A large number of mySidewalk variables come from the American Community Survey (ACS). The ACS is an ongoing survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, with nearly 3.5 million respondents participating in the survey every calendar year. The Census Bureau uses the ACS survey to annually publish its hallmark data product, the ACS 5-Year Estimates. On December 10, 2020, the Census published the 2015-2019 ACS 5-Year Estimates. 

What does this mean for mySidewalk Customers?

All mySidewalk datasets based on ACS 2014-2018 5-year estimates have been updated with the 2015-2019 estimates. Because the Census Bureau recommends against comparing 5-year estimates of overlapping years, mySidewalk will no longer curate the 2014-2018 ACS estimates. The update affects all saved assets and visualizations in mySidewalk that use ACS data, including all tables, charts, and maps in reports and dashboards. If you have created any reports, maps, or dashboards using ACS 2015-2019 5-year estimates, be sure to update and check any written content associated with the data (the only piece that will auto-update is the data itself).

Understanding ACS 5-Year Estimates

The Census Bureau produces the ACS 5-Year Estimates by pooling together the results of the five previous survey years. Using a pooled data frame, the Census Bureau generates estimates of thousands of economic and demographic characteristics for the entire United States. Through pooling multiple years of data, the Census Bureau trades precision with respect to time for improved estimation accuracy. Because they are generated with five years of survey data (as opposed to a single year), the five year estimates have several interpretative nuances.

  • ACS data are estimates. The Census Bureau collects data from a sample of the population in the United States rather than from the whole population. 

  • ACS 5-year estimates represent the average of characteristics over an interval of time (2015-2019) as opposed to a single point in time.

  • Five-year estimates cannot be compared with previously published five-year estimates consisting of overlapping years.

  • ACS five-year estimates may be compared Decennial Census data (i.e. 1990, 2000, and 2010).

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