Decennial Census (Population & Housing): Decennial Census

Decennial Census (Population & Housing Information

The Decennial Census is actually two Censuses taken concurrently—the Census of Population (1790-present) counts numbers of persons and selected social & economic characteristics, the Census of Housing (1940-present) counts numbers of residential units and selected physical & financial characteristics. The Constitution states:

"The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct."

The purposes of the Census are:

  1. apportionment—determining the number of seats each State has in the House of Representatives,
  2. redistricting—determining voting district boundaries within States,
  3. determining the allocation of government services.

Census data are also used for a great variety of purposes outside of government. Businesses, social agencies, and non-profit organizations all use Census data.

Prior to the middle of the 20th century, the Census was simple and straightforward, reflecting the limited role the government played in everyday life.

Over time, an increase in government activity led to a need for more information to formulate policy. This resulted in adoption of the long form, a sample of the population, as it would be too expensive to poll every single person. With the use of sampling techniques, analysts have been able to study in great detail a smaller portion of the population from which they can infer characteristics of the population in general.

At the same time, the need for an exact count of the population has remained. The result has been that there are two sets of Census data—a broad look at the entire population on a narrow range of questions and a closer look at a sample of the population on a deep range of questions. Census practices have varied over time, but for the 2000 Census, five out of six housing units in the U.S. received the short form, while one in six received the long form.

The 2010 census will only include a short form; more detailed data are now being derived from the American Community Survey (ACS), with data available 1995-present. ACS data is available from American FactFinder, the Census Bureau's main data portal.

2010 Census

Census Bureau Websites

Government Accountability Office

National Academies Current Projects System

National Academies Press

National Research Council (U.S.). Panel on Research on Future Census Methods

New York City

  • NYC 2010 Census
    Includes Demographic Tables with, for the first time, Neighborhood Tabulation Areas (NTAs)

New York State

U.S. House of Representatives, 111th Congress, Committee on Oversight and Government Reform - Republicans

2000 Census

Note: Data for NYC has been extracted and tabulated by local groups. Below are links to their sites, which enable you to easily obtain NYC census data. 

U.S. Census Bureau

U.S. Census Monitoring Board

U.S. Department of Education

Annie E. Casey Foundation

  • Kids Count: Census Data Online
    View regional profiles for the nation as a whole, individual states, congressional districts, or any of the 7 other kinds of geographic areas. Create a ranking table from one of over 21 population indicators.

Columbia University, Data Service

  • invalid link: /content/libraryweb/locations/dssc/data/tract_tables.htmlTract Comparability Tables, New York City, 1970-2000

Lewis Mumford Center for Comparative Urban and Regional Research

  • Metropolitan Racial and Ethnic Change - Census 2000
    Topics covered include: Segregation, Hispanic Groups, Asian Groups, School Segregation, Homeowners and Renters, The New Americans, State of the Cites, Separate and Unequal, Diversity in Black and White, and Dimensions of Segregation.

Modern Language Association

  • The Modern Language Association Language Map
    The MLA Language Map is intended for use by students, teachers, and anyone interested in learning about the linguistic and cultural composition of the United States. The MLA Language Map uses data from the 2000 United States census to display the locations and numbers of speakers of thirty languages and seven groups of less commonly spoken languages in the United States.

New York City. Dept. for the Aging

New York City. Dept. of City Planning Population Division

New York State Data Center

  • Census 2000
    Contains links to special tabulations created by the NYSDC for NYS and NYC data.
  • Demographic Profiles
    • DP1: Contains basic demographic information such as age, race, Hispanic Origin, sex, household relationship, and housing occupancy for each county, municipality, Indian Reservation, and Congressional District within New York State.
    • DP2, DP3, DP4: The population data provided includes items such as: educational attainment, ancestry, migration, place of birth, language spoken, income, poverty, employment status, occupation, and commuting. Housing data includes: units in structure, year structure built, house heating fuel, value, mortgage costs, and rent paid. Geographically, data is being released for every county, city, town, village, and Census Designated Place in New York.
  • School District Files
    Includes summaries for the school districts in New York State as they existed on July 1, 1999.
  • New York City Summary Profile
    Basic demographic data.

New York State Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment

  • Task Force Website
    Census 2000 redistricting data and both current and proposed maps for Senate and Assembly Districts.

Asian American Federation of New York