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Save the Survey: Federal Budget Cuts Threaten American Community Survey

May 25th, 2012


Recently, the U.S. House of Representatives approved an appropriations bill that would eliminate the American Community Survey (ACS). The ACS is an ongoing survey that is administered by the U.S. Census Bureau. It provides annual data on American households over a broad range of categories.

The ACS is a representative, randomized sample of approximately 3 million American households. The data collected from the ACS helps determine how to distribute more than $400 billion in state and federal funding each year. This funding is spent on schools, job training centers, hospitals and other infrastructure and services. However, the House voted to eliminate the ACS on the basis that the government should not intrude upon people’s personal privacy. Members of the House also argued that the ACS is wasteful government spending, because it is not scientific-based.

If the ACS is eliminated, then the federal government cannot effectively determine how to distribute billions of dollars in government funding each year. This could affect block grant funds like Medicaid and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), which are allocated based on a population’s needs. Likewise, researchers use the survey to examine different socio-economic characteristics of a population, while businesses depend on it for market research.

This survey provides a detailed snapshot of our nation’s progress year-to-year. Without the ACS, we cannot fully understand the needs of our communities and the low-income families who live in them. The ACS is a vital source of data that should be protected rather than eliminated, as it contributes to the economic well-being of communities and low-income families that the government serves and protects.
Source: Rampell, C. (2012, May 18). The beginning of the end of the Census? The New York Times. Retrieved from

Jessica Shappley

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