Unlocking the Power of the Census: A Data Toolbox

U.S. Census data are essential for telling the story of individuals and communities alike. These data can be paired with other resources, such as public health statistics, housing data, or historical survey data, to help inform data analysis. This blog post—a virtual toolbox—highlights some of the best data tools available in the digital environment. Let us know if we’re missing your favorite data resource by reaching out to us on Twitter @Census2020Now.

Data Stories

  • Measure of America

    • MoA hosts wide ranging research and data stories with the goal of providing methodologically sound tools for understanding well-being and opportunity in America. 

  • Data USA

    • Data USA provides data stories, visualization builders, and mapping resources to effectively tell the story of education, industries, jobs, and cities across the U.S.

  • U.S. Census Bureau’s America Counts

    • The America Counts program offers a library of stories underscoring the importance of census data, and programs, that are important to the day-to-day life of every American.  

Mapping Resources

  • Urban Research Maps - Visualizing Changes

    • The Urban Research Maps provides an easy way to compare population changes between 2000 and 2010 Census data in 15 large U.S. metropolitan areas.  

  • The Opportunity Atlas

    • The Opportunity Atlas aims to answer which neighborhoods in America offer children the best chance to rise out of poverty.  

  • Center for Disease Control’s 500 Cities Project

    • The 500 Cities Project evaluates the burden and geographic distribution of health-related variables in America’s 500 largest cities.

  • Urban Institute Interactive Maps

    • The Urban Institute hosts a range of interactive maps on metropolitan economics, including trends on housing, public schooling, and poverty.


    • NHGIS provides historical GIS-compatible boundary files dating back to 1790 available at the state, county, tract, and block level. NHGIS also includes time series and summary tables for population, agriculture, housing, and economic data.

  • NACO County Explorer

    • The National Association of Counties (NACO) provides this mapping tool to help compare county to county data with numerous criteria across 14 major categories.  

  • Policy Map

    • Policy Map provides a wide range of mapping features, ranging from demographic and health statistics to a study of eventual household income for people raised in very low income families (per Opportunity Insights).

Tabular Data & Visualizations

  • HUD’s Comprehensive Housing Affordability Strategy (CHAS) data

    • HUD’s CHAS data tool generates data tables for the most commonly requested Comprehensive Housing Affordability Strategy (CHAS) data. The most recent data comes from 2011-15 ACS 5 year estimates.

  • Circular Area Profiles (CAPS)

    • Courtesy of the Missouri Census Data Center, CAPS provides small-area data from block, block group, or tract levels summarized into a customizable circular area.

  • Census Bureau’s Data Visualization Gallery

    • The Data Visualization Gallery highlights the accessibility of Census data by capturing historical changes in population growth and distribution, household and family dynamics, and economic indicators.

CCCJason Jurjevich