2011 American Community Survey Estimates Tell Us about our Communities

Written by: James B. Treat

Do you want to know more about statistics for your local community, such as educational attainment, how many people have health insurance, poverty rates or commute times? Have you ever wondered what the median income is for your state? How about how it compares with other states?

The Census Bureau released estimates from the 2011 American Community Survey (ACS) today, which is distinguished from all other surveys for its ability to produce annual statistics on housing, economic and population measures for even the smallest geographic areas and population groups. Census survey questions have collected information on the demographic characteristics of the nation’s population since the first census was conducted under the direction of Thomas Jefferson in 1790.

The ACS is used by everyone from retailers, homebuilders and police departments to town and city planners to make decisions about their communities, such as where to locate a school or firehouse. Business owners also rely on the ACS to plan and expand into new products or communities.

So what does this latest ACS release tell us?

In 2011, median household income for the U.S. was $50,502, with ranges from $36,919 (Mississippi) to $70,004 (Maryland).  While there was a decline in median household income in 18 states, the estimates show that for 32 states and the District of Columbia, the median household income between 2010 and 2011 was virtually unchanged. You can read more about income in a report released today.

Also released today were two additional short reports supplementing detailed tables with additional analysis on poverty and health insurance. Highlights regarding income and poverty from today’s release include:

  • Between 2010 and 2011, Vermont was the only state that showed an increase in median household income. The state median decreases ranged from 1.1 percent in Ohio to 6.0 percent in Nevada.
  • Among the 50 states and the District of Columbia, New Hampshire (8.8 percent) had the lowest poverty rate, and Mississippi (22.6 percent) had one of the highest poverty rates.
  • The number and percentage of people in poverty increased in 17 states between 2010 and 2011. For 10 states, this was the third consecutive annual increase.

Do you want to know more about your local community?

Today’s release of ACS one-year estimates are available in detailed tables for the nation, all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, every congressional district, every metropolitan area, and all counties and places with populations of 65,000 or more.  Over the next few months, the Census Bureau will also release three-year and five-year estimates that will include small area estimates for the more than 40 topics the survey covers.  These topics are wide-ranging, including subjects such as educational attainment, income, occupation, language spoken at home, nativity, ancestry, and selected monthly homeowner costs.

If you would like to learn more about your hometown or local area, you can explore statistics using American FactFinder .

For additional information regarding the ACS estimates, please visit www.census.gov/acs.  If you have questions, you may also email acso.users.spport@census.gov or call 301-763-1405.

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One Response to 2011 American Community Survey Estimates Tell Us about our Communities

  1. Dr Aubrey W Bonnett says:

    This is so helpful especially in my Contemporary American Society and Immigration Today classes as we , together, do demographic drills in the computer room and utilize date from this primary and other secondary sources

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