When Will Census American Community Survey (ACS) Data Be Released?

2010 ACS Data Release Schedule

2009 ACS 1 year estimates –> September 2010
2005 to 2009 ACS 5 year estimates –> December 2010*
2007 to 2009 ACS 3 year estimates –> Early 2011

Here’s a general ACS Data Release Schedule so you can see the planned releases for 2011 and 2012.

Census American Community Survey (ACS) Data Release Schedule by Year

Census American Community Survey (ACS) Data Release Schedule by Year

*Why is the release of the American Community Survey (ACS) 5 year data such a big deal?

It has to do with Census geography levels. The absolutely smallest geographies that the Census has released ACS data for today are areas with 20,000 persons or more. ACS data for less populated cities and counties as well as small Census geographies like tracts, block groups and blocks has not been released yet.

Census American Community Survey (ACS) Data Release Rules

Census American Community Survey (ACS) Data Release Rules

When the ACS 5 year estimates come out in December 2010, this will be the first time since the release of the Census 2000 data that we’ll have updated nationwide, socio-economic data for smaller cities and counties and for Census tracts, block groups and blocks. Even though the slide above doesn’t show Census blocks, the 5 year ACS release will include basic counts at the Census block level.

Brian McKenzie with the Census BureauBrian McKenzie with the Census Bureau provided the above dates in this awesome seminar. I can’t recommend Brian’s portion of this recorded seminar highly enough if you work with Census data or the entire seminar if you work with transportation data like FHWA’s CTPP data.

3 Interesting Points

  • Rule of Thumb: The Census Bureau tries to release ACS data 1 year after that data is collected.
  • It took 3 years for the Census Bureau to release the Census 2000 SF3 data; so the ACS data releases are much more timely than the decennial Census release.
  • A helpful tool: ACS Alerts. You can sign up for ACS alerts which are email updates about what’s going on with ACS at the Census Bureau’s website here.

Clear As Mud, Right?

American Community Survey data and release schedules are more complex than the decennial Census data and release schedules. If you’re unfamiliar with phrases like ACS 5 year estimates, I’m working on a blog post that summarizes how the ACS is different from the decennial Census–give me a week or two to finish it [edit: it’s here]. Also, leave me a comment if you have any questions about ACS data and release schedules, and I’ll try to address them.

Get an email when ACS 5 year estimates are released

I hate SPAM–so I won’t send you any. I promise not to sell or rent your email address to other people. I’ll just email you when the ACS 5 year estimates are available.

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2 Responses to When Will Census American Community Survey (ACS) Data Be Released?

  1. Paul D. September 13, 2012 at 9:33 am #

    I stumbled upon this post, which I realize is dated, but wanted to offer a clarification: The lowest-level geography for which data will be available is census block group, not block, according to the Census Bureau (planned release in December 2012).

    See http://www.census.gov/acs/www/data_documentation/2011_release_schedule/

    The Info Guru


  1. American Community Survey vs. Decennial Census: What’s the Difference | Plannovation - August 12, 2010

    […] to get 3-year ACS estimates for geographies with at least 20,000 persons. ACS 5 year estimates, which will be out in December 2010, will provide data for geographies with fewer than 20,000 […]

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