American Community Survey Data - Census Bureau

Author: U.S. Census Bureau
Published: 2010/09/29
Contents: Summary - Main - Related Publications

Synopsis: Facts cover topics such as disability income educational attainment housing and family structure for all geographies with populations of 65000 or more.

Main Digest

The U.S. Census Bureau released the results of the 2009 American Community Survey (ACS), one of a series of data products the Census Bureau is releasing in the coming months that provides information on the nation's population.

The release is based on survey responses collected over the course of the 2009 calendar year and provides data about the nation's socioeconomic, housing and demographic characteristics. The first set of 2010 Census data, including the nation's population and congressional apportionment figures for the states, will be released by the end of 2010, as required by law.

"Collectively, ACS and census data are critical components of the nation's information infrastructure, providing data essential to our economy and our communities," Census Bureau director Robert Groves said. "ACS data are required by numerous federal programs and for planning and decision making at the state and federal level. ACS data help communities and businesses create jobs, plan for the future, establish new businesses and improve our economy."

Focusing on the population's characteristics, the ACS complements, but is different from, the 2010 Census population data. As a complete count of the population, the 2010 Census data are critical for people who need to know how many people live in the United States and where they live. The ACS data, on the other hand, are based on a sample survey of the nation and describe how we live by providing estimates of key social, economic and housing characteristics.

Today's release covers more than 40 topics, such as income, educational attainment, housing and family structure for all geographies with populations of 65,000 or more.

In December, the Census Bureau will release the first set of ACS statistics for all geographic areas, regardless of size, using data collected between 2005 and 2009. A third set of 2009 statistics covering all areas with populations of 20,000 or more will be released in January 11, 2011, based on data collected between 2007 and 2009.

In addition to the ACS data released today on the Census Bureau website, the Census Bureau is releasing a set of briefs on seven topics: poverty, median household income by state, men's and women's earnings by state, food stamp/Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program receipt

by state, health insurance coverage among children, disability among the working age population and usual hours worked (see: Thirteen additional briefs based on today's data will be released on this website on October 12.

2009 ACS Highlights

Median Household Income

Real median household income in the United States fell between 2008 and 2009 "decreasing by 2.9 percent from $51,726 to $50,221.

Between 2008 and 2009, real median household income decreased in 34 states and increased in one: North Dakota.


Thirty-one states saw increases in both the number and percentage of people in poverty between 2008 and 2009.

No state had a statistically significant decline in either the number in poverty or the poverty rate.

Health Insurance

Between 2008 and 2009, the percentage of insured children in the United States increased from 90.3 percent to 91.0 percent, with 1.1 million more insured children in 2009.

In 2009, the uninsured rate for children under 19 in the United States was 9.0 percent, and the uninsured rate in the states ranged from 18.4 percent in Nevada to 1.5 percent in Massachusetts.

Between 2008 and 2009, the uninsured rate for children decreased in the United States as well as in 17 states. The uninsured rate increased in two states (Alaska and Minnesota) and was not statistically different in 32 states and Puerto Rico.

Between 2008 and 2009, the percentage of uninsured increased from 14.6 percent to 15.1 percent, with 2.2 million more uninsured in 2009. The percentage of uninsured increased in 26 states, decreased in three states (Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico) and did not change significantly in 22 states.

Industry and Occupation

Work hours in the United States fell by about 36 minutes per week from 39.0 hours in 2008 to 38.4 hours in 2009.

Work hours fell in 46 of the 50 most populous U.S. metro areas between 2008 and 2009.

Workers in construction, extraction, maintenance and repair occupations worked about 63 minutes less per week in 2009 than in 2008.

Self-employed workers experienced a greater reduction in work hours between 2008 and 2009 than workers in other types of employment. Workers who were self-employed in their own unincorporated businesses worked 66 minutes less per week in 2009, while those self-employed in their own incorporated businesses worked 49 minutes less in 2009.

Journey to Work

In 2009, the New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island metropolitan area had the highest percentage of workers who commuted by public transportation at 30.5 percent, followed by the San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont metro area, where 14.6 percent of workers commuted by public transportation.

Home Values

In 2009, the median property value for owner-occupied homes in the United States was $185,200.

After adjusting for inflation, the median property value decreased in the United States by 5.8 percent between 2008 and 2009.

Five of the 10 highest median property values among the 50 most populous metro areas were in California: San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara ($638,300), San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont ($591,600), Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana ($463,600), San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos ($417,700) and Sacramento-Arden-Arcade-Roseville ($298,000).

Between 2008 and 2009, the percentage change in home values in the 366 metro areas ranged from a decline of 34.0 percent in Merced, Calif., to an increase of 19.7 percent in Hattiesburg, Miss.

Rental Housing Costs

Nationwide, nearly two in five renter households (42.5 percent) experienced housing costs that consumed 35 percent or more of their incomes.

Housing cost burdens ranged from a low of 23.2 percent of renting households in the Casper, Wyo., metro area to a high of 62.8 percent of renting households in the College Station-Bryan, Texas, metro area.

Double digit rental vacancy rates characterized the following 12 of the 50 most populous metro areas: Jacksonville, Fla.; Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, Ga.; Memphis, Tenn.-Miss.-Ark.; Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Ariz.; Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Fla.; Orlando-Kissimmee, Fla.; Houston-Sugarland-Baytown, Texas; Las Vegas-Paradise, Nev.; Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas; San Antonio, Texas; Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, Fla.; and Detroit-Warren-Livonia, Mich.

