The aim of this guide is to act as a finding aid to US Federal Government statistics. For assistance locating other types of US Federal Government publications see Survivor's Guide to US Federal Government Publications and/or the Survivor's Guide to Historical US Federal Government Publications. You can also use the Google Custom Search box below to search the websites for all the key agencies that disseminate US Federal statistics.Loading
Governments collect statistics on a vast array of topics, including the economy, the environment, science, education, population, housing, labour, immigration, health and much more. This information is used as the basis for funding further research, resource allocation, program development and funding, business planning and many other vital socio-economic activities.
A note about formats
Government documents are generally available in a variety of formats - with some overlap. I.e., occasionally some documents will be available in both print and microform, or in print and online. Many items, however, are only available in one particular format. This means that you will most likely need to look at print, digital and microform resources in order to discover the fullest range of available material and/or to track statistics over time.
How do US Federal Government statistics enhance my research?
The Federal Government is held to a high degree of accountability by its citizens and politicians. This helps to ensure that the statistics that it collects are accurate - providing you with reliable information on which to base your arguments.
Academic research requires that you rest your arguments on some form of evidence - not on conjecture or hearsay. Government statistics are high quality data that can support the validity of your assertions and thereby provide academic credibility to your work.
Government publications, including statistics, are a good example of primary source documents. Primary sources are materials that were created or published at the time of an event under investigation. The key benefit of primary sources is that they provide a snapshot of what life was like for people in a given time and place - without the filter of secondary analysis or interpretation. This is especially true of Government statistics, which are collected on almost every facet of daily life. To learn more about primary source documents click here.
Analyzing statistics is an effective way to track change. For example, statistical data can alert you to new patterns of immigration and migration; changes in birth rate, resource use or economic activity; reveal shortfalls in government programs or services and more. In short, a careful study of statistics can help you to identify gaps in research - allowing you to select areas of study that are both topical and original.
With the implementation of the Government Printing Office Electronic Information Enhancement Act of 1993, the US Government and its Printing Office have been committed to providing free electronic access to "important information products" produced by the Federal Government. Therefore, digital versions of US Federal Government statistics from the mid 1990's onward are generally available online.
- These can be found either on the websites of the individual departments and agencies that generated or commissioned them or
- on a website with a mandate to provide access to publications from all the branches and agencies of the US Federal Government, such as FedStats, or a portal site like USA.gov.
- A great deal of digital data is also available through subscription databases. See the database section for more information.
General Statistics: Demography, Education, Economy, Housing & More
From the US Census Bureau. This site provides data in the form of maps, tables, data sets, and reports from a variety of Census Bureau sources, including Census 1990 & 2000; American Community Survey; Annual Economic Survey; and the Economic Census. Search by topic or by specific survey.
US Census Bureau:
The Census Bureau is the principal U.S. statistical agency. It releases business, economic and demographic/population statistics on trade, retail sales, housing, construction, income, population, poverty, health insurance, foreign trade, manufacturing, and more...
- Complete topics listed under Subjects Index.
- The publications page leads to other topical portions of the site. Includes Economic Census, Census of Population and Housing, Latest Economic Indicators, Monthly Balance of Trade and more.
Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System:
The Federal Reserve is the central bank of the United States. The website of the Board of Governors provides access to the economic research and data from the Federal Reserve System, including its statistical releases, historical data, and surveys. Topics include economic indicators, bank assets and liabilities, business and household finance, interest rates, money stock and reserve balances.
US Department of the Treasury - Interest Rate Statistics:
Provides statistics dating back to 2004 in most cases for Daily Treasury Real Yield Curve Rates; Daily Treasury Bill Rates; Daily Treasury Long-Term Rates and Extrapolation Factors; and Daily Treasury Real Long-Term Rate Averages.
From the US Census Bureau, this site provides data from the 2002 US Economic Census. Browse reports by sector, state or series. Series include geographic area, industry, and subjects. Also provides comparative statistics between 1997 and 2002, zip code statistics and survey of business owners.
US Bureau of Economic Analysis:
The BEA prepares and provides access to national, regional, industry, and international accounts. These cover economic growth, regional economic development, inter-industry relationships, and the position of the United States in the world economy. Data available include Gross Domestic Product, Gross Product and input-output data, Balance of payments, National Income and Product Accounts, Gross State product and other state data... Also provides access to its publications, including the Survey of Current Business.
Bureau of Labor Statistics:
This site provides access to the major economic indicators for the U.S.: labor force statistics, the American Time Use Survey, prices and living conditions, compensation, productivity and technology, regional data, inflation rates, pay & benefits. The One-Screen data search allows you to create tables quickly and easily by choosing all your variables at the same time, on the same screen.
