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Comparing 2010-2014 ACS 5-year and 2015-2019 ACS 5-year

When comparing the 2010-2014 ACS 5-year estimates with the 2015-2019 ACS 5-year estimates, there are several issues to consider:

  1. Change in geographic boundaries - The 2010-2014 ACS 5-year estimates used legal boundaries as of January 1, 2014. The 2015-2019 ACS 5-year estimates use legal boundaries as of January 1, 2019. Most statistical areas for both datasets use 2010 Census vintage geographies. For more information on geographic concepts used in the ACS, visit Geography and the ACS.
  2. Change in the questionnaire or coding - The list below provides details by subject for major questionnaire or coding changes.
  3. For guidance on issues with specific geographies or methodological changes, visit the Errata Notes and User Notes pages.

Data from 2015-2019 are comparable to 2010-2014 as long as some caution is used. In 2010, there were two major changes to the coding rules. If up to two ancestries were listed, both were coded, even if one was the specific of the other or if one was American. Also, race groups and Hispanic groups were coded with the same priority as non-race and non-Hispanic groups. For example, "Haitian Black French" would previously have been coded Haitian and French, but now would be coded Haitian and Black.

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Methodological changes to citizenship edits may have affected citizenship data for those born in American Samoa. Users should be aware of these changes when using 2018 data or multi-year data containing data from 2018. For more information, see: American Samoa Citizenship User Note.

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Modest changes have been made to the region and country groupings. On October 10, 2010 the Netherlands Antilles were dissolved, and for the 2011 ACS place of birth codes, Netherlands Antilles remains as code 336. Bonaire has been assigned new POB code 344, Curacao is 345, Saba is 346, Sint Eustatius is 347, and Sint Maarten is 348; please see the 2011 ACS Code List. For the 2014 ACS South Sudan (code 463) was added as an eligible place of birth, please see the 2014 ACS Code List. These changes do not limit comparing most 2010-2014 ACS 5-year and 2015-2019 ACS 5-year estimates.

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Beginning in 2019, the Census Bureau implemented changes to selected means of transportation categories based on results of the 2016 American Community Survey (ACS) Content Test. While the category labels have changed, the categories are considered comparable. Please refer to the 2019 Changes to the Means of Transportation Question Data User Note for comparability guidance.

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We recommend using caution when comparing the 2010-2014 ACS 5-year estimates to 2015-2019 ACS 5-year estimates. The 2015-2019 ACS 5-year estimates contained expanded “husband/wife” and “unmarried partner” categories that included separate categories for opposite-sex and same-sex couples. Additionally, the “roomer or boarder” category was removed. For additional information regarding changes to the Relationship to Householder item, please refer to the Same-Sex Couples page. Further, the 2015-2019 ACS 5-year estimates used a joint age, sex, and relationship edit, while the 2010-2014 ACS 5-year estimates used a joint relationship/marital status edit.

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We recommend using caution when comparing the 2010-2014 ACS 5-year estimates to 2015-2019 ACS 5-year estimates. The 2015-2019 ACS 5-year estimates contained expanded “husband/wife” and “unmarried partner” categories that included separate categories for opposite-sex and same-sex couples. Additionally, the “roomer or boarder” category was removed. For additional information regarding changes to the Relationship to Householder item, please refer to the Same-Sex Couples page. Further, the 2015-2019 ACS used a joint age, sex, and relationship edit, while the 2010-2014 ACS used a joint relationship/marital status edit. These edits are used to determine categories of family types.

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Use caution when comparing marital status from the 2010-2014 ACS 5-year estimates to 2015-2019 ACS 5-year estimates. The 2015-2019 ACS 5-year estimates used a separate marital status edit, while the 2010-2014 ACS 5-year estimates used a joint relationship/marital status edit.

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Use caution when making comparisons between the 2010-2014 ACS 5-year estimates and 2015-2019 ACS 5-year estimates of spoken languages and English-speaking ability.  Some languages need additional steps for comparison. Please refer to the 2016 Language Data User Note for comparability guidance.

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Income and earnings estimates in the 2010-2014 ACS 5-year data set are inflation-adjusted to 2014 dollars.  Income and earnings estimates in the 2015-2019 ACS 5-year data set are inflation-adjusted to 2019 dollars.  To compare income estimates between the two, multiply the 2010-2014 dollar estimates by 1.08096469 (CPI-U-RS) in order to inflation-adjust 2014 dollars to 2019 dollars. The exception is the Comparative Economic Characteristics Profile (CP03) where all income and earnings dollar values are presented in 2018 inflation-adjusted dollars. Note that the Census Bureau inflation-adjusts microdata to arrive at the adjusted dollar values in CP03.  Data users will not be able to exactly replicate the CP03 2010-2014 inflation-adjusted values.

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Income and earnings estimates in the 2010-2014 ACS 5-year data set are inflation-adjusted to 2014 dollars.  Income and earnings estimates in the 2015-2019 ACS 5-year data set are inflation-adjusted to 2019 dollars.  To compare income estimates between the two, multiply the 2009-2013 dollar estimates by 1.08096469 (CPI-U-RS) in order to inflation-adjust 2014 dollars to 2019 dollars. The exception is the Comparative Economic Characteristics Profile (CP03) where all income and earnings dollar values are presented in 2019 inflation-adjusted dollars. Note that the Census Bureau inflation-adjusts microdata to arrive at the adjusted dollar values in CP03.  Data users will not be able to exactly replicate the CP03 2010-2014 inflation-adjusted values.

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In 2013, the veteran status question was modified. As a result, we recommend using caution when comparing the 2015-2019 estimates to estimates from 2010-2014 of the veteran population or any earlier ACS 5-year data. For more information, visit the Veterans Statistics webpage.

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In 2010, we added an instruction to the food stamp question incorporating the new program name - Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

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The 2010 to 2012 ACS industry data was coded using the 2007 North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). The ACS industry data for 2013 to 2017 years was coded based on the 2012 revision of the NAICS codes. The 2018 ACS industry data and later years are based on the 2017 revision of the NAICS codes. To allow for the creation of 2015-2019 tables, industry data for data years 2015-2017 in the multiyear file was recoded to 2017 Census industry codes. Because of the NAICS revisions and Census industry code changes, we recommend using caution when comparing 2015-2019 industry data with 2010-2014 industry data. For more information on Census industry code changes, please visit the Industry and Occupation website.

The Census occupation codes for 2018 and later data years are based on the 2018 revision of the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC). To allow for the creation of 2015-2019 tables, occupation data for data years 2015-2017 in the multiyear file was recoded to 2018 Census occupation codes. The 2010-2014 ACS 5-year occupation data was based on the 2010 revision of the SOC. There were significant changes to the Census occupation codes as a result of the 2018 SOC revisions. Therefore, the 2010-2014 and 2015-2019 occupation data are not comparable. For more information on the Census occupation code changes, please visit Industry and Occupation website.

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Data was not available prior to 2013.  Therefore, the 2010-2014 ACS 5-year estimates were not available.  For more information about computer and internet use questions in the ACS and other Census Bureau surveys, visit the Computer and Internet Use website.

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Data was not available prior to 2014.  Therefore, the 2010-2014 ACS 5-year estimates were not available.

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