Is the raw data of US Census or BLS available?

By raw I mean the datapoints that later comprise the summary tables. For instance, the average employment by firm size. Apart from means that you can find in official publications, is it possible to get this as firms' anonymized responses?

That would allow additional operations with data, like finding variance and distribution of employment across firm sizes in particular industries and geographies. And in general, the raw data can say much more about subjects than the aggregated does.

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    this website might be a useful place to start ;) Jan 1, 2014 at 19:57
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    to be clear, you are looking for individual-level responses, correct? most of the answers here are talking about summarized data. you should look for microdata to be able to run the custom analysis you mention here.
    – Amos Budde
    Jan 8, 2014 at 20:13

6 Answers 6


The native raw datapoints comprising some of the more popular tables related to your search are accessible through sites at both agencies. As examples:

A collection of all the datasets by organization can be found at the Data.gov catalog. For the two you note:

(Disclaimer: I am the Evangelist for Data.gov.)

  • Thank you for a very timely and complete answer, Jeanne. Maybe you also know if Data.gov and Census Bureau, BLS, SBA publish their questionnaires? To be precise, the one they use for the aforementioned business size/employment/payroll survey? Jan 1, 2014 at 10:44

The individual-level microdata you want is not publicly available and never will be. That said, if you're affiliated with the right institution, you should be able to access much of it through a Census Bureau Research Data Center. These provide access to microdata, but the confidentiality requirements are fairly strict.


This census table shows employment stats by Firm Size. It is for the country as a whole (not broken further down).


This dataset from BLS shows job/loss gains since 1992 based on firm size.


This page from the BLS has a lot of data on Business Employment Dynamics has a lot of detailed tables, including by firm size.


This page from the SBA discusses and gives links to where to find firm size related data from various government agencies:


Hope this helps.


The answers here don't seem to be answering the question. It sounds like you are looking for anonymized individual-level data (also called microdata). This is often available, though it depends on the specific dataset you want.

In you want population microdata, you're best place to start is the American Community Survey Public Use Microdata Sample (PUMS). Their data dictionary is here and it asks a ton of questions about important economic and social indicators. The sample is also giant (person-level file has millions of records, depending on the year and sample).

For BLS data, it will depend on what dataset for which you want microdata. The Consumer Expenditure Survey has microdata, but if you are looking for a different dataset, your best bet would be to use Google and look for that dataset + microdata and see if they offer it. Best luck!

  • Amos, thank you. That's a valuable input. Is there firm microdata at the level of a separate firm? Jan 9, 2014 at 6:36
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    Unfortunately, it looks like firm-level BLS data is not publicly available. You can apply for special access. Read here from more information: bls.gov/bls/blsresda.htm Hope that helps!
    – Amos Budde
    Jan 9, 2014 at 19:54

ICPSR has odd bits and pieces here and there, such as random samples from the Puerto Rico censuses of the early 20th c. (which I know about because I helped transcribe them).


The public use microdata (PUMS) can be easily extracted and downloaded at https://usa.ipums.org/usa/ where each household or individual's record can be obtained.

Hope this helps.

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