Economic Surveys Provide a Detailed Look at the Characteristics of Small Businesses

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Written By: Erika Becker-Medina and Patrice Norman

Today’s release of 2012 Survey of Business Owners (SBO) statistics provides a preliminary socio-economic picture of business owners across the nation with final, and more detailed statistics, to come later this year in December.

As part of the Economic Census, which is conducted every five years, the Survey of Business Owners uses a sample of 1.75 million employer and nonemployer businesses. The results provide estimates on firms, receipts, payroll and employment by gender, ethnicity, race and veteran status.

Today’s preliminary release provides a first look snapshot since the 2007 SBO data were released. Preliminary data are available by economic sector for the nation and individual states. We use the 2012 North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) to define the 18 sectors of the economy at the two-digit level. The final estimates in December will replace the preliminary estimates, as well as provide additional detail by geography and level of industry (two- through six-digit NAICS levels).

Additionally, more detailed levels of geography, including counties, metropolitan areas and places, will be published. December’s release will also include the Characteristics of Businesses and Characteristics of Business Owners data tables.

In between these two Survey of Business Owners releases, the Census Bureau plans to kick off data collection for the 2014 Annual Survey of Entrepreneurs. The Annual Survey of Entrepreneurs is a supplement to the Survey of Business Owners and will produce similar data more frequently.  This new collection is  a public-private partnership between the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, the Minority Business Development Agency, and the Census Bureau. More information on this upcoming survey will be available soon.


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Majority of Americans Drive to Work, But Less so for Urban Millennials

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By: Brian McKenzie

If your drive to work feels a little lonely, you may be among the three-quarters of U.S. workers who drive to work alone. Driving alone reached its highest point in 2010, at 76.6 percent of workers, after a decades-long pattern of increase (see below). It remained the most common type of work travel in 2013.


About 86 percent of U.S. workers commuted by automobile in 2013, down from about 88 percent in 2000.The automobile has influenced the form of our communities and how we travel within them. It continues to dominate the work commute as the primary mode of transportation to work, although the rate of driving to work has declined in recent years.

Using data from the 2013 American Community Survey, the Census Bureau’s latest report on commuting, “Who Drives to Work? Commuting by Automobile in the United States: 2013” highlights differences in how people get to work and how that has changed.

Overall, automobile commuting has declined since 2000, in part, due to the continuation of a long-standing pattern of a decline in carpooling. One out of five U.S. workers carpooled in 1980, but in 2013, only one out of 10 carpooled. Hispanic workers showed the highest rate of carpooling in 2013, but also the largest declines in carpooling between 2006 and 2013, from 19 percent to 15 percent.


Some of the most notable recent changes in commuting have occurred among younger workers, particularly those living in cities. In 2013, about 74 percent of workers ages 16 to 24 living in principal cities commuted by automobile, compared with about 80 percent of the oldest workers. Workers between the ages of 25 and 29 living in principal cities showed the largest auto commuting declines since 2006, at about 4 percentage points. This is also the group that was least likely to have a vehicle at home in 2013.


For more information on commuting products, including special reports on topics such as working at home, daytime population change, and bicycling to work, visit the Census Bureau’s commuting home page.

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Where Do All Those Commuters Come From? Census Bureau Releases New Information on County-to-County Commuting Flows

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By Brian McKenzie and Charlynn Burd

If you’re stuck in traffic on your morning commute wondering where all of those cars in front of you have come from, we may have some answers. Today, the Census Bureau released the latest county-to-county worker flow tables based on American Community Survey data collected from 2009 to 2013, which shows patterns of commuting flows for workers in every U.S. county. These tables include information on home-to-work commuting patterns by mode of transportation for U.S workers.

Every day the nation’s roads, highways and transit systems carry millions of people from home to work, often across county lines. Most people live and work in the same county, but 28 percent of workers travel to a different county for work. These tables allow you to see how many people travel into your county from nearby communities on a typical workday and how many people leave your county for others. Among other applications, commuting flow information may be used for traffic congestion relief efforts, emergency management, transportation planning and commercial development.

The tables also break down commuting flows by different modes of transportation. For example, they show how many workers take public transportation from one county to another on a typical workday. The nation’s five largest worker flows by public transportation involved workers traveling to New York County (Manhattan) from surrounding counties. Kings County (Brooklyn) sent the largest number of workers to Manhattan at 365,000.

