In a previous post we talked about how the results of the 5-year (2005-2009) American Community Survey, released in December 2010, would provide demographics down to the zip code level for the first time. Unfortunately, the Census Bureau did not provide zip code data with the current data release, and won't be including it for some time, at least until 2012-2013.
Zip codes, as defined by the U.S. Postal Service, are not actually a "geography" included in Census Bureau surveys. Realizing there is significant interest in zip code demographics, the Census Bureau did provide Census 2000 data by "ZCTA" (Zip Code Tabulation Area), which required grouping data from small census "blocks" in order to approximate an actual zip code. Please see our previous blog post with a more detailed ZCTA description.
Since zip codes frequently change in definition and area, the Census Bureau must now update ten-year old ZCTA definitions. This is a complex task that was not completed in time for this first 5-year data release. In the meantime, we at CDX Technologies are evaluating other options for providing ACS data in smaller geographies. (We currently provide state, county, CBSA (Core-Based Statistical Area) and city data in our CDXZipStream ACS data feed.) We'll keep you posted as our work proceeds.
Update: ZCTA/ZIP code data is now available from the American Community Survey. Please watch the video below to see how you can get this data easily in Microsoft Excel:
or see the YouTube version: ZIP Code Census Demographic Data in Microsoft Excel