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There is no Census 2010 Long Form.

I still get asked by planners and researchers about when will the Census 2010 Long Form data be released. So I hope to clear up the confusion around this topic. Bottom-line: there is no Census 2010 Long Form. It’s been replaced by the American Community Survey.

Census Short Form versus a Census Long Form

Let’s go back to the Census 2000. The Census 2000 used 2 forms: the Short Form and the Long Form. The Census 2000 Short Form collected basic demographic information from 100% of US residents. The Short Form collected information like population count, sex, age and race. Here’s the Census 2000 Short Form.

The Census 2000 Long Form included all of the Census Short Form questions plus additional, more detailed demographic questions. For example, the Long Form asked about school attendance, languages spoken and disabilities. Here’s the Census 2000 Long Form.

The Census Long Form was sent to only 18 million lucky households–a small sample of the 105.5 million households in the US in 2000. The Census Bureau used the Long Form data collected from the 18 million household sample to then project or estimate the detailed demographic data for the rest of the US households that got the Short Form and weren’t asked the detailed demographic questions.

The Census 2010 Didn’t Use a Long Form

Fastforward to the Census 2010. The decennial Census 2010 only collected basic demographic information (just like the Census 2000 Short Form). The Census Bureau did not include a Long Form Questionnaire in the 2010 Census. Here’s a copy of the 2010 Census Form. You can see that the Census 2010 Form is much more like the Census 2000 Short Form than like the Census 2000 Long Form. In fact, the Census 2010 Form is one of the shortest Census forms in history.

Great, you’re still with me. So since the decennial Census 2010 didn’t use the Long Form, then how are researchers going to get the detailed demographic data like education levels and languages spoken that we need for our planning projects? That’s were the American Community Survey comes in. Just so there’s no confusion, let me quote from the Census Bureau:

Launched in 2005, the American Community Survey (ACS) is part of the decennial census program and is essentially what used to be the long form.

Let me know if you have any other questions about the ACS or Census 2010 in the comments below.

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