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Upcoming 2020 Census Data Products

September 29, 2021
By Cynthia Davis Hollingsworth, Program Manager for 2020 Census Data Products and Dissemination, Decennial Census Management Division; Jason Devine, Assistant Division Chief for Census Programs, Population Division

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

We’ve now released the apportionment counts and redistricting data — the first two waves of 2020 Census results. But we’re just getting started.

Some data users, eager for more information, have asked why it’s taking so long to produce the data and share our schedule.

The answer is — we’re trying to ensure that we take the time to produce the high-quality statistics the public expects of us. The pandemic delayed our operations, and we’re in the midst of implementing new confidentiality protections, which we'll discuss more below.

As we update and finalize our plans, we will continue to keep the public informed through the About 2020 Census Data Products page.

Upcoming data products will include the first results on topics not covered in the apportionment or redistricting data such as sex, relationship and household type. We will also provide more details on age, race and vacancy status that were not part of the redistricting release.

By crossing many of these variables in the data tables, we’ll see even more nuanced dimensions of our communities. We’ll be able to look at combinations such as:

  • Populations by age, sex and race.
  • Households by household type, size and race.

In this blog, we talk about our current plans for the data products and how you can provide feedback.

U.S. Island Areas Products

The next 2020 Census results that we release will be counts for the U.S. Island Areas. Each decade, we work with the governments of American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands to count their populations. In the U.S. Island Areas, the census is also the opportunity to collect detailed demographic, social, economic and housing information (similar to what we collect stateside in the American Community Survey).

We plan to release population and housing unit counts for each Island Area this fall. Later, we plan to release even more detailed information for the Island Areas. We’ll update you as we finalize the schedule for these products.

Diving Into the Details

For the United States, all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, we tentatively plan to release the next 2020 Census results in 2022:

  • Demographic Profile – This product provides selected demographic and housing characteristics about local communities such as 5-year age groups, sex, race, Hispanic or Latino origin, household type, relationship to householder, group quarters population, housing occupancy and housing tenure.
  • Demographic and Housing Characteristics File (DHC) – This product will include some of the demographic and housing tables previously included in the 2010 Census Summary File 1 (SF1). It will include topics such as age, sex, race, Hispanic or Latino origin, household type, family type, relationship to householder, group quarters population, housing occupancy and housing tenure. Some tables will be iterated by race and ethnicity.

We’re still determining the release schedule for the Detailed Demographic and Housing Characteristic File (Detailed DHC). The 2020 Detailed DHC will provide population counts, as well as demographic and housing statistics for detailed racial and ethnic groups, and American Indian and Alaska Native tribes and village groups. Previously, these types of statistics were included in the 2010 Census Summary File 2 (SF2) and American Indian and Alaska Native Summary File (AIANSF). In addition, the Detailed DHC will include a few tables from the 2010 Census SF1 that are not included in the 2020 DHC.

Implementing Confidentiality Protections

Part of the 2020 Census data product planning includes implementing our new disclosure avoidance system based on differential privacy. Differential privacy helps us balance the accuracy of our statistics while also protecting the confidentiality of individuals. The more statistics we produce — and the more granular detail we provide — the more individuals are at risk of being identified.

We’re working to add just enough statistical noise to mask individual identities while still providing useful statistics. We’re also taking a hard look at the level of detail we can provide.

Last week, we released an updated 2020 Census Data Product Planning Crosswalk. This crosswalk allows data users to examine our current proposal for that level of detail. The crosswalk shows the specific content and lowest level of geography we’re considering for each data table and how the 2020 proposals compare to 2010. We’re also hosting a webinar on Sept. 30 at 3 p.m. (EDT) to review the crosswalk and the proposed changes.

These plans, however, are not final. Before we can finalize, we need two things:

  • Your feedback.
  • Further research validating that our plan can protect individuals and provide useful, meaningful data.

We invite you to email 2020DAS@census.gov with your feedback by Oct. 22, 2021. In particular, we’re seeking feedback on how you would use the DHC data at lower levels of geography such as blocks and block groups. Maintaining data confidentiality at these lower levels can come with a greater cost for accuracy, so your feedback is important as we consider whether to limit some or all DHC tables to census tracts and above.

We’re also seeking feedback on the Detailed DHC as we finalize the content, including table iterations by race and ethnicity, population thresholds, and available geographies.

The feedback we’ve received over the past two years has informed our proposed plans. In fact, the current crosswalk is an update of a version originally released in 2019. Your feedback now will help us as we begin the complex process of assigning privacy-loss budget to the tables and queries associated with the 2020 data products.

Once we receive and review data user feedback, we will begin to hold meetings with various stakeholder groups to ensure we are hearing the needs of the data user community.

This winter, we aim to release demonstration data that apply potential disclosure avoidance system settings to 2010 Census data used to produce published statistics that are similar to the proposed 2020 DHC tables. The demonstration data will enable the public to assess the accuracy and privacy protection of DHC tables.

Based on the feedback and our analysis, we would further tune the settings of the disclosure avoidance system and release a second round of demonstration data for feedback. The feedback on the demonstration data will inform the final settings and the design of the DHC tables. We are also developing plans to release a demonstration product for the Detailed DHC.

We will continue to ask for feedback and update the public as we move through these processes of finalizing the DHC and Detailed DHC data products.

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