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October 16, 2007

Getting Stats from the U.S. Census Bureau

Looking for statistics? Do you need to know how many children in Massachusetts live with two parents, or how income level relates to education in the United States?

The U.S. Census Bureau’s website contains a wealth of information about the U.S. and its inhabitants. You can search data taken from the Decennial Census, as well as monthly Current Population Surveys, in several ways.

Here are some “highlights” from the site to get you started:

-The American Fact Finder is good for finding data and stats by geographical area, down to the street level. There are also “Quick Facts” – short statistical breakdowns – at the state, county, and city level.

-The Statistical Abstract of the U.S., published since 1878, is a comprehensive summary of statistics that draws on many governmental sources of data. The Abstract breaks down data into spreadsheets; example titles include “Child Support – Award and Recipiency Status of Custodial Parent” and “Proficiency Levels on Selected NAEP Tests for Students in Public Schools, by State”

-You can find national population data by subjects like Families and Living Arrangements, School Enrollment, Disability, and Poverty in the Population Index.

Census Briefs are short analytical reports, with graphs and charts, that illustrate different themes, like “Children Without Health Insurance” and “Grandparents Living With Grandchildren.”

Can’t find exactly what you’re looking for? Contact the reference department for help, by e-mail (, phone (617-879-2222), IM (WCLreference), or in person at the desk.