Census data: The largest collections of statistics produced in this country (U.S) originate from the US Bureau of the Census. Many of this agency’s studies are indispensable sources for market researchers. The major uses of census data are in sales forecasting, development of market potentials, construction of sales territories and quotas, store location, and plant location; but these by no means exhaust the possibilities. As large markets become more fragmented and focused, enterprising market researchers can employ the data rich census for their firms in many ways.
None of the censuses is without interest to market researchers, although some are pertinent than others. Together with other reports published by the Bureau, the censuses constitute the most important single source of data for researches. The experience, resources, and authority of the Bureau combine to give the data a high reputation for validity. Since the 1980 population census, the accuracy of census statistics has come under close scrutiny, and the Bureau has tried to improve its data collection methods to ensure high-quality results. Nevertheless, researchers need to evaluate these data carefully to ascertain their appropriateness to the research project.
The constitution of the United States requires that the population census be conducted every 10 years. In 1963 Congress authorized that all other censuses be taken every five years in the years ending “2” and “7”. The following censuses (in alphabetical order) are of particular interest to marketing researchers.
Census of Agriculture: In the 1976, Congress authorized this census to be taken in 1978 and again in 1982 to adjust the reference data to coincide with the other five year censuses. This census tabulates data on countries with 10 or more farms within some 50 geographical divisions. Information includes number of farms, size, acreage value, farm expenditures, crops and livestock, value of products facilities and equipment, number and characteristics of person living in farm households, farm labor, irrigation and use of fertilizers.
Census of Construction Industries: This census reports data on construction firms, employment, payroll, receipts, capital expenditures and many more aspects of the construction trade. Special reports on operating ratios, for instances, supplement the census.
Census of Government: The Census of Government presents data concerning numbers and characteristics of governments in the United States, including the value of taxable property, public employees and payroll, governmental revenues, expenditures, debt and financial assets.
Census of Housing: Made in conjunction with the Census of Population, this census enumerates types of structure, year built, equipment (including some appliances), water source sewage disposal, fuel used, rent paid, value, number of persons per room, occupancy and tenure, ethnic category of occupants, condition and size of dwelling and mortgage status. Current Housing Reports, issued at various intervals between the censuses, provide data on such topics as housing vacancies, indicators of neighborhood quality, travel to work, and other subjects that supplement the Census of Housing.
Census of Manufacturers: These volumes report on more than 450 Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) manufacturing industries of each state, giving the number of establishments, employment, payroll, hours worked, products shipped, value added, and capital expenditures. The Annual Survey of manufacturers sample businesses for the years between the censuses. In addition, Current Industrial Reports, which appear monthly, quarterly, and annually, give detailed data on approximately 5,000 manufactured products to the seven-digit SIC number.
Census of Mineral Industries: This volume reports data similar to those in the Census of manufacturers for firms extracting minerals for the more than 40 four digit SIC industries.
Census of retail Trade: These two volumes report data or state and MSA (Metropolitan Statistical Area) or more than 100 types of retail establishments. Data include number of establishments, employment, and payroll. Two other series Major Retail Centers in MSAs and Retail Merchandise Line Sales supplement the main volumes.
Other Census Publication: In addition to the basic censuses, the Bureau now conducts five special census programs: Enterprises Statistics, Transportation Surveys, Survey of Minority-Owned Business Enterprises, Survey of Women-Owned Businesses, and the Census of Outlying Areas.