From the Economics and Statistics Administration at the U.S. Department of Commerce. Provides timely access to the daily releases of key economic indicators from the Bureau of Economic Analysis and the U.S. Census Bureau. Indicators include retail & food sales; construction; GDP; wholesale trade, residential construction/housing starts; and US international trade.
From GPOAccess, "this monthly compilation is prepared for the Joint Economic Committee by the Council of Economic Advisors and provides economic information on prices, wages, production, business activity, purchasing power, credit, money and Federal finance." The website provides access to editions dating back to 1998.
- Unofficial versions of this publication are available back to 1948 from FRASER - the Federal Reserve Archival System for Economic Research at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
Energy & Transportation
Energy Information Administration:
Provides access to statistics on U.S. energy production and consumption by geography, fuel, sector, price, process, environment, forecasts, or analyses. Many time series go back as far as 1949, and can be downloaded. International energy statistics dating back to 1980 are also available from the International Energy Annual.
RITA: Research and Innovative Technology Administration:
From the US Bureau of Transportation Statistics, this site develops and disseminates statistics on various modes of transportation, including air, rail, highway, passenger car, bike/pedestrian, maritime, transit, and more. Also provides statistics on topics such as safety, freight transport, passenger travel, air fares, North American transborder statistics, transportation services, infrastructure and environment.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
The CDC is the lead US federal agency tasked to protect the health and safety of both Americans and people around the world, provide authoritative health information, and to promote health. The CDC collects and disseminates vast amounts of data and provides access to most of it via its website. Browse data and statistics by topic, build customizable data tables and query datasets, or link to CDC publications and reports.
National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS):
A division of the CDC, NCHS is the principal health statistics agency in the United States. The agency collects "data from birth and death records, medical records, interview surveys, and through direct physical exams and laboratory testing." The site provides links to FastStats: statistics by topic, NCHS publications, various federal health surveys, and statistical databases.
Health, United States:
From the National Center for Health Statistics, this publication presents data on health trends in the American population. Each year, a topical subject is also covered in depth, such as issues of adolescent health, aging, etc.
Gateway to Data & Statistics:
From the US Dept of Health and Human Services, this website provides access to Datafinder, a database which contains key health and human services data, reports, methodologies and statistics from federal, state and local government sources.
United States Historical Census Browser:
From the University of Virginia Libraries, this site provides access to data "drawn directly from historical volumes of the U.S. Census of Population and Housing." Allows you to examine state and county topics for individual census years or over time; produce tables of data by state or county; and sort data by selected categories. Data available from 1790 - 1960. Topics include education and literacy; agriculture; slave population; ethnicity/race; and the economy.
Measuring America: The Decennial Censuses From 1790 to 2000:
From the US Census Bureau, this publication contains the questionnaires and instructions from 1790-2000. Also includes finding guides to the 1840, 1885 and 1890 Censuses, as well as individual histories for all the censuses included in this publication. Note, while this publication provides essential historical background it does not include any of the data that was collected in these censuses.
- Digital access to the print census volumes for decennial censuses between 1790 and 2000 is available through the US Census Bureau, on the Census of Population & Housing Publications page
Statistical Abstract - Earlier Editions:
From the US Census Bureau, the Statistical Abstract summarizes statistics on the social, political, and economic organization of the United States. Sources of data include the Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Bureau of Economic Analysis, and many other Federal agencies and private organizations. This site provides PDF versions of the publication from 1878 - present.
Historical Statistics on Banking:
From the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, this site provides access to Commercial Bank reports - national aggregates from 1934 - present. Aggregate data at the state level is available from 1966 to present. Also has failures & assistance transactions from 1934 - present and reports from savings institutions from 1984 - present.
Statistics from Federal Agencies
This site acts as a gateway to statistics from over 100 U.S. Federal agencies. This is a great place to look for data without having to know in advance which Federal agency produces which particular statistic. These agencies "provide data and trend information on such topics as economic and population trends, crime, education, health care, aviation safety, energy use, farm production and more..."
Statistics in Print
Statistical Abstract of the United States. Call no.: HA202.S1.
This is a convenient, current, easy to use all-in-one source of statistics on all aspects of American life. Tables always include their source of information and each edition effectively updates previous editions.
- UBC Library owns an almost complete collection from 1878 to present.
- This publication is also available online, from 1878 to present via US Census Bureau. Click the Earlier Editions tab for editions other than current.
Handbook of US Labor Statistics. Call no.: HD8064.A32.
