COVID-19 Impact on the American Community Survey (ACS)

The coronavirus pandemic made a hash of data collection for the American Community Survey (ACS), according to a new report from the Population Reference Bureau (PRB). “In several months, no survey mailings went out, and the U.S. Census Bureau had to make dramatic changes to how they reached out to nonresponding households. As a result of these disruptions, 2020 saw fewer completed ACS interviews than other years.”

PRB’s analysis of counties across the country found the steepest percentage drop in final ACS interviews being completed in rural and predominantly-native counties and the biggest numeric declines in some of the nation’s largest counties.

“Given these changes, ACS data users should expect to see somewhat larger margins of error in the 2016-2020 ACS data than they have seen in prior years.”