Disaggregated Data for Race and Ethnic Groups

Disaggregated Data for Race/Ethnic Groups

Here we provide resources and tips for accessing detailed data for race and ethnic groups.  

Data from the U.S. Census Bureau-available on the Census Bureau's American Factfinder data portal.

  • Decennial Census: Most accurate and geographically detailed, but only produced once every ten years:
    • Summary File 1 (SF 1): counts, demographic characteristics, and household characteristics for basic and detailed race/ethnic groups (63 race categories and Hispanic or Latino) down to the block level, subject to minimum population thresholds
    • Summary File 2 (SF 2): Data Profiles and other tables with population and household characteristics iterated for many detailed race and Hispanic or Latino categories, and American Indian and Alaska Native tribes
    • American Indian and Alaska Native Summary File
  • American Community Survey (ACS): Continuous survey done with a sample of the U.S. population that produces estimates on a broad set of population, social, economic, and housing characteristics. Provides estimates on race, ethnicity, ancestry, and foreign-born population groups; includes place of birth (nativity), and year of entry for foreign born. Also includes language spoken at home. Cross-tabulations on many topics provided for basic race and ethnic groups (and on some topics for foreign-born persons). Most ACS data products are available in 1-year and 5-year datasets that are released annually.

    Once every five years, the U.S. Census Bureau publishes two sets of ACS tables to provide in-depth statistics about detailed population groups:
    • Selected Population Tables: Available down to the census tract level for selected race, Hispanic origin, tribal, and ancestry populations.
    • American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) Tables: Available for selected tribal populations detailed at a more specific level than in the Selected Population Tables. These tables are only available down to the Metro Area level.

The most recent tables for both of these products are from five-year period estimates from the 2011-2015 ACS. These tables are available via links on the Census Bureau's ACS Race/Ethnicity and AIAN website.

Once in Factfinder, data users can select one or more groups of interest by clicking on the "Race and Ethnic Groups" search box.

For in-depth guidance on accessing and using these data tables:

My Tribal Area-A data access tool on the Census Bureau's website that provides quick access to tribal statistics on a variety of topics.

Census Bureau Factfinder help on searching for population groups.

Additional Resources

From the City of Seattle Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs (OIRA)

The National Equity Atlas from the PolicyLink and the USC Program for Environmental and Regional Equity provides a variety of indicators cross-tabulated by race/ethnicity, and in some cases by ancestry or nativity. This tool features allows user to generate charts such as the following, which shows the change in the population by race and nativity.

Bar chart that shows change in population by nativity.

EthnoMed community cultural profiles - Profiles about immigrant and refugee groups in the Seattle area, produced by EthnoMed, a joint program of the University of Washington Health Sciences Libraries and Harborview Medical Center's Interpreter Services Department.

Analysis of Cities and Towns Inside Reservations, National Congress of American Indians, 2015

Tiller's Guide to Indian Country, Economic Profiles of American Indian Reservations, in reference collection of King County Library System (2015 edition).

Modern Language Association Language Map Top 10 languages spoken by students learning English in Washington, Seattle Times, August 23, 2017.

City Council Resolutions on Demographic Data Disaggregation

Seattle City Council Resolution 31613, adopted September 11, 2015, created the Demographic Data Task Force to recommend strategies to standardize and disaggregate demographic data used by City departments in allocating resources and developing City policies, programs, and services. See Demographic Data Disaggregation Task Force presentation to the Gender Equity, Safe Communities, and New Americans Committee, December 14, 2016.

Seattle City Council Resolution 31801, adopted March 2, 2018, called for review of current methods for collecting data on Native Communities, and potential strategies for improving such data collection, and exploration of the need for capacity-building for organizations seeking to assist Native Communities.

Detailed guidance for accessing and using ACS Selected Population Tables and American Indian and Alaska Native Tables

ACS Selected Population Tables

The ACS Selected Population Tables provide the most detailed estimates available from the Census Bureau for race, ethnic, and ancestry groups.