Among the 50 most populous metro areas, the Pittsburgh, Pa., metro area had the lowest median gross rent ($643). Pittsburgh was followed by Buffalo-Niagara Falls, N.Y.; Louisville/Jefferson County, Ky.-Ind.; Cincinnati-Middletown, Ohio-Ky.-Ind.; Oklahoma City, Okla.; and Cleveland-Elyria-Mentor, Ohio, where rents were between $652 and $706. The St. Louis, Mo.-Ill., metro area rounded out the most affordable markets with a median gross rent of $732.

The San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif. metro area, with a gross rent of $1,414, was the most expensive rental market among the 50 most populous metro areas. Following San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, was the San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, Calif., metro area and the Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, D.C.-Va.-Md.-W.Va., metro area, both with median gross rent of $1,303. The fourth highest median gross rent was in the San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, Calif., metro area ($1,224); the fifth highest median gross rent was in the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, Calif., metro area ($1,197). Rounding out the top seven most expensive metro areas were New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, N.Y.-N.J.-Pa. ($1,125) and Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, Mass.-N.H. ($1,123), which were not significantly different from each other.

Labor Force Participation

The labor force participation rate for men 16 to 24 decreased nationally from 61.5 percent in 2008 to 59.2 percent in 2009, while for women this age the rate decreased from 60.4 percent to 58.7 percent.

For men 25 to 54, the national labor force participation rate decreased from 88.5 percent in 2008 to 87.9 percent in 2009, while women in this group experienced an increase from 77.0 percent to 77.1 percent.

For men 55 and older, the national labor force participation rate remained unchanged (at 45.2 percent) from 2008 to 2009, while the rate for women increased from 32.8 percent to 33.2 percent.


In 2009, 19.5 million people, or 9.9 percent of the civilian non institutionalized population age 16 to 64, had a disability. Between 2008 and 2009, both the number and percent of people with disabilities did not change.

In 2009, West Virginia had the highest disability prevalence rate for people age 16 to 64 at 16.8 percent. Hawaii has the lowest prevalence rate, not different from California, Colorado, Illinois, Minnesota, New Jersey, and Utah.

About 34.7 percent of people with disabilities were employed compared with 71.9 percent of people without a disability. North Dakota had the highest employment-to-population ratio for people with disabilities, not different from Wyoming.

The District of Columbia had the lowest employment-to-population ratio for people with disabilities, not different from Alabama, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia.

Education - Science and Technology

A new question in the 2009 American Community Survey asked respondents with bachelor's degrees about their undergraduate major:

The estimated number of people in the United States 25 and over with a bachelor's degree or higher was 56.3 million. Of this group, 20.5 million, or 36.4 percent, held at least one science and engineering degree.

The percentages of all bachelor's degrees in the science and engineering fields were 28 percent or less in Mississippi, North Dakota and Puerto Rico, and as high as 51 percent in the District of Columbia.


According to the 2009 ACS, 38.5 million of the 307 million residents in the United States were foreign-born, representing 12.5 percent of the total population. In 2008, there were 38 million foreign-born in the United States, also making up 12.5 percent of the total population. The number of foreign-born in the United States increased between 2008 and 2009, in contrast to 2007-2008, when the number of foreign-born did not change significantly.

Language by Hispanic Origin and Race

Overall, among the major race groups and Hispanic origin, non-Hispanic whites had the lowest proportion (6 percent) of people who spoke a language other than English at home, and Asians alone and Hispanics had the highest proportion (77 percent and 76 percent, respectively).

Hispanics were much more likely to speak a language other than English at home (76 percent) compared with non-Hispanics (10 percent). Among the selected Hispanic detailed groups, Dominicans, Salvadorans and Guatemalans, each around 92 percent, were among the top three groups with the highest percent who spoke a language other than English at home. This was followed by Colombians (87 percent), Cubans (82 percent), Mexicans (76 percent) and Puerto Ricans (66 percent).

The Older Population

People 60 and over were more likely than the total population to have a disability. In 2009, 32.4 percent of the civilian non-institutionalized population 60 and over reported having a disability compared with 12.0 percent of the total civilian non-institutionalized population.

Approximately one quarter (27.1 percent) of the population 60 and over reported being in the labor force, an increase from 26.7 percent in 2008.


The American Community Survey is the successor to the former census "long form" that historically produced demographic, housing and socioeconomic data for the nation as part of the once-a-decade census. The decennial census program, which includes the ACS and the 2010 Census, serves as the basis for the allocation of more than $400 billion in federal funds to state, local and tribal governments every year. These vital data also guide planning in the private sector as well as the work done by policymakers at all levels of government and in communities of all sizes. All survey responses are strictly confidential and protected by law.

As is the case with all surveys, statistics from sample surveys are subject to sampling and non-sampling error. All comparisons made in the reports have been tested and found to be statistically significant at the 90 percent confidence level, unless otherwise noted. Please consult the data tables for specific margins of error. For more information, go to

Changes in survey design from year to year can affect results. See for more information on changes affecting the 2009 data. See for guidance on comparing 2009 ACS data with data from previous years and the 2000 Census.

Visit "American FactFinder," the Census Bureau's online data tool, to obtain ACS 2009 data for the nation, all states and the District of Columbia, all congressional districts, approximately

800 counties, and 500 metropolitan and micropolitan statistical areas, among others.

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