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A 'Coming of Age' Event for Local Social and Economic Statistical Information

Director Groves on podium

Guest blog post by Robert M. Groves, Director, U.S. Census Bureau

Very recently the Census Bureau gave to the country the fully-evolved set of statistical information based on the American Community Survey – social and economic characteristics for thousands of communities across the country.

While this was a big deal for us data geeks at the Census Bureau, it marked the beginning of annual estimates for small communities and neighborhoods throughout the country.  Each year, each community throughout the country will get small area estimates of the occupational and industrial sector distribution, commuting patterns to work, health insurance status, disability status, wage levels, school attendance, non-English language spoken, military veteran status, housing structures, fuel use for health, housing costs, and citizenship status.These local estimates are already being used to make real decisions that affect the jobs of Americans.  One set of local officials used local data on current job distributions, educational attainment distributions, and location of other businesses, to attract a new plant to the area, stimulating even more jobs.  In that case, the town was competing with a site in another country.  The statistics from the American Community Survey helped persuade the company to locate the plant in that US town.  American Community Survey statistics answer really practical questions that business leaders have.  For locating an international call center – “Are there sufficient non-English speakers in the area to staff the center?”  For lower-skilled manufacturing – “How long will it take for employees to get to the proposed plant site; how many people use public transportation to get to work?”  For technology firms – “How many persons are there with science and engineering skills?”

To give you a sense of the magnitude of the statistical information we are delivering annually now to both small and large communities, they consist of about 11 billion statistical estimates on the topics above (22 billion if you count the measures of sampling variability we also deliver).  This is unprecedented in the history of the country and, as business leaders and local officials learn how these estimates can be used to make more informed decisions that affect their companies and communities, the real promise of the American Community Survey will be achieved.

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How is this constitutional?!

I do not see the need to ask me when and where i go to work or how long it takes me to get there and if i have insurance, the census as stated by the constitution is merely a way to keep track of the populations not to be a bullying force to make me have to fill out this rediculous survey... Furthermore what kinda penalty would the Census bureau impose on someone Should they not fill out this survey?

Answers to your questions are here

About the American Community Survey -

Here's why they ask questions they ask and the guarantees of your privacy -


On the letter I got it says "You are required by US law to respond to this survey" I would like to know which law? I read the survey and I don't see how this is any of there business. If someone and let me in on which law that would be great.

The law governing the American Community Survey

The ACS is conducted under the authority of Title 13, United States Code, Sections 141 and 193 and this federal law (Section 221 of Title 13) also requires you to respond to this survey. The Census Bureau may use the information it collects only for statistical purposes. Title 13 requires the Census Bureau to keep all information about you, and all other respondents, strictly confidential. Any Census Bureau employee who violates these provisions is subject to a fine up to $250,000, a prison sentence up to five years, or both.

thanks for this!

thanks for this!

environmental effects

truly that this kind of disaster can affect individual!

American Community Survey

Am I required by law to answer this survey? If yes, what is the penalty for not complying?

Answers to your questions are here

About the American Community Survey -

This census

How do I know that this is legitimate? There are so many scams out there.

Legitimacy of American Community Survey

You can compare the questions on your form to the one listed here -

If they are the same, then yes, you've been selected for the American Community Survey. If they are different, then it didn't come from the U.S. Census Department.

WLE for disabilities

Where are the WLE for persons of disability?
Has this been discontinued?