Information on Census Tract: Map, Numbers and Data Sourcing

September 12th, 2009

Numbers Census tract MapOne of the most fascinating things about a census is how the Government is able to keep track of all the different households. People move, people die and more people are born. Some people leave the country while others return. How is it possible to keep track of all these people?

The answer is with census tracts. Census tracts are small subdivisions of a county. They break down the massive job of keeping track of every person into smaller jobs. Census tracts make it easier to count and control the numbers and findings. The data is more complete and more accurate with census tracts.

Census Tract: How to Map the Country Think of it this way. When you have to build a complex there are different jobs that need to be done. A team needs to be in charge of construction, of safety, of finances, of plumbing, of electrical needs, of dry wall, of painting and many other things. This can be overwhelming at first. However, once you split up the jobs and each team takes on a different section, the job doesn’t seem so big anymore. Instead, it is simply a large group of smaller projects. This is the basis behind census tracts.

Numbers about Census Tracts Each census tracts is approximately 2500 to 8000 people and they are designed to be similar with regards to population, economic status and living conditions. They try to remain in certain boundaries and work with the infrastructure. However, as highways are put it and more complexes are built, the census tracts will need to be re-adjusted to suit these changes.

There are thousands of different census tracts in the United States. Outside of the metropolitan areas there are 221 counties with 3,000 different census tracts. In the cities there are thousands more. The United States also divides census tracts into block groups and census blocks.

Historical Information about Census Tracts Dr. Walter Laidlaw suggested the idea for census tracts in 1905 starting with New York City. For the 1910 census New York, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Philadelphia and St Louis were all split into districts, or census tracts.
Census tracts were standardized in 1930 and published in 1940. After 1940, census tracts were added to any city with 50,000 or more people. In 1990 all counties were split into census tracts and BNA’s.

Collecting Data with Census Tracts The Government will know which census tract you are in. Then a highly qualified person will in charge of ensuring you complete your census and hand it in. In 2010 census forms will be delivered by mail. Unlike in the past, the new forms will be short and sweet and will only take a few minutes to complete. It is a requirement of the US law that you complete and mail in your census form.

The US Census Bureau needs this information to understand the demographics of America and make the appropriate changes based on their findings.