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Innovation Drives the U.S. Census Bureau to Create New Data Products

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The global statistical community has celebrated World Statistics Day every five years since 2010.

This year’s theme is “Connecting the world with data we can trust,” and the United Nations is inviting governments to recognize the importance of trust, authoritative data, innovation and the public good in national statistical systems.

From the first census in 1790 to the 2020 Census, Economic Census, Census of Governments, and more than 100 annual surveys, the Census Bureau has continued to find better ways to collect data and release statistics everyone can trust.

As the leading source of quality data about America’s people, places and economy, the U.S. Census Bureau has been at the forefront — and not just in the United States. For over 60 years, the Census Bureau has done international analytical work and helped governments in more than 100 countries collect, process, analyze, disseminate and use statistics.

From the first census in 1790 to the 2020 Census, Economic Census, Census of Governments, and more than 100 annual surveys, the Census Bureau has continued to find better ways to collect data and release statistics everyone can trust.

Since the last World Statistics Day in 2015, the Census Bureau has been hard at work on a wide range of new programs and projects. As always, the goal is to serve our customers better — whether they are responding to a survey or seeking stats about their community or businesses.

Innovations Since 2015

  • 2020 Census - Respond Online. For the first time in American history, most households were invited to complete the 2020 Census online on a computer, smartphone or tablet. The national internet self-response rate exceeded 53.3%. Combined with self-response by mail and phone, 67.0% of households had self-responded through Oct. 15, 2020. Census takers, also known as enumerators, were counting households that did not respond on their own, achieving an overall 99.98% total response rate.
  • Census Enterprise Data Collection and Processing (CEDCaP). The CEDCaP system integrates and standardizes data collection and processing across the entire Census Bureau. This ambitious effort means there is no need to create, manage and fund separate systems for each census, survey and program.





Our new table display allows you to dynamically add geographies, topics or applicable filters. You can reorder, pin and hide columns with simple drag and drop functions. Tab through different tables to make sure you found the right one, customize it and download multiple vintages of it quickly. Click on the image below to view profiles for your area:




  • Census Academy. We created a virtual hub for learning data skills, such as how to find and use our data for everyday uses, including informing a business plan, supporting grant proposals and research projects, developing apps and much more. To request free workshops and trainings for your organization, send us an email at census.askdata@census.gov.
  • Combining Data. Federal law requires the Census Bureau to obtain and reuse administrative data that already exist at other agencies. This cuts the cost of data collection and research, and reduces the burden on people who respond to our questionnaires. We improve accuracy and save time and money by reusing and combining existing and Census Bureau data.
  • Data Tools and Apps. In addition to the new data.census.gov platform, there are 48 interactive applications on Census.gov, including the Census COVID-19 Data Hub, Census Business Builder, OnTheMap for Emergency Management and QuickFacts. For developers, we have Available APIs for many of our data sets and a new machine-readable data set Discovery Tool in beta release.

  • Experimental Data Products. The Census Bureau has created several innovative statistical products using new data sources or methodologies to benefit data users in the absence of other relevant products. The development of experimental data is one important path towards the creation of new, regularly occurring statistical products:
    • Community Resilience Estimates measure the ability of a population to recover from the impact of disasters. Data show the risk level by state, county and tract.
    • Household Pulse Survey quickly and efficiently collects data to measure household experiences during the pandemic. Data are released in near real-time to inform federal and state response and recovery planning.
    • Monthly State Retail Sales is a blended data product using Monthly Retail Trade Survey data, administrative data and third-party data. Beginning January 2019, year-over-year percentage changes have been available for Total Retail Sales (excluding Nonstore Retailers) as well as 11 subsectors.
    • Small Business Pulse Survey measures the changes in business conditions of our nation's small businesses during the pandemic. Results are released on a weekly basis.
    • Weekly Business Formation Statistics provides a picture of early-stage business formation activity at the state, regional and national levels.
    • Veteran and Post-Secondary Employment Outcomes are new data products. Both the VEO Explorer and PSEO Explorer offer analysis and visualization tools.

  • Interactive Gallery. Since 2017, we have created and published 80 interactive visualizations using Tableau software. Our Tableau Public website features 37 visualizations. Sign up for our data visualization newsletter.

Easy Ways to Use Our Statistics

In the past five years, the Census Bureau has found new ways to get its statistics into the hands of anyone who can use them, from students to storytellers to subscribers:


Derick Moore is senior communications specialist at the Census Bureau.



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