Key Themes: Reflections from the Child Indicators Projects. American Community Survey


  • The American Community Survey, once the sample is fully implemented in every county (planned to start in 2003), will provide annual-average estimates of demographic, housing, social, and economic characteristics updated every year for the nation, all states, and jurisdictions of 65,000 or more people. Statistics for small areas will be updated for multi-year averages (3-year averages for areas of 20,000 to 64,999 and 5-year averages for areas of less than 20,000 people). With the annually updated averages, it will be possible to measure changes over time for small areas and population groups.
  • The American Community Survey provides new opportunities for researchers. The statistics are updated every year. This permits measurement of the level and direction of change and indicators of program performance. Information about migration patterns will be available. The survey helps in the assessment of needs and resources and informed strategic decisionmaking.
  • The Census Bureau plans to replace the long form with the American Community Survey for the 2010 Census.
  • The Congress approves questions on the decennial Census and the American Community Survey. They have approved only those questions mandated or required by Federal legislation or court cases. That presents considerable challenges to adding new questions to the American Community Survey or the next Census.
  • Be cautious about comparisons of survey and administrative datasets. There are crucial differences in concepts and data collection methods among datasets. As such, estimates of population characteristics from surveys such as the decennial Census and the American Community Survey will differ (see
  • Researchers are encouraged to report their needs for tabulations to the Census Bureau to consider for future American Community Survey or Census products.