February 16th 2018 - Written by: Suzan Reagan

A Once in a Decade Opportunity for Small Towns in NM: Participant Statistical Areas Program or PSAP

New Mexico has many small towns and villages which are rich with history and strong community ties. These can be settlements, villages and small places which are not likely to become incorporated. They are often in rural areas that are geographically isolated. They might be communities that are considered frontiers or colonias. People in these communities often want to preserve and celebrate their way of life. These local communities are often faced with unique economic and social challenges to overcome. One of which is statistical data specifically for their community that can be used to evaluate their needs on housing, education, poverty, health, and other issues. Not having this data readily tabulated is also a significant barrier for small communities when trying to meet eligibility requirements for public resources.

The Census Bureau publishes statistical data for small areas that are not incorporated which are called Census Designated Places or CDP’s. As the Census Bureau prepares for each decennial census, the Bureau tries to identify geographies of local communities for which they will be providing statistical tabulations for the next decade. The specific program is the Participant Statistical Areas Program or PSAP. The PSAP program will be sending out inquires and letters to regional and county governments to identify participants in July 2018.

There are many small areas recognized by local New Mexican’s that have not had specific tabulation by the Census Bureau in the past. It is these areas which the PSAP program could help if they participate in PSAP. This program is the point where small communities can work with either their county government or council of governments to become a participant. Note that Tribal Governments are included in PSAP and will be receiving a letter too. The areas which are incorporated towns and CDP’s from last decennial census reports will continue to have data tabulated for them by name. Counties and council of governments can also update boundaries for existing CDP’s during PSAP.

The schedule for PSAP after registration are as follows: In the fall of 2018 a list of local planning agencies, council of governments and organizations who respond will be published on the PSAP website as participants. In January 2019 PSAP participants will receive materials to provide input on the PSAP statistical boundaries. In January 2020 a final review of the geography will be sent back to the PSAP participant. Finally, December 2020 the Census Bureau will begin to release statistical data using the updated geographies for 2020 that include the PSAP additions.

Here at the UNM Bureau of Business and Economic Research Data Bank, we have helped many small areas locate Census information. In cases where a CDP is not available to use, we have to identify Census Tracts or Census Block Groups that contain the community in question and create sums based on them. It is much easier if local communities are already defined as a CDP. To this end, any small community who would like to participate is welcome to contact us and we will make sure that you receive information on how to participate in PSAP and the local governments involved. This program is only available once every 10 years.

Further information is available from the Census Bureau at:

There are many tasks that the Census Bureau will be engaging in the next few years that need state participation to ensure an accurate 2020 Census count. The BBER Data Bank along with others is participating in the NM Decennial Census focus Group Subcommittee with the New Mexico Geospatial Advisory Committee information at http://www.gac.state.nm.us/subcommittees/decennialcensus.html to help inform New Mexican’s about these programs. If you have questions please contact us at 277-3038.

The Bureau of Business & Economic Research employs a diverse staff with a wide range of specializations and interests. The views and opinions expressed on this blog belong to the individual authors alone, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of BBER or UNM.


UNM Bureau of Business and Economic Research
400 Cornell Dr NE, Albuquerque, NM 87131 • 505.277.2216 Main • 505.277.6626 Data Bank