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American Community Survey

Census.govAmerican Community Survey › Guidance for Data Users: Comparing ACS Data
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Comparing ACS Data

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

Can I compare...?

American Community Survey 1-Year estimates with other data ?

CheckedACS 1-year estimates with Census 2000

CheckedACS 1-year estimates from different years.

CheckedUse Caution: Because ACS variables change over time, some areas and subjects must be compared with caution, or not compared at all.

Use the left navigation to get yearly guidance on specific topics/subjects.

ACS estimates with Census 2000?

CheckedACS 1-year, 3-year or 5-year estimates with Census 2000 data.

CheckedDifferences in the universe, question wording, residence rules, reference periods, and the way in which the data are tabulated can impact comparability with Census 2000.

Use our Table Comparison Lookup Tool to check for table-specific comparability.

ACS 3-year to 3-year and 5-year to 5-year?

The Census Bureau recommends that you:

CheckedDO compare similar period lengths, for example, 3-year to 3-year.

CheckedDON'T compare estimates from different period lengths, for example, 1-year to 3-year.

CheckedDO compare estimates from non-overlapping periods, for example, compare a 2005-2007 ACS 3-year estimate to a 2008-2010 ACS 3-year estimate.

CheckedDON'T compare overlapping periods, for example, the 2005-2007 ACS 3-year estimates to the 2006-2008 ACS 3-year estimates.

Tools and Resources

Table-specific Guidance

Use our Table Comparison Lookup Tool to search for a comparable table for your topic of interest. You can enter ACS table numbers or Census 2000 table numbers.

Topic-specific Guidance (by year)

Topic specific guidance is provided on a yearly basis:

Comparison Quick Guide (2009)

High-level guidance (compare, compare with caution, etc.) on groupings of topics (characteristics).

Source: U.S. Census Bureau | American Community Survey Office | Email ACS | Last Revised: December 04, 2014
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