New Annual Data from the Census Bureau

The 2010 decennial US census has made important changes to the types of information collected and the way the final data will be presented. This year’s Census featured the shortest questionnaire in the programs history. At 10 questions, the census could be answered quickly and as designed, may increase the response rate. This new strategy was made possible due to the introduction of the American Community Survey program, which began in 2000.

Ten years in the making, the American Community Survey will now make available detailed annual socio-demographic data for the entire U.S. at the block group level.

The American Community Survey (ACS) is a critical element in the Census Bureau’s reengineered decennial census program. The ACS is the newest nationwide socio-demographic survey designed to provide communities a more accurate look at social, demographic, and economic changes on a yearly basis.

The ACS supplants the long form of the decennial census and in addition collects and produces population and housing information every year, instead of every ten years. Collecting data every year provides the level of detail needed to analyze and track local populations and households in order to inform various government programs and projects, as well as, helping the private sector make more informed business decisions. Beginning in 2010 the ACS will provide annual estimates for the entire United States down to the block group level.

The ACS can be used in many different ways. The data contained within the survey has application within every aspect of economic development including: population counts, citizenship status, place of birth, geographic mobility, sex of workers by place of work, means of transportation to work, distance commuted to work, household social and economic status, birth rates, median income, housing tenure, mortgage, and rent information, et cetera. Almost all of the data included can be sorted by sex, age, and/or race. The ACS is a powerful tool that allows the economic developer to predict and plan with greater accuracy and confidence. This tool deserves the attention of all members of the development community.