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Guidance for Data Users

Which dataset should I use?

Overview

The Census Bureau’s Population Estimates Program (PEP) releases several different data series over the course of each decade. If you are looking for a particular estimate, or working on a specific research project, this may cause you to question which dataset is the appropriate choice for you. This guide seeks to assist in pointing you in the right direction.

Postcensal Estimates

Each year, PEP utilizes current data on births, deaths, and migration to calculate population change since the most recent decennial census and produces time series of estimates of population, demographic components of change, and housing units. The annual time series of estimates begins with the most recent decennial census data and extends to the vintage year.

As each vintage of estimates includes all years since the most recent decennial census, the latest vintage of data available supersedes all previously-produced estimates for those dates. Thereby, in most cases, you should work with the newest vintage of data available.

For example, if you are looking for an estimate for July 1, 2013, you should select that estimate from the newest vintage of data available, and not from Vintage 2013.

Intercensal Estimates

Intercensal estimates are produced each decade by adjusting the existing time series of postcensal estimates for a decade to smooth the transition from one decennial census count to the next. They differ from the postcensal estimates that are released annually because they rely on a formula that redistributes the difference between the April 1 postcensal estimate and April 1 census count for the end of the decade across the estimates for that decade. Once produced, the intercensal estimates become the preferred series of data for the decade.

Therefore, if you are looking for an estimate that falls within the years 2000-2010, in most cases, you should select an estimate from the Intercensal Estimates series. Please note that the intercensal estimates do not include adjusted values for the components of change. To find components of change for 2000-2010, you should refer to our Vintage 2010 Evaluation Estimates.

Vintage 2010 Evaluation Estimates

The Vintage 2010 Evaluation Estimates also cover the 2000-2010 timeframe (similar to intercensals). The evaluation estimates are produced using a similar procedure to that used for our current postcensal estimates series, and with no knowledge of the Census count at the end of the decade. The release of Vintage 2010 estimates provided the opportunity to make comparisons with the 2010 Census to assess the accuracy of the estimates. Differences between the estimates and Census counts should be interpreted as inaccuracy accumulated across a decade of postcensal estimates processing. They are not considered errors in the Census counts.

The Vintage 2010 estimates were superseded by the 2000-2010 Intercensals, which are the preferred series for the decade. Except for purposes of comparison with the Census, in most cases, all estimates for 2000-2010 should be drawn from the Intercensal Estimates. However, the Vintage 2010 estimates are the best source for data on the components of change during that decade, as intercensal estimates of the components of change were not produced.

Help with .csv files

The Census Bureau provides CSV ("Comma Separated Value") data files for download. This format allows for data to be easily loaded into a variety of applications. However, they are best viewed in applications that allow data to be manipulated in columns, most common of which are spreadsheets or databases (Excel, Access, etc.).

 

Viewing .csv files

Clicking on a .csv will allow you to view it. Typically Internet Explorer will load it into Excel automatically, while other browsers like Firefox will allow you to view the text file in the browser itself.

Right-clicking on the .csv will allow you to download the file to your computer for use in any application that you choose.

Common Problem: CSV is too Large for Excel

Some of the .csv files will not load into Excel directly because they have too many rows of data. This is typical for some of the subcounty files that we provide. There are two ways to fix this.

Solution 1:
  • Save .csv to your hard drive.
  • Right-click the file and open in a text editor like Notepad or Wordpad
  • Highlight the rows of data that you are interested in and copy them.
  • Open Excel or another spreadsheet software package and paste the data into a blank worksheet.
Solution 2:
  • Save .csv to your hard drive.
  • Open up a database software package (i.e. Access)
  • Create a new table and import the .csv file.

Estimates Products

 

Population Detail Latest Data Available Date of Next Release*
National and State population and demographic components of population change 4/1/2020 (population only) and 7/1/2020  December 2021
Puerto Rico Commonwealth population and demographic components of population change 4/1/2020 (population only) and 7/1/2020  December 2021
National, State, and Puerto Rico Commonwealth population age 18 and over 7/1/2020   December 2021
County population and demographic components of population change 7/1/2020 March 2022
Puerto Rico municipio population 7/1/2020 and 4/1/2020 March 2022
Metropolitan and micropolitan statistical area population and demographic components of population change 4/1/2020 (population only) and 7/1/2020 March 2022
National population by age and sex 7/1/2020 April 2022
City and town (incorporated place and minor civil division) population 4/1/2020 and 7/1/2020 May 2022
National, State, and County housing units 4/1/2020 and 7/1/2020 May 2022
National population by age, sex, race, and Hispanic origin 4/1/2020 and 7/1/2020 June 2022
State population by age, sex, race, and Hispanic origin 4/1/2020 and 7/1/2020 June 2022
Puerto Rico Commonwealth population by age and sex 4/1/2020 and 7/1/2020 June 2022
County population by age, sex, race, and Hispanic origin 4/1/2020 and 7/1/2020 June 2022
Puerto Rico municipio population by age and sex 7/1/2020 June 2022

*Dates are subject to change.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division
Questions? / 1-800-923-8282

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