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The Federal-State Cooperative for Population Estimates: A Partnership in Population Expertise

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Accurate population estimates matter. Population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau help determine how more than $675 billion in federal dollars are distributed each year. States and local governments rely on this funding to provide critical services to residents. Designated state agencies play a key role in our production of population estimates through a program called the Federal-State Cooperative for Population Estimates (FSCPE). This year marks the 50th anniversary of the partnership between the FSCPE and the Census Bureau. 

Estimating the population at the subnational geographic level presents many unique challenges. Having access to a network of local demographic experts is helpful because every state is different. FSCPE members possess specialized local knowledge that makes it less challenging to produce accurate estimates for their states. For example, they share vital statistics data and information on group quarters such as college dorms and prisons. The Population Estimates Program (PEP) at the Census Bureau incorporates this information with its other data inputs to produce current population estimates consistent with the last decennial census counts. The FSCPE members then support PEP by reviewing and providing feedback on the population and housing unit estimates and methodology. The Census Bureau and state members find this process extremely valuable.

“A benefit to the states involved with the estimates program is not only contributing to the estimates but a deeper understanding of them so that we can provide information to local, public and private data users about how the estimates are produced,” said Jeff Hardcastle, Nevada state demographer and FSCPE steering committee chair. 

The FSCPE is also active in a number of ways that support the decennial census. For example, they are participants in the Local Update of Census Addresses as well as the Count Review program, a major initiative every decade to enhance the accuracy of the decennial census.

The partnership between the Census Bureau and the states through the FSCPE ensures the highest quality estimates. The FSCPE program, established in 1967, consists of 56 members that represent each state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the four U.S. Island Areas. See FSCPE to find out more about this key partnership and contacts in your state. Click on Census Information Centers and State Data Centers for other key contacts and partnership programs.

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