July 31, 2018 Race and Ethnicity

The American Community Survey (ACS) and Civil Rights

What is the American Community Survey?

The once-every-10-years census is required by the U.S. Constitution and plays a central role in the functioning of our government and the well-being of American communities. At the urging of Congress, the American Community Survey (ACS) replaced the old census “long form” in 2005 to help streamline the decennial census and provide more timely information for policymakers.

The ACS collects more comprehensive socio-economic data than the census short form that every household is required to complete. It is an ongoing survey that is sent to a rolling sample of 295,000 addresses per month to produce updated, comprehensive demographic, social, and economic data between decennial censuses.

Because it is part of the constitutionally mandated census, participation is required by law. There is no other source for the reliable, nationwide, community-level data gathered through the ACS.