Visualization: Zip code populations

Population for zip codes in an interactive visualization.

As part of its American Community Survey program, the United States Census Bureau produces estimates of population in zip codes.

The areas used in this data are not the zip codes that the post office uses. Instead, they are zip code tabulation areas, or ZCTA, which are created by the Census Bureau. In most cases, the boundaries of a zip code and ZCTA with the same name are identical. 1

This data was produced by the American Community Survey 5-year estimates. These are produced annually. They use data collected over a 60-month period to derive estimates. The reason, according to the Census Bureau, is: “The primary advantage of using multiyear estimates is the increased statistical reliability of the data compared with that of single-year estimates, particularly for small geographic areas and small population subgroups.” 2

The 5-year estimates are used for areas with populations of less than 65,000, which is the case for most zip codes. This data is available starting in 2010.

To access the interactive visualization, click here.

For more visualizations, click here.


Example from the visualization. Click for larger
  1. “In most instances the ZCTA code is the same as the ZIP Code for an area. In creating ZCTAs, the Census Bureau took the most frequently occurring ZIP Code in an area for the ZCTA code. Some addresses will end up with a ZCTA code different from their ZIP Code.” See
  2. See