Businesses may lose census survey

The American Community Survey from the Census Bureau has been a useful business tool for decades. Washington budget-cutters want to ax it.

David Brancaccio: Budget cutters in Washington are taking aim at the Census Bureau. Specifically, a spending plan passed by the House that would put a stop to a yearly survey of three million households.

The American Community Survey is a trove of data for government planners -- and as Marketplace's John Dimsdale reports, for businesses as well.


John Dimsdale: The American Community Survey reveals the median incomes in Latino households in Pima County, Ariz., jumped nearly $10,000 between 2009 and 2010.

David French: They can crunch this data to know where growth is happening, how its happening.

David French at the National Retail Federation says growth statistics can determine where new stores get built.

French: Without it a lot of businesses, not just retailers, but homebuilders would really be flying blind about where investment decisions in the next five or 10 years need to be made.

The survey can help manufacturers target their goods, says Maurine Haver of Haver Analytics.

Maureen Haver: Or also for other sorts of businesses to figure out what kind of workers, at what educational level, are in a particular area. 

Budget cutters argue the survey is too expensive. But businesses are lobbying to save the data from the budget ax.

In Washington, I'm John Dimsdale for Marketplace.

About the author

As head of Marketplace’s Washington, D.C. bureau, John Dimsdale provides insightful commentary on the intersection of government and money for the entire Marketplace portfolio.

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