These tables include statistics on an array of demographic, social, economic, and housing characteristics. (Specific topics covered include household size, educational attainment, income, poverty and homeownership.) At the national level, the Selected Population Tables includes statistics for hundreds of race, tribal, Hispanic origin, and ancestry population groups. These include, but go beyond, the groups covered in the annually published 1-year and 5-year ACS products. Statistics for many, but not all, of the detailed population groups are available for Seattle. Examples of the groups for which statistics are available for Seattle include Laotian, Polynesian, Salvadoran, Blackfeet Tribe (alone or in combination), Cherokee tribal grouping (alone or in combination), and Somali. (While the Selected Population Tables are published down to a tract level, data users should know that the smaller the area, the more limited the included population groups tend to be. There must be 50 or more respondents from a population group in a geography for statistics on that group to be included.)

The following links are to Selected Population data profile (DP) tables for Seattle at the city level. These four profiles summarize statistics for the most frequently accessed subjects under each of these topics. (While detailed tables are also available for individual subjects, data users often find that the data profiles supply all the information they need.) These links provide access to the DP tables with all population groups pre-selected.

The links above can be filtered to show only the population groups the user wants to see. This can be done by clicking on "< BACK TO ADVANCED SEARCH" (highlighted in screenshot below) then going into the "Your Selections" box on the upper left, clicking on a plus sign to see all the groups of interest and narrowing the selections to only those of interest.

A screenshot of data profiles on American Fact Finder

If a data user wants to select population groups from scratch, he or she can still use these links. However, the data user will need to go to the "Your Selections" box on the upper left, remove the population groups, then identify the specific population group or groups of interest using the "Race and Ethnic Groups" search box (see next two screenshots).

Screenshot from the American FactFinder website, using a race and ethnic group filter to find the appropriate data.

Screenshot from the American FactFinder website, using a race and ethnic group filter to find the appropriate data.

There are many choices available when specific groups:

  • Whether the researcher wants to look at race/ethnicity or at ancestry. (Note: tribes are categorized as races.)
  • And for race/ethnicity, whether the researcher wants to look at:
    • basic or detailed groups,
    • race alone or race in combination with another race, and
    • race categories separate from Hispanic/Latino or race categories cross-tabulated with Hispanic/Latino origin. (These options exist because the Census Bureau considers race and Hispanic/Latino origin to be separate concepts; these can be considered on their own or in combination with each other.)

Hints for finding estimates for population groups of interest that are reliable enough for the data user's needs:

  • If statistics for Seattle are not shown in the data profile for the population group of interest, there were not enough respondents in that group in the city. In order to get estimates for detailed population groups, it is often necessary to expand the geography. Do this by using clicking on "Add/Remove Geographies" (highlighted in next screenshot) in the Actions menu above the displayed data profile table. For example, statistics for the Hmong population (a detailed race under the broader Asian category) are not available for Seattle, but are available for King County.

A screenshot from the American Fact Finder website on how to filter out geographies.

It is important for users to keep in mind that ACS estimates are based on a sample and ACS estimates for small population groups commonly carry substantial margins of error.

  • Even if statistics for a population group are shown for a given geography, it may be wise to obtain estimates for that group for a broader geography. For example, although data profile statistics are available for the Hmong population in King County, the margins of error for estimates given for this population signal that the estimates are not reliable at this scale. Selecting a broader geography such as the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA Metro Area, the larger (three-county) Consolidated Statistical Area, or the whole of Washington State may be needed to obtain estimates about that group that are sufficiently reliable.
  • Another option that may be helpful, depending on one's research needs, is to use estimates for a group "alone or in combination with any other" rather than the narrower single-race group. For example, suppose a researcher is interested in finding out about older persons of American Indian or Alaskan Native race. One can look at this age group for the "American Indian or Alaskan Native alone" race category or for the "American Indian and Alaska Native alone or in combination with one or more other races." In the former example the margin or error is +/- 139 for a population of 494 people 65 year and older; in the latter example the margin or error is +/-172 for a population of 962 people age 65 and older.