December Census Bureau Releases

December 10, 2010

2005-2009 American Community Survey and 2010 Census State Population Count

The 2010 Census is different from previous decennial censuses. Every household in the nation received the same 10-question form, but no households were asked about income, educational attainment, occupation, or commuting on Census Day. Such detailed information is now collected by the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS). The Bureau will be publishing statistics from both of these major data source this December – the 2005-2009 ACS and the first results from the 2010 Census Decennial Count. The 2005-2009 ACS estimates should not be confused with the 2010 Census counts. The ACS measures the characteristics of our population such as our education, income, housing, and employment while the 2010 Census measures the size of our population.

 

2005-2009 American Community Survey

2010 Census State Population Count

2010 Census Local Population Count

Date of Release

December 14th, 2010

Before December 31st, 2010

Before April 1st, 2011

Time Period Covered

5-year period, 2005-2009

April 1st, 2010

April 1st, 2010

Geographic Detail

National to Census Tracts,
including all municipalities

National and State

County and Town

Based on 2010 Census?

No

Yes

Yes

On December 14th, data users including local governments, grant writers, businesses, and all members of the public will be able to access five-year ACS statistics to examine new town-level data covering a spectrum of economic and demographic indicators for the first time since the release of the 2000 Census. New 5-year estimates will be generated annually in the future, always measuring the most recent 5-year time period. ACS estimates provide an objective and statistically accurate foundation to help determine the allocation of more than $400 billion annually to state, local, and tribal areas.

During the transition from using 2000 decennial data to the five-year ACS, two important differences must be kept in mind. First, decennial census counts are specific to a single point in time (April 1st of the given year) whereas ACS datasets are based on continuous sampling during the given range of years. Over time, the 5-year ACS will allow data users to monitor trends in the characteristics it illustrates, but this December’s release will not be directly comparable to past decennial data – it must be treated as a new statistical portrait rather than an additional data point. Each annual update to the five-year data will overlap the previous year’s ACS estimates by four years, and should not be compared directly, but there will be two unique five-year time periods per decade that can be used for comparison.

Second, the ACS surveys a small sample of the nation’s households unlike the decennial census that counts everybody, so margins of error are published with the estimates. Combining the margin of error with values and percentages published by the ACS yields an interval, and a data user can confidently assume that a point within this interval represents the actual population. As election turnouts can be estimated by polling a fraction of the total number of voters, the ACS estimates the economic and demographic characteristics of our nation by surveying a fraction of our population. The Economics and Demographics team at the Maine State Planning Office is available to assist data users in working with margins of error, and a calculator is available on our website with guidance on aggregating margins of error for multiple values and for changing the confidence level of the estimates.

In a separate release on December 21st, the Census Bureau will publish the very first results from the 2010 Census conducted last April. As mandated by the Constitution, the US Census Bureau counts every resident in the United States every 10 years to determine the number of seats each state receives in the U.S. House of Representatives. These counts will also show us how our population has grown and shifted over the last decade. The December release of 2010 Census data will only cover the population count for the nation and for states, but in February and March, the Census Bureau will provide local level population counts and demographic information.

Both ACS and Decennial Census statistics can be accessed from the Census Bureau’s American FactFinder. For more information and reports specific to Maine based on Census Bureau data, visit www.maine.gov/spo/economics.

The 2010 Census is different from previous decennial censuses. Every household in the nation received the same 10-question form, but no households were asked about income, educational attainment, occupation, or commuting on Census Day. Such detailed information is now collected by the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS). The Bureau will be publishing statistics from both of these major data source this December – the 2005-2009 ACS and the first results from the 2010 Census Decennial Count. The 2005-2009 ACS estimates should not be confused with the 2010 Census counts. The ACS measures the characteristics of our population such as our education, income, housing, and employment while the 2010 Census measures the size of our population.