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The LEP Special Tabulation

Census 2000 Data on Limited English Proficient Adults

The Department of Labor has sponsored a special tabulation of Census data on Limited English proficient (LEP) populations as a resource for planning employment and training services. Information is broken out for 39 Census languages and language clusters, and the tabulations are designed to match the service areas of states and local Workforce Investment Areas. Each state and local Workforce Investment Area (LWIA) has a separate Excel workbook file containing six worksheets or pages. In addition to this Introduction page, there are a Glossary, a Quick Reference Guide, and three large tables:

Table 1: Total Population (the number of people in the state or LWIA age 5 and older who speak a language other than English at home, along with a self-reported measure of how well they speak English.)

Table 2: Adults (the number of adults in the state or LWIA age 18 and older who speak a language other than English at home, along with a self-reported measure of how well they speak English.)

Table 3: Characteristics (a socio-economic profile of the population that reports speaking English "not very well" or "not at all" with their employment status, occupation, income, earnings and other labor market characteristics.)

Where the Data Come From

Source data for the tabulations comes from a 1-in-6 sample of U.S. households contacted for the 2000 Census - - the same source used for many tables available through American FactFinder ( The tables presented here were designed by DOL specifically with the workforce investment system in mind, and are not available through FactFinder. If you would like to check on the way your service area was defined for these tables, go to the Definitions of Local Workforce Investment Areas page on this site.

What the Data Tables Contain

  • Tables 1 and 2 are estimates of the numbers of LEP people within the service area. They display the number and percentage of people within each language group who can speak English at four levels of ability, ranging from "very well" to "not at all." Understanding the entire range of language ability can be helpful in service planning, and it allows users to define their own cut-off points for limited English proficiency if needed. (For example, for some purposes, it may be useful to know the number of residents who speak English less than well.) There is also an estimate across all non-English languages, and an estimate of the population that speaks only English at home.

    Tables 1 and 2 are identical in layout: Table 1 includes the entire population age 5 and above, while Table 2 is limited to the population age 18 and above, who may be eligible for WIA services to Adults.
  • Table 3 takes a closer look at the social and economic characteristics of people who speak a language other than English at home and whose English proficiency is limited to speaking English "not well" or "not at all." Foreign language speakers who speak English "well" or "very well" are not represented in Table 3. Output covers the same 39 languages or language clusters that appear in Tables 1 and 2, plus a summary across all non-English languages. For purposes of comparison, there is also a column that shows the characteristics of residents who speak only English at home. Most measures refer to the population age 18 and over.

Some Practical Tips for Working with the Data Tables in Excel

To view a different table or page of the file: To navigate between tables or pages, just click on the gray tabs that appear near the bottom of your screen.

To view the tables on-screen: Use the arrow keys, PageUp/ PageDown keys, and scroll bars to move to different parts of the table. The Zoom feature in the top menu bar (very much like Word's) allows you to reduce or enlarge the view.

You can also hold the table headings in view while you move around in the table. Position the cursor at the 'corner' of the top and left-hand labels (cell B7 in Tables Window > Freeze panes in the top menu.

Printing: The files are set up to print in landscape format, with column and row headings reproduced on each page. To print just one table, go to that table's worksheet and select File > Print > OK. To print the entire workbook (all tables, plus the Introduction, Quick Reference, and Glossary sheets), check 'Entire workbook' in the lower-left of the print dialogue box.

Tables 1 and 2 should print out onto two pages, and Table 3 onto 18 pages. However, Excel files may print differently on different printers, and unnecessary pages can sometimes be generated. To avoid this, select File > Print preview and check for nearly-blank pages. They can usually be eliminated by selecting File > Page setup > Page, and adjusting the scaling to 95% or 90% of normal size.

For More Advanced Users: The tables are active Excel spreadsheets. The contents can be reformatted, and new worksheets can be created that analyze the data in different ways -- for example, by regrouping languages or creating new percentage measures.

Identifiers and Missing LWIAs

LWIA Identifiers. All tables show the state, and an LWIA name and number in the Heading information. Although it will usually be easy to identify your LWIA, some recent name changes may not be reflected in these listings.

The LWIA number is the organization's official identifier in the DOL WIASRD database. In a few cases (mostly new LWIAs) the correct number could not be determined, and the LWIA was assigned a 'dummy' number ending in 99. The LWIA name and number can easily be changed before printing.

LWIAs with statewide service areas (including District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the multi-state Navajo Nation service area) should use the state-level tabulations.

Output for some LWIAs was censored because of insufficient population size. In all its published output, Census applies very strict rules to protect the confidentiality of individuals and families. The Census Disclosure Review Board scrutinized the LEP special tabulation very closely because of its very detailed breakout of small language groups, and in some cases determined that the population of an LWIA service area was too small to allow results to be published.

Tabulations for 31 LWIAs were censored because of confidentiality concerns. In the ten states where this occurred, data for all excluded service areas within the state are grouped together and presented under the title 'Balance of State.' A list of affected LWIAs appears at the end of these instructions.

Limitations of the Data

Like all data sources, the LEP special tabulation has limitations to keep in mind:

  • It refers to a single point in time (February 2000). The characteristics of the population may have changed since then.
  • Although the base sample is very large, it is still a sample and subject to a degree of statistical error. In most cases the Census Bureau has also rounded population counts to the nearest 0 or 5.
  • In some areas of the country, it is likely that recent immigrants were under- counted in the 2000 Census, leading to under-estimates of the LEP population.
  • The crucial measure for defining LEP -- Ability to speak English -- is based on self-report, or on an answer given by another member of the household.
  • In some cases there may have been errors in reporting the type of language spoken at home, as the names used by speakers of a language to identify it may reflect ethnic, geographic, or political factors rather than true linguistic distinctions.

Technical documentation for the source data in these tables (including definitions of terms and guidelines for calculating standard errors and confidence intervals) can be found in the Census 2000 Summary File 3 technical documentation, available at Census Summary File-3 Technical Documentation. The Glossary worksheet that comes with the tables also provides helpful definitions of terms.

State Name LWIA Data can be found in...
Arizona Apache County 4060 AZ Balance of State
Graham County 4015 " "
Greenlee County 4020 " "
Navajo County 4075 " "
Nineteen Tribal Nations WIA 4090 " "
Santa Cruz County 4040 " "
California Mendocino County 6235 CA Balance of State
Richmond (city) 6055 " "
San Benito County 6225 " "
Colorado Big Ten Counties Northeast Colorado 8045 CO Balance of State
Northwest Region 8045 " "
South Central Region 8045 " "
Southeast Region 8045 " "
Southwest Region 8045 " "
Upper Arkansas Region 8045 " "
Western Region 8045 " "
Florida Florida Crown -Region 7 12230 FL Balance of State
Hawaii County of Kauai 15020 HI Balance of State
Illinois Vermilion County 17090 IL Balance of State
Iowa Iowa Valley Community College, Region 6 19030 IA Balance of State
NW Iowa Planning; Regions 3 19100 " "
NW Iowa Region 4 19110 " "
Region XII COG; Region 8 19155 " "
WIA Matura Action Corporation, Region 14 19150 " "
Minnesota Duluth (city) 27005 MN Balance of State
Northwest Minnesota 27045 " "
Winona County 27080 " "
New York Sullivan County 36140 NY Balance of State
Tompkins County 36225 " "
Oklahoma Northwest Oklahoma 40005 OK Balance of State