U.S. Census Bureau Experimental Data: Community Resilience Estimates

Local snapshots of broader critical issues so responses are targeted and appropriate and focused directly on a problem

by Trends Staff

Merriam-Webster defines resilient as:

     a) capable of withstanding shock without permanent deformation or rupture;
     b) tending to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change.

And if any entity were to try to measure and produce realistic and legitimate resiliency estimates for the U.S., states, and all counties in the U.S., it would be the U.S. Census Bureau. What better time than now?

Community Resilience Estimates (CRE) are considered “experimental”. The Census Bureau says experimental data are “innovative statistical products created using new data sources or methodologies that benefit data users in the absence of other relevant products.”

As in the case with most experimental data, CRE was ultimately created to offer a snapshot of the level of a particular problem so the level of any response is appropriate and focused directly on a problem.

The CRE was created for both households and individuals using the American Community Survey (ACS) and Population Estimates Program (PEP) and the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS). The CRE was designed specifically to offer insight into both risk and resiliency of a community to Covid-19.

According to the Census Bureau, “Resilience to a disaster is partly determined by the vulnerabilities within a community,” and the CRE helps quantify vulnerabilities using a simple interactive map of the U.S.

To create the CRE, Census Bureau first created a Risk Factor Index for an individual person and applied it to communities across the U.S. The result is a Risk Factor Index score using the unique demographic qualities of each community or for a selected geographical area estimating the overall risk factor of a community.

The 11 risk factors, each based on the answer to a yes or no question, create the Risk Factor Index producing “aggregate-level (tract, county, and state) small area estimates…categorized into three groups: zero risks, 1-2 risks, and three plus risks.”

The first two risk factors for households and individuals are RF 1: Poverty (household income-to-poverty ratio < 130%), and RF 2: Single or zero caregiver household (no residents between ages 18 & 64- only one or no individuals living in the household who are 18-64 (HH).

The full list of CRE definitions and all 11 risk factors can be viewed here. Of particular interest are residents with three or more risk factors.