Census Data Collection – Implications for Rural and Small Urban Areas

In 2010, every residence in the United States will receive a short census form of 10 questions.   The 2010 Census asks for name, gender, age, race, ethnicity, relationship and whether the head of household owns or rents their home. More detailed socioeconomic information previously collected through the decennial census will be asked annually of a small percentage of the population through the American Community Survey.

The use of the American Community Survey (ACS) is good, because sample data is, and will continue to be collected every year. We will be able to continue to model how the country’s population changes year to year.  However, what data is available and when it is available, will depend on where you live.  It is my understanding that for statistical reasons, the sample ACS data available for populations of 65,000 or more can be based on one year estimates while the data for geographies under 65,000 have to be averaged over a three or five-year period. This means that rural areas and smaller urban areas will not see any new information until at least 2013.

I will be interested to see what this information gap will mean for these areas, and the under-served populations who live there.


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