May 4, 2017 by Luke Mason
We’re pleased to announce that we’ve reintroduced ZIP code demographics in our Q2 2017 data release.
Our new ZIP code demographic data is based on the latest five-year American Community Survey (ACS) and includes historic and projected population estimates by age, gender, and race and ethnicity.
Last year we discovered issues with the previous version of our ZIP code demographic data. After a thorough review, we decided to remove the data from our research software until we could provide improved population estimates at the ZIP code level—which is what we’ve done with this new data.
Emsi strives to provide the most accurate, decision-ready labor market and economic analytics available. This includes estimates of data points that are either not available from government statistical agencies or are incomplete (e.g., suppressed employment and wage numbers). ZIP code population estimates— particularly current-year or projected population estimates—are not publicly available, and thus we researched and vetted a new approach that we are fully comfortable with.
In our previous methodology, we used 2000 Census data as a starting point and projected forward using the Census’s Population Estimates and county-level projections. We still use same approach to project demographic data, but we now rely on more up-to-date ACS as the backbone for our historic and current ZIP code demographics.
ACS releases population estimates at the census tract level. We map census tracts, more than 73,000 in all, to over 43,000 ZIP codes using a crosswalk from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. (Note: We also have historic and projected demographic data by census tract; this data is not yet in our research software but is available upon request.)
Ultimately, this new methodology provides more robust and reliable ZIP code demographic data. We appreciate your patience through the period that this data was unavailable and are confident this new and improved data will help many of our clients who need more granular insights on their region’s population.