Some of the highest rates of carpooling between counties are found in Southern California. About 24,000 workers carpooled between San Bernardino County and Los Angeles County. Los Angeles County and Orange County each swapped about 21,000 carpoolers with each other on a typical workday.b21

As technology, demographic shifts and other factors continue to shape travel preferences and patterns, the American Community Survey remains a valuable tool for tracking these changes across communities and over time.

For more information on commuting products, including special reports on topics such as working at home, daytime population change, and bicycling to work, visit the Census Bureau’s commuting home page.

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Skipping the Booth: Voters Using Alternative Methods are Increasing

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Written By: Thom File, sociologist, Education and Social Stratification Statistics Branch

Nationally in 2014, 10.3 percent of voters reported voting in person before Election Day, while 20.9 percent reported voting by mail, meaning that in the most recent congressional election, nearly a third of all voters reported some form of alternative voting (31.2 percent).

Most states have policies in place to allow eligible voters to cast ballots before Election Day, either during an early voting period, by voting with an absentee ballot, or both. In fact, there are only 14 states where early voting is not offered and an excuse is required to vote with an absentee ballot, while in three states (Colorado, Oregon and Washington), all ballots are cast through the mail. The level of alternative voting in 2014 represents about a threefold increase since 1996, the first year the Census Bureau asked about alternative voting, when only 10.5 percent of voters reported voting by alternative methods.

In most years of this analysis, non-Hispanic whites and Hispanics have reported relatively comparable rates of alternative voting. Between 1998 and 2010, the rates of alternative voting for non-Hispanic whites and Hispanics were not statistically different. In 1996, the rates for non-Hispanic whites were slightly higher than for Hispanics, whereas in the two most recent congressional elections, the rates for Hispanics have been higher than for non-Hispanic whites. Alternative voting rates for non-Hispanic blacks, meanwhile, have tended to lag behind those for both Hispanics and non-Hispanic whites.

However, exceptions were observed in the presidential elections of both 2008 and 2012, when reported alternative voting increased among non-Hispanic blacks to a level not statistically different from both non-Hispanic whites and Hispanics in 2008, and to a level not statistically different from non-Hispanic whites but still trailing Hispanics in 2012.

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A Gray Revolution in Living Arrangements

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Written by: Jonathan Vespa and Emily Schondelmyer

The last 50 years have witnessed a revolution in young adult living arrangements, which are now more diverse than at any time since World War II. The transformation is not limited to young adults, however. Today’s older adults, defined here as 65 and older, are more likely to live alone or with an unmarried partner than previous generations (see Figure 1). Surprisingly, they’re also the only age group where living with a spouse is more common today than 50 years ago — every other age group has witnessed a substantial decline in marriage.

Older women are more likely to live with a spouse today than in 1967

Older adults have experienced the biggest gains in living with a spouse, but not because they’re rushing to the altar. Older women’s husbands are living longer. Men live 10 years longer, on average, than they did 50 years ago. Rising life expectancy helps explain why older adults are the only age group to have seen an increase in living with a spouse.

This is not to say rising tides lift all boats, for living with a spouse is far more common among older men. About three quarters of older men live with a spouse, but only about half of women 65 and older, and a third of women 75 and older do so (see Figure 2). Why the difference? Older women are more likely to be widowed because of men’s higher mortality rates. Once widowed, older women are also more likely to remain unmarried because men tend  to marry younger women.

Today, people 75 and older are more likely to live alone than in 1967

Another part of this gray revolution is the steep decline in living with other relatives. Living alone has instead replaced living with other relatives as the most common arrangement for women 75 and older (see Figure 2); today almost half of these women live alone. An older woman who moved in with an adult child or sibling in 1967 may now find it’s more acceptable to live on her own, and that she has the ability to do so, whether because of Social Security, Medicare, homeownership or other resources.

Probably the biggest unforeseen transformation has been the rise in older adults who are cohabiting, that is living with a romantic partner without being married. Older cohabitors have increased more than fourfold since 1967, to over 750,000 people today. To be sure, older cohabitors are still rare, totaling just 2 percent of adults 65 and older. But we’d expect their numbers to keep rising because baby boomers are more likely than prior generations to be never married or divorced as they enter older adulthood, and as of 2014 only the earliest boomers, born between 1946 and 1949, have reached age 65. Many more will follow in the coming years, swelling the size of the older population and transforming later-life living arrangements. For more information visit,


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