Census and Statistics

One of the main ways to locate statistical information is through American FactFinder, the Census Bureau’s website for data retrieval.  The Census Bureau collects information in a variety of surveys and then provides this information to the survey sponsor.  The Bureau of Justice Statistics, The Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the National Center for Education Statistics, the National Center for Health Statistics, the National Science Foundation, and the Social Security Administration are among the sponsors for which the Census Bureau collects data.  These statistics may be found on each sponsor’s agency website or through American FactFinder 2.

FedStats is a government website designed to retrieve statistics from federal agencies and is explained in more detail below. 

United States Census Bureau

From the Census Bureau site you can retrieve quick facts, updates about census releases, and explanations about the data the Census Bureau collects. 

Click on the Newsroom tab for information about census data releases and Facts for Features, which gives statistics for upcoming holidays, commemorative celebrations and months.

For quick facts about various states select the desired state from the drop down menu in the Quick Facts section in the center of the page.

For various reports, tables, and clarifying information on how data is collected on different populations, click on the Topics tab then choose Population and the group you’d like to explore.

U.S. Census QuickFacts

QuickFacts provides statistics for all states and counties, and for cities and towns with a population of 5,000 or more. This is a good place to look if you need basic information such as total population, homeownership rates, median income, and population changes for a particular area.

Bay Area Census

In order to make Bay Area statistics more accessible, librarians at the MTC (Metropolitan Transportation Commission) library and ABAG (Association of Bay Area Governments) created this website specifically for Bay Area data from 1860 to the present.  Similar to the State and County Quick Facts, this site provides data summaries for population, households, racial/ethnic makeup, income and poverty, employment, and transportation for cities, counties, and census tracts and blocks within the San Francisco Bay Area. Also includes links to national census data from as early as 1790.

American FactFinder

This is the Census Bureau’s primary website for retrieving recent census data.  Data from the two most recent censuses can be accessed as well as data from the 1990, 2000, and 2010 census, as well as data from the American Community Surveys, which took the place of the long census form and contain detailed information about communities.  The 1-year survey provides annual estimates for geographic areas with populations of 65,000 or more, the 3-year survey provides estimates for geographic areas with populations of 20,000 and more, while the 5-year survey covers geographic areas with populations less than 20,000.  It’s important to remember that these surveys provide estimates only.  The tables will give margins of error, which you should factor into your results.

American Fact Finder is being replaced by Explore Census Data (also known as data.census.gov) in 2019. You can learn more about how to use data.census.gov here.

Searching American FactFinder by Place

An easy way to search in American FactFinder is by clicking on Advanced Search in the top menu bar and entering the information you need.

  • For example, to find information about Family Types in Oakland, enter Family Type in the Topic or Table search box.
  • Enter Oakland, CA in the State, County or Place search box.  Remember that there are other cities with the name Oakland, so always use the term Oakland, CA. 
  • Click Go. 
  • Select the table that best describes the information you need from the results section.  Your selections will appear in the Selection box on the upper left side of the page. 
  • To remove a selection, go to the menu on the left hand side of the page and click on the X in the blue circle next to the term you wish to remove.

Searching American FactFinder by Topic

To search using the Topics, Geographies, Race and Ethnic Groups, and Industry Codes options on the left side of the Main page.  

For example, if you’d like information on children living in Oakland, click on Topics on the left side of the page.

  • Then click on the plus sign next to Age Group.
  • Click on Children.
  • If you look to the upper left of the screen, you will see your selection, Children, in the selection box. 
  • Now make sure to close the Select Topics box by clicking on the Close X in the upper left corner. 
  • Click on Geographies on the left side of the page. 
  • Type Oakland, CA in the search box.
  • Click Go. 
  • You will see a results box to the left of your Geographies filter. 
  • Check the box in front of Oakland, CA in the results box.
  • Click Add.  Oakland City, CA will now appear in the Your Selections box in the upper left side of the page. 
  • Close the Select Geographies box by clicking on the Close X in the right corner.  You will now see a results box listing various tables.  The dataset tells you from which survey the data was extracted.
  • If you’d like information from the 2010 census, make sure to select a table using dataset 2010 SF1 or 2012 SF2 which contains census information from Summary File 1 or Summary File 2 from the 2010 Census. 
  • Click on the table you’d like to view for your results. 

Historic Census Data

Historic census data from 1790-2010 is contained on this site.  The files are large and take a long time to open so make sure to allow plenty of time when viewing the files. 

Oakland Public Library has the following print copies of census data at the Main Library:

  • 1940-1970: Population and Housing, mainly for California
  • 1910, 1920, 1930, 1940 and 1980, 1990: U.S. State Population and Housing (includes (California) 
  • 2000: Demographic profiles for S.F. Bay Area

The Main Library also has the following information on CD Rom:

  • 1994-2000: Export Information
  • 1986-2006: County Business Patterns

A microfiche collection is available at the Main Library for the 1980 census.    

Mapping America: Census Bureau’s 2006-2009 American Community Survey

This website, hosted by the New York Times, allows for quick searching for 2005-2009 data by city using an interactive map.  Searches can be done at the block level.  You can search by entering an address or zip code in the search box and clicking Go.  Next drag your mouse over the various census tracts for population percentage estimates. 

You can also search by clicking on View More Maps, then choose from the topics on the left.  This allows you to search by Race and Ethnicity, Income, Housing & Families, and Income.

The data on this site is based on samples so please keep in mind that the results should be viewed as estimates rather than hard facts.

Statistical Abstract of the United States: 1878-2012

The Statistical Abstract of the United States contains social, political, and economic statistics for the United States.  Most of the data in the Statistical Abstract is national, but there are some tables, such as population, representing data from metropolitan areas.

Until 2012, The Statistical Abstract was produced by the U.S. Census Bureau’s Statistical Compendium Program and was distributed to depository libraries and available in online format free-of-charge. Due to budget cuts, the Statistical Compendium Program was abolished in 2012. That same year Bernan Press began publishing The Statistical Abstract. Oakland Public Library has print copies from Bernan Press beginning in 2013 but does purchase online access. Online data from 1878-2012 will remain available on the Census Bureau’s website at the URL listed above.

To search the 2012 edition, chose from the Topics listed on the left side of the page.  To view earlier editions, click on the Earlier Editions tab near the top of the page and select the edition you’d like to view.


This site serves as a gateway site for finding statistics from more than 100 state agencies.  You may search by state, county, and/or city or you may search agencies by subject or topic.  When searching the agencies by subject or topic, you will be directed to the agency’s website.

To search by topic, click on Topics Link A-Z on the left side of the page.  Click on the topic you would like to explore. 

To search by state, county, and/or city:

  • Select the state you want to view using the drop down menu on the left side of the page
  • Click Submit.  This will give you statistics for the state you selected. 
  • To view county and/or city information, select the county and/or city using the drop down menus near the top of the page. 
  • You may also limit your search to Federal Court Districts, Federal Judicial Districts and/or Congressional Districts by clicking on any of these options.

To search by agency:

  • Click Agencies Listed Alphabetically on the right side of the page.
  • Select the agency you would like to view.  This will lead to a page with a description of the type of information provided by the agency and links to the statistics provided by the agency.    
  • You may also search an agency by subject by selecting a subject using the drop down menu under Agencies by Subject on the right side of the page and clicking Submit.  This will take you to a page that lists all the agencies that deal with that particular subject, a description of the type of information provided by the agency, and links to the statistics provided by the agency.