American Community Survey

What is the difference between the Decennial Census and the American Community Survey?

According to the U.S. Census Bureau website, the difference between the Decennial Census and the American Community Survey is that, “the 2010 Census shows the number of people who live in the U.S. and the American Community Survey shows how people live.”

Data from the American Community Survey expresses demographic, social, economic, and housing characteristics.

Data from the 2010 Census expresses counts of the population and their basic characteristics (sex, age, race, Hispanic origin, and homeowner status).

How Does the American Community Survey Work?

Approximately three million housing units are selected annually, across every county in the nation. This means that all data is estimated (the whole population is not represented). Data is aggregated according to the size of the population of local geographic areas. Updated data is released every year, but the time period covered by the estimates varies as follows:

  • Single-year estimates for geographic areas with a population of 65,000 or more
  • Three-year estimates for geographic areas with a population of 20,000 or more
  • Five-year estimates for geographic areas with a population less than 20,000

Because Allegany and Steuben counties are considered rural, useful data for the RJI service area is primarily found in the five-year estimates.

What does the American Community Survey Ask?

  • age
  • sex
  • race
  • family and relationships
  • income and benefits
  • health insurance
  • education
  • veteran status
  • disabilities
  • where you work and how you get there
  • where you live and how much you pay for some essentials

For more information about the ACS, please visit this page.

Depending on what kind of ACS data you are looking for, you can search by topic, geography, race and ethnic groups, and industry codes.

For tips on using the ACS data, visit the U.S. Census Bureau Guidance for ACS Data Users page.

For examples of maps that we made using ACS data, visit our Useful Datasets and Maps page.


%d bloggers like this: