The first quarter of 2011 is like holiday time all over again for demographic enthusiasts. The U.S. Census Bureau is releasing 2010 Census redistricting data on a state-by-state flow basis throughout the first few months of the year, with a federally mandated deadline to distribute information for all states by April 1.

The Census Bureau released 2010 national and state population data in December in order to apportion the 435 seats in the House of Representatives based on updated population counts for each state.  Between 2000 and 2010, for example, the state of Nevada experienced a 35 percent growth in population, and gained four Congressional seats. Ohio, however, had a population growth rate of only 1.6 percent over the decade, and therefore, lost 16 seats.

This quarter, the Census Bureau is releasing redistricting data, which includes rich geography-level population details, including race and voting age. States can use this information to reconfigure voting districts, city council wards, and even school districts.

This data is being released in batches, in the following order for all states: A pre-release announcement is issued a week prior to the release of data for each group of states. Then, data for the respective states is shipped to state leaders. Upon confirmation of receipt, the Census Bureau issues a press release for that state, and within 24 hours, the data becomes available on the American FactFinder website, the Census Bureau’s searchable online database.

Data for Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey and Virginia was released in the first batch, and is now available on the Census Bureau 2010 data website. An interactive map for each state, as it becomes available, shows state population totals, by county, by race,

The 2010 Census is the 23rd census in U.S. history. While the Constitution calls for the census every ten years to apportion seats for the House of Representatives, its applications are far wider reaching.