Events

ACS Data Users Conference, May 2015

May 2015

More than 250 ACS data users attended the second annual ACS Data Users Conference, held May 11-13, 2015, at the College Park Marriott Hotel and Conference Center in Hyattsville, Maryland. The program included a pre-meeting workshop for novice ACS data users, more than 30 contributed presentations, and three invited panel sessions. Invited panelists included John H. Thompson, director of the U.S. Census Bureau and Dr. Mark Doms, Under Secretary of Commerce for Economic Affairs.

The purpose of the conference was to bring together ACS data users and staff from the U.S. Census Bureau to increase understanding of the value and utility of ACS data and to promote information sharing among data users about key ACS data issues and applications. The conference was organized by the Population Reference Bureau and Sabre Systems in partnership with staff from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Conference Sessions

  • Pre-Meeting Workshop for Novice ACS Data Users
  • Plenary Session: The American Community Survey: Looking Ahead
  • Custom Aggregations of ACS Estimates and Dealing with Sampling Error
  • Uses of ACS Data: Federal, Local, and Non-Profit Applications
  • Applications of ACS Data for Health Insurance and Disability
  • Applications of ACS Data for Transportation and Planning
  • Specialized ACS Applications and Tools (for Novice/Intermediate Users)
  • Specialized ACS Applications and Tools (for Advanced Users)
  • Plenary Session: Looking Ahead: Key ACS Issues and Data User Needs
  • Comparing or Combining ACS Data with Other Data Sources
  • Applications of ACS Data for Policy Analysis
  • Invited Panel Session: Looking Ahead: Communicating the Value of the ACS
Copies of the conference presentations (in PDF format) have been posted in the ACS Online Community.

Webinars

March 2015

Using the ACS to Measure Health Insurance Coverage (March 26, 2015)
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Starting with the 2008 survey, the American Community Survey (ACS) has included a question about health insurance coverage. The ACS provides new opportunities for tracking health insurance coverage over time and comparing insurance patterns across geographic areas and population subgroups. But there are also challenges for data users. In this webinar, Joanna Turner, Senior Research Fellow at the State Health Access Data Assistance Center (SHADAC) provided an overview of health insurance data in the ACS, how it fits into the context of other federal surveys collecting health data, and provided examples of how SHADAC uses these data to inform state health policy. Genevieve Kenney, Codirector and Senior Fellow in the Health Policy Center of the Urban Institute, presented some examples of how ACS health insurance data can be used, along with challenges in working with the ACS coverage data. An archived recording of this webinar is available online.

Combining ACS Data with Other Data Sources (Feb. 19, 2015)
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American Community Survey (ACS) data can be used to study a wide range of social, economic, and demographic issues. But in some cases, data users need to combine ACS data with administrative records or data from other sources to meet specific research needs. In this webinar, three ACS data users describe applications in which they combined the ACS with other sources. Jonathan Fisher, research scholar at the Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality, describes a project to combine ACS data with personal bankruptcy records. Stephen Tordella, president of Decision Demographics, gives a presentation on his work combining ACS data with Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) records. And Tom Godfrey, research demographer at Decision Demographics, describes his work combining ACS Public Use Microdata Sample data with other data sources to produce estimates and projections of librarians. An archived recording of this webinar is available online.

Using the ACS for Local Area Planning and Analysis: The 2014 Planning Database (Nov. 19, 2014)
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The Census Bureau recently released the 2014 Planning Database (PDB) with selected 2008-2012 American Community Survey (ACS) and 2010 Census data for census tracts and block groups. These small area demographic, housing, and socioeconomic data may be useful to a wide range of ACS data users for planning and analysis. The PDB includes the 2010 Census mail return rate and a new “Low Response Score” (LRS) for each tract and block group, which measures the likelihood of census or survey participation. In this webinar, Nancy A. Bates, Travis Pape, Barbara C. O’Hare, and Chandra Erdman of the U.S. Census Bureau first provide an overview of the 2014 Planning Database, describe how to access it, and then discuss practical applications of the new LRS. Their presentation is followed by 10-15 minutes of questions and answers. An archived recording of this webinar is available online.

Update on Results of the ACS Content Review at the U.S. Census Bureau (Oct. 30, 2014)
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The Census Bureau is in the process of reviewing each question in the American Community Survey (ACS) to make sure the survey includes only those questions federal agencies need to accomplish their missions, and to minimize the reporting burden on the 3.5 million households that respond to the survey each year. In this webinar, Gary Chappell, project lead for the ACS Content Review process, discusses results of the first phase of the project, a new Federal Register Notice and request for public comments, and next steps. His presentation is followed by 15 minutes of questions and answers. An archived recording of this webinar is available online.

