TractWatch — Examining Small Area Change

Understanding the demographic-economic landscape for small area geography and how it is changing is vital for many stakeholders. Businesses and other organizations need to know how their market/service areas are changing … getting answers to questions like knowing about recent trends, where we are now and the how/where/how much things might change in the future.

Examining Tract Change
The following view shows census tracts (black boundary) located in the northeast Houston, TX area. Tracts are labeled with 2017 population estimates and percent population change from 2010 to 2017. Tract geography and characteristics are shown in context of three cities/places — Houston (orange cross-hatch), Humble (blue) and Atascocita CDP (green). It is easy to see what census tracts intersect with what cities and where. The pointer/hand is located in census tract 48-201-240902, partly intersecting with Humble city. The tract 2017 population of 12,984 reflects an increase of 10.4% since 2010. The dark brown bold boundary at the top of this tract is the Harris County, TX boundary.

.. view developed with ProximityOne CV XE GIS and related GIS project.
.. create views like this for any area in the U.S.; add your own data.

TractWatch tells us which tracts in a region of interest changed during the past year based on quarterly observable data with only a one quarter lag.

Census Tracts & TractWatch
TractWatch is a new tool/service focused on examining recent demographic-business change for each census tract. These approximate 74,000 geographic areas cover the U.S. wall-to-wall and averaged 4,000 population as of Census 2010. Tracts have a generally stable geography between decennial censuses and are coterminous with county boundaries. Tracts cover the U.S. with more than a 2-to-1 ratio compared to ZIP code areas (see tract-ZIP relationship table).

Integrated with Situation & Outlook
TractWatch insights are developed through the use of the ProximityOne Situation & Outlook (S&O) database and information system — a part of S&O demographic-economic estimates and projections developed and updated annually. The 2017 vintage tract estimates and projections (annual data) cover the period 2010 through 2022 (5-year projection).

TractWatch – Monitoring Change
As a part of the S&O annual estimates and projections development, a range of measures are updated quarterly at the census tract level. Quarterly data are developed that include population, housing units, vacant units, households and business establishments.

There is only a one-quarter lag in the availability of observable census tract data. For example, observable 2017Q1 data can be added to the S&O database in July 2017. Data are analyzed and converted into a TractWatch national dataset.

Situation & Outlook Reports
The Situation & Outlook Reports (S&O Reports) are updated weekly, for the U.S. and each county, metro and state. TractWatch is a part of the “Recent Change and Outlook” S&O Report section and updated quarterly. See schedule of updates the shows when TractWatch is updated.

The S&O Reports (metro and county) Recent Change and Outlook section includes a list of census tracts which have shown significant change over the past year for that geography. A table of typically 10-to-25 key tracts are listed in a table with selected demographic-business change attributes.

Join me in a Data Analytics Lab session to discuss more details about accessing and using wide-ranging demographic-economic data and data analytics. Learn more about using these data for areas and applications of interest.

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. Contact Warren. Join Warren on LinkedIn.

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