It’s an exciting week for those of us who study U.S. demographics!
After pandemic-related delays, the U.S. Census Bureau has finally released a new batch of data from the 2020 Census. While the Demographic and Housing Characteristics data isn’t a current snapshot, it still gives us the most comprehensive and granular information available for the U.S. population.
From these data, we found some interesting trends over the decade:
The new data, officially called the 2020 Census Demographic and Housing Characteristics File (DHC), provides population and housing data for local communities. DHC includes detail on age, sex, race, ethnicity, families, households, homeownership, and housing occupancy/vacancy.
The 2020 Census was intended to count everyone “once, only once, and in the right place.” Overall, the population count was extremely accurate, by several measures. However, disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, civil unrest, wildfires, and other events made the 2020 count one of the nation’s most difficult. Because of the challenges, some local areas may have inaccurate counts. In addition, there are known undercounts in the data—notably among young children, Black, Hispanic/Latino, and Some Other Race populations, and among American Indian/Alaska Natives living on reservations.* Significant overcounts were noted among the population ages 50 and older as well as among Asian and White populations. In addition, in 2020 the count of people living in group quarters was disrupted and under/over-counts may vary by location and type of group quarters.
Despite the limitations of the 2020 Census data, it is still the most accurate and granular data we have about the nation’s population. What we see from the newest data is further confirmation of America’s place in a global trend of aging. Many of the changes over the decade reflect a population that’s simply growing older.