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Sources of Statistics for Legal Writing

Background Information

There are several main access points for numerical data and descriptive statistics provided by the United States government. Here you will find overview material and links to aggregated data provided by the government to measure and keep track of information of national interest. 

  • The USA Data and Statistics page from USA.gov is where you should begin your search for federal government statistics. Scroll down to "Find Data and Statistics from the Government" to find a overview of the agencies responsible for collecting statistical information and the types of data they provide. Scroll to "U.S. Census Data and Statistics" for an overview of the types of surveys and data products the Census Bureau provides.
  • The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) coordinates the U.S. federal statistical system. This overview page provides links to standards and directives, and describes the 13 federal agencies and many other federal programs that issue U.S. statistics, in a highly decentralized system. The OMB page can be another good place to orient yourself to the federal statistical system. 
  • Data.gov is the main gateway to the U.S. government's open data, easily searchable by topic, with downloadable data sets for each agency. 

In the tabs to the left you will find links and guides to federal agency sources of statistics, sorted by topic.

Data release schedules for the federal agencies collecting statistics are organized here by the Federal Committee on Statistical Methodology (FSCM), If you are tracking a specific agency's data, you may wish to become familiar with its release schedule.

If you would like to read a background text on the use of statistics before incorporating data into your own work, two useful primers on statistics are: