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Census Data

This guide provides an introduction to U.S. census data: concepts, datasets, and data sources

What is US Census Data?

While "the census" is the population count that takes place every ten years, the US Census Bureau actually publishes many different datasets on an on-going basis. These free and open datasets are geographically and thematically detailed and can be used for studying a host of demographic, socio-economic, and housing trends. This guide provides an overview of census concepts and datasets, and points you to useful tools and resources for accessing and extracting data.

Contact the Head of GIS & Data Services if you have questions about the census or need assistance with accessing data.

Population Studies at Brown

The Population Studies and Training Center at Brown University brings together students and faculty from many disciplines who are devoted to studying global, national, and local population trends and issues from both an academic and policy perspective. Visit their website to learn more about programs of study, workshops, research themes and projects, and their colloquia series. Several of their national research themes involve the study of census data.

2020 Census News

The results of the 2020 Census are in the process of being released. Data release dates:

  • Apportionment data was released on Apr 30, 2021. It includes total population counts for each state.
  • Redistricting data was released on Aug 12, 2021. There are links to interactive visualizations and summaries on the press release page. The summary data files that were released require technical expertise to manipulate; user friendly tables are available via The NHGIS is an alternate source. The data contains population counts by race, Hispanic and Latino ethnicity, the 18 and over population, group quarters, and housing unit occupancy down to the block level.
  • The Demographic and Housing Characteristics (DHC) file was released on May 2, 2023. It contains the full range of summary data tables for the 2020 census. The Demographic Profile table provides an overall summary of the most common indicators for a given place. The data is available via