American Community Survey

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This Fall, the Census Bureau will release a few data sets that help us understand more about who we are as a country, culminating in the 2010 Census population counts announced this December. The first of these data releases is the American Community Survey (ACS) 1-year estimates.

While the 2010 Census serves as an actual count of the population on April 1, 2010, the ACS describes how we live by providing estimates of key social, economic, and housing characteristics. As an ongoing survey, the ACS allows the Census Bureau to provide detailed characteristic data on communities every year. The ACS data released today are based on data collected from households throughout the country in 2009. ACS data help us paint a portrait of America – showing not only where people live, but how we live, what we earn, what language(s) we speak, our educational attainment and much more. Housing data collected in 2009 show us, for example:

-The Pittsburgh, Pa., metro area had the lowest median monthly gross rent ($643), while San-Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif. metro area, with a gross rent of $1,414, was the most expensive rental market, among the 50 most populous metro areas.

Far from just being interesting facts about our communities, the ACS data are a critical component of our nation’s information infrastructure. The data influence the distribution of hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funds. Local governments and businesses use this information to help decide where to build new schools, stores, hospitals, roads, and more. Federal, state, local, and tribal programs use the detailed information to help plan for the future of our communities, including where child care programs, senior centers, and other essential resources should be placed.

Today’s 2009 ACS data provide characteristics of communities with populations of more than 65,000. We’ll have information for all communities once the 2005-2009 ACS 5-year estimates are released in mid-December.

For more information on additional data releases coming up this fall, read Director Groves’ recent blog on Measuring America.

To learn more about your community, view 2009 ACS data on American Fact Finder.

Read ACS Briefs on: Poverty, Health Insurance, Income, Earnings and more.

View the American Community Survey questions.

Learn more in the American Community Survey newsroom.

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5 Responses to American Community Survey

  1. Dick Hingson says:

    This particular release, coming as it does immediately following the U.S. decennial census, should perhaps have made the point more emphatically: that the decennial Census was NOT the source of all this great information. And explained more carefully what is the American Community Survey, how that works, how it is different from the decennial Census, etc.
    There were many obstinate people, who refused even to be interviewed after many tries, or who threw out their mailed forms without opening them, because they are convinced that “The Census” is all about getting “sensitive” information, types such as in this latest release. (Things like household income, same-sex couples, “idle” teenagers, “driving to work alone”, etc etc)
    I worked in the last two decennial censuses;, I saw how much effort and money had to go into being sure the “obstinate” were at least counted. This was an opportunity to educate some of them about the distinction. But news coverage I’ve seen in my hometown paper today (Arizona Daily Sun) missed the distinction entirely — it just says “Census Bureau” as the source. So some think, oh yes, that’s what that form wanted, that’s what the person wanted to know if I had opened my door.

  2. andrew says:

    People… no, not just people, the whole world doesn’t really take into account how important the census is.

  3. Todd Graham says:

    I received the Census Director’s “Dear Resident” letter saying that my house has been randomly selected into the ACS sample. This is the second time in 4 years that my household (at same address) has been asked to participate in ACS.
    Shouldn’t the Census Bureau have a process in place to assure a minimum interval between sampling the same address? (Or maybe you do? Will I be surveyed every 4 years?)

  4. Sam@Census says:

    @Todd: No address in knowingly included in the ACS more than once in any given 5-year period. Since the ACS is address based, if an address changes or if a person moves there is a small chance of receiving the ACS more than once in a 5-year period.

  5. Nelson says:

    The same thing is happening to me. My household received one about five years ago and now I’m getting one again. No one has moved or address changed at my household. How can this random? And who can I complain about this?

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