The census never sleeps

25 Mar

Did you know that the US Census Department actually collects data every year, not just every ten years? Yep, it’s true. The decennial census, which is happening right now throughout this fine land isn’t really as interesting as you would think. Don’t get me wrong, I am plenty excited about it and got a little thrill as I mailed my form in today. But the decennial census is actually an official count of people and a tally of basic demographics, not hard-core data collection.

The US Census collects the kind of data that rocks my world annually, not from the entire nation, but from a random sampling of people. The American Community Survey, formerly known as the Supplemental Census, is an ongoing survey that tells us what our communities look like and how people live. It’s a longer, more involved form than what you likely received in the mail earlier this month.

The American Community Survey collects a wealth of information from educational levels to the length of someone’s commute to what mode of transportation they used to get there. All of this information is compiled into complicated data sets that get published on the Census website. But that’s another story.

So right this minute, a lucky random sampling of people are not only filling out the decennial census form, but the American Community Survey form. Like the decennial census, completing the ACS is compulsory by law. I have never been one of the lucky random few, but a girl can always dream.

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