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Conducting Market Research? Here are 5 Official Sources of Free Data That Can Help

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Conducting Market Research? Here are 5 Official Sources of Free Data That Can Help

By Caron_Beesley, Contributor
Published: March 29, 2012 Updated: March 8, 2016

Are you writing a business plan? Planning to expand into new markets?

Then it’s worth knowing that Uncle Sam offers access to free data that can help you understand your market and analyze consumer trends and demographics.  In fact, the federal government is the largest producer of data in the U.S. with numerous offices dedicated to collecting, analyzing and providing free access to their findings – good news for budget-conscious small business owners.

Here are five government sources of market data and statistics that may boost your market research efforts:

1. Business Data and Statistics from SBA.gov

A good place to start is SBA.gov’s Business Data and Statistics page, where you’ll find a collection of resources providing free access to information about business and economic conditions and indicators collected by the U.S. government. Whether you sell to businesses or consumers, these sites include data and statistics on income, employment, trade, and manufacturing, and plenty more.

2. The U.S. Census Bureau

The U.S. Census Bureau (www.census.gov) maintains a vast repository of information that is quick and easy to navigate, thanks to a variety of Data Access Tools. For example, with The American FactFinder, just enter a city and state and the tool will generate multiple options for viewing social, economic, household and demographic data for your town or future location.

The main site has also been newly re-launched to make it very simple to find the data you need, including a neat interactive map that shows a mash-up of economic and demographic statistics for any town, city, or state in America.

If you like what you see but are not sure how to use and interpret the data, the Census Bureau hosts seminars across the country to help business owners learn more about business and industry data on the site. Learn more.

3. FedStats.gov

If you want data but don’t know which agency maintains or produces it, head on over to FedStats.gov. This no-frills data-driven site provides access to a full range of official statistical information produced by the federal government without having to know in advance which federal agency produces which particular statistic. Data is available on wide-ranging topics, including economic and population trends, crime, education, health care, aviation safety, energy use, and farm production.

4. Small Business Statistics

Interested in statistics about how small business is doing? The SBA Office of Advocacy conducts and publishes its own research on topics such as the small business economy.

5. EconomicIndicators.gov

For briefings on retail sales, durable goods, manufacturing, construction, new home sales, and more, Economicindicators.gov provides access to daily releases of key economic indicators from the Bureau of Economic Analysis and the Census Bureau. This is probably your best bet if you're looking for one site that says it all.

Additional Resources

Visit SBA’s guide to Conducting Market Research for tips on how to put this data and other information to use.  

 

About the Author:

Caron_Beesley
Caron Beesley

Contributor

Caron Beesley is a small business owner, a writer, and marketing communications consultant. Caron works with the SBA.gov team to promote essential government resources that help entrepreneurs and small business owners start-up, grow and succeed. Follow Caron on Twitter: @caronbeesley

Comments:

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Hi Caron Thank you for the very helpful article. However, I do have a follow-on question. These sites are mostly USA-focused - are you aware of any websites that provide access to worldwide data?
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Excellent resource but the Economicindicators.gov link does not work. I even tried typing in www.economicindicators.gov to no avail. Even so, the other links worked well enough.
Once again, I've landed on some resourceful information to help expand my marketing plan. Great article! I feel like a kid who has free range in a candy store.
I'm an entrepreneur and have opened a business recently. I can't tell you how much helpful the resources have been in writing my first business plan. This is a goldmine for any person looking for free data. I never knew that we have an access to that much data from the US government for free. Thanks a lot Caron :)
I wasn't aware of the economic data that is available here. Great post and many thanks for sharing.
you shared best information.
I'm creating lead generation through market research. These 5 sources you've shared might be very useful. Thank you for sharing.
This information is really helpful. But I think it is worthwhile to point out that if the SBA and federal government want to get ahead of the curve, they might want to start collecting data regarding the popularity of internet search terms. The internet, through search engine searches, has exploded in the past decade as a way that consumers find businesses that they need. But information about HOW consumers go about searching is kept secret by the search enginges and "SEO" companies.

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