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Sunday, June 14, 2009

Census 2.0

I heard recently that a new census form was popping up. Its called the American Community Survey.There is a 64 page document on the US Census site which describes what this is for and why we “need” it.

This is not supplemental to the 10 year detailed survey. It replaces it.

The federal government needs to know basic census data at a minimum to do things like decide how many representatives each state receives, but they do not need to know some of the things the new survey is gathering like

“Journey to Work” includes data on means of transportation (automobile, bus, bicycle, walking), travel time (both duration and time departed), and whether or not a carpool is used.

Plumbing Facilities
House Heating Fuel
Fertility [?? really ??]

There is a whole appendix for detailing the differences between the old survey and the new one. Some include how they determine residency. The new standard is “have you lived there 2 months?” Really? That means that any transient population shows up as long term residents that affect decisions! It also significantly changes the demographics of every college town in the country. This also means that any natural disaster that displaces a number of people (like a hurricane) for any significant period of time is going to skew numbers quite quickly.

When they compare switching from the old form to the new ACS (page 9) the change is

more akin to switching from reliance on an internal
combustion engine to a hybrid.

you get an idea of who thought this was a good idea.

I also wonder if this is part of the effect of shifting who oversees the US Census bureau.

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