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2009 Comparison Quick Guide

Comparing 2005-2009 ACS 5-year estimates and Census 2000 Estimates

Data users need to be aware of differences between the American Community Survey and Census 2000 that will impact comparability of the 2005-2009 ACS estimates and Census 2000 estimates. There are differences in the universe, question wording, residence rules, reference periods, and the way in which the data are tabulated.

The strength of the ACS is in estimating characteristic distributions. We recommend users compare derived measures such as percents, means, medians, and rates rather than estimates of population totals.

Characteristics That Can Be Compared

In general, these characteristics are comparable. Cases where differences in question wording (Q), reference periods (RP), tabulation (T), and universes (U) may impact comparisons are noted in parentheses. Specific item-by-item guidance is also available.

  • Ancestry
  • Citizenship Status(T)
  • Nativity
  • Year of Entry
  • Place of Birth
  • Journey to Work(T)
  • Grandparents and Grandchildren
  • School Enrollment
  • Educational Attainment
  • Language
  • Poverty(RP)
  • Income and Earnings(RP)
  • Veteran Status and Period of Military Service
  • Employment Status(Q)
  • Hours and Weeks Worked
  • Industry(T)
  • Occupation(T)
  • Class of Worker(T)
  • Rooms and Bedrooms(Q)
  • Cost of Utilities
  • House Heating Fuel
  • Kitchen Facilities(Q)
  • Monthly Rent
  • Mortgage Status
  • Occupants/Room(Q)
  • Owner Costs(T)
  • Plumbing Facilities, except for Puerto Rico(Q)
  • Tenure
  • Units in Structure
  • Home Value(Q)
  • Vehicles Available
  • Group Quarters Population(U)

Characteristics That Should Not Be Compared: Only Compare Census 2000 with 2010 Census

The 2010 Census will be the benchmark for these characteristics. If your analysis does not involve other ACS characteristics, you should use the 2010 Census to compare the distributions back to Census 2000.

  • Age
  • Sex
  • Race
  • Hispanic or Latino Origin
  • Relationship
  • Household/Family Type
  • Subfamilies
  • Vacancy

Characteristics That Should Not Be Compared: Significant Differences in Question Wording, Tabulation Universes, or Data Processing

In general, Census Bureau analysts have determined that differences between ACS and Census 2000 prohibit an appropriate comparison between the two. While it may be possible for some analyses, the Census Bureau recommends extreme caution.

  • Migration
  • Marital Status
  • Disability Status (available in 2008-2012 ACS)
  • Plumbing Facilities in Puerto Rico
  • Contract Rent and Gross Rent
  • Gross Rent as a Percentage of Household Income
  • Real Estate Taxes
  • Telephone Service
  • Year Moved In
  • Year Structure Built

Characteristics That Cannot Be Compared: No Census 2000 Data

Characteristics were not available in Census 2000.

  • Fertility
  • Food Stamp/SNAP Receipt

Characteristics are not yet available for the ACS 5-year data product and not available in Census 2000.

  • Marital History (available in 2008-2012 ACS 5-year estimates)
  • Field of Degree (available in 2009-2013 ACS 5-year estimates)
  • Disability Status (available in 2008-2012 ACS)
  • Service-Connected Disability Status (available in 2008-2012 ACS 5-year estimates)
  • Health Insurance Coverage (available in 2008-2012 ACS 5-year estimates)

Source: U.S. Census Bureau | American Community Survey Office | Email ACS | Last Revised: March 17, 2015
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