# US Census data activity including researching a small business using Census Business Builder

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Statistics W010819 US Census Bureau
When data are collected from an entire population, it is called a ​census​. The United States
takes a census of its population (by law) every ten years, with the most recent one occurring in
2010. Go to http://www.census.gov and take a few minutes to explore the data available.
1.
Go to ​https://www.census.gov/history/pdf/cff4.pdf​ to find out more about the history of
the U.S. census.
a. Identify three things that you found to be interesting.
b. Why is the census important in the United States?
2. Go to the site: ​https://www.census.gov/popfinder/?#​. Select the state of Colorado.
a. How many people were living in Colorado for the 2010 census?
b. Estimate the ratio of those  and older to those under  years old. Why is this important to
3. The American Community Survey (ACS) takes ​samples​ from a small percentage of the U.S.
population in ​years between the censuses​.
a. What is the difference between the way the ACS collects information about the U.S.
population and the way the U.S. Census Bureau collects information?
b. In 2011, the ACS sampled workers living in Colorado about commuting to work each day.
Why do you think these data are important for the state to know?
c. Suppose that from a sample of , Colorado workers, , reported traveling more
than an hour to work each day. From this information, statisticians determined that between
% and .% of the workers in the state traveled more than an hour to work every day in
2011. If there were ,, workers in the entire population, about how many traveled more
than an hour to work each day?
4.
Describe two examples you have read about or experienced where data were collected
from a population.
5.
Describe two examples you have read about or experienced where data were collected
from a sample drawn from a population.
(go to cbb.census.gov/sbe)
Part 1 – Conduct Research
Imagine you own gas stations across the country and want to open another — but you don’t
know where. In this activity, you will use data from the Census Business Builder: Small
Business Edition to determine whether New York County, New York, or a neighboring county
is the best area to open your gas station.
1. After navigating to the online tool, click on the blue “retail” button.
2. From the buttons that appear, select “gas stations.”
3. In the next box, to the right (NOT MY LOCATION!) start typing “New York County, New
York” and select this option when it appears in the drop-down menu. Then click “Go to Map.”
Let’s focus on data about your potential customers. Where indicated in the following steps,
record your answers in the table in the next section of this activity.
4. Along the top of the map, find “Select Map Variable”. Total population should be selected.
If it isn’t, select it. The total population will appear in the lower-left corner of the screen.
Record the total population for New York County in the table below. Now click on five
neighboring counties on the map, recording the population data for each one (which appear in
the same box in the lower-left corner).
5. Select New York County on the map again; then go back to the “Select Map Variable” tab at
the top of the screen. Change the secondary category to “Socioeconomic Characteristics.” For
the map variable, select “Median household income (\$).” Now click “Select Variable.” The
median household income for New York County will appear in the lower-left corner. Record
this number for each of the 6 counties in the table below. Now we are going to look at some
other gas stations in the area.
6. Go back to the “Select Map Variable” tab at the top of the screen. Change the primary
category to “Businesses.” For the secondary category, select “Employers.” For the map
variable, select “Employer establishments.” Now click “Select Variable.” Record the number of
employer establishments in each of the 6 counties in the table below.
7. Go back to “Businesses.” For the secondary category, select “Key Ratios,” and for the map
variable, select “Average revenue per employer establishment (\$1,000).” Now click “Select
Variable.” Note that the number is expressed in thousands of dollars, so an amount like
\$1,500, for example, is really \$1,500,000 (or \$1.5 million). Record the average revenue per
employer establishment for each of the 6 counties in the table below.
8. Go back to “Businesses.” For the secondary category, select “Key Ratios,” and for the map
variable, select “Average payroll per employee (of employer establishments) (\$1,000).” Now
click “Select Variable.” As you did in step 7, note that the number here is also expressed in
thousands of dollars. Record the average payroll value for each county in the table below.
9. Select (click on) New York County. In the bottom left corner of the screen, click “Create
Report” and review the data. This is an example of a research report that you could show to a
potential investor in your gas station.
Part 2 – Analyze Data
10. Fill out the table below, including the question for each category regarding what it tells you
as an entrepreneur. This will help you decide whether New York County, New York, is the best
area for your new gas station.
My Potential Customers
Total
Population
New York County,
NY
Median
Household
Income
Employer
Establishments
Average
Revenue per
establishment
Average
Payroll per
employee
Total
Population
Median
Household
Income
Employer
Establishments
Average
Revenue per
establishment
Average
Payroll per
employee
What does each
category tell you
as an
entrepreneur?
Part 3 – Make a Decision
11. Based on the data, is New York County, New York, the best area for your new gas
station? Explain your answer using information from each category in the table above. If you
find that New York County is not the best area for your new gas station, write which county you
think would be better and why.
12. The Census Business Builder is a great tool for entrepreneurs conducting preliminary
research about their businesses, but it does not include all the information that a person may
want to consider before making a major business decision. What do you still need to know
before you make a decision about where to open your gas station?
13. How can an entrepreneur use a tool like the Census Business Builder?
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