Frequently Asked Questions

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American FactFinder: There is more than one entry for my ZIP Code [Zip Code Tabulation Area (ZCTA)] available in the Select Geographies listing.  Which should I choose?

You should choose the ZCTA label that applies to the dataset or year for which you want data.  There are two ZIP Code or ZCTA years, 2000 and 2010.

  • Census 2000 uses the 2000 ZCTA which looks like this: “00601 5-Digit ZCTA, 006 3-Digit ZCTA.” 
  • 2010 Census and the 2011 American Community Survey use the 2010 ZCTA which looks like this: “ZCTA5 00601.”

These are the only demographic datasets that contain data for ZCTAs. 


Here’s the practical explanation for the label change:

The Census Bureau changed the labeling of ZCTAs between 2000 and 2010.

  • In 2000, the full 5-digit ZCTAs labels included their 3-digit group (i.e., the first 3 digits of the ZIP Code) as a part of the full label.  Using our earlier example, ZCTA 00601 was a part of the 006 ZCTA grouping. The 2000 ZCTA label for 00601 is “00601 5-Digit ZCTA, 006 3-Digit ZCTA.”  
  • In 2010, the 3-digit ZCTAs were not used as a grouping.  Therefore, for 2010 data, the individual ZCTAs do not include the 3-digit ZCTAs as a part of the label. The 2010 ZCTA label for ZIP Code 00601 is “ZCTA5 00601.”

NOTE:  You cannot pick both 2000 and 2010 ZCTAs for the same data search because there is no single table on AFF that has information from both 2000 and 2010. If you select both “00601 5-Digit ZCTA, 006 3-Digit ZCTA” and “ZCTA5 00601” from the Select Geographies listing, you will get a message that there are no tables matching your selections.  To find data results, remove one of the ZCTAs from Your Selections.

NOTE: ZCTAs are only used in demographic data.  The ZIP Code Business Patterns dataset from the Economic Survey use ZIP Codes, and they are labeled as ZIP Codes, not ZCTAs.  Click here for more information on the differences.


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