Who Americans Are and What They Do in Census Data

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In the 2007 Statistical Abstract of the United States, the Census Bureau published 1,376 tables of information ranging from same-sex sexual contacts to learning disabilities. These are a feast for number crunchers, but it’s not just American Indians or Whites whose demographics are reflected in these statistics. Asians and American Indians have some of the most striking differences, proving that the Census Bureau’s data can be used to inform policy and programming.

American Indians

The US Census is the primary source for AIAN population data, as it determines funding for Tribal programs. Census counts are only conducted once every ten years, however, and this means that undercounts occur frequently. Census data are only available for one decade, a period that can be incredibly problematic for poor and minority Americans. Additionally, a census’ undercount will remain until the next one, 10 years later. In addition, the Census Bureau collects information only in remote rural and reservation areas, which make it extremely difficult to reach populations of AIAN people.

As a result of these challenges, researchers need to work through the complexities of defining the population and studying small subpopulations. Excluding a subpopulation may give a distorted picture of the social situation and deprive a group of benefiting from the study’s findings. The American Indian and Alaska Native population deserve full participation in census enumeration, study allocation, and policy research. Researchers must pay close attention to details in census questionnaires and cooperate with people on their reservations.


Recent data shows that the number of non-Hispanic whites in the U.S. is in free fall, according to researchers. But the Census Bureau wanted to collect data on a nation that was changing, so it reinforced racial categories. But now, some data crunchers are worried about the impact this shift will have on the statistics of whites and other minority groups. Several of them have written books on the subject.

The number of whites in the US has dropped by almost 7% since 2010, and is expected to remain below 60% in 2020. This is due in large part to declining birthrates among white, Hispanic, and Asian women. Non-Hispanic whites now account for 58 percent of the total population, down from 63.7% in 2010. The decrease in the percentage of whites has been attributed to the aging demographic, which is producing fewer children later in life.


The Hispanic Census, or HPS, compiles statistics on the population of Hispanics and their descendants in the United States. These statistics provide detailed estimates of the total Hispanic population, by state, and for communities and states. It also helps policymakers track immigration patterns, including the implementation of affirmative action plans and bilingual election requirements. The HPS also tracks the population’s health and safety, including identifying segments of the population that may not receive the necessary medical care.

Although the 1970 census included a question on the race of Hispanics, it was late and did not appear in the four major releases. Consequently, people living in the southern and central parts of the United States filled in the “Central and South American” circle. Because this category merged several Hispanic groups, some Hispanic groups were excluded. For this reason, the Hispanic population was estimated in a much smaller proportion than the general population.


The U.S. Census Bureau reported that the proportion of Asians living in the U.S. is growing, but the population is mainly composed of people from India, China, and Southeast Asia. In fact, more than half of all Asians live in California and New York, which together comprised 4.6 million people. Although the population of Asians varies by region, Asian Indians and Chinese are the majority in the South and Midwest. In the West and Northeast, Filipinos and Chinese are the majority of Asian Americans.

According to Census data from 2010, the total number of Asians living in the U.S. was 10 percent. However, the percentage of Asians living in poverty was higher among immigrant and foreign-born Asians. In addition, the percentage of Asians living in poverty was much higher among immigrant Asian minors than the general American population. Among Asian origin groups, however, poverty rates varied widely. While most Asian ethnic groups experienced higher rates of poverty than the U.S. average, the lowest poverty rate among Asians was six percent.

Native Hawaiians

The number of Native Hawaiians in U.S. Census data has fluctuated since 1990. While there is a slight improvement, there are still too few data points on Native Hawaiians. While the net undercount rate for Native Hawaiians is higher than that for other ethnic groups, the percentage remains statistically significant. However, the rate is still significantly lower than the overall rate. That means that a larger portion of Native Hawaiians are likely undercounted.

The net undercount rate for Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders alone or in combination is still relatively low, at 8.0%. This net undercount is particularly high among Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander males aged 18-29. However, there has been some improvement. Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders are still undercounted when compared to other races and Hispanic groups. Nevertheless, they have experienced the largest drop in undercount rates since 1990.

Other Pacific Islanders

In the 1950s, Pacific Islanders began to migrate to the United States in increasing numbers. After American Samoa became an American territory, the population of Guam was granted full American citizenship. Americans also gained citizenship in American Samoa in 1952, thanks to the Immigration and Nationality Act. As a result, two major waves of migration from this region emerged. One wave came from Guam and the other was from American Samoa.

The Census Bureau identifies 19 different ethnic groups as belonging to the Pacific region. This group is comprised of people of Pacific ancestry and includes the Native Hawaiians, Samoans, Chamorros, Fijians, Marshalleses, and Tongans. Those with Pacific Islander ancestry make up a small but diverse minority within the American population. The Hawaiian Islands are the largest U.S. territory for Pacific Islanders, and Samoans and Marshallese make up the largest ethnic group within the region.

Other races

The growing “Other races” population has become a huge data challenge for the Census Bureau. It has impacted Latinx identity and has implications for public health. Fortunately, the Census Bureau has a plan to fix this problem for the 2020 count. According to G. Cristina Mora, an expert in race classification and data, “the 2020 Census is poised to reveal more information on the demographics and health of Americans.”

The 2010 Census form is supposed to remove the checkbox for “other races” because it causes non-compatibility with other government agencies. The Census Bureau’s proposal would also allow Latinx people to answer the race question in the census. The decision could be made on an ongoing basis. But the debate is still on. In the meantime, the 2010 Census Bureau is working to develop a plan that will ensure that Latinx people get accurate information about their ethnicity.

Housing units

If you are interested in the growth rate of a city, you can analyze the change in housing units in Census data. This indicator shows the number of occupied and vacant housing units within a city. The change in housing units is helpful because it can indicate whether an area is undergoing a boom or a slowdown. The type of homes within a city can also be helpful in identifying trends. For example, an increase in single-family homes may indicate growth into areas with more space, whereas an increase in multi-unit buildings would be indicative of a more dense growth.

The Census defines a housing unit as any type of dwelling. It can be a home, apartment, or even a boat. Every housing unit is recorded as either occupied or vacant. Some of these vacancies are market related, while others are seasonal. The number of vacancies in each category is recorded in ACS table B25004. Housing units are further split into renter-occupied and owner-occupied housing. A housing unit is also divided into an owner-occupied or renter-occupied category, based on its use.


In the 1960s, the Census Bureau began relying on a technique known as imputation to count the remaining households. Imputation is a statistical method that fills in the missing data by relying on similar households for comparisons. It allows the Census Bureau to determine the number of people living in a given household and fill in other demographic details. This technique is statistically sound and accepted worldwide by social scientists. It has been part of the Census Bureau’s toolkit since 1960.

Although imputation only accounts for a small percentage of the total population, it is an important tool in ensuring the accuracy of the census and battling systemic undercounts, which have led to unequal representation and lack of funding for historically undercounted populations. During the 1990 Census, about 54,000 people were added to the total census count. In 2000, 1.2 million people were added to the total.

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