Median Household Income at Zipcode/ZCTA level for" year 2010"

I am in need of data on median household income at the ZIP code (ZCTA) level for the years 1990, 2000, and 2010. I’ve managed to acquire data for 1990 and 2000 from the decennial census. However, I’ve encountered a challenge with obtaining the median household income variable for 2010 from the decennial census.

It appears that the 2010 decennial census does not include median household income data. Instead, I’ve found this information in the 2010 American Community Survey (ACS) 5-year data. However, this dataset does not provide median household income at the ZCTA level for the year 2010. (they do have data on block group, state …etc but not ZCTA)

I’ve searched the Census Bureau’s website and found out that ACS 5-year data at the ZCTA level begins from 2011 onwards. I would like to confirm if this information is accurate. Additionally, if indeed ACS data for ZCTA level begins from 2011, I am curious to know if there are any alternative methods or sources available to obtain median household income data at the ZCTA level for the year 2010. Thank you very much!

Yes, there are no ACS data for ZCTAs from before the 2011 5-year data, but given your intended use, I don’t see this as a problem. I would recommend you simply use 2012 5-year data, which, by the sounds of it, would be more appropriate for your use case than 2010 5-year data are, even if such data did exist for ZCTAs.

ACS 5-year data do not represent the characteristics of a single year. They summarize characteristics measured across an entire 5-year period, a little like a 5-year average. Therefore, the ACS 5-year dataset that best represents “2010” is not the “2010 5-year ACS” because that represents characteristics for the entire 2006-2010 period. This includes characteristics from 4 years before 2010 (and before a major recession). The 2012 5-year data, in contrast, represent a period (2008-2012) that is centered on 2010, so it should be more representative of characteristics in the single year 2010 than the 2010 5-year data are.


Thank you for the prompt response have one more quick question for clarification. Unlike the years 1990 and 2000, is it correct that 2010 decennial census does not include the variable for median household income? If it does, leveraging data from the 2010 decennial census would be the optimal choice. Once again, thank you for your support.

Yes, that’s correct. The 1990 and 2000 censuses included a question about income on the “long form” questionnaire, which was answered only by a sample of the population, unlike the “short form,” which all households must answer. The 2010 and 2020 censuses included only a short form, and the ACS has taken the place of the long form.

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Thank you so much! This is really a huge help :slight_smile: