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Census Bureau Data Show Key Population Changes Across Nation


American Community Survey Provides First Data for Many Cities Since 2000

From Santa Barbara to Tallahassee and Birmingham to Santa Fe, the U.S. Census Bureau today released for the first time key demographic and social data for areas with populations of 65,000 or more – an updated look at how the nation’s population has changed, and the first for many communities since Census 2000.

The Census Bureau’s new American Community Survey (ACS) provides more timely and updated information about the nation’s changing and diverse population every year. Without the ACS, this type of information — historically gathered just once a decade — would not be available for communities until 2012.

“The nationwide implementation of the American Community Survey signals a dramatic improvement in the availability of local data used by government, communities and businesses,” said Census Bureau Director Louis Kincannon. “The data are vital for the planning, implementation and evaluation of policies ranging from building new schools and roads to establishing initiatives that drive economic development.”

The 2005 ACS data include demographic and social information such as race, Hispanic origin, age, education, marital status, grandparents as caregivers, veterans, disability status and U.S. citizenship. The data is available for nearly 7,000 areas, including all congressional districts and counties, cities and American Indian/Alaska native areas of 65,000 population or more.

Additionally, the data represent the first update of key population characteristics from 2000 to 2005 for 75 of the top 100 fastest-growing cities in the nation – including Irvine, Calif.; Brownsville, Texas; Charleston, S.C.; and Norman, Okla.

Selected Data Highlights for Largest and Smallest U.S. Cities:

Median Age

According to the 2005 ACS, the median age for the U.S. household population was 36.4 years. Among the nation’s 15 largest cities, some of the populations with the highest median ages were found in San Francisco (39.4 years of age), New York (35.8) and Philadelphia (35.3). Phoenix (30.9), Dallas (31.9) and Columbus, Ohio (32.1) had some of the lowest median ages. Data available for the first time since Census 2000 for some of smallest cities with a total population of 65,000 or more show that Boynton Beach, Fla. (44.1 years) had the highest median age, while Bloomington, Ind. (26.9 years), Greenville, N.C. (27.3) and Bryan, Texas (27.7) had some of the lowest median ages.

Percent 65 Years of Age and Older

Nationally, about 12.1 percent of the household population was 65 years and older. Some of the highest percentages for large cities were found in San Francisco (14.6 percent), Philadelphia (12.7) and New York (11.9). At the other end of the spectrum, Phoenix, (7.5), Houston (8.4), Dallas (8.7) and Columbus, Ohio, (8.7) had some of the lowest percentage of seniors. Among the 15 smallest cities for which data are now available, Boynton Beach, Fla. (21.5 percent), Lynchburg, Va. (16.7) and Muncie, Ind. (14.2) had high concentrations of populations 65 and over. Lower percentages were found in Bryan, Texas, (7.2 percent), Missouri City, Texas (7.5) and both Fayetteville, Ark., and Greenville, N.C. (7.8).

Percent Bachelor’s Degree or More

The national average of those who have completed college continues to rise. In 2005, approximately 27.2 percent of the population 25 years and over had received a bachelor’s degree or more. San Francisco led all large cities with more than 1-in-2 of its residents reporting they had completed at least undergraduate studies. Other highly educated cities included San Diego (40.4 percent), San Jose (36.1) and New York (32.2). Of the smallest 15 cities for which 2005 ACS data are available, Bloomington, Ind. (53.7 percent); Redondo Beach, Calif. (52.9); and Fayetteville, Ark. (44.9) had high rates of populations that had attained a bachelor’s degree or more.

Percent Foreign Born

The percent of the nation that was foreign born in 2005 was 12.4 percent. According to the ACS, more than 1-in-3 residents living in Los Angeles (40.3 percent), San Jose (37.9) and New York (36.6) were not U.S. citizens at birth. Conversely, Detroit (6.3 percent) and Indianapolis (6.7) were large cities where the percent of foreign born was half that of the national average. Among smaller cities, East Orange, N.J. (25.9 percent); Missouri City, Texas (22.2); and Boynton Beach, Fla. (20.5), had some of the higher percentages of residents who were foreign born. Some of the lowest percentages for smaller cities were found in Lynchburg, Va. (2 percent); Muncie, Ind. (2.8); and Greenville, N.C. (3.5).

For more information on how your community compares with the nation, a state or another city, county or congressional district, visit American FactFinder at


15 Largest and Smallest Cities [Excel]:

2005 Data User Guide:

ACS Media Tool Kit Page:

Overview Video:

Detailed tables:


As part of the Census Bureau’s reengineered 2010 Census, the data collected by the ACS helps federal officials determine where to distribute more than $200 billion back to state and local governments each year, and responses to the survey are strictly confidential and protected by law.

The 2005 ACS estimates are based on an annual, nationwide household sample of about 250,000 addresses per month, or 2.5 percent of the population a year. Geographic areas for which data are available are based on total populations of 65,000 or more. The ACS estimates released are for the household population, which may be smaller than its total population. As is the case with all surveys, statistics from sample surveys are subject to sampling and nonsampling error.


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