What is the difference between the Census and the American Community Survey?
The Census also referred to as the Census of Population and Housing or the Decennial Census is conducted every ten years in the years ending in zero. Starting with the 2010 Census, a much smaller number of questions were asked of the US population. In the mid-2000s, the American Community Survey was established to collect detailed data on the US population. Detailed population data was collected as part of earlier Censuses (2000 and earlier).
|Census||American Community Survey|
|Conducted every 10 years.||Conducted every month, every year|
|Counts every person living in the
50 states, District of Columbia,
and the five U.S. territories
|Sent to a sample of addresses
(about 3.5 million) in the 50
states, District of Columbia, and
|Asks a shorter set of questions,
such as age, sex, race, Hispanic
origin, and owner/renter status
|Asks about topics not on the 2020
Census, such as education,
employment, internet access, and
|Provides an official count of the
population, which determines
Also provides critical data that
lawmakers and many others use
to provide daily services, products,
and support for communities.
|Provides current information to
communities every year. It also
provides local and national
leaders with the information they
need for programs, economic
management, and understanding
local issues and conditions.
The following resources answer frequently asked questions about working with census data.
Tools for understanding census geography (Missouri State Data Center)