Tuesday, October 7, 2014

An Example of Using ACS Estimates Over Time: Poverty and Family Types 2005 to 2013

As the single year (and the three year) American Community Survey (ACS) data continues to be released, it is important to remember that data now exists going back to 2005 for our area. One of the hopes of the Census Bureau was that such data availability would allow policymakers, as well as the public, the opportunity to look at their region longitudinally, albeit with a certain amount of caution.

As an example, below are the historical estimates of poverty by family type, in this case single mom families versus two parent families in Oneida County. Not surprisingly, poverty rates for single parents are quite a bit higher than they are for dual parent families - the average over the nine years is about 30% for single moms and around 5.5% for dual parent families.

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What's important to note is the trends depicted by the shaded areas in the chart, which represent the margins of error for each year. As can been seen, they are rather large for single moms and fairly small for dual parents. This is mainly because of the small number of single mom's sampled (due to their fairly small number within the community). Just be sure to take a look at those margins of error as you explore the ACS data as there are times that they are exceedingly large, and should then be viewed with a some caution.