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American Community Survey

This Fall, the Census Bureau will release a few data sets that help us understand more about who we are as a country, culminating in the 2010 Census population counts announced this December. The first of these data releases is the American Community Survey (ACS) 1-year estimates.

While the 2010 Census serves as an actual count of the population on April 1, 2010, the ACS describes how we live by providing estimates of key social, economic, and housing characteristics. As an ongoing survey, the ACS allows the Census Bureau to provide detailed characteristic data on communities every year. The ACS data released today are based on data collected from households throughout the country in 2009. ACS data help us paint a portrait of America – showing not only where people live, but how we live, what we earn, what language(s) we speak, our educational attainment and much more. Housing data collected in 2009 show us, for example:

-The Pittsburgh, Pa., metro area had the lowest median monthly gross rent ($643), while San-Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif. metro area, with a gross rent of $1,414, was the most expensive rental market, among the 50 most populous metro areas.

Far from just being interesting facts about our communities, the ACS data are a critical component of our nation’s information infrastructure. The data influence the distribution of hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funds. Local governments and businesses use this information to help decide where to build new schools, stores, hospitals, roads, and more. Federal, state, local, and tribal programs use the detailed information to help plan for the future of our communities, including where child care programs, senior centers, and other essential resources should be placed.

Today’s 2009 ACS data provide characteristics of communities with populations of more than 65,000. We’ll have information for all communities once the 2005-2009 ACS 5-year estimates are released in mid-December.

For more information on additional data releases coming up this fall, read Director Groves’ recent blog on Measuring America.

To learn more about your community, view 2009 ACS data on American Fact Finder.

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