A Data-Filled Fall

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Written by: Director Robert Groves

There are many folks awaiting the results of the 2010 Census. Researchers and demographers especially will feast on detailed data releases that begin in December and go right through to 2014 with statistics gleaned from over 130 million households.

Before the first results from the 2010 Census are available, the Census Bureau has several other releases between September and December that will describe the U.S. population.

It’s important to know how they’re different so you don’t get confused.

In late September, we’ll release 2009 American Community Survey (ACS) 1-year estimates for areas with a population of 65,000 or more. These are NOT 2010 Census results; they are based on survey data collected in calendar year 2009. Like the ACS data released in previous years, these data describe the characteristics of the population (like education and socioeconomic status) and housing (like home values and vacancy rates). It’s important to remember that these data describe 2009, not 2010.

In early December, we will release the 2005-2009 ACS 5-year estimates. They’ll report the same type of characteristics as September’s release, just for smaller areas and for a 5-year time period. These are NOT 2010 Census results, but are based on survey data collected between January 2005 and December 2009. We will release these estimates for the smallest geographic areas including census tracts (units of about 4,000 people) and even smaller, block groups. With this first-ever release of these 5-year estimates and each year’s update to come, people will no longer have to wait a decade for the next look at detailed characteristics data for their small areas.

In December, we will release the 2010 demographic analysis estimates of national population by age, sex, and race (Black and nonblack). These are NOT 2010 Census results, but are estimates based on historical data on births and deaths and estimates of immigration and emigration. As such, these estimates are independent of the 2010 Census data collection efforts, so they give us a separate gauge of how big our population has become since the last portrait was taken in the previous census.

Finally, sometime before December 31, 2010, we will release state population counts – these ARE the 2010 Census results – the very first results we’ll all see.

This is the first census when we have many different data releases made public so close to the first release of Census data. Some experts fear that this will confuse the public, but I am optimistic that taken together, this can be a moment of education to help describe why we need multiple measures of our society over time, each with its own strengths.

The Census is a full count of our country taken every 10 years, at a snapshot in time. Its strength is that it can provide accurate data for very small areas and population groups. The ACS is a continuous sample survey. ACS does not count everyone but relies on a sample of us each year to help estimate how all of us are doing. Its strength is that it collects data on a wider variety of subjects and that it produces estimates each and every year. Demographic analysis does not rely on collecting information via a questionnaire or interview. Instead, it uses information from other sources—mostly vital statistics records. As such, its strength is providing an alternative method for estimating the total population of the country.

Together, all of these data help us better understand who we are, where we have come from, and how we are doing. Each in its own way is helpful to a greater understanding of our population.

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16 Responses to A Data-Filled Fall

  1. john howell says:

    Thanks for the update.
    I was actually wondering when the 2010 population data would be released. Now, I know.

  2. Donald says:

    Mr. Groves, during one of your more recent efforts titled “So what happens now?” you wrote in part; “It’s not the flashy side of the decennial census.”
    Trust me, Mr. Groves, from the perspective of this veteran U.S. Census Enumerator since 1990, there wasn’t anything flashy about this 2010 decennial census. Seventy-two percent (72%) of the U.S. population responded accordingly to the 2010 Census, then nearly half a million part-time temporary census enumerators went door to door across our country during May, June, July, and early August, seeking out the 28% of our population that didn’t want to be counted. Yet it was the determined work of your census enumerators, often under difficult and demanding circumstances, that finally brought the most important yet least appreciated part of the census to a close. With little or no thanks from anyone. All your demographers and all your researchers, and all the demographers and all the researchers everywhere couldn’t do what we did. We started on time, we too often were pushed to finish ahead of schedule. Then too often we were asked to count the already counted all over again….for the purpose of quality assurance? All the while those who were targeted to be enumerated more than once began to rebel against us. Nonetheless, we did our part. But there wasn’t anything flashy about the part we played in this census.
    Then with little or no warning, our work as enumerators came to a sudden and often premature end, as the “notification of personnel action” letters suddenly appeared in our mail, notifying us of our termination….with instructions of how to apply for unemployment. Was that the only thanks we get?
    Now the big unanswered question we still haven’t heard! Did the hard work of your part-time temporary force of census enumerators all across our country actually succeed counting the 28% of the U.S. population who weren’t originally counted? If we did, even now it would be encouraging to know. So what was the flashy part of this census, Mr. Groves? Seriously, I’d truly like to know. Thank you!

