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Census Bureau Does More Than Count People

By Ed O'Keefe

During his first visit to Census headquarters on Wednesday, The Eye was reminded that the bureau does much more than count U.S. residents every ten years. Thousands of bureau employees compile demographic and economic data for dozens of surveys, reports or updated statistics released each month.

Here's two examples of demographic and economic data released this week:


The bureau regularly releases data relevant to holidays, special sporting events or commemorative months -- usually a few weeks ahead of the big day. In this case, the bureau released the statistics it has compiled regarding unmarried, or single Americans, ahead of "National Singles Week," which runs from Sept. 20-26. The data comes from several studies, including America's Families and Living Arrangements, Fertility of American Women and the annual American Community Survey.

Forty-three percent, or 95.9 million of all U.S. residents 18 and older were unmarried in 2008. Of that total, 53 percent were women. Interestingly, 63 percent of unmarried Americans have never been married, while 24 percent are divorced and 15 percent widowed. There are 87 unmarried men 18 or older for every 100 unmarried women, according to Census statistics.


The federal government obligated nearly $2.79 trillion on domestic spending in fiscal year 2008, a 9 percent climb from 2007, according to the bureau's Consolidated Federal Funds report. That total equals $9,184 per every person living in the U.S.

Spending for Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security accounted for 48 percent of federal spending, or $1.35 trillion.

The report found that the federal government set aside $575 billion, or 21 percent, on grant spending. The departments of Health and Human Services ($374 billion), Transportation ($53 billion) and Education ($37 billion) spent the most on grants (and will likely spend much more this fiscal year as they distribute even more in economic stimulus funding).

Government contracts accounted for 18 percent of federal spending. Defense contracts comprised 69 percent of the $514 billion alloted.

Peruse all sorts of interesting demographic and economic data at

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By Ed O'Keefe  | July 23, 2009; 2:34 PM ET
Categories:  Agencies and Departments, Census  
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