Contact: Robert Bernstein
Public Information Office
The American Community Survey, the most detailed portrait of America's towns and neighborhoods, is now more convenient for most participants with the added availability of responding online. That will make it the 61st U.S. Census Bureau survey with Internet response, saving money on printing, paper, postage and processing costs, while maintaining security.
“The online response option is part of an ongoing digital transformation at the Census Bureau,” said Thomas Mesenbourg, the Census Bureau's acting director. “The Census Bureau is transforming to make responding to surveys more convenient, conducting surveys more cost-effective and America's statistics more accessible on digital and mobile devices.”
Households selected to participate in the American Community Survey will receive a letter in the mail with instructions about how to log in to the secure website and complete the survey online.
When using the online response option, participants will have the ability to review their answers and receive help. This response option, which is secure and confidential, will be available for almost everyone in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. If households selected to participate in the survey do not use the online response option, the Census Bureau will send them a paper questionnaire, or contact them by phone or in person to obtain answers.
In addition to collecting information online, the Census Bureau is adding a series of questions on computer and Internet usage. The data gathered through these questions will become available beginning in 2014.
The American Community Survey is sent to more than 3.5 million housing unit addresses on a rotating basis throughout the year. The survey provides a wide range of important statistics about people and housing for every community across the nation. The results are widely used, for example, by town and city planners, retailers and homebuilders. The survey is the only source of local estimates for most of the 40 topics it covers, such as education, occupation, language, ancestry and housing costs for even the smallest communities.
“The people who respond to the American Community Survey contribute vital information that benefits their neighborhoods, towns and cities,” Mesenbourg said. “That's why participation is so important.”
Ever since Thomas Jefferson directed the first census in 1790, the census has collected detailed characteristics about our nation's people. Questions about jobs and the economy were added 20 years later under James Madison, who said such information would allow Congress to “adapt the public measures to the particular circumstances of the community,” and over the decades, allow America “an opportunity of marking the progress of the society.”
The Census Bureau releases three sets of American Community Survey statistics each fall. First come single-year estimates for all areas with populations of 65,000 or more. Next is a corresponding set of three-year estimates covering areas with populations of 20,000 or more. Finally, five-year estimates for areas down to the neighborhood level are released at the end of the year.