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Economic FAQs

Has a census ever been canceled?

Charles Sinclair Weeks
Secretary of Commerce Charles Sinclair Weeks
created the "Watkins Commission" in 1953 to
determine if economic censuses were necessary.

The economic census nearly came to an end in the 1950s as a result of constrained budgets. The Eisenhower Administration appropriated funding in 1952 and 1953 to plan and prepare for the economic census in 1954, however, it did not provide funds in 1954 to actually take the census.

The termination of the economic census provoked considerable alarm in many government agencies and in business and academic communities. In response to complaints about the census' cancellation, the Secretary of Commerce Charles Sinclair Weeks appointed a number of academicians, business executives, economists, and other specialists not affiliated with the U.S. Census Bureau to an investigative commission chaired by Dr. Ralph J. Watkins, director of research for Dun and Bradstreet, Inc.

The "Watkins Commission" reviewed the economic census and its benefits and, in February 1954, published its report strongly recommending its resumption.

In response to the Watkins Commission's recommendations, the Congress enacted Public Law 83-467 in June 1954, providing for the censuses of manufacturing, mineral industries, and other businesses (including the distributive trades and service establishments) in the year 1955 relating to the year 1954.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Census History Staff | Last Revised: November 02, 2015