Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage
2006 American Community Survey
U.S. Census Bureau
Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2007
JAY KELLER INTRODUCTORY REMARKS
Welcome to all of you here and those watching online. My name is Jay Keller. I’m the Assistant to the Associate Director for the U.S. Census Bureau’s Communications Program, which includes our Public Information Office. At this time I will provide an overview of today’s annual news conference on income, poverty and health insurance in the United States, the first to be held in the Census Bureau’s new, state-of-the-art office building.
Today’s release is vitally important to our country, but reflects just a small part of the many topics covered by the Census Bureau throughout the year, such as economic indicators, industry data, educational attainment, housing values, commuting time to work, languages spoken and family status, to name just a few. The Census Bureau also reports on population groups, including school-age children, senior citizens, military personnel, disabled persons and our nation’s increasing minority population. Along with these annual programs, we also take an economic census every five years, and three years from now will be completing the 2010 decennial census. In fact, Census Bureau data help determine how more than 300 billion dollars in federal funds are distributed back to state and local governments each year.
Everyone will receive a press kit following my remarks. For those viewing the news conference on your computers, you will be able to download the contents of the press kit from the news conference page where you’ve joined the web cast. Those with us by telephone can also view today’s information by going to the Census Bureau homepage, www.census.gov, and clicking on the income and poverty banner at the top of the screen.
This morning David Johnson, chief of our Housing and Household Economic Statistics Division, will highlight results from the Current Population Survey’s Annual Social and Economic Supplement, or C-P-S, and the American Community Survey, or A-C-S.
Because of its detailed questionnaire, the CPS is the source of the official national estimates of poverty, as well as estimates of money income, and health insurance coverage.
It provides a consistent, historical timeline over many decades at the national level and is also used to provide state-level health insurance estimates and trends over time.
The 2006 American Community Survey, which represents the second full year of implementation for this new program, provides annual state level data on household income, individual earnings, and poverty, complementing the national data provided by the CPS. It allows us to drill down to all congressional districts, and counties, places, and areas of 65,000 or more. This represents nearly 7,000 geographic areas. For the first time, the ACS numbers reflect the addition of Group Quarters data in the ACS sample.
Next year’s ACS release will include multi-year estimates for areas with populations as small as 20,000. By 2010 these multi-year estimates will reach down to the census tract and block group level.
The ACS represents a signature achievement for the Census Bureau, responding to the need for detailed data on how America is changing every year, not just once every ten years. It is a significant part of our reengineering of the census, and will allow us to conduct a short-form-only census in 2010.
As we hand out the news kits for today’s release—and members of the media please raise your hands so we can get the kits to you--I’d like to remind you to turn off your cell phones and Blackberrys while you are here in the auditorium. Now let me review the contents of the news kits.
On the left side of your kit, you’ll find the news release; the Current Population Survey report on income, poverty and health insurance coverage; and the 2006 American Community Survey report on income, poverty and earnings.
On the right side of the kit is a copy of the slides, topline national data from the ACS, a fact sheet describing the differences between the two surveys, guidance on how to decide which data to use, and speaker biographies.
The guidance on how to use the two surveys is critical. They are different and their results should not be compared to each other. The surveys have different sample sizes and designs. They have different questions; for example, the CPS asks more detailed questions on income. The data are collected using different methodologies. Some 50% of ACS questionnaires are returned by mail, for example, while CPS data are always collected in person or by phone using highly trained field representatives. Finally, the time periods are not strictly comparable. The CPS data represent calendar year 2006 data. The ACS data represent data from the twelve months before the time the questionnaire is filled out, and the nature of that survey is that the total annual sample is spread out evenly over the year by month. The CPS provides data recommended for use at the national level and for examining state trends over time. The ACS provides data recommended for use at the state and local level, and for comparing differences between states and localities.
Following David’s data presentation, we will have a question and answer period. We will take questions from accredited news media only. Please save your questions for the end of the presentation. When asking a question, please provide your name and affiliation. We have a limited amount of time to answer questions, so, if your question is not answered, please call our Public Information Office at 301-763-3030, or you may choose to stay for a few minutes and ask questions of Census Bureau staff available here today.
Now, here’s David Johnson, chief of the Housing and Household Economic Statistics Division, to speak about income, poverty and health insurance coverage in the United States.
Question & Answer
That concludes the presentation portion of the income and poverty news conference. We will now take questions from accredited news media only. We will try to get to everyone, but please hold your question until you are recognized. Remember to confine your questions to the data presented here today. Since the Census Bureau is not a policy-making agency, for example, we will not be able to entertain any policy-related questions. When asking a question, please wait for the microphone, provide your name and affiliation first, and then proceed.
This concludes the Q&A portion of today’s news conference. Thank you for taking part. I’d also like to thank the many Census Bureau employees involved in developing the surveys and analyzing the data, as well as the Census Bureau regional field representatives who collect the data around the country, the staff at our National Processing Center in Jeffersonville, Indiana, and our Public Information Office, which organized this event. Most importantly, I’d like to thank the respondents to our surveys; our work would be impossible without their trust and willingness to participate. Again, should you need additional information, or a follow up interview, please contact our Public Information Office at 301-763-3030. If you arrived here today by van from the National Press Club, the van will pick you up at the same place it dropped you off. Thank you, and good morning.