“Making Sense of the 2010 Census” series

The median age for residents of the District of Columbia is 33.8, while the median age for Maine residents is 42.7, according to the first batch of 2010 Census Demographic Profiles for states. In Michigan, 72.1 percent of occupied housing units were owner-occupied, compared to 62.3 percent in Massachusetts.

The U.S. Census Bureau released demographic profiles for 13 states the first week of May, with data for 13 additional states scheduled for release each of the following weeks of the month.

The 2010 Census Demographic Profiles include median age, average household size, and percentage of owner-occupied versus rental housing units, along with detailed data on age and sex distributions, race, and household composition – in all, 150 data items.

The 2010 profiles have been expanded from prior Census releases to include race subcategories for Asian, Native Hawaiian, and Hispanic population groups. The major race group “Asian” now includes six subcategories: Asian Indian, Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese, in addition to “other Asian.”

In addition, the 2010 Census data includes more granular age data than ever before, now broken down into five-year segments up through age 85.

“Census data helps governments at the state, county, and local levels make important decisions regarding infrastructure, programs and services to meet the needs of the population,” according to Lloyd Potter, Texas State Demographer based at the Institute for Demographic and Socioeconomic Research at the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA).

Detailed age data, for example, can help determine the need for schools, elder care programs, transportation services, and a wide variety of other public programs.

As Dr. Potter points out, most communities are pretty well aware of demographic shifts in their area, but official Census data can confirm these trends with a fairly high degree of geographic detail, thereby serving as an important tool for government officials and other policymakers.