Discover Your Neighborhood with Census Explorer

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Written by: Michael Ratcliffe

Our customers often want to explore neighborhood-level statistics and see how their communities have changed over time. Our new Census Explorer interactive mapping tool makes this easier than ever. It provides statistics on a variety of topics, such as percent of people who are foreign-born, educational attainment and homeownership rate. Statistics from the 2008 to 2012 American Community Survey power Census Explorer.

While you may be familiar with other ways to find neighborhood-level statistics, Census Explorer provides an interactive map for states, counties and census tracts. You can even look at how these neighborhoods have changed over time because the tool includes information from the 1990 and 2000 censuses in addition to the latest American Community Survey statistics. Seeing these changes is possible because the annual American Community Survey replaced the decennial census long form, giving communities throughout the nation more timely information than just once every 10 years.

How do you use Census Explorer?

You can choose from eight topics, such as median household income, and then display the topic by states, counties or census tracts. The colors on the map you create represent higher and lower values and if you scroll over a location, you can see the selected statistic for that area. To see change over time, just select either 1990 Census or 2000 Census data.

 Screenshot of Census Explorer

You can also look up tract-level information for a specific address by typing it into the search bar. The census tract may not perfectly match how you would define your neighborhood because we work with city and county governments to define tracts. However, they often are good representations. You can also use this feature to find a census tract number, allowing you to look up statistics not available in Census Explorer from one of our other data tools.

Screenshot: Loooking up address in Census Explorer

 Census Explorer is available thanks to the richness of information about our neighborhoods from the American Community Survey, which gives decision-makers the information they need to plan investments and services. The tool is just the latest way we are making it easier for you to access these statistics.

Census Explorer pulls from the Census Bureau’s application programming interface, which allows developers to use data sets to create online and mobile apps. It is another aspect of our digital transformation, along with our two mobile apps, dwellr and America’s Economy. Tools such as these ensure we are meeting our 200-year-old mission of delivering quality statistics about America’s people, places and economy using 21st century technology.

Topics currently available in Census Explorer:

  • Total population
  • Percent 65 and older
  • Foreign-born population percentage
  • Percent of the population with a high school degree or higher
  • Percent with a bachelor’s degree or higher
  • Labor force participation rate
  • Home ownership rate
  • Median household income
Posted in Data Tools, Geography | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

What Are Model-Based Estimates and Why Does the Census Bureau Produce Them?

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Written by: Lucinda Dalzell, Chief of the Small Area Estimates Branch

Today the Census Bureau released its 2012 Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates program statistics for all states, counties, and school districts. They are produced for the U.S. Department of Education to use in their allocation formula for funding for Title I and related programs, totaling about $23 billion per year. 

These income and poverty statistics come from combining American Community Survey data with other data sources to provide single-year statistics for school districts, in addition to counties and states.  Because the survey data are combined with other data sources, the estimates are referred to as “model-based.”  In contrast, the 2008-2012 American Community Survey (due to be released next week) uses survey responses that were collected between January 2008 and December 2012. 

Standard American Community Survey products gather strength by aggregating information over one, three or five years. However, model-based estimates aggregate data from different sources, aligned along similar time frames, rather than from different years.

The 2012 small area income and poverty estimates use American Community Survey responses from one year (in this case, responses collected between January 2012 and December 2012) and combines them with the Census Bureau’s population estimates, decennial census, and administrative records (such as aggregated federal tax information and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program participation records). This provides increased precision over what is possible with direct estimates alone. Currently these are the most timely snapshot of poverty available for selected age groups for small areas.

A detailed, visual tutorial of the methodology is available on the Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates program website.  In addition, to visualize these data over time, you can examine the heat map, which shows annual poverty rates for all children ages 5-17 in families from 1999 to 2011.  You can also create your own tables and maps for export, or explore time series trends using the interactive tool.

In the mid-2000s, the Census Bureau started a sister program called Small Area Health Insurance Estimates . The Census Bureau is continuing to research additional applications for model-based estimates and to take greater advantage of data already available to provide even more current and reliable estimates for use in governmental programs.



Posted in Income, Poverty | Leave a comment

Where Do You Want to Dwell?

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New Census Mobile App Showcases Local Statistics for People on the Go

Written by: Stephen Buckner

dwellr, a new mobile app from the U.S. Census BureauAmerica has always been a nation on the move. Whether you are looking for a career change or a new neighborhood to call home, life decisions affect each of us every day.  With roughly half of Americans now owning smartphones, everyone should be able to access the wealth of statistics the Census Bureau collects to make informed decisions on the go, whether at home or on the road.  What good are data if nobody but the experts can easily access them? The Census Bureau uses 21st century technology to meet its centuries-old mission, making the statistics that define our growing, changing nation more accessible to the public than ever before.

The Census Bureau’s new mobile app, dwellr, provides those on the go with immediate, personalized access to the latest demographic, socio-economic and housing statistics from the American Community Survey for neighborhoods across the nation. Using the level of importance you place on a location’s characteristics, the app generates a list of top 25 towns or cities most suitable for you. Once you have used the app, it saves your selections on your phone so you can see how they match up against each new place you visit.

With more than 30 million Americans moving last year, dwellr allows for quick and easy access to information to help make the decision, including the ages of residents, how many families have children, median income and housing costs. Dwellr allows Apple and Android smartphone users to explore a range of questions making it a powerful tool for homebuyers, members of the military being deployed domestically, real estate agents, new businesses and teachers helping students learn about their communities.

