The U.S. Census is one of the marvels our Founding Fathers bestowed on our nation. The U.S. has unfailingly carried out the endeavor since 1790, when it was first enshrined by the Constitution as the means for establishing data for decennial redistricting. The 20th century, in particular, saw much expansion in the role and scope of data collection by the Bureau of the Census. Currently, many citizens are wondering when the 2010 data are going to be released. This time around, the answer may require a little more explanation.
Over the past decade, the Census Bureau has inaugurated the American Community Survey.
The survey is designed to fulfill much of the sample-driven activity that was achieved through the familiar “long form” that previously went only to some households. In other words, for most practical purposes, we now have virtually an annual version of Census data. Data from the 2009 survey are currently available, and the 2010 data will be released shortly. There will also be even greater granularity emerging as the survey gains more and more data to bolster small geography treatment. The long release schedule following a 10-year Census is, in many ways, a thing of the past. The few data items that truly are determined from counting every person (age, race and ethnicity, gender, and type of housing) are already being published and used to begin redistricting processes (http://2010.census.gov/2010census/about
The scope of Census activity is tremendous. It offers an incredible source of knowledge and insight for the nation’s private sector, in particular as it understands the makeup of people, housing, economy and innumerable topics of life in this country. The work of repackaging, interpreting and using the resources of the Census is an ongoing process that benefits the business community in very important and tangible ways. Businesses can use Census statistics to improve their profitability and efficiency, and to better understand their markets. Savvy business owners can also use information gleaned from the Census to gauge competition, calculate market share, evaluate the best locations for new or expanded operations, and seek new financing.