How the Census Counts the Hispanic Population

Our Microsoft Excel add-in, CDXZipStream, contains U.S. Census demographic data from the decennial census (taken every ten years) as well as the annual American Community Survey, both of which cover a wide range of valuable data including population, race, and ethnic counts.   In particular, how the rapidly growing Hispanic population is counted, and the upcoming changes planned for this count, are the subjects of this week’s blog.

Our clients who use our demographic data often ask why the population counts for race do not add up to the total population.  This apparent inconsistency is the result of including the Hispanic count in the race total.  Census surveys are currently designed to consider Hispanics to be an ethnicity, not a race, with the race categories being:  White, Black or African American, American Indian, Hawaiian, and Other (which accounts for other non-categorized races).  Adding these categories together (not including the Hispanic count) do add up to the total population.  Note that those of Hispanic origin, descended from the peoples of Spain or Spanish colonies, may be any race.

This approach does cause some confusion, and the Census Bureau has tested a new, combined race and ethnic origin question that is being considered for the 2020 Census.    Instead of using two separate questions covering race and ethnicity, the new question would include “Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish Origin” alongside the conventional race categories.  If this question is adopted, all the categories would add up to 100% of the population count.

Based on test results this question is not expected to significantly alter the accuracy of the Hispanic population count, but will encourage higher levels of participation and less reliance on the catch-all “Other” category.  If this new approach is adopted, you can probably expect to see it implemented first in the American Community survey as a precursor to 2020.

To see how CDXZipStream can be used to get race and ethnic data from the 2010 Census, please watch the video below:

Alternatively, you can watch this video on YouTube: How to Get US Population by Race Data

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