The National Census and the Role of Census Data in Business

Most people overlook census data and think that it only offers information about the number of people living in an area. Besides demographic data, census data has so much more to offer. It is free to view and is used by the government to make policies. The extracted information can also give insight into local communities and the economy. With a varied and in-depth collation of information, census data has a fundamental place in all businesses and can be used in decision-making processes.

How is Census Data Collected?

Census data collection varies depending on the country. In the USA, the US Census Bureau is the federal agency that is in charge of the collection and management of data. The national census is conducted on April 1 every decade on the year ending with zero. It is a requirement of law to participate, and most US residents will receive a mail response census form, an online census form, or a phone questionnaire. For those who are hard to reach, the government puts in place specialized methods, such as appointing administrators and employing agencies, in order to achieve an accurate count.

What Does Census Data Consist of?

Data collected for a census offers insight into the population, places, and the economy within a country. Although the information collected and the processes of collection may differ from country to country, there are five essential parameters listed by the United Nations. These are individual enumeration, universality within a defined territory, simultaneity, defined periodicity, and capacity to produce small area statistics.


Data collected can reveal basic information such as the age and sex of each individual, as well as their marital status, information about their household and family characteristics. Other information includes the birthplace, current and prior residence, and the length of stay in one residence.


Information related to the geography and migratory habits of individuals is gathered in a census, as well as an individual’s place of work and the industries they work in. Educational information such as literacy, attendance, and attainment are also collected. Specific data related to buildings and accommodation are also revealed.


The information collected from the national census can offer insight into the economy through questions regarding occupation, labor force participation, and other related issues. Click here for more information about the data collected from the national census.

US Economic Census

The US Economic Census provides specific information related to business and economy and is measured over five years. It is also conducted by the US Census Bureau, and participation by all businesses is a compulsory requirement. It covers the changing geographies and industries of the USA and provides an understanding of local economy composition.

American Community Census

The American Community Survey (ACS) is separate from the national census and features information relating to the community. It is conducted by the US Census Bureau and features topics such as transportation, employment, and internet access. Unlike the national census, the ACS is conducted monthly. Participation is required by law, and participants are randomly selected from each community in the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the 50 states of the USA.

Census of Governments

The Census of Governments covers all US local and state governments. It is conducted by the US Census Bureau every five years and offers insight into governmental organizations, finances and employment.

The Role of Census Data in Business

Market Research

The national census has a large influence over market research data and is used as a fundamental base. It is the largest survey of its kind and offers quantitative and qualitative data. Although individual responses are off-limits, census data can be used to give insight on consumers, identify trends, and pinpoint target markets.

Using demographic data, companies gain an understanding of what the consumer wants and what they need. This can help shape marketing strategies for products and services.

Product and Service Forecasting

Information from the census can inform businesses of where to target potential consumers for specific products and services. For example, a private tutor enterprise could use census data to pinpoint local areas with many children from a certain age group. The census even offers data about the languages spoken in a household; this information can be used to shape the type of tutoring offered in the area. Census data can also be applied to customize goods and determine potential markets. By using demographic data, companies can identify consumer spending habits which will enable them to spend efficiently on customizing products for specific groups.


The census provides statistics on public employment and payroll, which can help businesses make decisions on the rate of pay and recruitment. Information for similar companies can be pulled from the census, and this knowledge could help companies save money by staying competitive.


The national census features questions relating to birthplace and duration of stay at the residence. This information is used by planners to explore population movement, but it can also be used to pinpoint the best place to start a business. Millennials are the largest generation in the US, and with 70% of millennials willing to spend more on trendy dining, restaurants, and cafes can use data to identify places where large numbers of millennials reside. By using census statistics, businesses can avoid losing profit by choosing the best place to set up.


By examining census business statistics, companies can identify suitable regions which are not overpopulated with competitors. Census data can also help businesses determine suitable areas, with their target demographic, for expansion. In addition, a company may want to consider the education and commuting pattern combined with the skilled labor of an area before expanding in that area.

In Summary

The census is a powerful and free tool that can help with many aspects of a business. Using specific statistics, census data can help a business target demographics, identify locations for business and expansion, and forecast products and services for particular communities. The census is a valuable asset for both small businesses and large corporations alike, and it can play a profitable role when used in decision-making processes.



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