Measuring Local Well-Being: Finding Census Estimates for Your City or Town

Back • June 24, 2013 • Uncategorized

Census BureauHow are children and families doing in your city or town?  Information from the U.S. Census can help you to track the well-being of children and families in your community.  As we explain on our Census Data Resources page, each year, Connecticut Voices summarizes the latest estimates of poverty, income, and health insurance coverage for the state and for cities and towns.  We also look at whether there have been statistically significant changes in these measures over time.  The American Community Survey, reported by the Census Bureau every year, provides access to a wide range of information on the demographic, socioeconomic, and housing picture in each city and town.

So what are the latest local estimates?  Well, that depends. 

  • If you want data for smaller cities and towns, the most recent estimates are for the five-year period of 2007 to 2011.  Because the American Community Survey (ACS) is based on information gathered from a sample of local residents, the "sample size" in each town can be small in any one year.  So the Census Bureau averages together five years of data to create more reliable estimates.
  • If you're interested in the state's eight largest cities — Bridgeport, Danbury, Hartford, New Britain, New Haven, Norwalk, Stamford, and Waterbury — then the most recent estimates are for 2011.  This is a "single-year" estimate.  These single-year estimates are also available for the state, its counties, and its five Congressional districts.
  • And if you're looking at mid-sized to large cities and towns — those with populations greater than 20,000 — you should look at three-year estimates for 2009 to 2011.  There are 54 such cities and towns in the state.

Looking at it another way, here's what is available, depending on what area you're interested in:

Area Single-year estimates 3-year estimates 5-year estimates
State, counties, and Congressional districts 2011 2009-2011 2007-2011
Cities with populations greater than 50,000 (8 cities) 2011 2009-2011 2007-2011
Cities & towns with populations greater than 20,000 (54 cities & towns)   2009-2011 2007-2011
All cities and towns in the state     2007-2011

On the pages above, you'll find our summary and analysis of poverty, income, and uninsured estimates.  We've also posted links to "profile pages" on the Census website that have a wide range of additional social, economic, housing and demographic data.  Again, links to all of these estimates and related summaries can be found on our Census Data Resources page.

As I mentioned, in our summaries, we assess whether there have been statistically significant changes over time in poverty, income, and (when possible) uninsured estimates. If, for example, a change in an estimate of poverty over time is not statistically significant, it is not accurate to say that poverty has increased or decreased in that area.  Margins of error for smaller cities and towns can be quite wide, so be cautious and pay attention to those margins when making comparisons between towns.

What's next?  The Census Bureau is currently scheduled to release single-year estimates for 2012 from the American Community Survey on September 19.  Three-year estimates will follow on October  24, and five-year figures on December 5.

We envision a Connecticut that creates opportunity for everyone, not just the lucky and privileged few. Together, we can ensure a prosperous future for all of our children.