Question about missing MOE

Hi,

This is a pretty basic question but I can't seem to find a concise explanation online, and I'm pretty new to the ACS!  I'm just looking up general data on the racial/ethnic make-up of Illinois and Illinois counties in 2016 (using 2012-2016 ACS 5-Year Estimates).  For those who identify as Hispanic or Latino, many of the counties are missing MOE data and instead have five asterisks (*****).  The explanation the ACS provides is: "An '*****' entry in the margin of error column indicates that the estimate is controlled. A statistical test for sampling variability is not appropriate."  Does this mean that the estimates the ACS provides in these cases are not valid/reliable?  I'd like to calculate a coefficient of variation for these estimates but I can't do it without a margin of error.  Any help would be greatly appreciated!

  • Hi Bill,
    The asterisks mean that this particular ACS estimate has been controlled to the Census Bureau's official population estimate for this racial/ethnic group. So there is no sampling error associated with the estimate. The Census Bureau's "Accuracy of the Data" document states the following:

    "If the margin of error is displayed as ‘*****’ (five asterisks), the estimate has been controlled to be equal to a fixed value and so it has no sampling error. A standard error of zero should be used for these controlled estimates when completing calculations, such as those in the following section."

    See: www2.census.gov/.../MultiyearACSAccuracyofData2016.pdf (Page 11)

    I hope this helps,
    -Mark
  • In reply to Mark Mather:

    Thank you, Mark! This is extremely helpful.