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
  • Martha

    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.

  • I have a similar question: I am looking to get data on the day time population by Census Tract (so not only looking at employees by tract). I found this guidance provided by the Census

    However, the table for workers working in an area (B08008) is by place. I am wondering if this does not give me the actual number I am looking for then.

    For example, if I want to know how the day time population for each Census tract in Detroit, since this table is looking at workers at the place level, this is actually telling me the number of people in the census tract who work in Detroit and live in Detroit but not necessarily in the specific census tract. Is this correct?

    If so, my best bet to get the day time population by Census tract would be one of the already mentioned sources in this chain?
  • What you are looking for is the number of workers by workplace geography. This is only available down to the place level (at least in New England); it is not available at the tract level anywhere via the ACS itself. To find this type of information you will need to use the CTPP data set referenced earlier in the thread. The information you are looking will be in the Part 2 data which includes data by work location. Incidentally, I think there is also a table indicating time of arrival at work so you came remove night time workers. Another alternative would be to use the LEHD data set. the OnTheMap application allows you to find the number of jobs in specific geographies. The numbers will differ from CTPP/ACS as the LEHD source is only jobs covered by the unemployment insurance program.