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- Mean: Often call the "average." Add everything up, and divide by the total number.
- Median: Line up all statistics from smallest to largest, then choose the middle one. Normally, a better measure than the mean.
- Sample: A small randomly-selected group to estimate a statistic for the whole population.
- Household: Roughly speaking, all people sharing living somewhere with a common entrance. Often not the same as a family group. Excludes dorms, jails, barracks.
Who gathers demographic statistics?
Many key statistics come the the U.S. Census.
- Decennial census
- Every ten years, each household answers a short survey.
- For each resident, it asks: name, sex, age, relationship, Hispanic origin, race, and whether the housing unit occupied was rented or owned.
- This is not a sample. It is a counting of the entire U.S. population.
- American Community Survey (ACS)
- Each year a sample of households (one in forty) answer 200+ questions on social, economic, and housing characteristics for every member of the household.
- This is a sample that estimates for the whole.
- Estimates are very reliable for large numbers of people (states), but less reliable for small numbers (block groups).
What are Census geographies?
- Data is collected at the household level and aggregated to larger areas:
- Household--your personal data are confidential for 70 years.
- Block groups
- approximately 10 city blocks (in population)
- the smallest geography for which data are reported
- Census tracts
- Other Census geographies
- Congressional districts
- Zip codes
- ...and more.
- Companies use Census Data for digital mapping
How are Census data verified?
- All demographic data are self-reported.
- Race and ethnicity are self-described.
- Are you of Hispanic origin? If so, from where?
- Choose one race. No option for multi-racial.
U.S. Census Bureau--Quick Facts
Summaries of demographic and business statistics
- Notice the DATES. Most are estimates based the 2010 Census and ACS.
- For more information, click the (i) icon to the left of a statistic.
A step-by-step guide to finding relevant statistics. Covers a huge array of Census data.
Warning: If you copy a table's URL in address bar, it won't work later! Instead, click the "Bookmark" icon just above the table. Then click "Create Bookmark."
2010 Census: How it works
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