Available Geographies for Unmarried-Partner Households and Coupled Households

I've used the B11009 table to get data for same sex partnered households at the county level in the past. While the variables in this table are very useful, they've been identified as an area for improvement within the ACS data. The 2019 ACS release appears to have addressed this concern by changing the B11009 table to Coupled Households by Type from Unmarried-Partner Households by Sex of Partner. While I am generally excited about this change, I am no longer able to access certain variables (namely B11009_001 and B11009_010) at the county level. Does anyone have any insight on this? Thanks!

  • The Appendices for ACS Summary Files (available here) include a field called "Geography Restrictions" that often but not always indicates when tables have data for only a limited set of summary levels. This is one of many cases where the appendices are missing the relevant info... The 2019 5YR appendices indicate no restrictions for B11009, but in the 2019 5YR file, that table is in fact available only for the Nation, Region, Division, and State levels.

    I know this because each year when we add ACS summary tables to IPUMS NHGIS, due to the unreliability of the appendices, we do a complete automated inspection of table availability by summary level. For tables that are available for only a limited set of levels, like B11009, we add bracketed text to the table label indicating the restriction. Our label for B11009 in the 2019 5YR file is "Coupled Households by Type [Data for nation, region, division, and state levels only]".

    I can also confirm that B11009 didn't have any significant restrictions in the 2018 5YR file, aside from the absence of Block Group data, which was documented in the appendix.

    FWIW, there are 25 other tables that are available for the same set of levels as B11009 without any restriction noted in the appendices. All of them are breakdowns of the group quarters population (B26101, B26102, B26103, B26103A, B26103B, B26103C, B26103D, B26103E, B26103F, B26103G, B26103H, B26103I, B26104, B26105, B26106, B26107, B26108, B26110, B26113, B26114, B26115, B26117, B26118, B26119, B26120).

    There are similarly 6 tables on marriages and divorces that are available only for the Nation, Region, Division, State, and Congressional District levels, without any restriction noted in the appendices (B12007, B12501, B12502, B12503, B12504, B12505).

  • Thanks for the reply! I've been combing through the appendices trying to figure out why the restrictions are in place and this puts my brain at ease. I thought I was going crazy for a minute!

    I got in contact with the ACS help team on the reasoning behind the change in geographic availability but I'm still waiting to hear back.

  • Have you learned anything more about this? I just ran into the same issue myself, trying to work with this table at the tract level over time. Glad to learn it's not something I did wrong with my requests to the Census API!

  • Connor, I haven't heard anything back from the folks at census. I didn't really get any contact information for follow up either.....

  • Thank you, that's good to know! I, uh, impulsively tweeted at the Census Bureau but might try reaching out by other means myself. Maybe my university's pop center can help me figure out what to do...

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