Census 2010: Portrait of America

Census Data Helps Guide Marketing Decisions

On Dec. 21, 2010, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke delivered the 2010 U.S. Census resident population and apportionment counts to President Obama and unveiled the official results to the public. This marks the twenty-third time this once-a-decade ritual to count the nation’s population has been completed since 1790.

As of Apr. 1, 2010, the total U.S. resident population of the 50 states and the District of Columbia was 308,745,538, up 9.7 percent from 281,421,906 in 2000. Regionally, the areas of greatest growth were the South and the West. Nevada gained the most as a percentage of its 2000 count, up 35.1 percent, while Texas gained the most numerically up 4,293,741 residents. California remains the most populous state with 37,253,956 residents and the least populous state is Wyoming at 563,626.

The statistics assembled through the Census process provide the basis for decision-making regarding the distribution of more than $400 billion in federal funds for programs like education and health care. The results are also used to determine the redistribution of the 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives proportionate to the population of the states. In the 2010 Census, 10 states lost congressional seats while eight gained. Today, each member of the U.S. House of Representatives represents about 710,767 people, up from 34,000 people per district when the first U.S. Census was conducted.

In addition to the decennial count of the resident population mandated by the U.S. Constitution, the Census Bureau conducts other surveys to collect data about the nation’s people and economy. Marketers and business owners can also use economic data gathered by the Census to target households, gauge competition, calculate market share and evaluate potential new markets.

One ongoing Census survey of particular interest to marketers is the American Community Survey. The ACS is sent to about three million households in the U.S. and Puerto Rico every year to measure the changing social and economic characteristics of the U.S. population. For example, using ACS data, a marketer or business owner could determine how many high-income households with children live near a specific retail location. The Census Bureau also provides downloadable user guides written specifically for different audiences, including businesses.

To learn more about the Census and the portrait it paints of our changing nation, visit www.census.gov.

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