Press release | November 30, 2021 Census Bureau releases one-year experimental data from the American Community Survey 2020 The US Census Bureau today released one-year experimental estimates from the American Community Survey (ACS).

NOV. 30, 2021 – The US Census Bureau today released one-year experimental estimates from the American Community Survey (ACS), one of the nation’s most comprehensive sources of information on population and housing in the United States. Experimental data covers a limited number of subjects for the nation, all 50 states, and the District of Columbia. A technical report, blog, and experimental data on a one-year Public Use Microdata (PUMS) sample have also been released.

The Census Bureau typically publishes three different sets of ACS data estimates each year as one-year and five-year data sets, as well as additional one-year estimates. Our publication is different this year due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, which disrupted ACS data collection in 2020. Due to limitations, we were unable to collect information from some segments of the population, as explained in the previously published blog and analytical report, An Assessment of the Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on One Year’s Data from ACS 2020.

People who responded to the survey had significantly different social, economic and housing characteristics than those who did not, which resulted in non-response bias in the data. The Census Bureau determined that the one-year standard estimates for ACS 2020 did not meet statistical quality standards and ultimately decided to release the estimates as an experimental product.

The discussion paper, Addressing Nonresponse Bias in the American Community Survey during the Pandemic Using Administrative Data, details changes to the ACS weighting procedures for the 2020 experimental data. Weighting can mitigate the effects of nonresponse bias. response, which occurs when the characteristics of those who complete the survey (respondents) differ from those of those who do not complete the survey (non-respondents). The blog provides an overview of the report and the experimental methodology.

The 1-year 2020 PUMS files include experimental weights and data on approximately 1% of the U.S. population while protecting the privacy of survey respondents. The files provide population and housing characteristics up to the Public Use Microdata Areas (PUMA), which are special, non-overlapping areas that divide each state into contiguous geographic units. They are drawn after each decennial census so that they contain no less than 100,000 people.

The Census Bureau does not recommend comparing the one-year experimental estimates from the ACS 2020 with our standard estimates from the ACS or the decennial census, or comparing the one-year PUMS data 2020 with standard pre-tabulated products or estimates based on PUMS from previous years. Additionally, as the experimental weighting procedure was designed primarily to produce experimental estimates for states, estimates for PUMA should be used with caution, as the experimental weights are not optimized to produce estimates for these areas.

Recognizing the difficulty that the absence of standard one-year ACS estimates will have on data user communities, the Census Bureau has previously provided a list of resources offering technical data assistance. Additional resources are available in the press kit. More information on the changes to the 2020 ACS 1 year version can be found at www.census.gov/programs-surveys/acs/data/experimental-data.html.

The Census Bureau announced in early November that the release of the quinquennial 2016-2020 ACS data originally scheduled for December 2021 had been delayed. Additional time is needed to continue refining our methodology in order to minimize the impact of non-response bias on the 5-year estimates.

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