American Community Survey (ACS)

Years Available
2005 to present
Mode of Collection
Sample survey: internet questionnaire, with mail option.
The American Community Survey (ACS) provides annual estimates of income, education, employment, health insurance coverage, and housing costs and conditions for residents of the United States. Estimates from the ACS complement population data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau during the decennial census. (Topics currently included annually in ACS were previously collected once a decade through the decennial census long form.)
Selected Content
Demographic characteristics, economic and labor force characteristics (e.g., income, occupation), housing characteristics (e.g., type of housing unit, number of rooms), and health insurance coverage.
Population Covered
The U.S. population, including the population living in group quarters.
The ACS covers U.S. residents in all 3,141 counties in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and all 78 municipalities in Puerto Rico. The survey includes persons living in residential housing and those residing in group quarters facilities. Annual ACS estimates are available every year for states and for specific geographic areas with populations of 65,000 or more. The ACS data collection operation uses up to four modes to collect information: internet, mail, telephone, and personal visit interviews. The first mode includes a mailed request to respond to the ACS questionnaire via internet, followed by an option to complete a paper questionnaire and return it by mail. If neither an internet nor mail questionnaire is received, a follow-up interview by phone or personal visit is attempted for a sample of non-respondents. Each month, a sample of housing unit addresses and residents of group quarters facilities receive questionnaires. Housing units include a house; apartment; mobile home or trailer; a group of rooms; and a single room occupied as separate living quarters, or if vacant, intended for occupancy as separate living quarters. Group quarters are places where people live or stay that are normally owned or managed by an entity or organization providing housing and services for residents. These services may include custodial or al expenditureaal care as well as other types of assistance, and residency is commonly restricted to persons receiving these services. The group quarters population comprises both the institutional and non-institutional group quarters populations. The institutional group quarters population includes residents under formally authorized supervised care, such as those in skilled nursing facilities, adult correctional facilities, and psychiatric hospitals, while the non-institutional group quarters population includes residents of colleges or university housing, military barracks, and group homes. ACS creates two sets of weights: a weight for each sample person record (both household and group-quarters persons) and a weight for each sample housing unit record.
Response Rates and Sample Size
Each year, approximately 3.4 million housing unit addresses in the 50 states and the District of Columbia, as well as 36,000 in Puerto Rico, are selected to participate in the ACS. In addition, 2.5% of the population living in group quarters (approximately 20,000 group quarters facilities and 195,000 residents of group quarters in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico) are sampled. In 2017, the housing unit response rate was 93.7%; the group quarters response rate was 94.7%.