Census Transportation Planning Program: one more source of ACS small area data

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For the last couple decades, AASHTO and US FHWA have sponsored, and US Census Bureau has produced, a collection of special tabulations called Census Transportation Planning (CTPP). The crosstabs in that collection are different from what is in the ACS summary file (ACS base tables).

And some of those crosstabs are quite useful. You can get household-size crossed with other variables, commute-mode crossed with other variables, income, etc.

In CTPP, the units of analysis have been counties and Census transportation analysis zones (Census-TAZs). But there’s been some tug-of-war over how spatially-detailed are those Census-TAZs. Familiar story: Census Bureau is required to be strict on nondisclosure; very little wiggle room.

As more transportation planners have concluded that Census-TAZs are inadequate for forecasting and modeling, the CTPP oversight group has made some decisions about the future of CTPP products. CTPP will continue, but the smallest geographic units, after 2019, will be Block Groups.

Bottom line: CTPP may suddenly be a usable resource for fans of Block Groups.

There are some other interesting angles in the latest memo from the CTPP program office. Give it a read! CTPP Transportation Planning Announcement

Letter on administrative records data use by ACS

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Here is a letter from the steering committee, commenting on use of administrative records data as a substitute for ACS survey questions, in response to the Census Bureau’s Federal Register Notice. The letter was sent January 12, 2018.

Letter on administrative records data use by ACS.

Content changes proposed for the 2019 American Community Survey — and a call for comments

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The Census Bureau periodically reviews the content of the American Community Survey (ACS). One aspect is validating that the survey continues to prioritize policy and program information needs. Beyond that, the Bureau works to assess and improve how questions are asked — including question wording, response categories, and any instructions provided — in order to capture the most complete and accurate information.

In a notice last month, the Bureau describes final changes proposed for the 2019 American Community Survey. The specific changes and new elements have been under consideration for three years or more. And an initial batch of recommended changes was tested through the 2016 ACS content test. The complete review and revision process is documented in section II of the Census Bureau’s recent notice. ( )

For the 2019 ACS, the Bureau proposes question changes or new questions in nine sections of the survey:

  • Telephone service: a redesigned question that defines telephone service.
  • Health insurance: a new question on premiums paid and any subsidies received.
  • Journey to work: revised question wording and updating descriptions of three types of public transit.
  • Weeks worked: revised question instructions and revision of response levels.
  • Class of worker: revised question instructions, wording, and response categories.
  • Industry and occupation: revised question instructions and wording, in order to elicit better descriptions.
  • Retirement income: revised question instructions and wording, expanding scope of retirement income considered.
  • Relationship to “person 1”: new response categories to clearly distinguish opposite-sex spouses, same-sex spouses, opposite-sex partners, and same-sex partners.
  • Race and Hispanic origin: a streamlined, unified categorization is proposed.

A draft 2019 ACS questionnaire with all these changes can be found here. Some of these changes are discussed in a blog post on

At this time, the Census Bureau is seeking the final approvals for the 2019 American Community Survey — and the Bureau invites public comment. Per the Federal Register notice:

“The public is invited to comment on all questions on the ACS; however, the Census Bureau is particularly interested in comments on the wording changes to the nine ACS questions… which are proposed to be changed based on the results of the 2016 ACS Content Test.” ( )

If you wish to comment on the ACS, now is your chance. The easiest options for providing input are:

  1. emailing the Department of Commerce (, or
  2. completing the “” online comment form that is linked to the Federal Register notice. Look for the “Submit a Formal Comment” button. Please expect that the online form will limit the length of your comments.

The deadline for comments is February 12, 2018.

Applied uses of American Community Survey: success stories

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Subject: ACS Data User Stories

The American Community Survey Office at the U.S. Census Bureau is interested in learning more about how businesses, nonprofit organizations, governments (fed/state/local), economic development offices, etc… use the American Community Survey (ACS), so that we can speak about how valuable the survey is. If you have specific examples you would be willing to share with them on the ways that you or those in your networks uses ACS data, please send to or

Thank you,
Lakiva M Pullins
Chief, Data Users Branch
Customer Liaison & Marketing Services Office
U.S. Census Bureau

Letter for 3-year ACS

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Letter supporting the 3-year ACS data product: ACS3Year_March2015