Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Demise of the Three Year ACS

As you may or may not know, the American Communities Survey came in three iterations: a ONE year version for communities of 65,000 or more people; a THREE year version for communities with a population of 20,000 or more; and a FIVE year version, for every other geography regardless of the population size.

The Census Bureau, due to budgetary considerations, has decided to do away with the Three Year ACS. What this means is that the data collected through the ACS process will now be available in only two formats - the single year and the five year compilations. Basically if you are a geographic entity of 65,000 people or more, you will get both forms of the data releases. If you are smaller than 65,000, then you get a single data release, the five year ACS.

Does this impact us ? Well not like in some devastating way, no. But it does limit our ability to get insight, in particular, to trends in the data over short periods of time for our smaller communities and counties. And remember, as old questions get "adjusted" to make them more accurate, or new questions get introduced, our smaller communities will lose out on that data until a five year cycle of information can be collected and processed. The larger communities (over 65,000 people) will get these in a matter of a year or two.

Regardless, the Three Year ACS was barely 7 years old at the time of its fall and leaves its associated ACS brethren to carry on in its place!