Content changes proposed for the 2019 American Community Survey

The American Community Survey (ACS) is a continuous, always-in-the-field, nationwide survey conducted by the Census Bureau to assess the demographic, social, housing and economic conditions of the nation and all its communities. Along with the Decennial Census, it is one of the Census Bureau's most extensive and valuable products.

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:

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 allowed comments.

The deadline for comments is February 12, 2018.

Todd Graham

  • Principal Forecaster, Metropolitan Council of the Twin Cities
  • Member, ACS Data Products Redesign Group
  • Chairman, State Data Center Steering Committee