Overview of the American Community Survey 2014 Content Review (April 9, 2014)

The American Community Survey (ACS) is the nation's largest household survey. It provides detailed social, economic, housing, and demographic statistics for large and small communities. The Census Bureau is in the process of reviewing each question on the ACS to make sure the survey includes only those questions federal agencies need to accomplish their missions. They also want to minimize the reporting burden on the 3.5 million households that respond to the survey each year. In this webinar, Gary Chappell, project lead for the ACS Content Review process at the U.S. Census Bureau, discusses the goals, approach, outreach to data users, and next steps during 2014. His presentation is followed by 15 minutes of questions and answers. An archived recording of this webinar is available online.

Using ACS Multiyear Estimates: Issues and Best Practices (Feb. 27, 2014)
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American Community Survey estimates are collected over a period of time (12 months, 36 months, or 60 months). For small geographic areas, only 5-year estimates are available. But for larger geographic areas, data users have a choice between ACS estimates, and need to consider the tradeoffs between the currency and reliability of the data. In this webinar, Phyllis Betts, founding director of the Center for Community Building and Neighborhood Action at the University of Memphis, and now a partner with Strategic City Solutions Consulting; and Timothy Bray, director of the Institute for Urban Policy Research at the University of Texas at Dallas, will discuss some issues for ACS data users to consider and best practices in using ACS multiyear estimates and data for small geographic areas. Their discussion will be followed by 10-15 minutes of Q & A. An archived recording of this webinar is available online.

Using the ACS to Measure Trends Over Time (Dec. 13, 2013)
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American Community Survey data are released each year, enabling data users to monitor annual social and economic trends for states and local areas. The availability of annual data is a boon to decisionmakers who need to plan and budget for services such as transportation, medical care, and schools. However, assessing trends over time can be challenging when working with ACS multiyear estimates. In this webinar, Ken Hodges, chief demographer at Nielsen, and Ed Christopher, community planner for the Federal Highway Administration Resource Center, will discuss some applications of ACS data to measure trends over time. Mark Mather of the Population Reference Bureau will also provide a brief overview of the Census Bureau’s guidance for measuring trends with ACS data. Their discussion will be followed by 10-15 minutes of Q & A. An archived recording of this webinar is available online.

Tutorial on the ACS Data Users Group Online Community (Oct. 10, 2013)
In partnership with the U.S. Census Bureau, the Population Reference Bureau (PRB) and Sabre Systems have formed a new American Community Survey Data Users Group and Online Community. The Online Community provides a discussion site where people can share messages, materials, and announcements related to ACS data and methods. In this webinar, Mark Mather, associate vice president of U.S. Programs at PRB, provided a demonstration of the new Online Community for ACS data users. An archived recording of this webinar is available online.

ACS Data for Small Geographic Areas and Population Subgroups (July 10, 2013)

The American Community Survey (ACS) provides a continuous stream of updated information for states and local areas, and is revolutionizing the way we use data to understand our communities. In this webinar, Tim Gilbert from the U.S. Census Bureau provided an overview of ACS data for small geographic areas and population subgroups. Laura Speer, Director of the KIDS COUNT project at the Annie E. Casey Foundation, discussed how the Foundation uses ACS data to promote the well-being of children across the states. And Frances Deviney, Texas KIDS COUNT Director and Senior Research Associate for the Center for Public Policy Priorities, provided some examples of ACS data applications for local areas. An archived recording of this webinar is available online.

Sessions at Professional Meetings

August 2014

Rural Sociological Society, New Orleans, LA (July 30-Aug. 3, 2014)
Session: "Using the American Community Survey for Rural Research." With Census 2010, the American Community Survey (ACS) replaced the census long form as the primary public means for collecting and reporting small area socioeconomic and housing data. With this data shift come new opportunities and challenges for researchers studying more rural areas of the United States. Many are struggling with how to adjust to the new data, its multi-year estimates, margins of error, and its differences from more familiar census data. This organized session addressed issues and opportunities associated with using data from the ACS for researching more rural areas of the United States and provided relevant examples from RSS members using the ACS in their research. The session included one presentation by a representative from the US Census Bureau about using ACS multi-year estimates and about dealing with associated margins of error. Secondly, the session included research presentations by RSS members using ACS data. Finally, the session introduced a new online ACS Data Users Group where data users can network, learn from one another, and share hints and resources (see http://www.acsdatausers.org/).
Speakers: Eddie Castro, U.S. Census Bureau; John Green, University of Mississippi; Joe Francis and Warren Brown, Cornell University; Richelle Winkler, Michigan Tech University.

