Data preparation: Appending Census data to Zip code?
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3/27/2017 at 5:35:53 PM GMT
Posts: 2
Data preparation: Appending Census data to Zip code?

Dear Colleagues: We are looking to populate zip code level data with indicators from other databases such as the American Community Survey (ACS) or the Consumer Expenditure Survey (CES). The challenge we face is that the boundaries between zip codes and census geographies do not line up. If we run a spatial join using ESRI’s ArcMap where the primary data is zip code centroids, and secondary data is census geography polygons, we might get large variability. 

What are some ways to reduce errors in such a join? Have you run these spatial joins and have the results of subsequent analyses been meaningful/robust? Any thoughts would be most helpful. Thanks.

Manish Shirgaokar (URP, U of Alberta)

3/27/2017 at 5:48:04 PM GMT
Posts: 1
Manish, I think Esri has already provided the data that you are looking for. Check with your GIS administrator and ask for the data.

3/27/2017 at 6:42:41 PM GMT
Posts: 3
Hi Manish, the Census provides a variety of data at the ZIP Code Tabulation Area ( geography for this reason. I prefer to avoid using ESRI data and work directly with the Census products, so I would check in FactFinder to see if the data you need are available.

3/27/2017 at 6:59:24 PM GMT
Posts: 5

The general name for a tool that allows you to translate across geographies and/or Census years is a "crosswalk." There are a number of websites out there that provide various crosswalks, such as this one:

You might search for "Census Tract to Zip Code crosswalk".

3/27/2017 at 11:38:17 PM GMT
Posts: 2
Thank you all for pointing out these great resources!


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