Using recent, authoritative data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and other government agencies, this title is "a convenient, single-volume source of labor data". It provides recent and historical data on U.S. employment, earnings, prices, productivity, living conditions, and related topics.
Housing Statistics of the United States. Call no.: HD7293.H7822 1997.
Contains historical statistics on housing stock, housing finance, the housing market, and federal housing assistance. The appendix has extensive notes on the tables and data sources. Date range stretches occassionally back to 1955, but mostly falls back to 1970 or 1986. Projections to 2010.
State Profiles: The Population and Economy of each US State. Call no.: HA203.S734.
There are eight-page chapters on each state, highlighting population, labour force, income, economic structure, housing, agriculture, education, health, and government finance. Most tables cover the 1990s. There are also 25 tables ranking states by various measures.
State and Metropolitan Area Data Book. Call no.: HA202.S84.
From the US Census Bureau, this title contains summary social, economic, demographic and political data for states, MSAs (metropolitan statistical areas) and their central cities and component counties. The latest edition held at UBC Library is 2006 and its time series are presented in detailed tables focusing on the period 2000-2004. The latest edition is also available online at: http://www.census.gov/compendia/smadb/
County and City Data Book. Call no.: HA202.A36.
From the US Census Bureau, this title contains official population and housing data plus business and other data for all U.S. counties, cities with 25,000 or more inhabitants, and places of 2,500 or more inhabitants. The latest edition is available online: http://www.census.gov/statab/www/ccdb.html
Historical Statistics of the United States: Earliest Times to the Present. Call no.: HA202.A385 2006.
This is an authoritative historical compilation of major statistical series covering social, economic and demographic topics. Each chapter includes short descriptive essays including bibliographic citations to original sources of information.
- A fully searchable and downloadable edition is available through a subscription database provided by UBC Library at http://toby.library.ubc.ca/resources/infopage.cfm?id=1123
What are "microforms"?
Microforms are print/graphic materials that have been filmed and reduced to a size too small to be read without magnification. Microforms allow the library to collect and maintain materials too fragile, bulky, old or valuable to collect in the original forms, for example, newspapers, rare books, or old magazines. Equipment for reading microforms is available in on floor 2 of Koerner library.
How do I find documents in microform?
If you are searching for a specific document you can search the Library catalogue by author, title or keyword.
- Please note, some documents in microform are not in the catalogue even though the Library has them. These are part of large collections and only the collection itself has been catalogued. Most of these collections come with an index that will allow you to search by author, title and subject.
- So, if you search the catalogue and the document you want is not found, look at the microform collections outlined below to see if any cover the subject area and year(s) you require. Then search the appropriate index to see if your document is included in the collection.
- If your document is still not found then you can contact the InterLibrary Loan department for further assistance.
American Statistics Index. Call no.: AW5 .A4775.
This is a collection of statistical publications from the U. S. government, and UBC Library's holdings date from 1974 to present. Unless you have a complete citation to a document in the collection, you should begin your research by consulting the companion print index:
- The print index allows you to search for subjects, place names, agencies and individuals. You will find this at UBC Library at ZHA214 .A447
- Look for the accession number printed at the end of each entry. The microfiche collection is organized by publication year and accession number so you will need to know both numbers in order to retrieve the correct microform.
- There is also a user guide to the index and the microform collection available at Koerner Library Microforms Vertical File (Floor 2).
- This collection is also available online, through the subscription database Lexis-Nexis Statistical.
- There is a guide to 1980 Census Publications - call no.: HA37.U55 G85 1986 and a guide to the 1990 Census Publications - call no.: HA37.U55 G853 1994. These contain detailed abstracts and indexes derived from the American Statistics Index.
Complete Descriptive and Statistical Gazetteer of the United States of America 1840. Call no.: AW1.R-5346 N. 33167.13
This was originally published in book format in 1843 and contains "a particular description of the states, territories, counties, districts, parishes, cities, towns, and villages--mountains, rivers, lakes, canals, and railroads; with an abstract of the census and statistics for 1840, exhibiting a complete view of the agricultural, commercial, manufacturing; and literary condition and resources of the country." Microformed as part of the Goldsmith's-Kress Library of Economic Literature.
United States Decennial Census Publications, 1790 - 1970. Call no.: AW1 .R7358
This microform collection includes United States census documents and publications on population, manufacturing and vital statistics.
- Note, UBC Library only has the reels for the years from 1790 - 1850 for population; 1810 - 1860 for manufacturing; and 1850 - 1880 for vital statistics.
- The Library does not have an index for these reels, but the Bureau of the Census Catalog of Publications, 1790 - 1972 lists all the publications issued by the Bureau from 1790 - 1972 and can act as a quasi-index to this collection. Call no.: ZHA37.U52 1974
- The Library has the majority of later censuses in print. These can be found in the Library catalogue by searching for the specific census and year that you require.
