...there is simply nothing so important to a people and its government as how many of them there are, whether their number is growing or declining, how they are distributed as between different ages, sexes, and different social classes and racial and ethnic groups, and again, which way these numbers are moving...
Statistical information is collected, tabulated and disseminated by a wide range of providers, which includes but is not limited to local, state, federal, and foreign governments. Nongovernment entities such as treaty organizations (for example the United Nations or the European Union), trade associations, and special interest groups can also be collecting and disseminating statistical information. The availability of statistical information varies greatly from country to country. The demand for timely statistical information is increasing.
The U.S. Federal Government is one of the most prolific generators of statistical information, with over 100 agencies and organizational units of the Executive Branch involved in some sort of statistical activity. There are 13 agencies alone whose primary function is collecting and disseminating statistical information. The most prolific and oldest is the U.S. Department of Commerce's Bureau of Census. Over 98% of all government statistics originate with the Census Bureau. Besides its own statistical products, the Census Bureau conducts surveys for other federal agencies, and its data in turn is used by state and local governments, commercial venders, etc., to produce their statistical products. The Bureau offers more than 66,000 publications, many of which can be accessed via its website. Major statistical series include:
American Community Survey
Census of Governments
Census of Population and Housing
Current Population Survey
Statistical Abstract of the United States [The Census Bureau in October 2011 with the 2012 edition ceased publishing this title. Beginning with the 2013 edition, ProQuest took over publication.]
There is technical difference between ‘data’ and a statistic, although every day speech uses the two terms interchangeably. Data is raw information from which statistics are created. It is used to create new information and knowledge. It helps to understand a phenomenon. Statistics are an interpretation and summary of data. In the Census and Other Statistical Resources section, the term ‘data’ is used in a general sense, not its technical meaning. The resources discussed for the most part in each of the sections are statistical in nature.