Now that the 2000 Census data is almost completely obsolete, I'm interested in how everyone goes about estimating current populations and other demographic information (if you do at all). I know the merits and fallacies of many of the various methods...what I am interested in is what other planners actually do.
First, what do you do for current demographic estimates? Do you develop your own estimates based on extrapolation (if so, what's your favorite method), go to all of the effort of performing a cohort-component analysis (births, deaths, in- and outmigration), get estimates from someone else (COG, etc.), or do you buy your data from ESRI or similar?
Second, do you estimate total population, households, and jobs and utilize 2000 Census racial composition, age, income, avg HH size, etc. or do you some how estimate these as well?
Third, what about forecasting? How far out do you go and how to you calculate? Do you extrapolate curves or extrapolate cohort-component info.
Finally, how do you incorporate real-world knowledge into your estimates? Say you know a 5000 unit subdivision was recently approved for your town of 20,000. Do you see this as a sign of things to come and adjust your curve to meet this data point (by changing your formula and therefore the slop of your curve), or do you view it as a one-time bump and raise the curve to meet it and keep your slope?
Sorry if this post was too detailed...I'd really like to hear any and all thoughts on this subject.