Census releasing popular survey after fixing data gaps

February 7, 2022 GMT

Months after saying numbers from a 1-year version of a widely-utilized survey measuring how Americans live wasn’t usable because of problems from the pandemic, U.S. Census Bureau officials said Monday that data from a 5-year version of the survey meet its standards and will be released next month.

The statistical agency said it would release the 2020 American Community Survey 5-year estimates in mid-March. In October, the Census Bureau released the survey’s 1-year estimates only in an experimental format with a warning that it may not meet the agency’s statistical quality standards.

The survey typically relies on responses from 3.5 million households on questions about commuting times, internet access, family life, income, education levels, disabilities, military service and employment, but disruptions caused by the pandemic produced fewer responses.

The 1-year estimates provide information for a single year on places only with at least 65,000 people. The 5-year estimates offer data at smaller geographies and are aggregated over multiple years.

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The Census Bureau said it revised its methodology in the 5-year estimates to reduce gaps in data collected in 2020.

“After evaluating the effectiveness of this methodology, the Census Bureau determined the resulting data are fit for public release, government and business uses, and understanding the social and economic characteristics of the U.S. population and economy,” the agency said in a statement.