Population Association of America, Boston, MA (April 30, 2014)
Workshop: "Benefits and Challenges of the American Community Survey."  This workshop was sponsored by the Committee on Population Statistics, and co-organized by PRB on behalf of the ACS Data Users Group. The primary objectives of this workshop were to provide an understanding of: the content and different types of estimates available from the ACS; the reliability limitations associated with ACS estimates and options for dealing with these; and the resources available to assist ACS data users, including the new ACS Data Users Group and Online Community. (The workshop was divided into six sections and the slides and recording of each presentation are available from the above link.)
Speakers: Linda A. Jacobsen, PRB; Joseph J. Salvo, New York City Department of Planning; Rachel Franklin, Brown University; Ken Hodges, Nielsen; and Mark Mather, PRB.
Session: "Improving the Reliability of Small Area Estimates from the ACS." While the annual ACS is more timely than the once-a-decade Census, its smaller sample size results in lower levels of reliability for data for small geographic areas such as census tracts. In this session, leading researchers from the Census Bureau shared results from their analyses of improvements in reliability due to recent changes in ACS sample design and operations, and a prominent demographer and a leading geographer described the innovative methods they are using to improve the reliability of ACS data through aggregation.
Moderator: Linda A. Jacobsen, PRB.
Speakers: Steven Hefter, U.S. Census Bureau; Mark Asiala, U.S. Census Bureau; Joseph Salvo, New York City Department of City Planning; Seth Spielman, University of Colorado.
Discussant: Constance F. Citro, Director of the Committee on National Statistics, The National Academies.

Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting, Tampa, FL (April 9, 2014)
Panel Session: "The American Community Survey: Program Developments, New Tools and Applications, and the ACS Data Users Group." This session provided an update on the Census Bureau's American Community Survey (ACS) program, highlighting new developments in survey methods, data products, mapping tools, and geospatial applications at the state and local level. An introduction to the features and benefits of joining the new American Community Survey Data Users Group and Online Community was provided along with a discussion of the benefits to the state of Florida and its communities from the ACS, including illustrations of some of the key ways that Florida is utilizing these data for state and local programs and services.
Moderator: Linda A. Jacobsen, PRB.
Speakers: Nancy Torrieri, U.S. Census Bureau; Linda A. Jacobsen, PRB; David W. Wong, George Mason University; Pamela Schenker, Office of Economic and Demographic Research, Florida Legislature.

Southern Demographic Association Annual Conference, Montgomery, AL (Oct. 24, 2013)
Panel Session: "The American Community Survey: New Developments & Innovative Applications." This session provided a brief overview of the purpose, structure, and activities of a new American Community Survey (ACS) Data Users Group from the perspective of both the Census Bureau and those coordinating the group. The ACS Data Users Group online community was showcased via a live demonstration. Two additional panelists described new, innovative applications of ACS data.
Panel: Mark Mather, PRB; James Bulot, Georgia Department of Human Services; and Orlando Torres, Florida State University.

The Association of Public Data Users Annual Conference, Washington DC (Sept. 17, 2013)
Plenary Presentation: "The American Community Survey: New Developments and Innovative Applications." In partnership with the U.S. Census Bureau, the Population Reference Bureau (PRB) and Sabre Systems created a new American Community Survey (ACS) Data Users Group. This session provided a brief overview of that group's purpose, structure, and activities. The session also reviewed new, innovative applications of ACS data.
Moderator/Speaker: Linda A. Jacobsen, Population Reference Bureau, Speakers: James Treat, U.S. Census Bureau; and Chris Emrich, Hazards and Vulnerability Research Institute.
Data User Breakout: "The New ACS Data Users Group and Online Community." The ACS Data Users Group online community was showcased via a live demonstration, along with an overview of other group activities including webinars, conference presentations, and an upcoming data users conference. Group coordinators also provided a brief summary of data user feedback to date and solicited additional input from session attendees. Interested persons learned how they can join and participate in the new ACS Data Users Group.
Moderator: Linda A. Jacobsen, Population Reference Bureau.
Speakers: Mark Mather, Population Reference Bureau; Edward Spar, Sabre Systems.

ACS Data Users Conference 2014

May 2014

Nearly 300 ACS data users attended the inaugural ACS Data Users Conference, held May 29-30, 2014, at the Holiday Inn Capitol in Washington, D.C. The program included more than 40 contributed presentations by ACS data users, an invited plenary session by top Census Bureau staff, and keynote addresses by Dr. Mark Doms, Under Secretary for Economic Affairs at the U.S. Department of Commerce; and John H. Thompson, director of the U.S. Census Bureau. The purpose of the conference was to facilitate information sharing among data users about key ACS data issues and applications and to promote networking. The conference was organized by the Population Reference Bureau and Sabre Systems in partnership with staff from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Conference Sessions

  • Plenary session featuring presentations by top U.S. Census Bureau staff
  • Aggregating ACS Estimates and Calculating Margins of Error
  • Using ACS in GIS and Data Visualization Applications
  • Keynote addresses by Dr. Mark Doms, Under Secretary for Economic Affairs at the U.S. Department of Commerce; and John H. Thompson, director of the U.S. Census Bureau
  • Applications of ACS Data for Income and Poverty
  • Applications of ACS Data for Employment and Commuting
  • Applications of ACS Data for Health Insurance and Disability
  • Housing Applications Using ACS Data
  • Using ACS Data from NHGIS, Summary Files, IPUMS, PUMS, and Custom Tabulations
  • Using the ACS to Look at Small Population Groups and Trends Over Time
  • Issues and Limitations in Using Small-Area ACS Data
  • Applications of ACS Data for Migration Patterns and Trends

Copies of the conference presentations (in PDFs) have been posted in the ACS Online Community.