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What the New 2010 U.S. Census Data Means to PR Statisticians

The new 2010 U.S. census data that is starting to be released today will have a profound impact on our economy. From shifting the balance of political power, to insights into changing American demographics, much of the data will take quite some time to digest.

Yet there are some practical concerns that public relations professionals should start incorporating starting today. Most importantly, the base numbers PR pros use when extrapolating from large, random-sample telephone surveys needs to change.

For the past 10 years of so, the more conservative approach has been to use the following data:

  • Number of Americans (total): 281,421,908 – It’s actually the resident population as citizenship is not factored in to the number.
  • Number of Americans (over 18): 209.1 million
  • Number of households : 105.5 million

While we have to wait for many of the new numbers to come out, the main number is:

  • Number of Americans: (total):  308,745,538

Hopefully in February 2011 we will have updated information on how many Americans are over 18 and how many households there are.

While the Schwartz Communications Research Group typically uses the over 18 number for extrapolation, the overall number is important to note. If a survey found 5% of Americans engaged in an activity, this has shifted from 14 million to 15.4 million.

Note: Public relations professionals need to be careful when extrapolating data to be sure that it truly was a random sample, the sample size was large enough and they are following proper survey methodology.

The other element to stand out for me was the budget for the U.S. Census. It was more than $7 billion. (Although they should be applauded for coming in more than $1.8 billion under budget). Now who else would love a research budget like that?

What other information is striking you based on the Census report?

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Mark McClennan

Mark McClennan

Senior Vice President at MSLGROUP

For the past 19 years, Mark has led teams working with innovative technology and healthcare clients for MSLGROUP. He is also the national treasurer for PRSA.

Mark McClennan

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