American Community Survey and the Census


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  • Why 1999? What happens around April 1 that would allow you to say with confidence what your income was in 1999?
  • American Community Survey and the Census

    1. 1. ENT/LIS/GEO 530
    2. 2. The Constitution says… Article 1, Section 2 of the United States Constitution: “Representatives and direct taxes shall be apportioned among the several states which may be included within this union, according to their respective numbers ... The actual Enumeration shall be made within three years after the first meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent term of ten years, in such manner as they shall by law direct.”
    3. 3. Basics of Census 2000 Short Form Survey of 100% of the population Questions about the basic demographic characteristics age, race, number of people in a housing unit Long Form Sample of one in six housing units Basic demographic questions PLUS questions about socioeconomic topics  education, income, housing characteristics, employment, and disability status
    4. 4. Basics of Census 2010 Short Form Continue constitutionally mandated short form counting 100% of the population Long Form Replaced by the American Community Survey (ACS) Census count is focused on coverage American Community Survey is focused on content
    5. 5. Basics of the American Community Survey A nationwide, continuous monthly survey Annual sample size = around 3 million addresses Data products will be released annually Profiles available every year for communities of 65,000 or more people Profiles available in 3 to 5 year estimates for communities with fewer than 65,000 people
    6. 6. Benefits of the ACS Provides timely data between the decennial censuses Examples in past decade when would matter? Provides ability to monitor trends in local communities between censuses Examples of how useful? Permanent, professional interviewers Why matter?
    7. 7. But keep in mind … Estimates Sample is small and requires aggregation of data over time for smaller locations Point in time versus period data Counting on April 1 of census year versus counting continuously throughout year Margins of error and confidence intervals Figures are an estimate with a confidence interval of 90%
    8. 8. Availability for particular places Burlington, NC has 49,038 (ACS 20062008) Reidsville, NC has 14,485 (Census 2000) 5-year estimate (2005-2009) available now Two 3-year estimates (05-07 & 06-08) and one 5-year estimate. Greensboro, NC has 242,817 (ACS 20062008) Any 1-year, 3-year, 5year estimate could be used.
    9. 9. Point in time versus period data Census American Community Survey  Point in time data  Period data  Reference point is April 1  Reference period is past 12 months
    10. 10. Differences in Questions Census American Community Survey  31. INCOME IN 1999  47. INCOME IN THE PAST 12  a. Wages, salary, commissions, bonuses, or tips from all jobs - Report amount before deductions for taxes, bonds, dues, or other items.  O Yes Annual amount – Dollars $[ ][ ][ ],[ ][ ][ ].00  O No MONTHS.  a) Wages, salary, commissions, bonuses, or tips from all jobs.  Report amount before deductions for taxes, bonds, dues, or other items  Yes --> $____________________.00 (TOTAL AMOUNT for past 12 MONTHS)  No
    11. 11. Margins of Error Census data has margins of error built in; ACS data publishes the MoE Census Bureau data has a confidence interval of 90% How would we interpret this? Albany County 258, 649 +/-2,191 We are 90% confident that the true value is between 256,458 and 260,840. There is a 10% probability that the estimate would be outside this range.
    12. 12. Putting it into practice Question Questions to ask • I’m looking for recent  Time? information on number of people by age and race for census tracts in Greensboro, NC.  What is recent? 2000 or 2005-2009 data?  Geography?  Census tracts  Topic of question?  Age and race of people
    13. 13. American FactFinder (AFF) Contains American Community Survey Census 2010 & 2000 data Economic Census Population estimates And more! 
    14. 14. References  Herman, E. (2008). The American Community Survey: An introduction to the basics. Government Information Quarterly 25, 504-519.  Mather, M., Rivers, K. L., & Jacobsen, L.A. (2005). The American Community Survey. Population Bulletin, 60(3), 3-20.  North Carolina Office of State Budget & Management. (2008). NC SDC 2008 Annual Meeting Materials. Retrieved January 27, 2009 from  North Carolina Office of State Budget & Management. (2008). North Carolina is counting on you! Retrieved January 27, 2009 from  Taeuber, C. M. (2006). American Community Survey for Community Planning. Oxford: Trafford Publishing.  U.S. Bureau of the Census. (2008). A compass for understanding and using American Community Survey Data What general data users need to know. Retrieved December 1, 2009 from 
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