ACS) was created to give not just federal programs more timely data, but to also help you, the business owner, student, activist, and community organizer, the current demographic, social, economic and housing data that you need. The ACS:
- Is an on-going survey (annual)
- Is sent to a sample of the population
- Tells us what the population looks like and how it lives
- Helps communities determine where to locate services and allocate resources.
- Helps business people determine locations of characteristic populations.
The ACS will give you more detailed data than what is found in American Factfinder but only for larger geographical areas.
- The annual statistics are provided for places with populations of 65,000 or more.
- The 3-year estimate data is provided for geographic populations of 20,000 or more.
- The geographic breakdowns they include are:
- Unified School District
- Data found in ACS but not on the Factfinder Factsheets include:
- Ancestry breakdown
- Marital status
- Count of women in normal child-bearing years
- School enrollment
- Householder relationship
Other Sources of Census Data
- The Mid-American Regional Council (MARC) is the regional planning organization for nine counties and 120 cities. They have placed on their website some Census as well as other demographic statistics for the metropolitan area.
- Missouri Census Data Center is an agency that helps provide access to Census Bureau data.
The library has several print resources that might help you with your demographic research.
- CEDDS: The Complete Economic and Data Source is one of the few sources where you can get projections as well as historical data. They give population, employment, income, and retail sales figures for 1970-2000 and projections for every ten years up to 2040 for every county in the United States.
H&R Block Business and Career Center
For additional information, contact an H&R Block Business & Career Center librarian by phone, 816.701.3717, or by e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org.