Changes to the 2019 American Community Survey, Explained

The 2019 American Community Survey includes a notable changes, including a few relevant to planners.

1 minute read

May 16, 2019, 1:00 PM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


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Amanda Lee explains changes to the 2019 version of the American Community Survey (ACS), a critical tool used by the Census Bureau to gather demographic data critical to the understanding of American society from year to year. "Data from the ACS influences how more than $675 billion in federal and state funds are spent each year," writes Lee.

In an effort to keep the ACS contemporary, the Census Bureau has completed the long process of changing content on the survey. For instance, changes include new response categories under the Relationships question to improve estimates of coupled households, "specifically same-sex couples," according to Lee.

Most relevant to planners, however, are changes to the Journey0to-Work question. "To reflect changes in public transportation infrastructure, transit mode categories in the journey-to-work question were reworded and reordered," explains Lee. "These improvements will provide more accurate data on how people travel throughout the course of a day." The Time-of-Departure question has also been changed to protect the privacy of respondents.

Meanwhile, the Census Bureau's other big effort, the Biennial Census, remains a big source of controversy and uncertainty as Department of Commerce v. New York moves through the Supreme Court.

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