  3. Black Lung says:

    I was counted… I put the number of people in the house on the form… with nothing else and mailed it back. I will say “thank you” for complying with the “NO TRESPASSING ~ CENSUS WORKER” sign posted in the yard.

  4. Deproduction says:

    Have you seen the wonderful maps compiled and recently released by Eric Fisher based on the 2000 census’ race and ethnicity data?
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/walkingsf/with/4981414709/
    Will the information released by the end of 2010 be sufficient for him to update these wonderful maps?

  5. Stats Guy says:

    Black Lung –
    You are entitled on some level to not fill in all the blanks. However, don’t make the mistake of thinking you are doing yourself (or your community) any good by doing so. In the end, the Census Bureau WILL attribute certain data characteristics to those living in your home. And they WILL be used for apportioning federal dollars.
    So let’s just say for the sake of argument you are an older American who could use transportation to get to a local meal center for free lunch. But you failed to report your age, transportation needs, or income. Your area now gets less federal funds for those things you need most because you failed to accurately report those simple things on the confidential US Census forms.
    Ok, you beat the system, pal. But at what cost really ? Your privacy ? Hardly…more likely you simply hurt yourself and your community, but fed your paranoia.

  6. in my country cencus is very bad.. :(

  7. Toni Messina says:

    Although your description is clear, I think people will be a bit confused by new data releases that are not 2010 Census. I’m seeing some news articles on projected Congressional seat gains and losses, possibly released by a private contractor. Can you clarify the origin of these stories? Thanks very much.

  8. sheila says:

    the Census is critical to planning, allocating monies for schools, fire and police, highways, etc. Only a moron would refuse to participate.

  9. JChapman says:

    I’ve already seen that unless somebody writes something that anounts to burying his nose in the seat of you pants, it doesn’t get posted, so I don’t expect this to see the light of day, but I can get my message across to whoever reads this.
    I know that 93& of anybody that had ever been arrested for anything at anytime in their lives were screwed out of jobs as field workers during the 2010 census. It’s because as usual, somebody with an idea that wasn’t worth a damn came up with this brilliant idea, & because he knew whose butt to kiss & was good at it, the idea was used.
    The fact that you didn’t send rejection letters during the time that hiring was going on, & folks were spending big bucks of their limited money gathering up documents, when you knew that they were not going to get the jobs, shows that you’re a bunch of cons. Anybody that did this in the real world would be prosecuted for mail fraud, as well as wire fraud & that’s a fact.
    The fact that you sent rejection letters only after the field work was done clearly shows that you’re a bunch of spineless, gutless,yellow-bellied cowards.
    By the way, was that sex offender in New Jersey counted among the 7%? O well, I reckon I’m blowing my chance with the 2020 census!

  10. Taco says:

    I think taht most countries have census issues. US census system is probably the most neutral and accurate though.

  11. Sick of the harrassment says:

    Please explain why anyone other than a criminal needs to know what time I leave for work, how many bedrooms and bathrooms are in my home, my annual salary, and my social security number. Not one of these questions affect the census. I agree with black lung, I told you how many live here and that is ALL you are getting from me.

  12. Anon says:

    Most Americans are backward country bumpkins that can’t count anyways. They believe in superstition, folklore, and UFO’s. They account for 70% of the population and does that much work as well. The rest graduated from high school and left their hometown for more intelligent areas of the world. They go back to visit to remind them why they left the toothless girlfriend with her mama. All of you that have tresspassing signs are idiots.

  13. Tired of the misconceptions says:

    WE CAN’T TELL ANYONE WHEN YOU LEAVE FOR WORK. Your individual data aren’t reported — they’re used only to compile statistics.
    Traffic planners, police departments and those who allocate highway funds need to know about commuting patterns, genius — think of that next time you’re stuck in the middle of horn-honking gridlockers. And if anyone passing themselves of as being from the Census Bureau asks for your SSN, call the authorities — it’s a scam.

  14. Eric says:

    When is tract-level data released?

  15. The local area data from the 2010 Census are released on a flow basis as part of the redistricting file, beginning in February 2011. Tract-level data is available through the 5 year 2005 – 2009 American Community Survey just released – http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/DatasetMainPageServlet?_program=ACS&_submenuId=datasets_2&_lang=en

  16. MJ says:

    You were *not* asked about annual salary, number of bathrooms nor number of bedrooms in the *2010 Census*. You were part of a survey if you were asking those things. Please get the story straight and if you don’t want to participate, then don’t! Let the rest of us faithful Americans continue to pull the weight for you.

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