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Census: More than half of Tarrant residents are married

They are among the outliers of Tarrant County, the estimated 581 households who heat their homes with wood, the 39 people who claim Navajo ancestry and the 171 veterans who served before World War II.

And then there's the aggregate estimate of all 1,780,700 of us: nearly 21 million minutes spent traveling to work and a collective household income of more than $48.5 billion.

Those are just a few of the statistical snowflakes found in the blizzard of 11 billion individual estimates in the U.S. Census Bureau's 2007-11 American Community Survey released this month.

In Tarrant County, Mr. and Mrs. Median have an estimated household income of $56,178 and own a home that's worth $136,100. Or perhaps the Medians live in a mobile home worth $27,600 or pay $855 in gross rent.

The American Community Survey gives Americans a zoomed-in snapshot down to the neighborhood level on everything from homes without telephone service (2.9 percent in Tarrant County) to the percentage of women who gave birth in the past 12 months who were unwed (79 percent for 15- to-19- years-old mothers in Tarrant County).

Of the total 31,384 births in the past 12 months, 301 were by mothers aged 45 to 50.

As the successor to the decennial census long form, the five-year ACS estimates are based on completed interviews with almost 2 million housing units each year from 2007 to 2011. Like the census, participation is mandatory by law, and the survey response rate was 97.6 percent in 2011, according to the Census Bureau.

Annually, the survey is sent to more than 3.5 million addresses on a rotating basis throughout the year. The topics range from incomes, housing, school enrollment, jobs and a host of other measures for every community across the nation.

The ACS tells city planners where people are migrating to, their commute times to work and their ancestry as well as estimates the number of school-age kids or seniors collecting Social Security. It's all critical information when it comes to locating schools, new roads, hospitals and fire stations.

After several years of complaints about the difficulty of use for its cumbersome American FactFinder website, the Census Bureau has simplified the process recently, updating its QuickFacts site with the ACS numbers and launching "Easy Stats," a tool to allow users to build their own tables based on topics and geography.

Early next year, the bureau will release "Dwellr" a new mobile phone app designed to put the stats in the hands of people on the go.

"The Census Bureau is striving like never before to make our statistics easier to find and use," Thomas Mesenbourg, the agency's acting director said in a news release.

Last week, the agency announced that the next survey will add the availability of responding online. The bureau will also be adding a series of questions on computer and Internet usage. That data will become available in 2014.

By the numbers

The latest survey paints a by-the-numbers portrait of Tarrant County, where the median age is 33.4 and there are 96.5 males to 100 females.

The median income was $47,163 for males and $37,746 for females. For full-time workers, 20.4 percent made $35,000 to $49,999, 21.2 percent made $50,000 to $74,999, 9 percent made $75,000 to $99,999 and 10.8 percent made $100,000 or more.

Among residents 15 years and older, 51.4 percent are married, 29.6 percent have never married, 11.7 percent are divorced, 4.7 percent are widowed, and 2.6 percent are separated.

Whites make up 69 percent of the population, with Hispanics at 26.3 percent, blacks 14.7 percent and Asians 4.6 percent. Among the smallest racial groups are Navajo, with an estimated 37 Tarrant residents, followed by Chippewa (77), Samoan (146) and Sioux (197).

Nearly 82 percent of us live in the same residence as one year ago, while 2.3 percent moved from a different state, and 0.6 percent moved here from abroad.

Of 405,570 owner-occupied housing units, an estimated 2,901 are valued at $1 million or more. The median age of housing units was 1984 with 23.2 percent built in 2000 or later and just 3.5 percent built in 1939 or earlier.

Of 643,917 occupied housing units, 406,254 used electricity for heating, 229,058 used gas. Fuel oil was used in 225 homes, 581 used wood, and nine relied on solar energy.

How people reported their ancestry was just as diverse, with the most common choices being German (207,417), English (146,146), American (134,934) and Irish (162,133). Over 160,000 did not specify ancestry, but 711 declared themselves Cajun and 455 checked off Celtic.

Of 848,255 workers over 16, 82.3 percent drove alone in a car, truck or van, 10.4 percent carpooled, and a mere 1.1 percent walked.

We averaged 25.7 minutes in commute time, and 10 percent of us got to work in 10 minutes or less.

On the other hand, 6.6 percent of us had commutes of an hour or more. Some of those road warriors are likely among the early birds, the 3.7 percent who left home between 5 a.m. and 5:29 a.m. Or the 0.9 percent of Tarrant residents who worked out of state.

Steve Campbell, 817-390-7981

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