Seeking Help! finding data regarding number of businesses and number of employees by census tract

Hi all,

I am trying to find data regarding the number of businesses and the number of employees by census tract.  I am having a difficult time and hope for some guidance.  Thank you for any direction! 

  • Martha,

    The Census Bureau does not have this information. It has a database of businesses which it uses for the Economic Census and for surveys, but I think that's firm based rather than establishment based. Think a bank with many branches: one firm, multiple establishments. Census definitely does not know the number of employees per establishment, and to the extent that it collects data on that number, the data are only released in big groups (e.g, under 50, 50-249, etc.) and at higher levels of geography.

    The best source of that type of information is your state's employment security agency, which collects data in the process of collecting unemployment insurance taxes. This creates a file that used to be called the ES202 file, although I think it may have another name now.

    Your local transportation planning agency, likely your regional Council of Governments, may have obtained these data and geocoded to tract, although release policies vary by state.

    If you'd like to discuss this further, please feel free to email me.

    Patty Becker
  • In reply to Patty Becker:


    You can find an estimate of the number of employees per tract in the CTPP data product found here:

    This is a special analysis of the ACS done for the transportation planning community.

    Another possible source is the LEHD program - Local Employer Household Dynamics - which is a Census product that uses employment data reported as part of the unemployment insurance system among other sources. Data is available at the block level through the OnTheMap application but has noise injected to provide privacy protection.

    Both of these have their shortcomings. Another possibility is a private data provider such as Infogroup but that gets expensive quickly.

    As for the number of business establishments I am not aware of any data set with wide coverage at the tract level. I'd follow Patty's suggestion and start with your regional Council of Government. They probably have at least one person familiar with this topic if not several.