The statistics in dwellr are only the beginning of a powerful story you can tell with Census Bureau data. Imagine if an app matched your preferences with restaurant reviews, places with museums or most visited parks. With the Census Bureau’s application programming interface, developers can take the same statistics found in dwellr and apply them to any app they can imagine. We are eager to see new applications of these American Community Survey statistics that help people learn more about their communities using the same information businesses use to plan investments and services. These statistics, along with the Census Bureau’s other economic information, provide timely, critical information on the health of the U.S. economy.

The app is just the latest product from the Census Bureau’s digital transformation and provides statistics to more Americans in a new and user-friendly way. It follows the successful release of our hugely popular America’s Economy mobile app, which now has more than 100,000 downloads. Coming soon, you will see an upgraded website with enhanced search and navigation features that are based on several years of customer feedback. We continue to open up more of our data to developers as part of our API, including 30 years of decennial statistics, in addition to the American Community Survey statistics that power dwellr.

As we continue to align ourselves with the Digital Government Strategy, our free mobile apps are just one way we are making our statistics available anytime, anywhere, and on nearly any device.

Download dwellr from the Google Play or Apple store today and begin learning more about where you are and where you could go in the future.

Posted in Data Tools, Web Transformation | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

Married Couples are Not the Only Type of Two-Parent Family

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Written by: Jamie M. Lewis

When you think of a two-parent family, you may picture a married couple with children under 18. Although these families make up a substantial proportion of all households, at 19 percent, they are not the only type of two-parent family. Another type of family that is becoming more common is when children live with two cohabiting parents.

By cohabitation, we mean couples who are living together in a relationship as boyfriends/girlfriends, cohabiters or unmarried partners but who are not married.

Currently, cohabiting couples with children under 18 make up 2 percent of American households (see Figure A), and their numbers are growing. Between 1996 and 2013, the number of opposite-sex cohabiting couples with children more than doubled, from 1.2 to 3.1 million. In addition, a recent study from the National Center for Health Statistics reports that a majority (58 percent) of nonmarital births are to cohabiting women, and 22 percent of first births to women occur within cohabiting unions.

Figure A[1]In addition, we can look at differences among race groups of cohabiting families. Among households with children under 18, those with a Hispanic or black householder are more likely to be headed by a cohabiting couple, at 11 percent and 10 percent, respectively (see Figure B), than other race groups. This living arrangement is less likely for non-Hispanic white (8 percent) and Asian (3 percent) families. In contrast, married couples with children are more common among Asian (85 percent) and non-Hispanic white (75 percent) families than among Hispanic (62 percent) or black (39 percent) families.

Figure B[1]How do cohabiting and married couples with children compare? In 2012, married-couple families with children were better off economically, as married parents were older, better educated, and earned more than cohabiting parents. For example, 8 percent of cohabiting women with children earned $50,000 or more in 2011, compared with 18 percent of their married counterparts. This difference was even greater for cohabiting fathers (18 percent) compared with married fathers (48 percent). The estimates for married mothers and cohabiting fathers are not significantly different.

For more information on cohabiting couples, see tables FG5, FG6, FG10, H3, UC1, UC3, and historical tables FM-2 and UC-1. You can also check out today’s release.

Posted in Families, Marriage | Leave a comment

Households on the Move

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Written by:  David Ihrke

During the previous year, 13.7 percent of householders living with their own children moved. What may seem surprising is that this rate is higher than for those without kids at home. We also see differences in households with younger children compared to older ones. New statistics released today from the 2013 Annual Social and Economic Supplement of the Current Population Survey allow us to examine these differences and look at a variety of statistics about people who moved in the last year.

The population examined in this blog post is householders in family households between the ages of 15 and 54. Family households must contain at least one other person related to the householder by birth, marriage, or adoption. What constitutes an “own” child? Own children are defined as the householder’s children (biological, adopted, or step) who are under 18 years old, never married, and live with them.

The left side of Figure 1 below shows mover rates of householders who live with their children and compares them to those who do not. Householders with none of their own children at home moved at a rate of 12.1 percent, while the rate for householders with their own children is 13.7 percent. This information raises additional questions about the age of the child in the household.

Mover Rate of Householders by Presence and Age of Own Children: 2012 to 2013

Digging deeper, we can separate householders based on not only the presence of their children but also the children’s ages. Householders were most likely to move if they had very young children. Those with children only under 6 have the highest mover rate at 20.5 percent, followed by those with both children under 6 and 6 to 17 at 14.5 percent. Householders with children just ages 6 to 17 were the only group to have a mover rate lower than householders with no children present in the home (10.4 percent). In part, this reflects the ongoing desire of some families to relocate prior to children entering school.

Mover Rate of Householders with Own Children Under 6 by Age of Householder: 2012 to 2013

We can also consider the age of householders with children when examining who moved in the last year. Generally, the younger the householder, the more likely they are to move. For example, the mover rate for householders with children under 6 years old varies tremendously by age of the householder. Householders 15 to 24 years old with children under 6 moved at a rate of 38.4 percent, while householders 35 to 44 years old and 45 to 54 years old with children under 6 had much lower mover rates (10.8 percent and 9.6 percent respectively, rates not significantly different from one another). In summary, presence and age of own children impact the mover rate, as does age of the householder.

Posted in Families | 1 Comment