ACS Data Users Conference
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.
- 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.
Sessions at Professional Meetings
Rural Sociological Society, New Orleans, LA (July 30-Aug. 3, 2014)
Session: "Using the American Community Survey for Rural Research."
Speakers: Eddie Castro, 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.
Update on Results of the ACS Content Review at the U.S. Census Bureau (Oct. 30, 2014)
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. Gary Chappell, project lead for the ACS Content Review process, will discuss results of the first phase of the project, a new Federal Register Notice and request for public comments, and next steps. His presentation will be followed by 10-15 minutes of questions and answers. Register online at https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/143922888.
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)
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)
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.