1980 Census of Housing. Call no.: AW5.U56 B87
Statistics from the census form sent to 100% of households - providing general housing characteristics for States, counties, SCSA's, SMSA's, urbanized areas, county subdivisions, places of 1,000 or more inhabitants (including towns/township in selected States), American Indian reservations, and Alaskan native villages.
1980 Census of Population. Call no.: AW5.N456 C4
This collection consists of Volume 1, Characteristics of the Population: Number of Inhabitants; General Population Characteristics; General Social and Economic Characteristics; and Detailed Population Characteristics.
These subscription databases provide access to digital documents that are not freely available on the World Wide Web. They are restricted to UBC staff, faculty & students and patrons working at UBC Library workstations.
LexisNexis Statistical is an important resource for locating US government statistical publications, as well as those of international intergovernmental organizations such as the UN, European Union, OECD, IMF, and many others. Includes online "Power Tables" for US federal agencies and for the World Bank, and links to government statistical resources on the Web. Note:
From the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Contains books, journals, statistics and specialized databases, including OECDStat.
OECD concentrates on topics like general economic indicators, development and aid, agriculture, national accounts, labour market and social issues, foreign trade, and industry, science and technology.
- OECDStat produces quarterly, monthly and annual time series measuring economic and social conditions in OECD member countries, including the United States.
Historical Statistics of the United States.
This is a standard source for statistical indicators of American history, from Colonial times to the present. Topics range from migration and health to crime. Statistics are placed in historical context by a recognized expert in the field. Fully searchable and downloadable. Also allows users to graph individual tables and create customized tables and spreadsheets reflecting their own particular areas of interest.
- A print version of this database is also available. Call no.: HA202 .A385 2006
Lexis-Nexis US Serial Set Digital Collection
Compiled under the direction of Congress, the U.S. Serial Set captures every aspect of American life from the early 19th century onward, from farming, to westward expansion, scientific exploration, politics, international relations, business, and manufacturing. It includes Congressional reports and documents, census reports and other early statistical material.
Print Citation Guides
- MLA Style Manual. Call no.: PN147 .G444 2008.
- Publication Manual of the APA. Call no.: BF76.7 .P83 2001 and APA Style Guide to Electronic References. Call no.: BF76.7 .P835 2007a
- Chicago Manual. Call no.: Z253 .U69 2003
From the Arizona State University Libraries. "DocsCite is a step-by-step guide to putting government publication citations into proper style format" using either MLA or APA style.
From the University of Nevada, Reno Libraries. This website provides examples for citations in MLA style for a wide variety of government document types and source agencies, including statistical tables.
From UBC Library. Provides examples based on Debora Cheney's The Complete Guide to Citing Government Information Resources, 2002. Call no.: J9.5 C445 2002. Note, this manual is not necessarily compatible with any of the common citation guides such as MLA or APA.
This site provides extensive information on research as well as standard paper formats, in-text citations and bibliographies/list of works cited for APA, Chicago, MLA and CSE style. Includes sample paper for each style, with rules illustrated in context.
Citation Guides for Specific Government Agencies
Note, many US Government sites provide suggested citations for their various publications - usually at the bottom of the webpage in question. For example: The US Census Bureau's publication, Statistical Abstract and the US Bureau of Labor Statistic's Career Guide to Industries. Other sites provide more general advice:
From the US Census Bureau, citation style provided for tables and maps from the American FactFinder database.
Provides step-by-step instructions on citing NCHS publications.
For more help, please visit the Reference Desk, Koerner Library.
- For more Government Publications resources, see the Government Publications Homepage. This will take you to all the Government Publication research guides and to the GovInfo web directory.
- FAQ for Students
- Ask a Librarian
- Contact a Government Publication librarian, Mary Luebbe, Shawnna Parlongo, or Susan Paterson for research assistance.
- White House from Flickr by SnoShuu
- The Web that is us from Flickr by ecstaticist
- Book-01 from Flickr by T.SC
- Microfilm from Flickr by sukisuki
- Vertigo from Flickr by Kelly Denker
- Index Card from Flickr by Reeding Lessons
- Birds from Flickr by johnpiercy
The layout of this research guide is based on the FRST 100 course page created by Katherine Miller.
The content of this guide is a revision of the original UBC Library Survivor's Guide to US Government Publications created by Patrick Willoughby. Some of the revised content was derived from the Microform Collection information page from the UC Davis University Library.
Library Contact: Susan Paterson Last Updated: 31-Aug-2010