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Government Information: Census: American Community Survey

This guide provides census resources from the federal government, with an emphasis on serving the Texas State University community.

ACS Estimates Table

When to Use 1-year, 3-year, or 5-year Estimates. Adapted from: https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/acs/guidance/estimates.html

1-year estimates

3-year estimates*

5-year estimates

12 months of collected data

Example:

2014 ACS 1-year estimates

Date collected between:

January 1, 2014 and
December 31, 2014

36 months of collected data

Example:

2011-2013 ACS 3-year estimates

Date collected between:

January 1, 2011 and
December 31, 2013

60 months of collected data

Example:

2010-2014 ACS 5-year estimates

Date collected between:

January 1, 2010 and
December 31, 2014

Data for areas with populations of 65,000+

Data for areas with populations of 20,000+

Data for all areas

Smallest sample size

Larger sample size than 1-year

Largest sample size

Less reliable than 3-year or 5-year

More reliable than 1-year; less reliable than 5-year

Most reliable

Most current data

Less current than 1-year estimates; more current than 5-year

Least current

Best used when

Best used when

Best used when

Currency is more important than precision

Analyzing large populations

More precise than 1-year, more current than 5-year

Analyzing smaller populations

Examining smaller geographies because 1-year estimates are not available

Precision is more important than currency

Analyzing very small populations

Examining tracts and other smaller geographies because 1-year estimates are not available

*ACS 3-year estimates have been discontinued. The 2005-2007, 2006-2008, 2007-2009, 2008-2010, 2009-2011, 2010-2012 and 2011-2013 ACS 3-year estimates will remain available to data users, but no new 3-year estimates will be produced. Every community in the nation will continue to receive a detailed statistical portrait of its social, economic, housing and demographic characteristics through 1-year and 5-year ACS products.