U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Skip Header

New Census Bureau Tool Will Now Consistently Update Communities on Their Vulnerable Populations

Written by:

The U.S. Census Bureau’s Community Resilience Estimates (CRE) is experimental no more. It will now be a regularly updated data product that measures communities’ ability to cope with disasters and other emergencies.

Released last year as an experimental data product, the CRE garnered so much interest among public and government agencies that the Census Bureau decided to offer it regularly — with tweaks based on user feedback — to help decision-makers plan how to best serve their community.

The need for these estimates came to the forefront last year as the Census Bureau was inundated with data requests by government agencies that needed to make data-driven decisions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The changes will better measure a community’s ability to withstand various disasters and emergencies.

What’s New?

This version of the CRE:

  • Uses the latest data available (2019 American Community Survey, 2019 Population Estimates).
  • Includes updates designed to expand its use in different disaster scenarios, such as added data on internet access, availability of vehicles and updated criteria for crowding and employment characteristics.
  • Going forward, we are planning annual updates.

These revisions are aimed at ensuring the CRE captures vulnerability in the most timely, accurate and applicable way.


Why Is CRE Important?

The need for these estimates came to the forefront last year as the Census Bureau was inundated with data requests by government agencies that needed to make data-driven decisions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Census Bureau swiftly created the Census COVID-19 Data Hub in response. But data users wanted more: a metric that could indicate — in simple terms — which communities were most vulnerable to fallout from the pandemic.

So the Census Bureau created the Community Resilience Estimates as part of a series of new experimental data products.


Community Resilience Estimates Data Tool

Experimental Data Product Series

The Census Bureau’s Experimental Data Products are new and innovative statistical products created using novel data sources or methodologies.

This series allows the Census Bureau to gather feedback from data users and stakeholders on the quality and usefulness of the new products. Among other experimental products launched: the Pulse Survey designed to quickly and efficiently gauge the impact of the pandemic on people’s lives.

Because the CRE have been determined to meet Census Bureau Quality Standards and there is great demand for the estimates, they are being moved out of the experimental designation.

How CRE Works

How vulnerable is your neighborhood to the impact of disasters?

The CRE measures a community’s risks in a new way. While other measures use publicly available data, the CRE uses respondent data to provide a more accurate assessment of vulnerability. It builds upon the work of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the field of social vulnerability.

This new approach allows the Census Bureau to create estimates by first reviewing respondent data for risk factors. It then applies small area modeling techniques to craft timelier and more accurate data.

These techniques allow us to publish data down to the census tract level using one year’s worth of data collected — a first for any Census Bureau data product other than the decennial census.

Once the Census Bureau finishes applying state-of-the-art statistical methods, it releases estimates on the number and percentage of people who can be considered high, medium or low risk.

This allows us to provide an estimate of the number of people who may be socially vulnerable at the neighborhood level. It is a first for these types of indices which typically create and compare county level scores.

The CRE will continue to be improved and updated as a regularly occurring Census Bureau data product.


R. Chase Sawyer and Bethany DeSalvo are survey statisticians in the Social, Economic, and Housing Statistics Division at the U.S. Census Bureau.



Our email newsletter is sent out on the day we publish a story. Get an alert directly in your inbox to read, share and blog about our newest stories.



America Counts tells the stories behind the numbers in a new inviting way. We feature stories on various topics such as families, housing, employment, business, education, the economy, emergency management, health, population, income and poverty.

Contact our Public Information Office for media inquiries or interviews.


Is this page helpful?
Thumbs Up Image Yes Thumbs Down Image No
255 characters maximum 255 characters maximum reached
Thank you for your feedback.
Comments or suggestions?


Back to Header