Disaggregated Data for Race and Ethnic Groups

Disaggregated Data for Race/Ethnic Groups

This webpage provides resources and tips for accessing detailed data for race and ethnic groups.  

Data from the U.S. Census Bureau is available on the Census Bureau's new data.census.gov data portal or other locations. (Hint: click here and scroll to "Transition From American FactFinder" for details.) This short video provides tips on How to Access Race Data on data/census/gov.

  • 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.
  • 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.

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 resources and community cultural profiles
EthnoMed provides "information about cultural beliefs, medical issues and other topics related to the health care of immigrants to the U.S., many of whom are refugees."  EthnoMed, is a joint program of the UW Health Sciences Libraries and Harborview Medical Center's Interpreter Services Department. Their website now includes a collection of resources related to COVID-19.

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).

Urban Indian Health Institute Data Dashboard
Provides data on the health and well-being of the urban American Indian and Alaska Native population in King County and other Urban Indian Health service areas. The Urban Indian Health Institute, is a division of Seattle Indian Health Board. (Hint: after linking to the dashboard, scroll to the right on the dashboard menu to see indicators on specific topics.)

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
These tables provide estimates on demographic, social, economic, and housing characteristics for the most detailed race, ethnic, and ancestry groups tabulated by the Census Bureau.

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 Selected Population data profile (DP) tables
These four profiles summarize statistics for frequently needed topics. (While detailed tables are also available for individual subjects, data users often find that the data profiles supply all the information they need.)
Note: The Census Bureau indicates it will be migrating these tables to the new census.data.gov data platform, at which point the links below should automatically redirect there.  However, as of April 13, the tables are not available. Contact the City of Seattle demographer or the Census Bureau's (cedsci.feedback@census.gov) for questions or more information.

There are many decisions involved in accessing data for 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.)

It is important for users to keep in mind that ACS estimates are based on a sample; ACS estimates for small population groups commonly carry substantial margins of error. Below are options that can help a researcher find estimates 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. To get estimates for detailed population groups, it is often necessary to expand the geography. 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. 
  • 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 an even 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 necessary to obtain sufficiently reliable estimates.
  • 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. Expanding the racial category to encompass "in combination with" typically yields a more statistically reliable estimate since the estimate includes a larger sample.