Playing with Census Data

On August 11, 2011, the Census Bureau released the Iowa SF1 (summary File 1) data to the public. Being the obnoxious data hound that I am, I can't resist playing around with this information to see what jumps out... In this first installment, I'm going to take a look at the statewide data aggregated to the Street Crowd (historic): This image is in the public domain, via Wikimedia CommonsStreet Crowd (historic): This image is in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons"place" level - identified towns and cities. Rural residents who don't live in an incorporated town or city are not included in these numbers.

You can check out Des Moines' stats below the break.

Iowa's total population is 3,046,055 people

Of that, 2,421,895 (79.5%) have chosen to live in an incorporated town or city. There are 1,009 incorporated towns and cities identified by the Census bureau for reporting purposes. However, 140 of those towns have fewer than 100 residents.

The average population of an incorporated city in Iowa is 2,400 residents. The top quintile (highest 20% by population) averages 10,334 residents. By a factor of 1.6, more people choose to live in Des Moines than the next most populated city, Cedar Rapids.

The Top 10 Iowa Cities by total population are:

    City Population
    Des Moines 203433
    Cedar Rapids 126326
    Davenport 99685
    Sioux City 82684
    Waterloo 68406
    Iowa City 67862
    Council Bluffs 62230
    Ames 58965
    Dubuque 57637
    West Des Moines 56609

Despite having the fastest growing suburbs in the state, only one of the Des Moines area suburbs makes the top 10 in total population. In fact, only one of the top 10 most populated cities in Iowa is a suburb.

But total population is only one way of looking at population distribution. We could also examine population density. Density relates to the efficiency of building/maintaining infrastructure and providing services such as police and fire protection.

A very different picture emerges:

    City Area (sq. mi) Population Density (people per sq. mi.)
    University Heights 0.3 1051 3917.05
    Windsor Heights 1.4 4860 3439.82
    Lakeside 0.2 596 3382.83
    Newhall 0.3 875 2769.15
    Iowa City 25.0 67862 2713.28
    Storm Lake 4.1 10600 2595.08
    Des Moines 80.9 203433 2515.58
    Keomah Village 0.0 84 2508.58
    Readlyn 0.3 808 2458.76
    Grandview 0.2 556 2457.89

Only two of the top 10 most dense towns and cities in Iowa are also on the list of highest populations. Windsor Heights, a landlocked "village" adjacent to Des Moines is completely surrounded by other incorporated areas. Windsor heights is primarily composed of small bungalows and ranch-style homes set relatively close to each other. There are 2,289 housing units in Windsor Heights.

None of the top 50 cities in terms of population is in the top 300 in terms of percentage of vacant housing units. At the top of the vacancy list is Whapeton with 743 total units housing a meager 341 people in 179 households. In the Des Moines metropolitan area, Johnston has the lowest percentage of vacant housing units at 3.76%.

92 towns have owner occupancy rates of over 90%! Des Moines and West Des Moines have owner occupancy rates of 63% and 62% respectively. Maharishi Vedic City (did you know they had their own city?) brings up the bottom at 30% owner occupancy.

Average household size ranges from 1.5 people in Clayton City to 3.27 people per household in Conesville.

Des Moines' Statistics

  • Population: 203,433
  • Total Housing Units: 88,729
  • Occupied Housing Units: 81,369
  • Vacant Housing Units: 7,360
  • Percent Vacancy: 8.29%
  • Households with a Mortgage: 38,276
  • Homes Owned Free and Clear: 12,803
  • Households Who Rent: 30,290
  • Percent Owner-Occupied: 62.77%
  • Average Household Size: 2.43
  • Avg. Household Size (Homeowner): 2.54
  • Avg. Household Size (Renter): 2.23

If there are any other statistics you are interested in, let me know in the comments. Look for future analysis that will include maps and more detailed population statistics, including race and age.