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American Community Survey 2008

The American Community Survey (ACS) is a new nationwide survey designed to provide communities a fresh look at how they are changing. It is a critical element in the Census Bureau's reengineered 2010 census plan. The ACS collects information such as age, race, income, commute time to work, home value, veteran status, and other important data from U.S. households. As with the official decennial census, information about individuals will remain confidential.

The 2008 ACS data release includes several changes to the 2008 ACS data products. In addition, one data product, formerly known as the “multiyear profiles”, is being re-introduced under the new name “comparison profiles” after being suspended for two years.The 2008 ACS estimates are based on a nationwide sample of about 250,000 addresses per month. In addition, approximately 20,000 group quarters across the United States were sampled, comprising approximately 200,000 residents. Geographic areas for which one-year data are available are based on total populations of 65,000 or more.

The 2006-2008 ACS 3-year data release provides data products for geographic areas with a population of 20,000 or more. The population sizes for 3-year data products is based on the July 1, 2008 population estimates from the Census Bureau's Population Estimates Program. The 2006-2008 ACS release covers over 13,500 geographic areas that meet the 20,000 or more population threshold for the 3-year estimates. For many types of geographic areas, the release of 3-year estimates allows a much larger number of areas to receive estimates.

ACS 2008 data covers a wide variety of demographic, social, economic, and housing topics:

Population Housing Characteristics
Age and date of birth Acreage
Ancestry Agricultural sales
Citizenship Bedrooms
Class of worker Business on property
Disability Condominium status and fee
Educational attainment Contract rent
Employment status Food stamps
Families House heating fuel
Fertility Housing units
Foreign born status Insurance
Grandparents as caregivers Kitchen facilities
Hispanic/Latino origin Meals included in rent
Household type and relationship Mobile home costs
Income Mortgage status
Industry Mortgage payment
Journey to work Occupancy status
Language spoken at home Plumbing facilities
Labor force status Real estate taxes
Marital status Rooms
Means of transportation to work     Second mortgage
Occupation Selected monthly owner costs
Place of birth Telephone service availability
Place of work Tenure
Poverty status Units in structure
Private vehicle occupancy Utilities
Race Value of housing units
Residence one year ago Vehicles available
School enrollment Year householder moved in
Sex Year structure built
Travel time to work  
Veteran status  
Work status last week  
Workers in family  

Expanding Local Coverage

The ACS began in 1996 and has expanded each subsequent year. Data from the 2006 ACS are available for geographic areas with a population of 65,000 or more, including 783 counties, 922 school districts,all 50 states, and the District of Columbia

Within three years (by 2008), data will be available for all areas of 20,000 or more. For small areas less than 20,000, it will take five years to accumulate a large enough sample to provide estimates with accuracy similar to the decennial census. Beginning in 2010, and every year thereafter, the nation will have a five-year period estimate available, a resource that shows change over time, even for neighborhoods and rural areas.