Tuesday, May 27, 2014

General Population Research Tutorial (Census & ACS)

In this post, I will show you how to research very basic population data using government websites. In the future, we’ll touch on location, prices paid for specific products and other valuable information for your business plan or personal studies.

Let’s make up a company and consumer profile. Additional details will be added to our profiles as research continues in each post. Our company name is California Fashions. We are a wholesaler of women’s clothing and want to appeal to individuals aged 16 to 35 years old.  

Company Name: California Fashions
Consumer Profile: Generation Y Females

On a side note, people aged 16 to 35, is within the age bracket that the Census considers Generation Y. So instead of saying “aged/s 16 to 35” the whole time, we’ll call our consumers “Generation Y Females” instead. I am basing my researches on this age group. However, you can apply my tutorials to other age groups as well.

Official Census age classification for Generation Y:
“Generation Y or the millennial generation, born between 1976 and 2001”

California Fashions is a new business and still in the concept stage. We know who we want to market our clothing to but what is the population of our consumer age group? The easiest way to find this information is by using American fact finder.


But first, I want to show you something. Go to the main Census website at:

And select these options:

Topics > Population > Age and Sex > Data

There are 3 links on this page. The two things you should take notice of is American Community Survey (ACS) and Current Population Survey(CPS) . They both have population estimates but each survey asks different questions, at different times of the year and to different people.

- Questions
- Time of the year
- Population Sampling 

I’ll talk about CPS stuff in another blog post. We are using American Fact Finder today to retrieve population estimates and this search tool uses data from the ACS.

This is the link to American Fact Finder:

I always use the Advanced Search because the Guided Search only displays top 10 results and usually guides you back to Advanced Search anyway. Go ahead and click on:

Advanced Search > Show me all


Once you’re in the search page select:

Topics > People > Age and Sex And click on the blue link for “Age” to add that in as your search selection. 

You will see search results in order by year. To filter for the year that you want, choose from
the selection bar on your right. FYI, most census information for 2013 is not available yet.

Now we gotta find our file and as you can see, there's about 8,000 results. Knowing/understanding ID numbers is to your advantage and I have included "How ACS tables are numbered" in the Q&A section of this blog post.