At Carolina Demography, we regularly field questions from individuals and organizations about demographic data availability, usage, and interpretation. Curious about what’s out there? Here’s our guide to key data resources for North Carolina.

Decennial Census

The Census is conducted every ten years on April 1st. It is a complete count of all housing units and all individuals and contains information on age and sex, race and ethnicity, household structure, and home ownership. Access data at American FactFinder.

Census Taker at Work

American Community Survey (ACS)

The ACS is an ongoing survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau. It provides annually updated information about social and economic characteristics. Topics include jobs and occupations, educational attainment, veteran status, ancestry, and language. All counties and sub-county areas (such as Census tracts and places) are included in the 5-year ACS data products. Single year estimates are produced for more populous areas (population of 65,000 or more). Access data at American FactFinder.

July 1 Population Estimates

There are two sources for annually produced population estimates: the U.S. Census Bureau and the North Carolina Office of State Budget and Management.

U.S. Census Bureau

The U.S. Census Bureau produces population estimates for all states, counties, cities, and towns; estimates of the demographic components of population change (births, deaths, and migration) for the nation, states, and counties; and detailed demographic estimates (sex, age, race, and Hispanic origin) for the nation, states, and counties. In addition, they produce estimates of housing units for every county. Access data  here.

NC Office of State Budget and Management (OSBM)

The state demographer at NC’s OSBM produces population estimates for North Carolina and its counties and municipalities. At the state and county level, OSBM produces estimates of the demographic components of change and population estimates by age and race. OSBM does not currently produce estimates broken out by Hispanic origin. Access data here.

Comparability of the 2 estimates

The U.S. Census Bureau and NC OSBM estimates will differ due to differences in methodology. To compare your community to communities in other states, it is best to use the U.S. Census Bureau estimates as these are simultaneously produced for all counties in the nation.

Population Projections

NC OSBM produces annually updated population projections for every county in the state. These are produced for every year for the next 20 years and contain detail by age and race. At present, NC OSBM does not include Hispanic origin in their projection breakdowns. Data can be accessed here.

Need assistance? Contact us

Contact Rebecca Tippett at Carolina Demography (919-962-6151 or rtippett@unc.edu) to discuss your projects and associated costs. We can help you have data-driven insights into the community you serve and its opportunities and challenges.

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