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Census Bureau Releases 2006-2008 American Community Survey Data

     The U.S. Census Bureau released new American Community Survey (ACS) data today covering the three-year period between 2006 and 2008 on a wide range of socioeconomic, housing and demographic characteristics for communities across the nation, part of an ongoing statistical portrait of America.

     Among the dozens of topics covered in the survey are educational attainment, commute times, housing characteristics, occupation, language ability and various other social, economic and housing topics.

     The data provide a portrait of communities throughout the nation with populations as small as 20,000, including all states, congressional districts and metropolitan areas; about half of all counties; and about 8 percent of all places. This is the second set of ACS data released this fall; in September 2009, the Census Bureau released the 2008 ACS one-year estimates on a similar set of topics for all areas with populations of 65,000 or more.

     While the 2010 Census will produce a count of the nation's population and basic demographics, the ACS provides statistics about the social, economic and housing characteristics of states and local communities. What is now the American Community Survey was part of the decennial census in earlier decades as the "census long form" that went to about one-in-six residential addresses in Census 2000.

     Moving the once-a-decade, long-form questions to an ongoing survey throughout the decade has enabled the Census Bureau to produce annual, detailed socioeconomic and housing data that help leaders, planners and businesses make better-informed decisions. Combined, data from the 2010 Census and the ACS will help determine the distribution of more than $400 billion in federal tax funds to states and local areas every year.

     Among the findings for metropolitan areas included in today's release are:

Journey to work

  • The New York metro area has the longest mean travel time to work, 34.5 minutes, followed by the Washington, D.C., metro area, 33.2 minutes.
  • Only one metro area, Grand Forks, N.D., has a mean travel time to work of less than 15 minutes.
  • The percent of workers who drove alone to work ranges from 50.4 percent in the New York metro area to 87.3 percent in the Jackson, Tenn., and Monroe, Mich., metro areas.


  • The percent foreign-born in metro areas ranges from 0.9 percent in the Altoona, Pa., metro area to 36.9 percent in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale metro area.
  • Two other metro areas have populations that are more than 30 percent foreign born: San Jose, Calif., and Los Angeles, Calif.

Language spoken

  • For metro areas where data are available, the percent of people 5 years and over who speak a language other than English at home ranges from 1.8 percent in Charleston, W.Va., to 84.2 percent in McAllen, Texas.
  • The only other metro area where more than three-quarters of people 5 years and over speak a language other than English at home is El Paso, Texas.


  • Median home value in metro areas ranges from $68,200 in Odessa, Texas, to $739,700 in San Jose Calif., the only metro area with a median home value above $700,000.
  • Six other metro areas, all in California, have median home values in excess of $600,000: Santa Cruz, San Francisco, Salinas, Napa, Santa Barbara and Oxnard.

Household size

  • Two metro areas, Provo-Orem, Utah and Laredo, Texas, have average household sizes above 3.5 people per household.
  • The metro area with the smallest average household size is Ocean City, N.J., at 2.0 people per household.

     As part of the Census Bureau's reengineered 2010 Census, the data collected by the American Community Survey (ACS) helps federal officials determine where to distribute more than $400 billion to state and local governments each year. Responses to the survey are strictly confidential and protected by law.

     The 2006-2008 ACS estimates are based on an annual, nationwide sample of about 250,000 addresses per month. In addition, approximately 20,000 group quarters across the United States were sampled each year, comprising approximately 200,000 residents. Geographic areas for which data are available are based on total populations of 20,000 or more.

     As is the case with all surveys, statistics from sample surveys are subject to sampling and nonsampling error. All comparisons made in the reports have been tested and found to be statistically significant at the 90 percent confidence level, unless otherwise noted. Please consult the data tables for specific margins of error. For more information, go to <>.

     Changes in survey design from year to year can affect results. See <> for more information on changes affecting the data. See <> for guidance on comparing 2006-2008 ACS data with data from previous years and the 2000 Census.

     The Office of Management and Budget's metro area definitions are those issued by that agency in November 2007. Some metro area titles are abbreviated in the text of the news release. Full titles are shown in the tables.

     Visit "American Factfinder," the Census Bureau's online data tool, to obtain the new three-year data (2006-2008) for areas with a population of 20,000 or more, including the nation, all states and the District of Columbia, all congressional districts, approximately 1,800 counties, and 900 metropolitan and micropolitan statistical areas, among others.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Public Information Office | | Last Revised: September 09, 2014