Because it is part of the constitutionally mandated census, participation in filling out the ACS is required by law. There is no other source for the reliable, nationwide, community-level data gathered through the ACS.
The census is the basis for equal political representation under the Constitution. Policymakers use census data to identify community needs and to distribute federal program dollars to states and localities based on population numbers or other community characteristics that the census and related American Community Survey measure.
Health care providers, health insurance companies, government agencies, and beneficiaries need accurate information to make decisions regarding the products and services they provide and utilize. An inaccurate measure of the U.S. population and its characteristics could deprive the health care sector of vital resources needed to ensure it is meeting each community’s needs.
At a macro level, the 2010 Census appeared to be close to perfect. But the apparent precision can be misleading and doesn’t tell the whole story. This Fact Sheet discusses what we know about census accuracy and why it matters to funders and their grantees.
The 2020 Census and the ACS are currently facing fiscal, operational, and policy threats that could jeopardize a fair and accurate count, which would weaken data used by the health care, education, housing, local government, transportation, and manufacturing sectors and could reduce federal funding of critical programs.
Young children – defined as children under age five – have been undercounted for decades, disadvantaging their families, communities, and neighborhoods.