Welcome to the State of California Department of Finance

Demographic Research Unit Overview

The State of California has earned a national reputation for its demographic program. The Demographic Research Unit is designated to represent the state in national programs relating to population statistics: Federal-State Cooperative Program for Population Projections and Estimates, and The Census Data Center Program.

Legislation created the Demographic Research Unit within the Department of Finance in 1951 to serve as the single official source of demographic data for State planning and budgeting. Population data are used to­ establish appropriation limitations; distribute subvention funds, various federal program funds, wastewater treatment funds, and other State funds; allocate capital outlay funds; and aid in the planning and evaluation of programs. State agencies and departments, local governments, the federal government, school districts, public utilities, the private sector, and the public use the unit‘s demographic data.

Unit staff provides demographic research and analysis, produces current population estimates and future projections of population and school enrollment, and disseminates census data.


The State Data Center (SDC) was established on January 1, 1979 to serve as the central point for the dissemination of census data in California. The SDC program was instituted by the U.S. Census Bureau to increase and improve public access to census data products.

The SDC provides services to state and local government agencies and to the general public. The Center processes machine-readable data files; prepares customized reports; and provides user consultation, data analysis, mapping, and training workshops upon request. The SDC library houses publications and maps from the decennial censuses, the American Community Survey, the Economic Censuses, the Current Population Survey, and other special and periodic surveys.

The SDC local network is composed of five regional and 36 affiliate centers located throughout the State. Working with the SDC, these regional and affiliate centers provide census-related products and services to the 58 California counties. Download a list of the SDC regional and affiliate centers  (.pdf, <1 MB)


Annual population estimates of the State, counties and cities are provided by the Demographic Research Unit. Information on housing units, vacancies, average household size, components of population change, and special populations are also available. The data are used in determining the annual appropriations limit for all California jurisdictions, to distribute State subventions to cities and counties, to comply with various State codes, and for research and planning purposes by federal, state and local agencies, the academic community and the private sector.


The Unit forecasts population, births and public school enrollment. Population projections are made for the State and the counties for 50 years into the future with age, sex, and race/ethnic detail. Calendar-year births are projected 10 years into the future at the State level for six age groups and seven race/ethnic groups, with the State projections distributed across the counties. The enrollment forecasts have a 10-year outlook and are available at the county level for kindergarten through high school graduates. Post-secondary education enrollment is available on a statewide basis. As direct inputs to the State budget, the Unit biannually provides short-term statewide population and kindergarten through 12th grade Average Daily Attendance projections. Demographers within the Unit are also available for consultation with other government agencies and the private sector.

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