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American Community Survey

What is American Community Survey (ACS)?

The American Community Survey (ACS) helps local officials, community leaders, and businesses understand the changes taking place in their communities. It is the premier source for detailed population and housing information about our nation.  It is a much more detailed version of the decennial census and provides data on some social characteristics, economic characteristics, housing characteristics, and demographic estimates (between two decennial censuses). Unlike the decennial census, only a sample of the population, i.e. not everyone, will receive request to complete ACS.

Examples of social characteristics: disability status, educational attainment, language spoken at home, veteran status, and more

Examples of economic characteristics: commuting, health insurance coverage, income and earnings, poverty status, and more

Examples of housing characteristics: computer and Internet usage, house heating fuel, owner/renter (tenure), vehicles available, and more

On March 17, 2022, the U.S. Census Bureau released new statistics from the 2016-2020 American Community Survey (ACS) 5-year estimates.

Why is ACS important in civic engagement context?

ACS data are intrinsic to voting rights:

(1) ACS data are needed for fair redistricting because Citizen Voting Age Population (CVAP) statistics from ACS are essential for identifying the portion of the population in a redistricting plan that is eligible to register to vote.

(2) ACS data are needed to assist voting because these data are used to determine what languages besides English have to be provided to assist voters under Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act.

(3) ACS data are needed to justify claims for vote dilution cases under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.

ALA’s work related to census legacy

Public comments submitted by Asian Law Alliance to the Census National Advisory Committee meeting on November 4 and November 5, 2021 in support of the transition of the 2020 Census National Partnership Program to the Office of Strategic Alliances (OSA)

Public comments submitted by Asian Law Alliance to the Census National Advisory Commission Meeting on May 5, 2022 to call for release of disaggregated data by April 1, 2023

Respond to the ACS

Have you received a letter from the U.S. Census Bureau requesting your response to the American Community Survey? Check this Web page from the U.S. Census Bureau for an FAQ of responding to ACS.