Losing Confidence in our Mid-Sized Community Estimates: Census Bureau Discontinues 3-Year American Community Survey

Blog post by Eric Stokan
June 2016

Data Driven Detroit (D3)   (Detroit)

This blog post reviews the history of the ACS and makes the case for the value of the 3-year ACS.  "While surveying 3.5 million housing units per year is great for many purposes, at certain geographical scales there are too few people being surveyed to fully understand the impacts of governmental or private-sector decisions. It might be too large a stretch to make reference to the 3-year estimates as being the Goldilocks of ACS data, but the next several sections outline why the 3-year estimates are quite important."  The author cites numerous advantages of the 3-year ACS such as having data on communities of intermediate size; being able to contrast smaller time periods than is possible with the 5-year ACS; and having sufficient sample sizes to conduct subpopulation analyses that are more reliable than the 1-year ACS subpopulation estimates.  The blog post concludes with thoughts on why the 3-year ACS was discontinued.