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Issues Related to Data Dissemination in Official Statistics. Presented at the European Conference On Quality in Official Statistics Helsinki, Finland May 4, 2010 Susan Schechter. Today’s Presentation. Brief overview of the American Community Survey (ACS)

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Issues Related to Data Dissemination in Official Statistics

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Issues related to data dissemination in official statistics
Issues Related to Data Dissemination in Official Statistics

Presented at the

European Conference On Quality in Official Statistics

Helsinki, Finland

May 4, 2010

Susan Schechter


Today s presentation
Today’s Presentation

Brief overview of the American Community Survey (ACS)

Striking the balance: Should we release all ACS data collected, regardless of quality?

Dissemination plans for the first release of 5-year estimates from the ACS


Decennial census history
Decennial Census History

Since 1790, the U.S. has conducted a census

In addition to enumerating the population, detailed characteristics were also collected

In recent decades, two census forms were used

  • “short” form – basic demographic and housing

  • “long” form – collected more in-depth information from a sample of the population


Reengineering the 2010 census
Reengineering the 2010 Census

Focus the 2010 Census and future decennial censuses on improving the population count and collecting only basic characteristics

Eliminate the long form and implement the ACS to provide detailed characteristic data more than once every ten years


What is the acs
What is the ACS?

A large, continuous survey that:

  • samples approximately 3 million addresses per year

  • produces characteristics of population and housing

  • produces estimates for small areas and small population groups


Census 2000 and acs similarities
Census 2000 and ACSSimilarities

Most questions are the same

Many of the same basic statistics are released

Combining five years of ACS sample will provide the same broad set of data products for small geographic areas

  • including census tracts and block groups


Census 2000 and acs key differences
Census 2000 and ACSKey Differences

ACS data now available for larger and mid-sized areas

ACS data for small geographic areas and population groups will be produced every year starting in 2010

ACS data describe a period of time and published data are based on pooled data across 12 months, 36 months, or 60 months

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What is a multiyear estimate
What is a Multiyear Estimate?

ACS estimates will be released for single year estimates as well as 3-year and 5-year multiyear estimates

A multiyear estimate is a period estimate that encompasses more than one calendar year

A multiyear estimate describes the average characteristics of an area over a specific time period




Acs data products on american factfinder
ACS Data Products on American FactFinder

Data and Narrative Profiles

Comparison Profiles

Selected Population Profiles

Ranking Tables

Subject Tables

Detailed Tables

Geographic Comparison Tables

Thematic Maps

Public Use Microdata Sample (PUMS) File


Planning for the first release of acs 5 year estimates
Planning For the First Release of ACS 5-year Estimates

Two competing approaches

  • Release as much data as possible and ensure that data users are informed of the reliability of estimates

  • Limit the release of data to those estimates most reliable


Planning for the first release of acs 5 year estimates1
Planning For the First Release of ACS 5-year Estimates

Solicited user feedback in several ways

  • Published plan and asked for public comment

  • Conducted briefings at advisory committee meetings and conferences with stakeholders that work with census data

  • Held a series of training sessions and outreach meetings with local officials


Acs 5 year estimates set of proposed tables
ACS 5-year EstimatesSet of Proposed Tables

ACS tables most comparable to those in Census 2000 Summary File 3 will be produced

New tables that were designed after Census 2000 will also be released

Most summary levels will receive a full set of 5-year tables – exception is block groups


Acs 5 year estimates release restrictions
ACS 5-year EstimatesRelease Restrictions

Unlike the 1- and 3-year estimates, there will be no restrictions

  • No population thresholds

  • No table restrictions based on reliability

    Margins of error will continue to be published with all ACS estimates

    Emphasis on education and training in using less reliable estimates wisely will continue


Acs 5 year estimates data product limitations by geographic summary level
ACS 5-year EstimatesData Product Limitations by Geographic Summary Level

For proposed geographic summary levels, we will always produce detailed tables (the foundation for all other data products)

We will only produce data and narrative profiles, subject tables and geographic comparison tables for a subset


Acs 5 year estimates geographic summary levels
ACS 5-year EstimatesGeographic Summary Levels

Most, but not all, of the geographic summary levels in Census 2000 Summary File 3 will be included in the first ACS 5-year release

This includes tracts, block groups, geographic components, and geographic intersections


Acs 5 year estimates data dissemination plan
ACS 5-year EstimatesData Dissemination Plan

ACS 5-year data products will be disseminated annually through the American FactFinder on the internet

Census block group data will only be released in a summary file format, accessible from the American FactFinder download center


Acs 5 year estimates future plans
ACS 5-year EstimatesFuture Plans

We expect to refine this plan for future releases and value feedback from users

We will continue to look for the most effective way to release three complete sets of ACS data products annually


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