Community Development

Census 2010

The 2010 Census represented the most massive participation movement ever witnessed in this country. Approximately 74 percent of the households returned their census forms by mail; the remaining households were counted by census workers walking neighborhoods throughout the United States . The result was a successful count that came in on time and well under budget, with a final 2010 Census savings of $1.87 million. With a participation rate of 83 percent, the Town of Colonie ranked among the top 50 municipalities with a population of 50,000 or more.

On December 21, 2010, the US Census Bureau released the first results from Census 2010 showing the resident population of the United States on April 1, 2010, was 308,745,538, an increase of 9.7 percent over the 281,421,906 persons counted during the 2000 census. Detailed results of Census 2010 are being made available in numerous data products (Redistricting Data Summary File, 2010 Census Briefs, Demographic Profile, Summary File 1, Summary File 2, Summary Population and Housing Characteristics Report, and Population and Housing Unit Counts Report). This data is being released on a flow basis through 2013.

Data Product

Release Date


Covered Census Geographies

2010 Census Briefs February 2011 Summary statistics on counts for the total population, for the population 18 years and over, population counts by race and by Hispanic or Latino origin, housing unit counts by occupancy status Multiple geographies within a state, such as census blocks, tracts, voting districts, cities, counties, and school districts
Census 2010 Redistricting Public Law 94-171 Summary File March 2011 – February 2012 First analysis of 2010 Census population and housing topics and include graphs and tables N/A
Demographic Profile Summary File May 2011 Topics such as sex, age, race, Hispanic or Latino origin, household relationship, household type, group quarters population, housing occupancy, housing tenure Place/functioning minor civil divisions
Summary File 1 (SF 1) June 2011 – August 2011 Data focusing on age, sex, households, families, relationship to householder, housing units, detailed race and Hispanic or Latino origin groups, and group quarters Block or census tract level
Summary File 2 (SF 2) December 2011 – April 2012 Detailed tables on age, sex, households, families, relationship to householder, housing units, and group quarters Census tract level
Summary Population and Housing Characteristics Report May 2012 and December 2012 Data tables on age, sex, race, Hispanic origin, households, families, housing tenure and occupancy, population density, and area measurements Place level
Population and Housing Unit Counts Report April 2013 – September 2013 Data tables providing selected historical population and housing unit counts Place level

The American Community Survey

The traditional Census that Americans have been familiar with in past decades has been greatly modified. In 2000, the Census process actually included two forms, the “short” form and the “long” form. The short form contained those questions asked of every household and person to fulfill the Constitutional requirement of a headcount and the data necessary for the Voting Rights Act. The long form was where the Census Bureau obtained all of the detailed socioeconomic characteristics of the population. For 2010, the long form has been eliminated. The 2010 Census questionnaire contained only seven questions of each individual: name, relationship to the householder, sex, age, Hispanic origin, race, and owner/renter status. This shortened form was made possible by the introduction of the American Community Survey (ACS).

The ACS is a massive national survey of 250,000 households every month. On an annual basis this nationwide sample size is roughly equivalent to the old decennial Census long form. It is smaller though, and that has important implications especially for small population areas. In order to obtain reliable samples, the Census Bureau has to compile survey responses over a 3- or 5-year period depending on the population size of an area. As a result, some geographic areas receive updated characteristic estimates every year, three years, and five years, others receive updated characteristic estimates every three years and five years, while others only receive these estimates every five years.

In 2010 three types of estimates from the ACS were available for municipalities like Colonie with populations of 65,000 and over: 1-year estimates (based on data collected in a single year), 3-year estimates (based on data collected in three consecutive years), and 5-year estimates (based on data collected in five consecutive years). Therefore, Colonie now has three estimates for any given release year. Although this sounds like a gold mine for data users, too much data does present certain challenges. For example, using 2010 release data for the Town, there is 1-year, 3-year, and 5-year estimates for any single characteristics like median household income, vacancy rate, or monthly housing costs. With three different estimates to choose from for any given characteristic, some analyst question the reliability of the data and are concerned that communities will pick and choose data from multi-year and single-year estimates in order to meet criteria for programs. Also, although ACS provides more timely data, since the sample size is smaller than the decennial census long form it replaced; there is a greater sampling error than the long form which again leads critics to question its reliability.

Finally, ACS data is best used for examining the distributions of characteristics, not the actual data values. This is complicated by factors like sample design and weighting. Thus, the rate or percent of any single characteristic is generally a more accurate figure than the absolute number.

The 2010 Census Data and the 2010-2014 American Community Survey can be easily accessed at

In an attempt to make the voluminous demographic and economic statistics released by the Census Bureau easy to find and use for everyone, the Town of Colonie will be publishing various census results on this site as the data becomes available. If you have any questions regarding the information presented on this site, please contact the Town of Colonie Community Development Department at 783-2718.

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Memorial Town Hall
First Floor
534 New Loudon Road
Latham, NY 12110