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Estimates and Projections: The Basics

Posted by on Feb 13, 2020 in Blog | No Comments

The core database that Applied Geographic Solutions creates is an extensive array of current year estimates and five-year projections which are then used to drive most of our databases from consumer expenditures to Panorama, CrimeRisk and Healthcounts. Quality current demographic estimates are key to the success of the analyses that thousands of companies use daily and AGS estimates have been relied upon for nearly twenty-five years. Included in these estimates are:

  • Population by age, sex, race, and Hispanic origin
  • Households by age of head of household, size, household type and composition
  • Marital status, educational attainment, and vehicles available
  • Detailed group quarters population estimates
  • Detailed income estimates for households and households by type, as well as by age of head of household
  • Labor force characteristics
  • Housing characteristics including vacant housing and tenure
  • Income inequality and racial diversity measures

In addition to these basic variables, AGS updates several census tables to harmonize with the core estimates, covering additional topics such as:

  • Veteran status
  • Labor force characteristics by sex including occupation, class of worker (e.g. private non-profit), and employment by industry
  • Language spoken at home and linguistic isolation
  • Ancestry
  • School enrolment by type (private, public) and level
  • Commuting (time leaving for work, mode of transportation, commuting time)
  • Housing characteristics including units in structure by tenure, period of construction, value of owner occupied dwellings, and rent

These data elements are carefully crafted from solid and often multiple sources of raw and compiled data at various geographic scales which are continually gathered from both private and public sources. Our models utilize robust and proven geospatial analysis techniques developed and continually enhanced over decades of work in this field.

Identifying areas of significant growth or demographic change remains our first priority. We rely not on a single source but rather a range of sources that together tell the story, since single source reliance often leads to inaccurate results, especially if the purpose of that single source other than demographic analysis. Multiple sources are truly required to pinpoint areas with actual population change rather than merely being administrative system adjustments.

Data estimates are released twice annually, which in our experience balances timeliness with practicality. The use of more frequent updates necessitates constant recomputation of models, preparation of site demographic reports, and database management, often to incorporate trivial and arbitrary differences which do not change business decisions.   Frequent minor updates may sound reasonable, but this must always be weighed against the costs of deploying them.

A detailed methodology statement is available here as well as a complete list of variables that AGS estimates here.

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