The American Community Survey is an on-going sample of cities and
communities all over the United States administered by the U.S. Census
Bureau. Like the census,
this survey provides information on the social, economic, and housing
characteristics of the U.S. population.
Unlike the decennial census, however, the ACS collects data on a
continual basis. The Census Bureau releases the collected data in 3 time
level products which consist of yearly, 3-year, and 5-year estimates.
Yearly ACS estimates are released for places of 65,000 or more
3-year ACS estimates are released for places of 20,000 to 65,000
5-year ACS estimates are released for smallest places, those with fewer
than 20,000 people.
The American Community Survey sample is combined or “rolled-up” for 12
months to produce annual estimates of characteristics for places of
65,000 or more population. Thus, for large places in the nation, a
socioeconomic portrait is now available on an annual basis. For places
of 20,000 to 65,000 persons, 36 months of sample is the minimum required
to provide estimates. These “three-year period estimates” tell us the
average number of high school graduates or people who drive to work, for
example, over that period. For the smallest places, those with fewer
than 20,000 people, 60 months of sample is needed to produce “five-year
period estimates,” which are averages for characteristics over a
The 5-year data released on
December 14, 2010 will be the first sample large enough to include all
geographic areas down to census tract and block group levels.
Three tips for using American Community Survey data: (Source: U.S.
The 2010 Census shows the number of people who live in the U.S.
and the American Community Survey shows how people live.
Use data from the American Community Survey to obtain demographic,
social, economic, and housing characteristics.
Use numbers from the 2010 Census to obtain counts of the population and
their basic characteristics (sex, age, race, Hispanic origin, and
Use data from the Census Bureau's Population Estimates Program in the
years between censuses. The Census Bureau's Population Estimates Program
official population estimates for the nation, states, counties, cities
and towns, plus housing unit estimates for states and counties.
All American Community Survey (ACS) data are estimates.
The Census Bureau collects American Community Survey data from a sample
of the population in the United States and Puerto Rico--rather than from
the whole population. All ACS
data are survey estimates. To help you interpret the
reliability of the estimate, the Census Bureau publishes a margin of
error (MOE) for every ACS estimate.
American Community Survey collects and releases data by the calendar
year for geographic areas that meet specific population thresholds.
American Community Survey 1-, 3-, and 5-year estimates are period
estimates, which means they represent the characteristics of the
population and housing over a specific data collection period. Data are
combined to produce 12 months, 36 months or 60 months of data. These are
called 1-year, 3-year and 5-year data.
Data collected between...
Data pooled to produce
Data published for areas with
January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2009
2009 ACS 1-year estimates
populations of 65,000+
January 1, 2007 and December 31, 2009
2007-2009 ACS 3-year estimates
populations of 20,000+
January 1, 2005 and December 31, 2009
2005-2009 ACS 5-year estimates
populations of almost any size
If you would like more information and supporting documentation for this
data please visit the ACS web site at:
Data Guidance for 5-year ACS data and 2009 ACS data:
The Census 2000/ACS Table Comparison Tool identifies and describes
approximate matches between ACS Detailed Tables and tables in Census
The new and notable page provides information about the 5-year data
For easy access to 2005-2009 American Community Survey (ACS) 5-year
estimates go to American FactFinder. There you will find tables with
social, demographic, housing, and economic data for areas down to the
census tract level.
You can access the newly-released data on American FactFinder at:
2005-2009 ACS 5-year data
These profiles were recreated by OVRDC Staff for the OVRDC Region.