Guide to ZIP Code Data Resources

.. what are the options to access and use ZIP Code area geographic, demographic and economic data? This section provides an overview of selected options available to access ZIP code area data from Census 2010, American Community Survey and 5-year current estimates and projections. A ZIP Code Area (ZCA) is a set of generally contiguous of Census 2010 census blocks that approximates the corresponding U.S. Postal Service (USPS) ZIP code delivery area. The USPS does not define ZIP code delivery areas as polygons; rather they are a collection of lines/streets and roads. See the related section about ZIP Code area data access options. See corresponding Web page for more details on topics covered here.

In this section:
1. Geography
2. Census 2010 Demographics
3. American Community Survey 2011 Demographic-Economic Data
4. American Community Survey 2012 Demographic-Economic Data
5. American Community Survey 2013 Demographic-Economic Data
6. Current Estimates & Projections
American Community Survey 2014 estimates to be released in December 2015.

1. Geography
Data for ZIP code areas (ZCAs) described below are for ZIP code areas defined as of Census 2010. In general, the boundaries have not been changed since that time. In contrast, some USPS ZIP codes have been added/modified since Census 2010. Census 2010 ZCAs do not cover the U.S.wall-to-wall as the result of some geographies not being populated. However, in most urbanized areas Census 2010 ZIP code areas closely approximate USPS ZIP code delivery areas as of 2010. The USPS does not provide boundaries for USPS ZIP code areas. There are approximately 33,120 Census 2010 ZIP Code areas.

1.1. Equivalence Files. ZCA component census blocks may be determined by using the Census 2010 Summary File 12010SF1 geographic header record. Block level records in that file contain both the block geocode and the ZCA code.

How do ZCAs intersect with other geography? What part of a ZCA is in what county? ZCA-to-other geography equivalence files may also be developed using the 2010SF1 geographic header record. Equivalence files available include (links open a new page):
ZCA to County
ZCA to City/Place
ZCA to MCD/Town/County Subdivision
ZCA to School District
ZCA to Census Tract
ZCA to 111th/112th/113th/114th Congressional District
ZCA to Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistical Areas

1.2. Shapefiles: Mapping ZIP Code Areas. Create ZCA reference and/or thematic pattern maps using the CV XE GISand ZCA shapefiles. Members of the ProximityOne User Group may use the GeoGateway feature to download ZCA boundary files and add the ZCA boundary shapefile as a layer in a GIS project. The graphic below shows Texas ZIP Code areas (dark blue boundary) with a zoom-in to Harris County (bold black boundary)/Houston area. The view was created from scratch in minutes using the CV XE GIS GeoGateway tool.

Click graphic for larger view showing ZIP codes as labels. View developed with CV XE GIS.

2. Census 2010 Demographics
Census 2010 demographics are available for ZIP code areas. There are no “richer demographics” (such as educational attainment, income, employment, language spoken, enrollment, housing value etc.) available for any type of tabulation area — owing to the fact that those questions were not on the questionnaire.

2.1. Demographic Profile Summary File. A recommended collection of Census 2010 data for ZIP code areas is available from the “Demographic Profile Summary File.” See more about theDPSF structure and content. See corresponding Web page to acquire this dataset.

2.2. Census 2010 More Detailed Subject Matter. More detailed Census 2010 ZCA data are available from the Census 2010 Summary File 1 and the Census 2010 Summary File 2. The more detailed Census 2010 data may be viewed/downloaded using the Census Bureau FactFinder or Census API or using custom extracts developed by ProximityOne.

3. 2011 ACS Demographic-Economic Data
2011 American Community Survey 5-year demographic-economic estimates (ACS0711) for Census 2010 ZCAs were released in December 2012. These estimates are centric to mid 2009.

3.1. 2011 ACS Interactive Tables. View, rank, sort, query 2012 ACS ZIP Code area data via interactive table (links open a new page):
General Demographics
Social Characteristics
Economic Characteristics
Housing Characteristics

3.2. Augmented 2011 ACS Interactive Tables. Extract ZCA data from 2011 ACS interactive tables to Excel.
Members of the ProximityOne User Group may access the following similarly structured table and extract data for ZCAs and save in text files or Excel files — requires UserID; links open a new page:
General Demographics
Social Characteristics
Economic Characteristics
Housing Characteristics

The only difference between the above sets of Web sections is the data extraction feature.

3.3. 2011 ACS Demographic-Economic Profile Datasets. The same subject matter data shown in the interactive tables area available in the form of datasets. There are four datasets corresponding to the content and data organization shown in the tables. See corresponding Web page to acquire these datasets.

3.4. 2011 ACS More Detailed Subject Matter. More detailed 2011 ACS data may be viewed/downloaded using the Census Bureau FactFinder or Census API or custom extracts developed by ProximityOne.

4. 2012 American Community Survey Demographic-Economic Data
2012 American Community Survey 5-year demographic-economic estimates (ACS0812) for Census 2010 ZCAs were released in December 2013. These estimates are centric to mid 2010.

4.1. 2012 ACS Interactive Tables. View, rank, sort, query 2012 ACS ZIP Code area data via interactive table (links open a new page):
General Demographics
Social Characteristics
Economic Characteristics
Housing Characteristics

4.2. 2012 ACS Demographic-Economic Profile Datasets. The same subject matter data shown in the interactive tables area available in the form of datasets. There are four datasets corresponding to the content and organization shown in the tables. See corresponding Web page to acquire these datasets.

4.3. 2012 ACS More Detailed Subject Matter. More detailed 2012 ACS data may be viewed/downloaded using the Census Bureau FactFinder or Census API or custom extracts developed by ProximityOne.

5. 2013 American Community Survey Demographic-Economic Data
2013 American Community Survey 5-year demographic-economic estimates (ACS0913) for Census 2010 ZCAs were released in December 2014. These estimates are centric to mid 2011.

5.1. 2013 ACS Demographic-Economic Profile Datasets. The same subject matter data shown in the interactive tables area available in the form of datasets. There are four datasets corresponding to the content and organization shown in the above ACS 2012 tables. See corresponding Web page to acquire these datasets.

5.2. 2013 ACS More Detailed Subject Matter. More detailsd 2013 ACS data may be viewed/downloaded using the Census Bureau FactFinder or Census API or custom extracts developed by ProximityOne.

6. ZIP Code 5-Year Demographic-Economic Estimates & Projections
ProximityOne develops annually updated demographic-economic estimates and projections for ZIP Code areas. See more about the ZIP Code 5-Year Annual Estimates & Projections.

About the Author
— Warren Glimpse is former senior Census Bureau statistician responsible for innovative data access and use operations. He is also the former associate director of the U.S. Office of Federal Statistical Policy and Standards for data access and use. He has more than 20 years of experience in the private sector developing data resources and tools for integration and analysis of geographic, demographic, economic and business data.

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